Probe: October 26, 2001

October 26, 2001

RAID ON PALM AVENUE — We didn't go to the home of the elderly widow in Holtville to harass her. We went because we had a credible tip that he was there.

Her grandson is a "maximum supervision" parolee. His grandmother's house is his "residence of record." Since he doesn't report to his parole officer, the law requires us to go to the house once a month.

The tip went to the U.S. Marshall's office. Since we've been looking for this guy, we decided to make our monthly visit. The marshalls went with the parole officers. We requested a Holtville police officer accompany us. They knocked on the front door and the grandmother gave us permission to enter. A couple officers went to the back of the home in case the fugitive made a run for it.

Nobody kicked in the door. An officer said he pushed the door when he thought he heard a noise. The latch bolt came off and pulled the facing loose, but they put it back. — Parole Chief, El Centro


Thanks for filling us in.

ONTO THE SPIRIT PLANE — I don't recall any stories about a teacher and children dying at the old Heber College building. However, I can't resist telling you of my encounter with one of the spirits that haunted Portia's school house.

The late Pete Odens wrote a feature about the school building several years ago. I have it in my files in Ocotillo but it is inaccessible to me now.

I don't remember if he described any of the spirits. I know he didn't describe the happy one I saw. It gives me joy just to remember her effervescent spirit. I can no longer do psychic work because it requires a tremendous output of energy. But how I would love to visit my blithe spirit again — if she hasn't moved onto the spirit plane. — Merry Soul, El Centro

When we first met Portia, she was Portia Scott, this newspaper's women's editor. After she moved on, she became Portia Thompson, and the owner of her own "school house," the old Heber College.

There was wide belief that the college was haunted. Portia donated the building to the Imperial County Historical Society, where it will be relocated and refurbished.

QUESTION: My friend Anita died Wednesday just three weeks after she was diagnosed with bone cancer. She wanted to die at home. I sat with her the night she died. We prayed and talked. She said she wanted to be cremated and asked me to watch out for her kids.

I am trying to do that. Anita and her kids are all very poor. Anita lived on the Slabs until she got sick. Her kids have no money for the funeral. A cremation costs $999. Sometimes you help people raise money for a funeral. Can you help Anita's family carry out her wishes? — Petitioner, Brawley

What we do is let people know where there is a need and sometimes somebody decides to help. When it happens, it's wonderful.

Death often comes when we least expect it. Paying for the funeral often adds to the stress of a family mourning its loss.

We suspect Anita said she wanted cremation because she knew it's cheaper and she knew her kids have no money.

If nobody comes forward, maybe we can still help.

The county provides about 40 funerals a year. Most of those are cremations, and the family will receive the ashes of the deceased, according to county Public Administrator Norma Saikhon.

You can keep the ashes in a box at the back of the closet, inter them or scatter them. If you choose to scatter the ashes, you will need a permit.

If the family wants a burial, it can have that, too, Saikhon said.

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