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Meredith Emerson: A brave woman's cruel fate
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ^ | 01/31/08 | JEREMY REDMON

Posted on 02/01/2008 6:09:33 AM PST by beaureguard

Meredith Emerson, who had a green belt in judo, put up such a fight against Gary Michael Hilton that he dropped his police-style baton while trying to kidnap her in the mountains of North Georgia on New Year's Day.

A diminutive but scrappy woman who stood 5-foot-4, Emerson continued to resist Hilton during the next three days, repeatedly giving the 61-year-old drifter incorrect pass codes for her ATM cards.

The young woman, a vibrant 24-year-old with a steel will, may have acted not just to save herself, but to help authorities apprehend her captor.

"It is unclear, [but] I would like to think she was doing everything she could to ensure that he would perhaps get caught during his efforts to use the ATMs," Dawson County District Attorney Lee Darragh said.

Hilton was arrested on Jan. 4, and later led authorities to Emerson's body. Darragh described Emerson's three-day ordeal in court Thursday moments before Judge Bonnie Oliver accepted Hilton's guilty plea to murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

With Emerson's parents watching from the second row, Darragh gave the following account, which was drawn from authorities' interviews with Hilton, and confirmed by his public defender, Rob McNeill.

Emerson was not the first hiker Hilton approached on a trail on Jan. 1. He considered another potential victim, but "she was with other people."

Emerson became his focus for two reasons: She was alone on Blood Mountain, and she was female.

He wanted her money. And he knew that he would eventually kill her.

Witnesses had reported spotting Hilton following Emerson in the mountains that day.

One witness, a former law enforcement officer, said he saw Hilton carrying a police-style baton and a large knife on his belt. That witness later found two water bottles, a dog leash and some dog treats along with the baton on the edge of a hiking trail.

"There was in fact a struggle at that location between Ms. Emerson and this defendant," Darragh told the judge as Hilton sat to his left, wearing a dark bulletproof vest over his orange jail uniform and staring straight ahead. "This defendant, however, was able to place her under his control eventually."

Hilton took Emerson back to her car, where he stole her purse and ATM cards. Then he placed her in his van and drove her around to various locations in North Georgia, seeking to get money out of ATMs with her cards. She kept giving him incorrect PIN numbers.

He never was able to withdraw any money from Emerson's account. He was videotaped trying to do so at an ATM machine in Canton.

On Jan. 3, Hilton called a former employer, seeking some money and his old job back. The next day, Hilton told Emerson he was going to let her go.

He "secured" her in Dawson Forest, went to his van and returned with the handle of a car jack. He struck her on the head several times until she died. In hopes to conceal his crime after beating her to death, he decapitated her.

"He used the phrase that he did those things for 'forensic purposes,'" Darragh said.

Hilton was given an opportunity to address the court after his guilty plea but refused. When the hearing ended, sheriff's deputies led Hilton to a side exit, where he appeared to frantically reach for the door handle.

McNeill, his attorney, said Hilton is remorseful but decided not to address Emerson's parents in court because "anything he could say would be hollow and empty."

"He realizes what he has done to the family," McNeill said. "He realizes what a special person Meredith was."

She "actually did fight him in the beginning until she was unable to anymore," Darragh told reporters after the court hearing.

Added McNeill: "She was absolutely a hero. She did everything she possibly could" to survive.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: emerson
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1 posted on 02/01/2008 6:09:34 AM PST by beaureguard
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To: beaureguard

The poor woman. How sad.


2 posted on 02/01/2008 6:11:22 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: beaureguard

This case sure moved fast in the court yesterday. He was indicted, pled guilty, and sentenced all in one day.

Got life w/possibility of parole in 30 years - when he’ll be 91.


3 posted on 02/01/2008 6:11:31 AM PST by beaureguard
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To: beaureguard
He considered another potential victim, but "she was with other people."

Why would anyone go hiking, biking, jogging, etc. by themselves in a remote area. Don't they know that they are prime targets for the prowling predators on two feet as well as four feet?

4 posted on 02/01/2008 6:15:14 AM PST by FreePaul
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To: beaureguard
Still not good enough. Pukes like this have a high probability of killing again. It may be another prisoner, it may be a visitor, it may be a guard.

Failure of the state to provide for the death penalty simply condemns some other person to death.

5 posted on 02/01/2008 6:15:25 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: trisham
How sad that she did not have the tools to stop the scumbag.

