Monday, March 28, 2011


I have to preface this email with a little confession – I love Fort Worth and tend to feel more at home there than I do in Abilene. Not because I don't love Abilene too, I just have a lot of family and friends and memories in Fort Worth.

That being said...

Meanest. Drivers. Ever.

I was there last Monday and found myself on the west edge of downtown, picking up my brother at his job at Radio Shack headquarters for a lunch date. I've driven in Fort Worth a bunch of times, but not on those particular streets any more than once or twice.

On our way to the restaurant, I braked and started to turn from Montgomery on to Lancaster, as my brother warned me that I actually needed to take the next turn on to Camp Bowie. I can't imagine my slight mistake made any real difference to the car behind me, but that did not stop him or her from laying on the horn. I'm talking a solid 15 seconds of blasting me for no valid reason! I may or may not have honked back in a very ugly way... for which I am sorry. But still, geez!

After dropping my brother back at work, I failed at trying to navigate a fork in the road. The traffic was really heavy in this area, and I ended up having to sit in the little median wedge for a sec before zipping into the correct lane. Yes, I was cutting it close, but the car that was actually affected didn't seem to care. The MASSIVE pickup truck behind that, however, was peeeeeeved. Commence another ridiculously long horn honk! But this one actually lasted a good 30 seconds, and the driver followed me around, keeping up the honking! I waved, nodded, waved, shrugged, waved...


Seriously? Your life is that stressful that you need to blow a horn for that long?

Instantly, I was grateful for the polite, laid-back attitude of Abilene drivers and the lack of traffic. Now I know that Abilene had a deadly road rage incident recently, but I'm not taking that into consideration right now. I just want to commend the 99.9% of drivers here who wave to let others through, wait their turns, and forgive honest mistakes like mine.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Alarm Clock is not a Demon

I took off work for the first three days of this week to spend time with my family for Spring Break. It was great to spend time goofing off together and enjoy our opportunities to relax together and laugh and play. I needed a few days without the alarm clock going off at still dark-30.

It was not all just playing and goofing off. We had a tree in the front yard die, and when my grown son and his wife left to go back to the Metroplex, my teenaged son, my mother-in-law and I got out there to cut it down. We should have rented, borrowed or bought a chain saw. Cutting down a tree is hard work. We all took turns with the lops, ax and the hand saws. I thought I was in pretty good shape, but I found some muscles that haven't seen much exertion in a long, long time.

It was a good reminder for me that the hardest physical part of my job is answering the middle of the night bell. After that, the only physical exertion is carrying the laptop back and forth between the newsroom and the studio. It's about 20-yards. A tip of the cap to all of you who do the physical work that has to get done. My respect for your skills, talents and strength have been reinforced again.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Billie Dunn Backs Out of Web Chat

There was no web chat with the mother of Hailey Dunn Monday evening as previously advertised. Thirty minutes before the web chat was set to begin, Billie Dunn backed out.

I think we’d all admit the move isn’t exactly shocking. It may be a little disappointing – but not entirely all that surprising.

When we originally planned this concept, we thought it would be a great way for many of the Dunn case followers from across the nation to conveniently get their questions answered by Hailey’s mother. The idea had harmless intentions.

Just a few days after announcing the chat, Mitchell County Sheriff Patrick Toombs released the information that child pornography and images depicting bestiality were found in the Dunn home. Billie accepted our request for an interview that day regarding the discovery. At the time, she discussed Monday’s web chat and seemed to indicate she was looking forward to it.

Hours later, she turned down HLN’s Nancy Grace – something that she’s never done before.

At some point thereafter, we found out was no longer appearing at Sunday’s rally in Mansfield.

It didn’t look like Billie Dunn was going to be the open book she once was….

However, she confirmed to KTAB’s Priscilla Luong on Monday afternoon that she was still on board for the web chat. Priscilla described her as tentative if not scared. Still, Priscilla reminded her that we had promoted the event and people were counting on it to happen.

Hours before the event was set to take place, hundreds of people were already in the chat room asking questions and throwing around theories. Admittedly, there were things in there that a grieving mother didn’t need to see. I took a call from a woman who asked how we planned to moderate the room. I told her we’d be removing comments and deleting users that didn’t remain respectful of the situation. Her response: so you’re going to kick everyone out?

At that point, we decided Billie didn’t need to look at the chat room during the course of the event. Maria Oliver, who you might remember from KRBC, would view all the questions and ask the relevant ones. Maria is very familiar with the case and would’ve done a good job. But, we wouldn’t get that far…

Maria stopped by the Dunn homes shortly after 4 p.m. to go over some ground rules for the chat and discuss exactly how things would take place. She tells me Billie came to the door and said she wasn’t going to take part in the chat. Billie said she was going out of town with relatives and she didn’t want them to have to wait on her. Billie quickly closed the door and went back inside the home.

Maria returned shortly thereafter in an attempt to get Billie to explain, on camera, why she pulled out of the event. This time, Billie didn’t come to the door.

I know people have already read into this – what does it mean? why did she really back out? what is she hiding? I can’t really blame her for backing out. If I were in her shoes, I might have done the same thing. However, I don’t think I would’ve agreed to it in the first place.

In the end, this doesn’t hold any significance in the much bigger picture of safely bringing Hailey home. You can label it another small surprise in what has been a case loaded with twists, turns, and sometimes stunning developments.

To those of you hoping to take part, our apologies for the inconvenience.