Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Journal of Norinko Hanasaki
Investigative & Research Cases

Part One

The Strange Legacy of Leland Stanford
A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

An early depiction of the Santa Monica Tunnel


To date, we have followed the case of Norinko Hanasaki, fourteen year old middle-school student, whose disappearance from a moving bus passing through the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel has gone virtually unnoticed by the media. I've been trying to unweave this puzzling mystery and my research has led me back to the place where Norinko disappeared--the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel. What follows is a summary of the salient discoveries about the tunnel, its history, its builders, and the betrayals that have followed the construction of the tunnel since the 1800s. What is remarkable about this research is how it connects to Hanasaki. It is more than coincidence. The student's disappearance, in fact, seems to follow a pattern. But I've been working hard on this piece for over a month, so perhaps I am imagining these connections. I will leave any further correlations to you, dear readers, to judge for yourselves.

Research Findings on Leland Stanford 

You probably recognize the name of Stanford for the university he had built in honor of his deceased son, Leland Stanford, Jr., Leland Stanford Junior University (now known as Stanford University) at a cost of 40 million dollars. The industrialist acquired his wealth mainly from the Central Pacific Railroad (CPR). He was part of "The Big Four", investors who brought the railroad and all its business to California. After an unsuccessful bid for the California governorship, Leland moved his family from Sacramento to San Francisco (circa 1854). There he became president of the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company (OOSC), dealing with Japan and China in furtherance of The Central Pacific Railroad expansion. It was through the OOSC that Stanford hired laborers for the building of the railroad track.

In his second bid for the California governorship in 1861, Leland was elected to the top executive post of the state. In 1862, Stanford betrayed his Chinese and Japanese railroad workers by supporting and lobbying for "anti-Chinese" mandates in the Legislature, where Chinese immigration was blamed for the labor problems in the Gold Rush cities from Sacramento to San Francisco. Although the new governor was hailed as a leader of the "white" people of California, Stanford's political opponents revealed to the Press that it was Leland himself who brought the majority of "Asians" into the state via his dealings with the railroad and the OOSC.
This betrayal seems to have begun a series of bad omens for the CPR.

Note: The Chinese workers hired by Stanford were of the Han Province in China. The Japanese workers introduced "sake" (a fermented rice liquor) to the immigrant railroad laborers and Leland Stanford began to import the drink to sell to his own workers. “Sake” meant “criminal” to the German immigrants who worked alongside the Japanese on the railroad or did business with them in the small towns that sprung up along the railway route. Although the Japanese meaning is clearly “liquor”, the immigrant Germans thought the Japanese merchants were saying “sache” (legal), which, in turn, the Germans used to mean an illegal thing or person. In this case, the Japanese were selling liquor behind Stanford's back to the other railroad workers; the Germans considered this a betrayal of their boss.

Note: Is it a coincidence that "Han" and "sake" combined spell Norinko's last name: "Han(a)saki"?

The Big Four, powerful industrialists invested in the building the railway, hired Theodore Judah as the Chief Engineer, who constructed the route of the railroad, including bridges and tunnels. After falling out of favor with the industrialist investors, Judah sought out new investors so that he could finish the final stages of the railway line to the Pacific Coast. He died of Yellow Fever while on route to meet with the new investors in New York. It was Judah who built the tunnel where Norinko Hanasaki disappeared. It was the last project he oversaw.

Visit here for more background on the train tunnel before it was converted to a freeway tunnel. 

Visit here to view the earliest footage of the tunnel.

Theodore Judah was a known "Freemason" (as were Stanford and the other "Big Four"), who as an engineer and builder, had strong connections to Freemasonry and was a "Master Mason" who was taught to be loyal to one's employers or suffer certain death. The story of "Hiram Abiff" comes from their religion's beliefs. Hiram was the architect of King Solomon's Temple; he was murdered by three thieves who attempted to extract the secret passwords of a Master Mason. Hiram died keeping the secrets and maintaining his loyalty to the Freemasons. In contrast, Judah betrayed his employers by seeking new investors behind the backs of "The Associates", the name "The Big Four" used among themselves when addressing the railroad business.

Note: Theodore Judah was portrayed heroically on the TV show, Hell on Wheels. On the show, we see a parallel conflict with the Mormons with the curse of Hiram Abiff (a curse that portends the death of any Master Builder who betrays the interests of Freemasonry).

Furthermore, Stanford and Judah had the Chinese workers dig the tunnels using nitroglycerin. Many died in the tunnels but many more died because the Chinese were forced to camp by the work sites, whereas white workers were provided shelter away from the dangerous construction. These camps were buried in landslides caused by the unpredictability of nitro. Neither Leland or Theodore considered the loss of Asian lives above the progress of the tracks and tunnels.

Which brings us back to the Santa Monica Tunnel where Norinko Hanasaki disappeared. The school bus entered the tunnel with Norinko sitting at her seat. The moment the bus exited the dark tunnel, Norinko was no longer at her seat, according to her classmates and the bus driver.

If you know of any further news on Hanasaki's disappearance, please contact me at servanteofdarkness@gmail.com.

I am in the process of organizing my notes and emails into a cohesive "series" so the reader can more easily follow the progress of my investigation. Thank you for your patience.


Part Two

Betrayals & Massacres
Surrounding the McClure Tunnel
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante

The McClure Tunnel

[Start of Email]

To Anthony Servante
From Tom Thumb [Pseudonym]
Re The article I wrote for the Herald Examiner in 1967 was turned down for publication because I was told that it opened old wounds and spoke ill of the owner's [William Randolph Hearst] close friends. I put this together after reading about the Norinko Hanasaki disappearance. You may be interested to know that the Santa Monica Tunnel, AKA The McClure Tunnel, has a history of dirty secrets beyond the Stanford connection you researched. Here are my notes from the article as the Herald never returned the original copy of my story, and in those days, we used carbon paper to make copies, and I was too cheap to buy some carbon sheets. Please do not share my email address with anyone. I've been feeling uneasy since I read your other research on the disappearance of the Hanasaki girl. I think we're both opening wounds. But the public needs to know.

Santa Monica McClure Tunnel: A California History of Ghosts and Greed
[Photos included by A. Servante for visual accuracy. Corrections are welcome].

Wasp Newspaper Editorial Cartoon 
Depicting the Tyrannical Expansion of the Southern Pacific Railroad

Originally constructed as a train tunnel by Southern Pacific Railroad (SPR), the structure promised the train passengers a surprising view of the Pacific Ocean as the train exited the western end of the tunnel. Five years before the building of the tunnel, the railroad company was buying and selling land along the route passing through Fresno County (as it was known then). The settlers of the Fresno land known as the Mussel Slough (MS) territory felt the railroad was trying to cheat them when the prices for land were raised arbitrarily by the SPR. Since the government had awarded the settlers with the MS land, they wished only to buy more land from the SPR to expand their ranches and farms, especially in light of the new train route expansion bringing more commercial potential for the landowners. Instead, the SPR began to purchase as much land as possible from the settlers who would sell to gain a stronghold on the property and force the settlers out. The railroad men turned to drastic measures to get what they wanted from the land owners. 

On May 11, 1880, four railroad men were serving notices of eviction to settlers who had lost their settlements due to some corrupt court actions, the settlers claimed. When word got out to the neighboring settlers that their friends were being thrown out of their homes, 20 Mussel Slough residents confronted the railroad men, a U.S. Marshall, a railroad land surveyor, and two "deputies". Upon seeing the mass of homesteaders heading their way, Deputy Walter J. Crow opened fire and wounded several of the men and killed five. As he fled the scene, one of the settlers shot Crow in the back, killing him. The other deputy was killed as well as gunfire exploded from both sides. The Marshall and the surveyor escaped harm by calming the angry homesteaders. But the damage was done. The event became known as the Mussel Slough Tragedy.