Even a little "junk" .22 or .380 is a whole lot better than nothing when you are alone.

There are predators out there and our society tolerates them,so we lose good people every day.

6 posted on 02/01/2008 6:18:47 AM PST by hoosierham (Waddaya mean Freedom isn't free ?;will you take a creditcard?)
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Don’t they have the death penalty in Georgia? This was a cold, vicious, premeditated murder. Why should this Bozo get to eat the State’s baloney sandwiches and watch OPRAH for the next 20-30 years?
I just can’t IMAGINE the pain and agony of this girl’s parents as they sat through the horrific account of their beloved daughter’s death. God help them.
7 posted on 02/01/2008 6:24:37 AM PST by Godwin1 (merican restaurant.)
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To: beaureguard

5’4”

Maybe a 110-125 lbs,

missing those last two pounds that would have made this whole sad affair academic.

WOMEN, ARM YOURSELVES AND GET TRAINED! Doesn’t even have to be a firearm, however that is the most efficient means of self defense. Carry a blade with quick access, get trained in any of a number of very deadly and female friendly martial systems, develop a “don’t get scared, get mad” mindset to add to extreme situational awareness. Buy as much pistol as you can handle and conceal (with good fast access), and get training in mindset, awareness, stance, grip, draw, marksmanship, and post shoot legal processes. In short, become the warriors you already have built into your makeup (don’t mess with mama bear!).

Make the ba5tards pay the ultimate price.


8 posted on 02/01/2008 6:25:03 AM PST by petro45acp (NO good endeavor survives an excess of "adult supervision" (read bureaucracy)!)
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To: hoosierham
How sad that she did not have the tools to stop the scumbag.

Even a little "junk" .22 or .380 is a whole lot better than nothing when you are alone.

*******************

Good point. How many women have been in, or have even seen a fight? I have, and it's incredibly quick and brutal. We women tend to have a false sense of security, and just don't realize how much stronger men are. A gun would have saved her life.

9 posted on 02/01/2008 6:25:45 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: FreePaul

You are absolutely correct, women should not go out walking/jogging alone. You talk about remote areas but I see women alone jogging in the inner city where there are many more human predators than in the mountains. I am surprised that this doesn’t occur much more often.


10 posted on 02/01/2008 6:26:24 AM PST by Ditter
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To: beaureguard

He should have received death, with one appeal, and then off with his head — Islamic style. In this country today, over and over again, the miscreants look like they were separated at birth: mangy drunks, derelicts, and druggies. And yet, these same miscreants are allowed to wander our streets as vagrants seeking out those they may devour. And, oh yes, when they decide to rest up from their vile misdeeds, our government puts them up in “homeless” shelters or Section 8 housing — all paid for by those they victimize.

Will we ever have the courage, decency — and yes compassion (for the innocent) — to get the Welfare Vulture Culture under control again? Probably not in my lifetime (and I’m the same age as the savage about to be given free room and board by the state — again at my expense).


11 posted on 02/01/2008 6:28:11 AM PST by lapster
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To: Godwin1

ditto
Possibility of parole? Dear God


12 posted on 02/01/2008 6:31:31 AM PST by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: beaureguard

“A diminutive but scrappy woman who stood 5-foot-4, Emerson continued to resist Hilton during the next three days, repeatedly giving the 61-year-old drifter incorrect pass codes for her ATM cards. “

I don’t get this, there was a massive search for her yet no one noticed that here ATM cards were being used?


13 posted on 02/01/2008 6:31:47 AM PST by 3Lean
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To: trisham
If somebody gets the drop on you, though, it doesn't matter if you're a 6'6" 230# Black Belt with a shotgun. She had a dog, and that didn't matter either.

The key is to travel in groups. That's what I tell my daughter who's off at college. Run in a pack. The predators will look for easier game.

They made a deal here for no death penalty in exchange for his leading her to the body.

With any kind of luck, they'll be able to execute him for one of the many other murders he committed. More keep turning up, and he's been linked to at least 3 already. You don't just wake up one morning at age 61 and decide you're going to go kill somebody. As a deputy friend of mine says, "He's been to the rodeo before."

14 posted on 02/01/2008 6:32:32 AM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: beaureguard

That’s got to be a recent record. A month from crime to sentence? Amazing.

