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Who's Knocking at Your Door?

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The service people you let into your home to clean your carpets, fix your plumbing, or service your air conditioner could put your life at risk.

Sue Weaver contacted a major department store to have her air ducts cleaned. She didn't know they were sending a twice-convicted sex offender into her home--and that he would later rape and murder her.

Her sister started a nonprofit organization to raise awareness about this little-known danger. The Sue Weaver C.A.U.S.E. was created to promote Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment:

Here are a few other victims, courtesy of the Sue Weaver C.A.U.S.E. website:

• Dr. Kim Fang, a plastic surgeon, was murdered by ex-convict Mesa Kasem (and an accomplice) while working as a delivery man for an auction house. Kasem's first conviction--for firearms offenses--was when he was 17. He was also a gang member. There was no background check.

Melissa Danielle Jennings was murdered by the apartment complex maintenance man, Calvin Oliver--a convicted rapist. Oliver's criminal record, spanning almost 20 years, included armed robbery, burglary, robbery by force and credit card fraud. At the time that he was hired by the apartment complex, TGM Ashley Lakes Inc., there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest on theft check charges. He is sentenced to life in prison for murder.There was no background check.

Mary Ruth Bales, 80, was beaten to death in her home by an ex-convict, Wesley Purkey, who was working as a plumber. He had spent the last 25 years in prison for various violent felonies, including aggravated robbery, burglary, assault and kidnapping.There was no background check.

Dr. Kerry Spooner-Dean, a pediatrician, was robbed and stabbed to death in her home by Jerrol Woods. When hired by America's Best Carpet Care, Woods was on parole following a 12-year prison sentence for armed robbery. He had multiple robbery convictions dating back more than 30 years. He was convicted for life without parole.There was no background check.

Ramona Jean Williamson was strangled to death by Fred Furnish, an employee of Tech Dry. After killing Mrs. Williamson, Furnish used her debit cards to withdraw money from her bank accounts. Furnish had several convictions in Kentucky and Indiana for theft, burglary, receiving stolen money by fraud, and assaulting a prison guard prior to being hired by Tech Dry.There was no background check.

Terina Ferminick, a minister's wife, was raped and stabbed to death in the rectory by carpet cleaner, Giles Nadey. He had two previous felony convictions.There was no background check.

***For a background screening expert's life-saving tips, go to page two.***
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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jade August 11, 2008, 12:06 PM

This is OUTRAGEOUS and so incredibly sad…all of this could’ve been prevented by a simple background check.

We need to make background checks mandatory and while we’re at it, boycott these negligent businesses for the harm they’ve caused. It’s the least we all can do.

Anonymous August 11, 2008, 12:48 PM

This is down right scarry!!!! I can’t believe that they don’t do back ground checks. I agree we need to boycott businesses that don’t do them. They don’t care who they’re sending into your home, we need to make sure that our kids are safe as well as ourselves.

Anonymous August 11, 2008, 1:38 PM

Oh my GOD, I just called my husband and we agreed to ABSOLUTELY follow these guidelines. I’ve allowed countless workers into my house with my kids there. Never again.

Janie August 11, 2008, 1:42 PM

this scares the crap out of me. I just bought my first house and we’re having tons of work done. I’m always having to let strange men into my house. I guess i should ask the companies that send the workers if they do background checks but what are they going to say? No? They probably have no idea.

SugarPlumFairy August 11, 2008, 1:54 PM

This is truly terrifying, I always make sure to have someone home when maintenance men come over.

shanna August 11, 2008, 1:55 PM

My neighbor had this happen to her…and her kids were at home….the plumber she hired from a flyer ended up stealing from her and threatened to hurt the kids if she did anything to stop him. Everyone in the neighborhood was terrified. People should be wary of those flyers for handymen and window washers and tree trimmers that get left in your mailbox…

momof9 August 12, 2008, 11:22 AM

As someone who worked on home roofing repairs as a teen and saw lots of strange stuff and strange guys who did the jobs. I was well aware of the dangers these guys can be to folks so we try to use only people our friends have used before. We make sure that no one is in the house alone with the repair men. We make sure never to use our security system codes in front of the workers. We treat each and every one of them like they may be dangerous. They are strangers and you have to use all the same cautions with them as you do any other stranger. I do not answer personal questions they ask about my family and I do not allow them to be around my children. I always let my neighbors know when a repairman is coming and they try to stop in and check on me while the repairs are going on. I do the same for them. I also keep personal paperwork and family pictures out of their eyesight. We cannot trust companies to protect our families we have to do it ourselves.

yabbi August 12, 2008, 5:26 PM

closest i came to this was a piano teacher I hired from a flyer at the supermarket. he’d come to teach me during the day when my kids were at school. we were usually alone together in my house. one day he asked me if I know how he could get his stories published on the internet. he said his stories were about BDSM sex. he asked me if I knew what that was and if i had ever tried it. I do know what it is, and have no interest in it. it gave me the creeps to be alone with him. he was a great piano teacher but that was our last lesson.

Gilly August 13, 2008, 7:56 PM

I think it is also important to point out that people women tend to answer the door without much regard for who could be on the other side. Maybe I take it to the extreme but I am alone with my kids. I do not answer the door if someone knocks unless I am expecting someone and before I open the door I check to make sure it is that person. All my friends know to call before they come over or I just won’t answer the door. I’ve had some creepy sales people come to the door before and I just got into the habit of not answering the door after that. It takes two seconds for someone to overpower you when you open the door, barely even a scuffle on your threshold for the neighbors to notice and they are in your house with you and your kids. I don’t really think I am being too careful, look at the state of the world we live in.

Anna March 15, 2009, 5:15 PM

Danielle Jennings was my best friend. We grew up together, even lived together as teens.

She came home from work on her lunch break and was attacked. Calvin Oliver had broken into her home, (with a key from maintenance) strangled her, stole her engagement ring, and left her in her own bed, face down for her fiance to find.

Please be careful. I always make a point of telling leasing agents her story with the express purpose of them knowing I will not allow any unidentified checks whatsoever. I have a loud dog that barks when people approach my home. I would never allow servicemen to enter my home without my husband being there as well. I would much rather have a repairman be re-scheduled for a time that is more convienent and safe then be sorry. I’ve also broken apartment leases by having a locksmith change my locks so as to prevent anyone with a skeleton key from entering.

Danielle was a fighter. She was smart. She was strong. She was overpowered. Any of us could be too.

I love and miss her everyday. Please follow these guidelines, and do as much as you can to protect yourself and your family.

Anna Bradley

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