The Mussel Slough Five

"The Retribution Comet" — Editorial cartoon published in The Wasp, July 8, 1881, depicting a comet with a skull about to strike railroad tycoons Leland Stanford and Collis Potter Huntington, shown robbing the graves of the Mussel Slough victims.

The newspapers were split in their description of the tragedy. The Wasp, July 8, 1881, depicted a satiric editorial cartoon mocking the greed of the railroad tycoons [see above]. On the other hand, other newspapers, including noted writer Ambrose Bierce, depicted the settlers as squatters who attacked a U.S. Marshall and his deputies. Later, however, Bierce wrote a scalding satire against "The Big Four" railroad men in a poetry book titled "Black Beetles in Amber" and railed against political corruption in his book "Fantastic Fables". It was later learned that the deputies were never sworn in and that they were merely paid settlers who acted as bodyguards for the railroad surveyor. Five of the settlers involved in the gunfire were charged in federal court and imprisoned. With anti-railroad sentiment running high, the Mussel Slough Massacre victims were hailed as heroes. 

The SPR (circa 1898) build a tunnel that connected the Fresno County railway line to the Santa Monica connection by Long Wharf in an effort to rebuild confidence in the new railway route that connected King County [as Fresno was later named] and Los Angeles County. During construction, however, mysterious sounds were heard in the tunnel by the workers. Security guards reported hearing gunfire and shouting inside the tunnel at night. Sporadic screams echoed through the tunnel as workers laid track. Two weeks after the unnamed tunnel was completed, the SPR demolished the construction and rerouted the train route along the coastline through what today is known as Venice

Tunnel Dedication 1936

In 1936 The Olympic Tunnel was built as a motor vehicle freeway connecting to the Pacific coastline highway. The builders of the new tunnel also reported strange noises, including voices, and witnessing the weeping spirits of the victims of Walter J. Crow. As cars drove through the tunnel, the drivers complained to the Santa Monica city planner that the lights in the tunnel turned off as they entered the pathway toward the beach and that even their own car lights dimmed to a barely visible light. It was surprising that no accidents were reported as drivers were passing through the tunnel virtually blinded. Robert E. McClure, a respected newspaper man for the Santa Monica Outlook, wanted to honor the fallen settlers of Mussel Slough in the hopes that the weird occurrences in the tunnel would cease if the name of the tunnel was changed (The Olympic had connotations of being paid for by the railroad) and allowed his name to replace The Olympic in 1966. Today it is known as the McClure Tunnel. Despite the name change, the supernatural sightings continued. And to this day still continue.
[End of the Unpublished Article]

[Writer adds a footnote that ends abruptly]. 

Some of the strange events that were printed in the local newspapers between 1936 and 1966 include drivers bursting into tears upon entering the tunnel. One woman claimed that her dog started barking and suddenly stopped; when she emerged from the tunnel the dog was no longer in the car and was never found. Police searched the tunnel, but what they found were the bodies of four railroad workers who were identified by their clothes as laborers of the Long Wharf tunnel built and demolished over fifty years before. Their corpses looked weeks old, according to the coroner.

Since the bus driver in the Hanasaki girl disappearance has not been found, I believe that there is something in that tunnel connected to the curse of Walter J. Crow. Somehow people going through the tunnel are paying for the murders of the innocent settlers and are condemned to 
[End of Email].

This email arrived at my address (servanteofdarkness@gmail.com) on January 2nd, 2017. I tried to contact the writer by email two times and received no reply. If you have further information on the real name of Tom Thumb, or the editor of the Herald Examiner in 1967, please forward this information to me to update this article. I have been scouring the local newspapers in the beach areas of Santa Monica, Venice, and Long Beach for any further information on Norinko Hanasaki. Calls and emails to investigators have been largely ignored. The one call I did receive was from an anonymous woman supposedly from the California Highway Patrol who wanted to let me know that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office in Downtown Los Angeles were handling the case now. I dispatched an email to the LA Sheriff's Office yesterday [January 5, 2017] and will update my readers as soon as I have any new information. 

Update: I heard from the office last month and plan to go live with the information as soon as I organize it and correlate it to other research and sources I've developed since the Tom Thumb email. Please be patient. To date, I am merely re-editing and re-posting the articles that I had published earlier this year to reflect the latest information that my research has ascertained. 

Thank you again for your patience, readers,

Anthony Servante


Part Three

Contact with Witnesses
Disappearance in the Tunnel
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel

View from Pacific Coast Highway

School bus returning from drop-offs

This is Part Three to the Norinko Hanasaki investigation initiated by the Servante of Darkness Blog earlier this year. Hanasaki, a fourteen year old (now fifteen), disappeared from the school bus while it drove through the infamous McClure Tunnel last June 2016. I have received emails regarding this subject, but they have proven to be jokes or attempts at fiction. 

I received this email last week. It took me about that time to confirm it was not a prank. After speaking with the students' parents, I decided to post it today. Deletions are at the parents' request. Norinko Hanasaki was the name provided by the local newspaper when this story first broke. There have been several deaths and accidents that have occurred in the McClure Tunnel (aka, the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel) over the years, in addition to disappearances and missing people, but local news media has shifted its focus to current events (sadly) away from the Hanasaki investigation. 

Emails with more information are most welcome and will be published here upon a cursory investigation into their authenticity. Thank you. 

Follow these links to view the history of violence in the tunnel.  With apologies to the friends and family of any of the victims. 


[Start of email]

Dear Mr. Servante,

My name is Bridget (last name deleted by me). I go to the (school name deleted by me) Catholic Middle School in (my deletion). I read ur articles on Norinko Hanasaki and the Santa Monica Tunnel and I wanted to see if u have any more news about Norinko. It’s almost ten months and we don’t know anything about what’s going on. The teachers don’t talk about it. The parents don’t talk. Nobody talks. Even the students stopped asking about it. But my friend Suzie (not her real name) and me, we still want to know what happened. Can u tell us if u heard anymore information? If we can help u, let me know.

[End of email]

Note: I contacted Bridget (not her real name) and asked if I could post her email on the blog. She said yes, and I edited the email because she is in middle school and under 18 years of age, as I was reminded by her parents and the parents of "Suzie". I asked Bridget questions about her friendship with Norinko, what she remembers about the day Norinko disappeared, and any information about the police investigation at the school. She said that she would send me this information as soon as she could. I await her reply and will post it (after edits) once I confirm the information. More to come.


Part Four

The Folklore of Missing Children
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

From "The Stolen Child"
By William Butler Yeats.

The disappearance of children throughout history around the world has been depicted in folklore as magically manipulated events. Whether parents use these tales of lost children to scare their own sons and daughters to stay close to home or to manufacture accounts to explain the mysterious disappearance of a child in the community, the folk stories have come to capture both a child's and a parent's basic fear: Leaving familiar surroundings and entering unfamiliar places. For the parent who wakes to find their child missing, it's a fear of loss and helplessness, a lack of control over the child; for the youngster, it's a fear of waking in a strange land with no means to return home, no mother and father to care for them. In either case, there are forces at work that religious folk can only explain with supernatural culpability. It wasn't a kidnapper who took my child; it was fairy or troll. 

Let’s consider a few folklore legends as examples. We’ll begin with Yeats. 

In Irish tradition, the Changeling is blamed for missing children and problem kids as well. The typical version has the Twileth Teg replace an infant in the crib with a fairy in baby form. When the child cries day and night and eats incessantly, the husband suspects the creature in the crib behaves like a fairy; however, the wife still believes the child to be her own and continues to feed it. When the pantry begins to dwindle to nothing, the wife seeks counsel from the wise old woman of the village, who teaches her to trick the fairy into revealing itself. The deception works and the infant speaks like a grisly old man. The wife tosses the child into the fireplace, and the changeling turns to smoke and flies out the chimney. The real child returns to the crib. Though, during the years, the story has changed with the child never being returned, even after the changeling is discovered and expelled.