}:-)4


15 posted on 02/01/2008 6:32:34 AM PST by Moose4 (Wasting away again in Michaelnifongville.)
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To: Godwin1

We do have the death penalty in GA. As I understand it, her parents agreed to the taking of the death penalty off the table in exchange for him telling where her body was.

I can understand that...

Also, I *think* I’ve heard that Hilton has MS, so, with all the lengthy appeals process, it would have been quite possible that he would die of natural causes before he got the needle.


16 posted on 02/01/2008 6:33:20 AM PST by beaureguard
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To: beaureguard
I realize most will say I'm nitpicking, and on an inappropriate thread. But I would like to point out that per the CDC's own stats, the average height of the American woman is 5'4". Therefore, a 5' 4" is hardly "diminutive" , it is a NORMAL , AVERAGE height for a woman.
17 posted on 02/01/2008 6:34:25 AM PST by Verloona Ti (I am 5'4" & I kinda resent being described like I'm a freakin' midget or a dwarf .)
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To: beaureguard

The death penalty was off the table because of pretrial deal. He led police to the body in exchange for no death penalty.(in this case, he is suspect in several others)


18 posted on 02/01/2008 6:37:23 AM PST by wrench
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To: trisham

“Even a little “junk” .22 or .380 is a whole lot better than nothing when you are alone.”

Not to sound blood-thirsty, but three quickly delivered rounds from a .22 or a .380, delivered to the face or crotch should dissuade most any attacker bent on doing harm. The lower target area is a bit easier to hit, as the lower belly is loaded with nerves, connective tissue, blood vessels, and the male “protect the stones” wiring.

Women, arm yourselves!


19 posted on 02/01/2008 6:37:24 AM PST by petro45acp (NO good endeavor survives an excess of "adult supervision" (read bureaucracy)!)
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To: beaureguard

A police officer saw Hilton following a lone woman, with a knife and club, and didn’t do some following of his own?


20 posted on 02/01/2008 6:37:52 AM PST by knittnmom (...surrounded by reality!)
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To: petro45acp

A perfectly serviceable 32 revolver can be found in most places for about the price of a good pair of running shoes. No reason whatsoever for women to be defenceless.


21 posted on 02/01/2008 6:42:29 AM PST by wrench
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To: beaureguard

He won’t last long........


22 posted on 02/01/2008 6:44:25 AM PST by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we do have consensus.......)
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To: AnAmericanMother
The key is to travel in groups.

I disagree. The key is to look even more dangerous and deranged than the mutant who is looking to attack you in this manner. Not easy for a woman, though I guess people like Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen Degenerate could do it with some effort.

23 posted on 02/01/2008 6:53:26 AM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: AnAmericanMother
The key is to travel in groups. That's what I tell my daughter who's off at college. Run in a pack. The predators will look for easier game.

***********************

I agree with you on this. How often do we hear of women/girls who go off by themselves and end up dead? There is definitely safety in numbers.

24 posted on 02/01/2008 6:54:11 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: AnAmericanMother
The key is to travel in groups. That's what I tell my daughter who's off at college. Run in a pack. The predators will look for easier game.

So do I. Does your daughter listen any better than mine?

25 posted on 02/01/2008 7:10:36 AM PST by knittnmom (...surrounded by reality!)
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To: FreePaul

Exactly, it’s not safe to travel in the wilderness alone. For any number of reasons.

The Boy Scouts of America suggest a 4 person group is the smallest that should go out backpacking. 1 gets hurt, 1 stays with the injured, 2 go for help.

It’s too easy for a minor injury to get really serious if you are all by yourself. And that’s ignoring the predator issue!

A 24 year old woman has no business going out alone. Women get in good shape, they take self-defense classes, but in no case, are they match for a full grown man intent on doing them harm.


26 posted on 02/01/2008 7:11:00 AM PST by live+let_live
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To: petro45acp

“WOMEN, ARM YOURSELVES AND GET TRAINED! Doesn’t even have to be a firearm, however that is the most efficient means of self defense. Carry a blade with quick access, get trained in any of a number of very deadly and female friendly martial systems, develop a “don’t get scared, get mad” mindset to add to extreme situational awareness. Buy as much pistol as you can handle and conceal (with good fast access), and get training in mindset, awareness, stance, grip, draw, marksmanship, and post shoot legal processes. In short, become the warriors you already have built into your makeup (don’t mess with mama bear!).”

