What a week it was in Ocean City. Here’s a look at some odds and ends I observed regarding the Christy Freeman case:
– At one point on Monday afternoon, Fox News, CNN, Headline News and MSNBC were each broadcasting live from Ocean City. On Tuesday morning, at my local news stand, the USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Washington Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer all had cover stories above the fold. That’s never happened before.
– Monday was one of those days locals will never forget. After all, there’s no precedent here. Ocean City has never been in the national spotlight like it was on that day. The Sifrit double murder case was big news regionally, but it was never featured on national news outlets. Once the news more infant remains had been found at the Sunset Drive house hit the wire services, the inevitable media frenzy followed. By Tuesday, things had begun to settle down and come Wednesday the cable networks had moved into another town to cover a different story.
– Some concerns were expressed about how this week’s events will impact tourism. While this is certainly not the kind of publicity Ocean City would ever want, it should have little to do with tourism over the next few weeks. One blogger on our website wrote this week: “There has been a noticeable drop-off in the number of people in Ocean City this week. They all left after hearing the news and who could blame them.” I think that’s crazy talk. It may be true there were not a lot of people here during the week, but the sad truth is that’s been the case all summer. Ocean City has transitioned largely into a weekend or four-day destination. That has nothing to do with this week’s events. At the risk of sounding like a public relations spiel, this is an isolated incident. It has done nothing to raise doubts on whether Ocean City is safe and clean. Although the motivation behind these disturbing infant deaths is unclear today, it certainly has nothing to do with keeping folks away from Ocean City. In a sick way, it may even bring some “gawkers” to town that would not have normally.
– It was made known this week some folks are benefiting financially from the incident as some tenants, landlords, property owners and businesses were paid handsome amounts of money by networks looking to set up camera crews. One foreign worker was overheard saying he was being paid $200 by one of the cable news networks for the simple use of his balcony. Additionally, a local photographer was shopping some photos of Freeman driving a taxicab around to media outlets for $200 apiece. For the record, this paper declined.
– The vandals that took matters in their own hands and bashed several Classic Taxi cars this week are idiots. Unfortunately, the chances of them ever being caught are slim. I don’t see any need for that. All it does is put some cab drivers, many of which are hired as independent contractors, out of work at a time when their business is in peril.
– When all the news dried up on Tuesday, it was interesting to watch as the media shifted its focus away from the crime scene and investigated a number of different angles. Many reporters went with profile stories on Freeman. The 2005 statue, under which Freeman was charged, was also the subject of dozens of stories in Wednesday’s papers. A couple stories reportedly being tossed around by outside media outlets involved profiles of State’s Attorney Joel Todd and Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. This newspaper was actually called on a couple occasions to give testimonials on the pair. It seems these media outlets were questioning whether Freeman should have been charged in the first place, wondering whether Todd has a quick trigger when it comes to filing charges and if DiPino has any say on charges being filed on these types of cases.
– Within a period of 24 hours, News Editor Shawn Soper and I were interviewed on separate occasions by Fox News about the case. That’s a surreal experience. See my blog on mdcoastdispatch.com for more on that.
– These types of stories throw the rumor mill into an absolute tizzy, and a call I fielded this week only serves to confirm it. One of the more ridiculous ones heard this week was that the house was a prostitution ring by night and abortion clinic by day. These types of theories arise often while the wheels of justice are grinding away behind closed doors, but my guess is this one was thought up over cocktails at a bar because when the caller was asked how he knew that, the response was, “I heard it somewhere.” When asked who he heard it from, he said, “I don’t recall.”
– One doctor I spoke to off the record this week had some interesting insight on why Freeman could have been so badly bruised when she was hospitalized. Some jumped to the conclusion the wounds were self-inflicted. While nothing has been ruled out, there could be some medical reasons behind some of these nasty bruises, a total of 19 were reported in the charges documents. According to my source, when a woman has a miscarriage, the placenta and umbilical chord typically pass out of the woman’s system naturally. However, if that does not occur within a short amount of time, there’s enormous pain, intense bruising and heavy bleeding. It’s worth pointing out that matches what hospital officials reported to police when she first arrived. That’s just one theory and there are dozens of others.