The infant transforms into the Changling

The two ways we can discern the evolution of the tale is that originally parents who provide discipline to a troublesome child will be rewarded with a obedient youngster. This disciplinary method would reward parents who follow the rule of "spare the rod, spoil the child". It wasn't so much a changeling in the crib, but a spoiled child who needed "tough love". In this sense, the "devil" was beaten out of the child, leaving only his "good" side. The second way concerns events that were closer to fact. When parents lost a child to kidnappers, to plague, or to the labyrinths of the forest, in most cases the youngster was murdered, died, or was never heard from again. The evolution of the tale stretched from religious hope to the cruel reality of the era.

In a variation of the Irish Changeling, fairies do not switch babies for one of their own; instead, they wait at the edge of a forest for passing or wandering children and tempt them to accompany them into the woods. It is unclear what the fairies want with the youngsters, but there are a few possibilities. For one, they may seek to adopt the kids and raise them as their own. On the other hand, they may seek to wreak worry on irresponsible parents. In extreme cases, the children may be eaten. It was easy to blame "the forest" and its inhabitants on the disappearance of the youngsters since many people did not venture into the woods  for fear of getting lost or falling prey to predatory creatures that found smaller visitors, such as kids, easy to kill. Rather than admit that they were not taking care of their children, negligent mothers and fathers were quick to blame "fairies", bears, or child abductors.

Merrow take the children to sea.

“'In 'The Vanishing People', author and fairy expert Katharine Briggs said God cast these angels from heaven. Those that landed on Earth became woodland fairies; those that landed in the water became mermaids and other sea creatures. These fairies remained trapped between heaven and Earth until Judgment Day.” The existence of the fairy creatures represented the notion of a religious Purgatory, a waiting room between Heaven and Hell. It was the job of the fairies and Merrows to select their victims for Hades, or allow the victims to escape or to return the children to their parents for their form of heaven.

Note: We often think of supernatural creatures like demons ("The Exorcist", for one, namely Pazuzu) to come from Hell. The priest acts an a conduit between the powers of God and the magnetic pull of Satan's power. In this sense, the "Church" is Purgatory; neither heaven or hell. But just as the fairy's role is like a pagan guide between heaven and hell, according to Briggs, so, too, is the role of the religion a pagan choice between good and evil. And not just demons. Consider the vampire as a metaphor for eternal Purgatory, where one is neither in heaven or hell.

Typical headline for its time.

In England, the child abductors were the "gypsies". “Generations of British parents have warned their kids about Gypsy bogeymen lurking in the shadows, waiting to snatch incautious children. The idea even crept into lullabies:”

‘Hush nae, hush nae, dinna fret ye
The black Tinkler (Gypsy) winna get ye.’

Still, gypsies were convenient villains to blame by mothers and fathers with poor parenting skills. As fairies became less believable in the new age, the dark bohemians made for good suspects as kidnappers, child molesters, and ransomers. One only has to think of Laurel & Hardy's film, "Bohemian Girl", where gypsies kidnap the daughter of the king. The two old bachelors raise the girl until one day she comes to the castle where she grew up to find her true father. From the king's point of view, however, the story is not so Romantic. He lost his child, who disappeared from the castle grounds and was thought dead. The happy ending is just a band-aid for the loss of his daughter; he missed her childhood years. She returns to him as a young lady. What thoughts crossed the king's mind all those years?! Gypsy kidnappers? Fairies? Someone or something must be blamed.

Yama-Uba taking a baby.

In Japanese folklore, the Yama-Uba tells the story of the "Mountain Nurse." "Legend says she catches little children and nurses them for awhile, and then devours them. The Yama-Uba did not clutch at us, because her hands were occupied with a nice little boy, whom she was just going to eat. The child had been made wonderfully pretty to heighten the effect. The spectre, hovering in the air above a tomb at some distance ... had no eyes; its long hair hung loose; its white robe floated light as smoke. I thought of a statement in a composition by one of my pupils about ghosts: "'Their greatest peculiarity is that they have no feet.'" Then I jumped again, for the thing, quite soundlessly, but very swiftly, made through the air at me."
Source: Steve Berman's short story, “A Troll on a Mountain with a Girl”.

The Yama-Uba represents the cruel side of life for the family. As we saw with the Changeling, the fairy represented a problem child or unmasked the shortcomings of bad parents. Here the Japanese spinster is the abomination of motherhood. She nurses the young that she abducts and fattens them for consumption in three days. This interpretation, however, comes from the Western influence of witches in the forest who consume children. Traditionally, the Yama-Uba is a mountain witch who the Japanese believe brings wealth to the homes she haunts. She is protective of the places she inhabits. In Berman's description (Westernized version), the witch's ghostly features are exaggerated (no eyes, no feet); in Japanese Noh Drama, "Yamauba is the fairy of the mountains, which have been under her care since the world began. She decks them with snow in winter, with blossoms in spring ... She has grown very old. Wild white hair hangs down her shoulders; her face is very thin" (Yamauba, Dame of the Mountain, Konparu Zenchiku). She exemplifies the Winter, its harsh climate, but also its beauty of Nature. The Westerners turned her into a figure with which to scare children from disobeying their parents. 

In German folklore, the Pied Piper of Hamlin tale is perhaps its most well known. It not only contains the elements of a traditional folk story, but also the remnants of historical events throughout the generations of its telling. The story most familiar to Western readers concerns the town of Hamlin that is overrun by rats. The Mayor and the townsfolk agree to hire the "Pied Piper" to rid the streets of the vermin for a fee. The Piper lures the rats from the town with the alluring music from his pipe. Hamlin is free of the beady-eyed creatures. But then the Mayor reneges on his promise to pay the piper. The musical exterminator thus uses the charms of his pipe to lure the children out of the town while the citizens are in church. Three children, deaf, blind, and disabled, cannot keep up with the rest of the children following the Pied Piper out of town and tell the church-goers about the piper's misdeed. The children are never found and never heard from again. A later version has the children being returned once his payment is received. The former telling coincides with the Westernized version used to warn kids away from strangers. But there are other versions that researchers say may be closer to the truth behind the fantastic event.

Pied Piper by Jiri Barta

"William Manchester's 'A World Lit Only by Fire' places the events in 1484, 100 years after the written mention in the town chronicles that 'It is 100 years since our children left', and further proposes that the Pied Piper was a psychopathic pedophile" (1992 Printing). The American historian surmises that that a child molester murderer was killing children and that over time the number of kids killed was embellished as modern influences added to the story. One such influence was the outbreak of plague that killed mostly children. In this case, the Pied Piper plays the role of the "angel of death", the guide in Purgatory who decides who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. "In her essay 'Pied Piper Revisited', Sheila Harty states that surnames from the region settled are similar to those from Hamlin and that selling off illegitimate children, orphans or other children the town could not support is the more likely explanation: (Wiki). Both Manchester and Harty fail to account for the sheer number of children who disappear in the story. If the Piper tale were a condensed version of decades of history, perhaps the historical views would bear a ring of truth, but our folktale here is presented over a few days and the disappearance of 134 youngsters would not stand up to closer scrutiny. It is more likely that our Pied Piper simply evolved into another bogeyman to scare the kids into being obedient little children.

