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Lancaster blogger sheds light on crimes, unsolved cases

COLUMBIA -- The story of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown touched South Carolina crime blogger Stephen McCaskill's heart.

Her stepfather allegedly beat her, dunked her head in the bathtub and let her die in January 2006 at her Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment, authorities say.

She reportedly was killed over a missing container of yogurt.

"Kids are supposed to look at their parents as someone who's supposed to take care of them," McCaskill said.

Child welfare workers, school officials and neighbors, all of whom reportedly were aware of abuse at the home, let Nixzmary down.

"It made me mad," McCaskill said.

McCaskill, 37, who had launched crimesceneblog.com in September 2005 from his Lancaster home, posted Brown's story.

"To get people to know who she was," he said. "To get people to realize that when you see a little kid who lives in your apartment building or lives next door who you can tell is being mistreated, do something."

The story caught on with readers, and McCaskill's blog took off.

McCaskill, a 1988 graduate of Lancaster High School who works full time doing tech support for a photography company, blogs 20 to 30 hours a week in his spare time.

He draws on material from newspapers, court records, paid Web sites containing background information on people, nonfiction crime books and other sources.

McCaskill spotlights fugitives, missing people, unsolved cases and trials.

Recently, he said, his blog has been averaging more than 24,000 page loads a month.

Desire to help

McCaskill has no law enforcement background; he's no relation to Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill. He simply is fascinated with crime, he said, and he wants to help.

He has blogged about a missing child at the request of U.S. marshals in Milwaukee, and posted an extensive profile of a serial rapist in the Sacramento area -- much to the gratitude of one of the victims.

McCaskill has given exposure to a new blogger from Baton Rouge, La., who writes about missing black women who often are overlooked by the national media.

"If there wasn't some positive reason to do it," he said, "you couldn't do it for very long."

Chuck Rowland, a U.S. marshal in Wisconsin, found crimesceneblog.com listed as a friend on the MySpace.com page for "America's Most Wanted."

He sent McCaskill information in March about Jocelyn Faber, who allegedly was kidnapped from Allenton, Wis., when she was 9 months old.

She was taken from her father by her mother and had been missing for nearly two years.

"My intentions were for this to get out to as many people as possible," Rowland said.

The case got national media attention, Rowland said, and McCaskill's blog provided additional exposure.

About a month ago, McCaskill invited 23-year-old Deidra Robey of Baton Rouge to be a guest blogger. In July, Robey launched "Black and Missing but Not Forgotten," a blog featuring missing black women and girls.

Robey was prompted to launch the blog because she was frustrated that the national media were overlooking cases of missing black women, including Stepha Henry.

The 22-year-old John Jay College of Criminal Justice graduate went missing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in May and did not receive as much exposure as other missing women, Robey said.

"I love everybody, and I want equality for everybody," Robey said. "Everybody deserves to be found, whether you're black or white or purple or blue or whatever."

McCaskill is happy his hobby has blossomed into somewhat of a public service.

"There's nothing wrong with using the Internet for mundane, silly stuff, but it's nice to see it used for this kind of good exposure, as well," he said.

TRAFFIC REPORT

Road work is scheduled this week in York County for the following locations and lanes, which may be closed to traffic:

LANE CLOSURES

• S.C. 161 -- from Paraham Road to S.C. 5 Bypass, highway construction

• Ebenezer Road -- from Dotson Street to Glenwood Ave., road construction

• Fort Mill Northern Bypass -- from Merritt Circle to Deerfield Drive, road surfacing

INTERSECTION CONSTRUCTION

• S.C. 49 and Paraham Road

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