I taught my wife, daughter and son, as per your post above. My daughter put one of her targets with a nice tight group on the back door of our house with a note, “Are you sure you want to break in?”


27 posted on 02/01/2008 7:22:07 AM PST by super7man
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To: trisham
It is not often easy to find another runner or hiker to go with you when you want to go.
And sometimes one likes to be alone in nature.It’s unfortunate that women don’t have the ability to be this free.
I despise guns but I think that I would have to have mace or something to protect myself or I probably wouldn't enjoy either activity, I would be looking over my shoulder all the time.
This is a very sad story and I agree with a previous poster; was that law enforcement person tempted to follow along and did he fight the urge?
So many “ifs”.
28 posted on 02/01/2008 7:22:26 AM PST by georgia peach (georgia peach)
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To: trisham

“She “actually did fight him in the beginning until she was unable to anymore,” Darragh told reporters after the court hearing.”

There is a wealth of horror in that line.


29 posted on 02/01/2008 7:27:35 AM PST by I still care ("Remember... for it is the doom of men that they forget" - Merlin, from Excalibur)
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To: georgia peach
It is not often easy to find another runner or hiker to go with you when you want to go. And sometimes one likes to be alone in nature.It’s unfortunate that women don’t have the ability to be this free.

*****************

Don't I know it. For years I was up at 4:45 AM and out the door in the dark to run by myself. I was very aware of my surroundings, but I was also very lucky nothing ever happened.

I took one of my puppies around midday with me to a state park when he was about 14 weeks old. I was on the path in the woods when a man in street dress seemingly stepped out of nowhere. It really scared me, and I never did that again. My puppy is now seven and weighs 114 pounds. I no longer live near that park, though.

30 posted on 02/01/2008 7:32:10 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: I still care
There is a wealth of horror in that line.

*******************

I don't want to imagine what she went through.

31 posted on 02/01/2008 7:33:35 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: trisham

I guess that it is one of those things”that we cannot change”.I have a mixed breed who would not protect me in a crisis.
So I run in my small neighborhood although it gets boring and hike only with my husband.
My heart breaks for this girl’s family.
She was killed for money.Awful.
Good luck to you and keep running!


32 posted on 02/01/2008 7:36:43 AM PST by georgia peach (georgia peach)
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To: georgia peach

Thanks! Good luck to you as well!


33 posted on 02/01/2008 7:38:11 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: FreePaul

“Why would anyone go hiking, biking, jogging, etc. by themselves in a remote area. Don’t they know that they are prime targets for the prowling predators on two feet as well as four feet?”

I see it all the time while walking my dog on secluded trails. Attractive young women joggers that would be easy prey for a criminal. Since I don’t hear much about such women being attacked, it doesnt appear to be a big problem here. And they may be armed for all I know, since I haven’t “patted them down” or anything.


34 posted on 02/01/2008 7:49:18 AM PST by Hacklehead (Crush the liberals, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the hippies.)
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To: FreePaul

“...Why would anyone go hiking, biking, jogging, etc. by themselves in a remote area...”

Because the rewards can be worth the risk. Life is too fragile to take risks but too short not to.

Despite this episode it is not such a giant risk. Living alone in an apartment can be a risk too. I have hiked alone and camped alone and it is a great way to really get away from the rat race for a while.


35 posted on 02/01/2008 7:53:48 AM PST by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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To: wrench
A perfectly serviceable .32 revolver can be found in most places for about the price of a good pair of running shoes

Would that be considered "cheap"? One should recall that John McCain wants to ban "cheap" handguns.

36 posted on 02/01/2008 8:12:29 AM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: beaureguard
I have a single daughter who loves to hike and bike in the woods. Sometimes she does it alone when she has nobody to go with.

After a few tense encounters with suspicious men, I convinced her to go armed, especially if she is alone. I gave her a .22 revolver (that is all that is legal to carry here) and taught her how to use it. Now she openly carries it whenever she goes out in the woods alone. She feels a lot better but there is still a danger, especially if alone.

Serial killers are psychopathic personalities and are often clever and beguiling. If they catch you off guard, it might not much matter what you are armed with. In this case they had a struggle, so it may have made a difference if this unfortunate woman was armed with more than her "green belt".

This killer also apparently simultaneously took on two victims (an elderly couple) here in North Carolina last October. The woman was found bludgeoned dead near the trail but the man was never found. The killer also used one of their ATM cards. He probably murdered the man after he got the money. The lesson here is even hiking with another person is not necessarily safe. Apparently this couple was unarmed as well.