Alaskan folklore has the "Qalupalik, a creature of Inuit legend described as being human-like and having green skin with long hair and very long fingernails. She lives in the sea, hums to entice children to come closer to the water and wears an amautik; she takes the children and raises them as her own under the sea" (Wiki). In Irish folklore, the Merrow lurked along the coastline to lure youngsters into the sea to raise as their own; fairies of the woods waited on the edge of the forest to trick the kids into following them into the deep darkness of the trees. This creature follows the tradition of Westernized thinking: Obedient children do not disappear into the unknown (whether forest, ocean, mountain, or big city). It is not difficult to imagine parents warning children not to play by the seaside for fear the Qalupalik would take them into the water.

The Qalupalik

In Carribean folklore, the Douen are creatures with large blue circles around their eyes, razor sharp talons for feet, that are backwards, and hands with sharp nails, and needle-like fangs; they appear and re-appear in different locations like a will-o-the-wisp that flickers in one spot, goes off, and lights up in another. They are believed to be the spirits of children who were victims of previous Douen. They lure children from their homes with a siren-like call that is both song and laughter; the kids venture into the forest or jungle, abandoning their real families. "Douen are masters of deception and can steal away 'even the most protected child.' They are particularly good at misleading search parties and their victims are never found" (Wiki).

Douen enchanting a child from home.

Douen spirits (note the backward feet).

Note the commonalities of the Douen, Qalupalik (and to some extent, the Pied Piper), and woodland fairy, who live in areas usually forbidden to children ("don't go too deep in the ocean water", "don't wander too far into the forest", and "don't go into the jungle"). While some folktales revolve around the activities of the folk creature, others depend on the habitat of the mythical beast or sprite. Some creatures steal the kids outright, but the enchanters lure the young victims to their lair for various reasons (to raise them as their own, to kill them, or to eat them). For the parents, this allows them to use the legend to scare the child not only to be obedient (or the monster will take you) or not to wander too far from home (or the monster will take you away forever). Although some folktales tell of the child being returned, the Westernization versions always have the children becoming victims or captives or food.

In Mexico, La Llorona (aka The Weeping Woman or literally, The Weeper) also steals children who wander too far from home. She is a spirit caught between Heaven and Hell, doomed to wander the Purgatory of Earth for her crime of prolicide, the killing of one's own children; she drowns her kids to punish her unfaithful husband, then wanders the streets at night weeping and searching for her children. As the tale goes, Maria, a beautiful woman of pride and self-confidence, marries a handsome man; they have three children. Her husband turns out to be a womanizer and a drunk, a side that materializes as Maria takes on the role of mother and housewife. When she discovers that her husband is cheating on her with a younger woman, her proud and confident spirit is broken. She falls into a deep depression and devises a means of vengeance. The only weakness she can find to attack her unfaithful spouse is his love for the children. Maria takes the three kids to the river and drowns them. When she realizes what evil jealousy has driven her to, she drowns herself as well. She is neither welcome in Heaven or Hell and wanders the Earth seeking her children, who, in her madness, yet live. Whenever she comes upon any youngsters playing on their own far from home, she mistakes them for her own children and steals them away to the nearby hills. Only after she realizes that these are not her children does she leave them to starvation or for the coyotes to feed on and returns to her search for her own kids.

La Llorona (as envisioned for Halloween Nights)

All the elements of our Westernization of the modern telling of folktales are evident here: La Llorona will take you if you stay out late at night or wander too far from home. Even your humble author here grew up with this warning night after night and spent many a late night looking over his shoulder. The new element that I wasn't aware of till my research on The Weeper was this rejection by Heaven AND Hell, and her exile to wander Earth. Perhaps her stealing and killing of children was beneficial to the Devil, so they refused her entrance, but why would Heaven refuse her without any means of redemption? In the version I grew up with, La Llorona didn't kill herself; she went mad when she saw her drowned kids flowing down the river. She tried to follow them, but the current was too fast, and she soon lost sight of their little bodies. From then on, she wanders up and down the river and searches towns by rivers, looking for her children. Even for the pathetic concrete riverbed that the Los Angeles River makes, it was still the stuff for parents to use to scare their kids to stay close to home.

In Scandinavia, the Trolls were much like Changelings but also used enchantment to lure children into the mountains to hold captive for years or for food (as evidenced in the pre-Westernization of the troll tales). As such, these folktale creatures parallel the creatures we've described earlier. But there is a darker side to these tales I want to cover. The Scandinavian folktales are perhaps the most cruel in their history. Children were sacrificed to thwart off famine, plague, and bad luck. The Scandinavians also believed in Trolls (Changelings). If they believed that a such a creature had been exchanged for their baby, they had no problem with killing the Changeling by putting it in the oven and burning it to death for the return of their child. Often, though, it was their child that they were killing simply because the child would not stop crying or because the child was very sick, but these were the signs, they believed, of Troll behavior. They also practiced the torture of the Changeling until their child was returned to them. In extreme cases, the child was buried alive in order to prolong its death, giving the Trolls more than enough time to bring back the real baby.

Troll Changeling

But these are the extremes of the oldest form of the tales, when fact and fiction were seamless. To the modern world, especially the Western world, we see a primitive community killing its own children. In reality, however, for its time and place, these parents were wisely dealing with trickster trolls who had stolen their child and left behind a Changeling disguised as a baby. Still, it is difficult not to feel some aversion to the entire practice of child sacrifice, no matter the age or time.

Lastly, we look at the folklore of the Chinese. When we discuss the disappearance of children, one must be aware of the likely place the child will be taken to, and not just the child, but all humans, both dead and alive. This place is called Diyu. It would be naive to call it Hell, for it is more than that; it is more a waiting room, a Purgatory between life and death, death and reincarnation, not Heaven and Hell. Let's look at the three main reasons for Diyu. One, it serves as a place to decide the length of time a person will serve there before being reincarnated; the length of time is important because that is the amount of time it will require to wash away the sins of this person. Two, it serves as a place of torture; the degree of torture will depend of the nature of the sinner (was he a murderer, a thief, etc). Three, it serves as a place for the two types of person who do not fit One or Two: For instance, there is a place for "innocents" called Huhuva, where sinless spirits still must wait for reincarnation, but live in relative comfort during their stay; and there is a place called Avici, where the sins of the person are so great that he can never leave and will be subject to torture forever.

Diyu: the level of torture by fire.

Diyu: the level of torture by dismemberment.

Diyu has eighteen levels of torture. Each level unique to the length and degree of the punishment to be inflicted in the name of cleansing for a proper return to Earth via reincarnation. Each level is called a Naraka, which consists of Ice or Fire (except in the case of Avici, which utilizes all forms of torture for eternity, and Huhuva, where the Innocents await return to Earth).

Note: There are two types of person in Huhuva: One, the Innocent who died sinless; he will be held till there is an opening (the birth of a newborn baby) who fits his profile; and two, the Innocent who yet lives (on an operating table, buried alive, etc) and must await return to Earth either in their own body once it is repaired on Earth or reincarnated in a new body to begin life anew. This last position is tricky because if the person goes into a coma on Earth, he is basically trapped in Diyu, snacking on grape leaves and hummus till he awakes; he cannot be sent back as a baby because he is not dead. Should he wake from the coma, he is returned to his body with a healing spirit that will help his injured body heal all the more quickly. However, the memory of Diyu remains until the body is completely healed and returns to normal. Keep in mind, even in Huhuva, the Innocents can still see the other levels of torture. In a strange way, I guess, it's their reality TV.

One of the Narakas

Each Naraka is overseen by one of the Ten Yama Kings of the Ten Courts, each court responsible for the length and degree of torture. These kings supervise the Demons of Diyu. Each demon has a specialty of torture. Note in the drawings of Diyu above the demons appear as blue figures, some with spears, others with instruments of their craft in hand. When "wandering spirits" enter Diyu, they are not placed in any one Naraka and allowed to roam between Narakas for eternity. They are even allowed in Avici and Huhuva. A wandering spirit is one who did not receive a proper burial (a Chinese fear that we have discussed in the previous parts of the Norinko Research cases). With a proper burial, the spirits qualify for reincarnation and a room with a view in Huhuva.

For our purposes here in this article, I'd like to end with the folklore of missing children connection. For the Chinese, there is no bogeyman, there is no threat by strange creatures who will steal you away; they believe that missing children are in Diyu, looked after for their innocence. It is a rare child who is sinful. Even curiosity is not a sin. Should one of the Yama Kings appear to collect a spirit for the Narakas, sometimes the doorway to Diyu opens for a second. And sometimes a child may wander in to see what all the fire and ice is about, to find the source of the cries and screams. Then it is the Yama King's duty to place the child in Huhuva and perhaps to scold the child politely as a Shaolin Priest would scold a student. Only in the Chinese Diyu can such extremes exist together: Heaven and Hell, redemption and torture.

In each of the countries we have visited, we have found their folklore of missing children both familiar and strange. There were many commonalities among them, especially the plight of parenting and the mischief of children (and its consequences). We found that each country has developed sinister creatures and monsters to stand as representatives for the fears of both parent and child, but also the common fear of the community when dealing with threats such as plague or hardships such as crop failure and drought. Except for the Chinese folklore, I found very little hope in the tales. In olden times, the folktales told of the return of the child, but as Westernization influenced the stories and perhaps the Puritanical elements crept into the folklore, the children in the tales were doomed never to return, condemned to be eaten for wandering too far from home or being disobedient to their mothers and fathers. So I end the article with a little hope that lost children may find their way to Huhuva and avoid the trolls, the douen, the fairies, and La Llorona. 

Part Five

An Email from Suzie
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

Suzie Email 4-25-17
Thank you for writing about my friend Norinko. I think you should write more about her and not about fairy stories. I think you're being unrespectful. You need to talk to the policeman that came to our school last summer. Here's his name and phone number [deleted]. He gave a card to all the students and teachers he talked to. I hope you'll keep writing about Norinko. But more about her. Not about fairies.
Suzie [last name deleted].

My response: 4-25-17
Hey, Suzie,
I'd like to apologize for being disrespectful to your friend. It wasn't my intention. But I have to write about everything about the case, not just what the police are doing. Police information is not so easy to get so I write about subjects that will keep the name of Norinko Hanasaki of interest to my readers. As you can see, I have written three articles about Norinko and a lot of people are reading them. And your schoolmate Bridget also appeared on my blog and offered to help. But I do promise I will call the number you sent me. And I promise I'll write about it. But you can help me too. Can you tell me about Norinko? It would also help if you reminded Bridget to send me that information I asked her for. Again I apologize for seeming insensitive, but that's far from the truth. I do care. That's why I'll keep writing until we learn more about what happened. Please extend my apologies to Norinko's family as well.
Anthony Servante

Part Six

Bridget's Email: 4-25-17 
The Bus Ride Through the Tunnel
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

The McClure Tunnel Closed Once Again


I held up this email for obvious reasons. I mean, I just came from seeing "Phoenix Forgotten", which is basically "Blair Witch" with UFOs. Surprised to see it was produced by Ridley Scott, whose latest version of Alien meets Prometheus looked pretty generic in the new trailer (especially after that awesome extended "trailer" with actors Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace--can adults still say 'awesome'; it was our word first). 

I decided to blog this email as is, unedited (except for the name of the sender whose name has been changed because of her age). All I can say is I confirmed it is from the Catholic school in question, but the subject matter is anything if not interesting. Just for comparison, we've got articles on the Tongs of the Wild West, the true story of the corpse that wouldn't lie still, and other strange subjects that relate to the focus of our attention--the McClure Tunnel and all its mysteries since the mid-1800s. Even today there are still new odd phenomena and tragic accidents occurring inside the tunnel. Closures have become commonplace.

Still, there's always the more topical side that relates to a blog called the Servante of Darkness. So here is Bridget's email, I hope the first of many.

The Email:

Dear Mr. Servante,
I’m sorry for Suzie. She was kind of mad about ur folklore blog. She’s more religious than me. For the last ten months since Norie went missing, our parents have been meeting a lot and going to Temple. Suzie goes with them a lot. She prays and lights candles and incense for Bodhisattva at the Prajnaparamita. There are so many things, I don’t know what to tell u. I guess I should tell u first about the bus ride that day.

Suzie always sits by the window with Norie. I sit behind them. I like to look over Norie’s shoulder to see what she’s drawing in her notebook. She has a Tokidoki notebook. She loves that stuff, but Suzie can tell you about that. Norie likes to write poems too, some with the drawings, some just for the poems. It was Monday, June 13 last year. She was drawing a bird with a girl’s face or like a girl wearing a bird costume. I couldn’t tell.

The bus driver already let off most the students at their stops so there were only around six or seven of us still on the bus when it got on the freeway. It’s the same route all the time. First the kids on the north side of the tunnel then the kids on the south side of the tunnel. It’s the Catholic school rules that we ride the bus. We could catch the regular Big Blue bus home or the south side kids most of them can walk home but we have to ride the school bus.

And I don’t get why we have to go to Catholic school if our parents are Buddha heads. It’s like kind of the school’s fault, I think. The Nuns don’t even seem to care. I tell them our parents are Buddhas and they say, “Buddhists”. Like it matters. Buddha heads. Christian heads.

But it was that bird, the one Norie called “Buzzkill” and then she wrote two poems about Buzzkill right there on the bus. I guess it was a buzzard. Like a vulture, I guess. Norie turned around at looked at me. I was leaning against the back of her seat looking over her shoulder. “Don’t be a Buzzkill,” she told me.

Someone must have opened a window cuz Norie’s notebook closed shut like a slap. That’s when the bus went in the tunnel. The lights in the tunnel are always on. Always. This time they weren’t. No lights in the bus either. No lights from our cellphones. The bus driver turned on the speaker. I thought she was making an announcement, but she started crying. And some of the girls started screaming.

I was holding on to the back of Norie’s seat. Suzie was hiding her face in her palms. She was saying Bodhisattva over and over. Someone was laughing. I remember that. But it was too dark to see who it was. My eyes were already used to the dark, like at the movies, but I couldn’t see through the middle of the darkness.

Someone was saying “Stop the bus.” It was me. “Don’t be a Buzzkill.” It wasn’t Norie. I thought we were going to crash. Then we left the tunnel. The sunlight lit up the inside of the bus. We were all turning our heads looking at each other. Wondering who was laughing, who was screaming, who was crying. I saw Suzie look up. “Where’s Norie?” she asked me. No Norie in her seat. But her notebook was there.

That wind blew again and it blew the cover open. I saw the two Buzzkill poems. I reached over to pick up the notebook, but Suzie yelled at me not to. She scared me. She left her seat and walked down the aisle looking at every seat on both sides to the back of the bus, then she walked to the front of the bus and did the same thing. When she got to the front, she looked back at me and shook her head.

I saw her talk to the bus driver. Then she came back and sat next to me. She told me that the bus driver said ‘ang-hell’. She said that Miriam, our driver, pointed to the speaker system to show Suzie it was turned off. “Ang-hell” she kept saying. Suzie said that 'ang-hell' means 'angel' in Spanish. Then she told me that the driver is going to stop at the next gas station.

I’m going to stop here. Can you tell me if you’re going to put this on your blog, please? Thank you. If you use it, next time I’ll tell you what happened at the gas station.