Predators don't usually attack those they think can fight back successfully. All these victims met his winnowing test.

37 posted on 02/01/2008 8:28:01 AM PST by Gritty (Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order-Thomas Paine)
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To: Fiji Hill
The only reason to ban "cheap" guns is to disarm the poor.

The technology

38 posted on 02/01/2008 8:40:39 AM PST by hoosierham (Waddaya mean Freedom isn't free ?;will you take a creditcard?)
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To: hoosierham; petro45acp
In Georgia it's illegal to carry in state parks, even with a permit. There are bills in the state legislature right now to change that.

You can read about it (and, if a resident of Georgia, join this fine organization) at Georgiacarry.org.

39 posted on 02/01/2008 8:53:42 AM PST by Turbopilot (iumop ap!sdn w,I 'aw dlaH)
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To: 80 Square Miles
Actually, my daughter is a good, biddable girl.

My 17 year old son is the one who doesn't listen. :-D

40 posted on 02/01/2008 8:59:51 AM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: AnAmericanMother

At our house, it’s the other way around. Our son usually listened, our daughter always knew better. They’re both adults now. She listens better than when she was a teen, but still seems pretty sure she knows more than most. Fibromyalgia is keeping her out of the woods and parks for now. Guess that’s the only good thing about that!


41 posted on 02/01/2008 9:05:08 AM PST by knittnmom (...surrounded by reality!)
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To: 80 Square Miles
That's a heckuva looking on the bright side. . . . :-(

My son is dead-set on joining the USMC as soon as he graduates high school. THEY will knock it out of him . . . they have lots of experience in that line.

42 posted on 02/01/2008 9:19:55 AM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Fiji Hill

Yes, that would be considered cheap because it is inexpensive. As mentioned above, a ban on inexpensive guns intended for self defense is nothing but an attempt to disarm the poor (or financially challenged if you prefer).


43 posted on 02/01/2008 9:31:34 AM PST by wrench
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To: trisham
Too many people watch movies with women kicking the H___ out of men. Does not happen very often in real life. Most women simply do not have the upper body strength to fight off a determined man. And martial arts is good aerobic exercise for a “man on a mission.” Realize that ex-cons or repeat offenders KNOW how and when they will attack, you do not.

Get a gun and learn how to use it. Get an aggressive dog, get a group of friends. DO NOT TRUST/TALK to strangers.

44 posted on 02/01/2008 9:42:29 AM PST by Tahoe3002
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To: AnAmericanMother

The last few months have been rough for her, but things are starting to look up a little. She has applications in for desk jobs that she should be able to handle, and we’re doing warm water therapy together, which seems to be helping. God is good.


45 posted on 02/01/2008 10:12:40 AM PST by knittnmom (...surrounded by reality!)
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To: Tahoe3002
Too many people watch movies with women kicking the H___ out of men. Does not happen very often in real life. Most women simply do not have the upper body strength to fight off a determined man. And martial arts is good aerobic exercise for a “man on a mission.” Realize that ex-cons or repeat offenders KNOW how and when they will attack, you do not.

You're right. Also, few women have been raised to know how to fight someone who is not going to fight "by the rules".

Get a gun and learn how to use it. Get an aggressive dog, get a group of friends. DO NOT TRUST/TALK to strangers.

Good advice!

46 posted on 02/01/2008 10:15:18 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: beaureguard
Did they say what happened to her dog?

Carolyn

47 posted on 02/01/2008 10:19:08 AM PST by CDHart ("It's too late to work within the system and too early to shoot the b@#$%^&s."--Claire Wolfe)
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To: beaureguard

Valhalla.


48 posted on 02/01/2008 10:24:12 AM PST by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: petro45acp

Absolutely. A .22 Short round is plenty powerful enough to kill a person. Empty all six chambers of a cheap revolver into someone’s soft guts and they will officially be having a Bad Day no matter how big they are.


49 posted on 02/01/2008 10:27:32 AM PST by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: 80 Square Miles

That’s tough - but you’re right, God is good. If she can see her way to do a little regular light exercise as her acute symptoms abate, that is supposed to help in the long run with the pain. I have a friend who has fought this off and on for years, and she says exercise helps.


50 posted on 02/01/2008 11:40:34 AM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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