Your friend, Bridget
April 25, 2017


Part Seven

An Email from Suzie
The Tokidoki Connection
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

The Journal of Norinko Hanasaki
Featuring SANDy, Bastardino and Friends


As promised, our correspondent and contact, Suzie, friend of Norinko, has provided some information about the journal of her classmate. The company that made the notebook is called Tokidoki; it makes figurines, clothing, and school backpacks with characters from the Cactus Friends & Pets series. Earlier this year, I visited the "PUFF MONKEY", a store that carries the product in addition to "Hello Kitty", Marvel and DC characters, and the new Ju Ju line, to learn more about the characters. What I learned I've added to Suzie's email as photos of the various Tokidoki products.

Ciao Ciao & Adios (note no Cactus outfits, 
as they are always after the Cactus Friends)

However, it would be remiss of me to ignore the darker side of these figures. For instance, one character is Death, called "Adios" and another is Death's girlfriend, "Ciao Ciao". But I get ahead of myself. The Cactus Friends & Pets are children and their pets who wear cactus suits to protect themselves from the evils of the world and prevent Death from touching them. The characters are in constant bliss and joy in their perfect world. But the artist behind the Tokidoki figures, Simone Legno, an Italian artist, always blends a creepy side to the blissful surroundings. The logo for the line is itself a contradiction of opposites: A "heart and crossbones", a mix of a Valentine's symbol and a pirate's symbol. It is this contradiction that seemed to appeal to Norinko, and I must say, even to your host as well. I have become the avid collector of Tokidoki characters in plush dolls and ceramic figurines. It is not an inexpensive hobby. But enough about me. Let's get to the email. 

(Anthony Servante). 

The Heart & Crossbones (Life and Death together)

The Email:

From Suzie (2-8-17: reedited to include my photos).

Dear Mr. Servante,
I wanted to send you this email about Norie's love for her Tokidoki Friends. But first I wanted to share this poem that she wrote the last time we were shopping for Cactus Pets, the day she disappeared.

What will follow
Come tomorrow
Are the ashes
Of yesterday's lashes.

Norinko wrote this poem when we went shopping for Cactus Friends. She loved to buy Blind Boxes. Those are boxes that are completely sealed so you can't see what figurine you're getting till you open it. Inside the box is an aluminum packet, and inside the packet is your figurine. They cost around $15.00. And there are dozens and dozens of characters. While all the girls at the school were buying clothes or shoes, Norie was buying Cactus Friends and other Tokidoki stuff. She always paid with a prepaid card. Her allowance card. Her parents put in money in the card for her every week, usually on Monday. So, Monday, after school, we'd go straight to the shop at Santa Monica Place for more stuff. But we had to hurry so we wouldn't miss the bus.

A Tokidoki Blind Box

Cactus Pet "Notte" 
(Naughty? Notte, Italian for "Night"?)

The last time I saw her, I asked her if she wrote anymore poems. Strange but she said she didn't write poems. Other people did. She only copied what they said. Then she looked around as if she were looking for someone. I remember she shrugged and said no one was around to copy from. She bought a Bastardino figure that day. He's a little dog wearing a cactus suit that protects him from evil and death.

Bastardino Takes a Bite Out of Death

She said she liked that Bastardino wasn't afraid of Death with a capital "D". He chewed on Death's bones. Then she giggled and said, "I can't write that." The other girls in the shop giggled and pointed at Norie who was clutching Bastardino and staring at the door. The bell above the door sounded but no one came in or left. I pulled Nories sleeve and told her we can't miss the bus.

Norie disappeared June 13th, 2016, a Monday. We had just finished shopping for the Bastardino figurine. She didn't know she was going to buy that. That was just what came out of the Blind Box. She thought it was a sign of good luck and put the box in her backpack. But in my religion, they teach us that "luck" is not good or bad. It is both at the same time. You pray to avoid luck, because you take the good and the bad together when you're lucky. I said a prayer for Norie when we got on the bus. I didn't know that that would be the last time I would see her.

The Cactus Friends Notebook (front)

The Cactus Friends Notebook (inside)

I think I should tell you about Norinko's notebook. She came to school that day with a new copy of a Tokidoki Notebook. It came in the mail, she said. It was for her poetry and drawings of her version of the Cactus Friends. She called her characters the Plumage Pvnks. Yes, Pvnks with a "v", not a "u". They were kids and adults too that wore bird outfits that let them fly from danger. The Cactus Friends are kids and pets who fear the cold and scary world. They believe Evil with a capital "E" is everywhere and looking for innocent children and puppies and kittens. Death with a captial "D" looks for everyone young and old, guilty or innocent. Once Death touches you, it's adios and ciao.

To protect themselves, SANDy, the leader, wears a suit of cactus. Its sharp needles keep Death and Evil away. All SANDy's friends and her and her friends' pets also wear cactus suits. SANDy represents water and life, strong and weak. She knows that without the cactus suit, she will be killed, but as long as she wears it, she can protect the water that gives life to kids and plants. The Plumage Pvnks are kind of the same thing, but they can fly away from Evil and Death with a capital "E" and a capital "D".

Next time I'll send you some drawings that Norie gave me of the Pvnks. So stay in touch with me. Me and Bridget are the only ones who are talking about this.

The other kids on the bus that day don't want to talk about it, but if they change their minds I will tell them to email you. I told them about your blog. I know they look at it. They just won't talk about it.

Next month is one year since Norie disappeared. Her parents and mine and Bridget's are getting together at our Temple in Santa Monica. I know in my heart that Norie will come back to us by then, I pray for it everyday, but with luck, you accept the good with the bad, the hope with the despair, so I want to invite you to the Temple, June 11, 2017. Send me your home address and I'll send you a paper invitation that you'll need to get in. Thank you again for keeping the memory of Norie alive.

Please please stay in touch.
Your friend, Suzie


Part Eight

Mystery of the Tunnel Solved?
 Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

A Common Problem for the City
Homeless in the Tunnels


The mystery of the tunnel may have been solved. Perhaps the disappearance of Norinko Hanasaki has something to do with the recent discovery of a hidden entrance in the Santa Monica Freeway tunnel itself. But there were no answers or solutions found in this forgotten cavern. If anything, it served as a reminder of the surprises this tunnel continues to serve up. A small Shanty Town of a few dozen homeless people were found living in the entrance. They have since been removed and tossed back into the streets of Santa Monica, Venice, and neighboring Los Angeles, as quickly forgotten as they were found.

However, there were a few questions raised that may in fact deepen the mystery rather than solve it. Consider this a slight detour from the mystery of the tunnel for a moment to consider the plight of the homeless. Although this story may seem unrelated, there are those questions that remain.

Last week, a small shanty town was found behind the walls that had once been a doorway to a control room for the train rails in the McClure Tunnel. When the tracks were converted to asphalt for the freeway in 1936, the room was sealed up and the tunnel built around it. Often, these gaps in the walls are used by graffiti artists to ply their craft, much to the chagrin of city police departments who must arrest these youth for trespassing.

Before the Freeway


On the last closure to the McClure Tunnel (also known as the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel), Caltrans workers, who were repairing the wall damaged in a fatal vehicle collision earlier this year, found an entrance to a homeless shanty town behind a false wall. Over a dozen transients, consisting of families, veterans, addicts, and mentally ill men and women who were apparently off their medication, according to unidentified authorities, were living in makeshift homes built of cardboard boxes, shopping carts, and plastic tarp.

When People Choose the Tunnels...

The Community Faith Alliance (CFA) activists from neighboring churches and temples said that they had often provided groceries and medical assistance and knew of their hiding place. There are many places throughout the city, they said. They did not disclose the presence of the "trolls", as they are often referred at city council town meetings, because the common civic practice is to remove the transients rather than help them. So, in good conscience, the CFA do not report these shanty towns; instead, they help them as much as possible before police discover their presence.

A Shanty Town in the Shadow of Downtown LA

In this case, it was a motorist who saw the transients emerging from the opening in the wall and walking in the traffic to reach the Pacific Coast Freeway, where there are stores and shops where they can panhandle for money to buy food for the evening. This Good Samaritan reported the jaywalkers to local Sheriff's deputies for the good of the community, one city council member was reported saying. After all, they could have caused an accident in an already troubled tunnel passage or they could have been victims of a hit and run themselves. The tunnel is part of the Interstate 10, which has a speed limit of 70 miles per hour. The vehicle would hardly have time to stop if it struck someone jaywalking to reach the south end of the freeway, where there's a sidewalk; the north end is all hillsides and freeway metal barriers. This exit from the tunnel is also a concern during rainy weather when mudslides threaten to cover entire automobiles.

The CFA, however, disputes the goals of the city; the activists say the council members are more concerned with the destruction of city property than with the welfare of the transients. In the past, these homeless men and women have been driven by local law enforcement back and forth between Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica, each department tossing their homeless problems to their sister cities. Such practices are believed to have stopped, but these transients must end up somewhere.

A Few Questions:

How does the discovery of the shanty town bode for the Norinko Hanasaki case?
Has anyone questioned the transients about seeing the 14 year old girl since last June 2016?

A Consideration:

Next month will be the one-year mark of Norinko's disappearance, and I have been invited to attend a prayer service at the temple where the Hanasaki family are members. I have researched a bit regarding this homeless issue and found that the temple is a member of the CFA. They just may be the people to speak with. The temple priest has agreed to meet with me the day after the service to discuss my questions. I promised to share my blog cases with him as well.

This meeting is set for June 12th, 2017. The service is set for Sunday, June 11th. Norinko Hanasaki disappeared June 13th, 2016. Let's not forget that amid all these cases that I've been posting. I had planned to post more notes on the Norinko case when I found out about this homeless shanty. Therefore, Part Nine will now focus on the Santa Monica Newspaper notes left behind by its former reporter working on the case (see Part Two for more information).

I have been accused of being all over the place with this case investigation, but I post them as they happen or as the relevant information presents itself. No excuses. I'd like to say I will now remain focused on the main case, but that damn tunnel keeps on churning out new oddities for me to cover. All I can promise to my readers is that I will not lose sight of the main goal: To find out what happened to Norinko Hanasaki. Everything else is just peripheral phenomenon. And it all will be covered here.

Thank you for your patience,
Anthony Servante


Part Nine

The Files of Tom Thumb
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

Before the SM Local Newspaper


On May 8th, 2017, I contacted the Santa Monica Local Newspaper regarding “Tom Thumb” (alias given to the Servante of Darkness Blog), who had written the article on “Mussel Slough”, which comprised Part Two of the Hanasaki cases. I spoke with a friend of his at the newspaper who asked not to be identified. She told me that he had quit. I asked if she knew where he may have found a new job. She said he was “no call, no show”. I told her that I was working on the Norinko Hanasaki case. She said she still had all his work on a flashdrive and could send me a copy. I received the files by email the next day. Rather than organize and select certain files, I decided to post what I was sent. Forgive the order. I made notes (in italics) to connect relevant information in the files to my Norinko Hanasaki cases. The rest must speak for itself.

The Files of Tom Thumb
(Circa July 2016)

Deputy Evelyn Mitchell Transcript:

Reporter: Can you tell me what’s been happening since you arrived, Deputy Mitchell?
Mitchell: Here are my notes. Nothing major. Missing girl. 14 years of age. Was on the bus. And then she wasn’t on the bus. The missing girl, whose name we can’t release until the notification of her parents, has not been found. We have deputies searching the McClure Tunnel. The 10 Freeway traffic has been detoured off at Lincoln Avenue. Detective Jian Wu—he prefers “Joe” Wu is on the way. He’s been assigned to look into this matter. Here’s some basic notes of information I got from the bus driver and kids. Nothing special, but Detective Wu will be asking his own questions. My partner and I just tried to see if the girl got off somewhere along the line. Can’t be sure at this point. Anyway, here’s what I got:
3:15 School let out.
3:30 Miriam Hernandez, bus driver, checks off all students from her roster as the kids board the bus. 12 kids got on.
3:35 Bus departs school for drop offs. Makes 6 drop-offs.
3:45 Bus enters McClure tunnel when inside bus lights start to flicker and go out at the same time the tunnel lights go out. 6 kids still on bus start screaming. Bus driver slows down to navigate toward the light at the end of the tunnel. The bus exits the tunnel.
3:50 Suzie, the missing girl’s friend, notices she has gone, informs driver. Suzie, at the behest of the driver, walks up and down the aisle of the bus, looking for her friend. Nothing. Only five kids on board, plus the driver. 3:55 Bus driver reports missing passenger to dispatch / dispatch reports to Santa Monica Division, and we are dispatched to the scene.
4:00 Bus stops at the Union 76 Gas Station. Bus driver double-checks the empty seats up and down the aisle, she told us. The five students are instructed to remain on bus till the Sheriff’s arrives.
4:15 Deputy Steve Baker and I arrive on the scene, find the girls milling around outside of the bus. The driver said she couldn’t keep them on board. Some called their parents on their cell phones and were told to wait outside the bus.
4:18 We check off the roster of the bus driver to see who was dropped off and who was left on the bus. The name left that remains unaccounted for belongs to our missing girl.
I copy down the names and numbers of the remaining girls from the roster after asking the gas station attendant if they had a copy machine. They didn’t. Meanwhile, Deputy Baker gets the driver’s information.
4:30 We wait for Wu as parents begin to arrive. Tell them that Detective Joe Wu must clear it for them to leave.
4:45 Detective Wu arrives. Suzie and her parents approach Wu and ask him if they’ll find the missing girl. He informs them that at that moment, deputies are looking for her, following the trail of the bus from the school to the gas station. I give my notes to Wu after taking pictures of them with my phone and emailing them to my desk computer at the division station.

Detective Jian “Joe” Wu Transcript

Reporter: Do you have any leads on the missing girl?
Detective: The Division will be making a statement to the press sometime this evening in front of the Santa Monica Station. Bring your questions there. And maybe you ought to choose your words a bit more carefully at this early stage. “Leads” is a bit loaded. It’s a missing persons case unofficially for now. Once we notify the parents of the girl, we’ll consider whether we’re looking for “leads” or a missing girl. Thank you. Deputies, could you escort our star reporter from…
Reporter: Santa Monica Local Newspaper.
Detective: the Santa Monica Local Newspaper behind the tape.
Deputy Baker: What tape?
Detective: The one you should have put up already—around the bus, the kids, and the parents. Leave an opening for the parents to drive in and out to pick up their kids. Make sure you get their contact information before they leave.
Deputy Mitchell: Got it already.
Detective: Tape! Deputies!

Miriam Hernandez Transcript

Reporter: I am with Miriam Hernandez, bus driver in the famous case of missing student, Norinko Hanasaki. Thank you for allowing me into your apartment here in Long Beach.
Miriam: Are you recording this?
Reporter: Yes. Would you tell us about your arrest, please?
Miriam: I don’t like being recorded.
Reporter: Then perhaps you can tell me why you’ve marked up your walls with poetry? Is this the same poetry that you wrote on the bus windows the day of your arrest?
Miriam: Please turn that off or I will shut up.
Reporter: Just a few more moments, please. What are you doing?
Miriam: I am not talking to you. Please leave.
Reporter: What are you doing with that marker, Miss Hernandez? What are you writing? Three corners wide The brink of darkness hovers Angels hear my tears. What does that mean?
Miriam: Ang-hell hears my tears. The bus is coming back. Get out of my house.
Reporter: I’m leaving. Please put that down. No need for that. I’m going. Look, I’m turning off the recorder.

Reporter: I am outside the apartment of Miriam Hernandez. Her apartment walls are covered in what looks like to be lines of poetry. She was arrested July 6, 2016, about ten days ago. Today is July 15. The words looked familiar. Will check them against the notebook poems I took pictures of yesterday.

(JPEGs too blurred to post; blank pages also. My copies of the poetry lines [below] that I could discern from the five photos; the breaks are mine):

Buzzkill liked to sleep
He slept in class
He slept in deep
He slept in the tunnel pass.

Buzzkill liked to party
She joined the hunger fast
Always first to arrive
Always leaving last.

Three corners wide
The brink of darkness hovers
Angels hear my tears.

Adrift, I walk within a space
Destined to stay in this place
Here, I will defy what they say
Never to defer to their ways
I will fight with every breath in me
I will never bow to their ascendancy

I wish I could see
Where it is that I am
But I feel if I did
I'd be deaf and damned.

I found a friend in common
With life and death
Here in the marrow
Of my final breath.


There is no going home
My badge, my gun, my files
Swallowed by the creature
In the tunnel’s last miles

Note: I’ve chosen only to post what I found related to the Hanasaki cases. I have an old XP laptop. I gave the flashdrive files to a friend with a newer computer to look over the files I could not open and see if she could make out anything else from the photos. She sent me this message: “There’s nothing in these files worth your time. Nothing hidden or mysterious. Sorry. You’ll have to let your readers down easy. You’ve just found the Vault of Al Capone. Remember the old Geraldo Rivera show? I’m carbon-dating myself, aren’t I? But you seem to have overlooked a poem. Here it is. If you need anymore help on your quixotic quest, let me know".

Under the veil of night
I hear whispered words in my mind
They speak of utter annihilation

A Final Word:
As with the “homeless” case, more questions than answers. And I continue to be humbled with your patience. Perhaps it is in the journey we find the end of the tunnel.
Anthony Servante

Part 10

The Plumage Pvnks Universe 
A Suzie Email Update
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

The Buzzard


Since the beginning of time, Evil has targeted the weak and the innocent. In the animal kingdom, creatures big and small have developed defensive tricks to protect themselves from harm. The lowly chameleon adapted a camouflage ability to change skin color to hide in its environment. The little sparrow learned to fly with unpredictable maneuvers to avoid being eaten by hawks. Even the mighty elephants found protection in herds to ward off hungry lions. Human children scream at the top of their lungs to scare off predators. But what of the fearless monsters intent on feeding on the plump goodness of a juicy little toddler who has strayed from the protective arms of mommy and daddy? Evil in forms both natural and supernatural have also adapted its instincts for preying on these lost ones.

In Part Four of the Norinko cases, we discussed folklore around the world that focused on lost and missing children. It comes as no surprise to learn that, according to Suzie (our contact for updates about the Hanasaki investigation), her friend Norinko had created a whole universe based on how Evil and Death can be avoided by children.

I'll let Suzie explain the creation from here.

The Email 05-17-17

To the Readers of the Servante of Darkness Blog and the Readers of the Norinko Hanasaki Investigative Cases:

The first thing I want you to do is forget about what Mr. Servante wrote in the introduction. He showed me that introduction, and I didn’t really agree with it, but he explained that it keeps the readers happy. Maybe he’s right about the Evil thing, but when I agreed to write to Mr. Servante about my friend Norinko “Norie” Hanasaki, it was to talk about Norie, not about Evil. My friend Norie liked Tokidoki Cactus Friends. She liked the way they were part scary and part happy. She wanted to make her make-believe friends like that, in the Tokidoki way. That’s when she came up with the PLUMAGE PVNKS, kids who dress in bird costumes to fly away from bad things, to fly way high above all the badness of the world. When you wear your costume, you can’t be touched by Death, Evil, Sadness, Sorrow, or even Regret. She always promised me and Bridget that when she went to college, she would learn designing to make the costumes. I told her that we wouldn’t be kids anymore by then. But Norie didn’t care. She always practiced her drawings, using me and Bridget as models for her costumes. Everyday her drawings improved. She said that she had to hurry or all the bad things would catch up to us while we were children, that that was when we were weak little creatures of God.

For us Buddhists, God was when Goodness and Evil are balanced in the world. Sometimes Goodness tips the scales, like the Temple Priest says on Sundays at service, and sometimes Evil or Badness tips the scales the other way. Children share in the great joy of life when Goodness is heavy, and children share in the great sadness of life when Evil is heavier. With our bird costumes, we could fly when Evil gets heavier than Goodness, and stay high in the air till Goodness tips the scales back the other way. In our religion, the Scale is God, and Goodness and Evil are parts of the scale.

And so Norie designed the costumes for me, Bridget, and herself as three PLUMAGE PVNKS. On the day she disappeared she designed the last of the three costumes on the bus, the one for herself, the Buzzard who does not kill; it survives on what Evil animals kill. So, for Norie, Buzzkill meant the bird that did not kill. She knew it also meant someone who doesn’t like to have a good time, like at a party. In a way that was kind of like Norie; she didn’t like parties, but she always came to my birthday parties and to Bridget’s birthday parties, even though there were a lot of friends there that she didn’t know. She was shy. She liked to read, especially the books from the Temple that the Priest lent her after service. In those books somewhere she got the idea for the PLUMAGE PVNKS. I know she will return to us someday. I know this blog will help to reach her wherever she is.

The day she disappeared, she left her journal on the bus. It was a Cactus Friends notebook. I’m sure the bus driver found it first. Bridget and me, we saw her looking at something where Norie was sitting, but she didn’t give anything to the police when they arrived. Then we heard that the notebook was brought to school by a detective named Wu. The Principal told our English teacher, Miss Johns, that the two police officers at the 76 Gas Station where the bus stopped when Norie went missing took the notebook from the bus driver, Miss Hernandez. Miss Johns said that Miss Hernandez was writing stuff all over the school bus windows when the police arrested her. She had the notebook. The police took it from her and gave it to Detective Wu. While the Detective was talking to the Principal, someone took the notebook from his briefcase. This all happened right after Norie disappeared.

And a few weeks later, the Detective stopped coming to the school to ask questions. And the two police officers stopped working in Santa Monica. And Miss Hernandez stopped driving the school bus even though she didn’t go to jail after being arrested. There was a reporter, this fat guy with bad breath who was hanging around the school and talking to students and teachers about the notebook. Someone told him that Miss Hernandez had it. And I don’t know what happened to him. He stopped working for the newspaper, Miss Johns told us. Her and the Principal say that the notebook must be important because everyone is looking for it. But all it has is some poetry and some PLUMAGE PVNK drawings, that’s all. I think Norie is more important than that the stupid journal that she bought for her poems and drawings. I saw the Buzzkill poems in Part 8. Those are Norie’s poems. I don’t recognize the other ones. Those aren’t Norie’s.

I just want to say one more thing. Me and Bridget and Norie have been friends since elementary school. At first, Bridget just hung around with me and Norie because Norie and me were a little bit fat, and Bridget was skinny and pretty. We know how people say that she only hangs around with me and Norie because the pretty girl always stands out with fat friends. And maybe that was true when she first hung out with us. But not anymore. It’s like almost 6 years that we’ve been friends, and it’s not about being more popular or more pretty. She probably cares more about Norie being missing than me or her parents or my parents. Maybe not Norie’s parents, but she cares. She just shows it in her own way. She’s the one who convinced me to write to the Servante of Darkness Blog.

I can’t wait to meet you, Mr. Servante, at the service. I promise to keep writing to you. I don’t agree with you all the time, but you’re doing more than anyone else right now for Norie. I promise for Bridget and me that we’ll keep helping you. I promise for Norinko, my friend always.


1 comment:

  1. Such a fascinating case. Thank you for your doggedness. Looking forward to learning more.