Stories by Jamie Reno

  • A Tragic Discovery

    Self-employed milkman Karsten Heimburger doesn't usually pay attention to the news. So when a friend asked him last week if he wanted to join volunteers searching for "the missing van Dam girl," his response was, "Who is that?" That would make Heimburger unique among his fellow Californians--and most Americans, for that matter--who for the past month have been obsessed with the fate of a 7-year-old Girl Scout kidnapped in the middle of the night from her pink-and-purple bedroom in an upscale San Diego suburb. As fate would have it, the man who says he "knew absolutely nothing about the case" would be the one to put an end to the agonizing mystery of Danielle van Dam's whereabouts. Heimburger and a dozen other volunteers had spent the better part of last Wednesday combing through a trash-strewn lot off a two-lane road southeast of the van Dam home when he spotted a small, badly decomposed body lying next to a clutch of oak trees. "It sort of stunned me to see it. It looked like...
  • ?It Isn?T Over Yet?

    The Danielle van Dam case has reached a sad climax. Police tonight confirmed that a body found by volunteers in a trash-strewn area about 25 feet off a well-traveled road east of San Diego was indeed that of the 7-year-old kidnapped from her suburban bedroom three weeks ago. ...
  • Where Is Danielle Van Dam?

    It's been 10 days since 7-year-old Danielle van Dam went missing. The blonde, blue-eyed Girl Scout was last seen on the night of Feb. 1, comfy in her blue-flowered pj's as her father tucked her into bed on the second floor of the family's loft-style house, snug in a California suburb. When her mother went to wake her the next morning, little Danielle was nowhere to be found. As if America needed yet another reminder that home isn't as safe as it once seemed, it awoke Tuesday morning to the sight of a tearful Brenda van Dam on the "Today" show, telling of how her daughter had been kidnapped. "We just want our baby back," the soccer mom cried. Overnight the van Dam's upscale bedroom community in the semiarid canyons northeast of San Diego became a hive of media activity, the sort previously reserved for the likes of the Lindbergh baby and Chandra Levy. TV satellite trucks jockeyed for position in front of the family home, poised to broadcast the van Dams' pleas for help and document...
  • My Life As A Guinea Pig

    On a sunny San Diego afternoon in the winter of 1996, I was jogging on the beach near my home when I reached up to scratch my neck and discovered a walnut-size lump. Ignoring it for a few weeks, I finally decided a few days before Christmas to have an ear, nose and throat doctor check it out. Really, the visit was just to appease family and friends, because I knew it was nothing. I was wrong. By New Year's Day, the ENT doc had transferred me down the hall to an oncologist, who gave me the unthinkable diagnosis: an advanced case of low-grade, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a treatable yet incurable cancer.As a nonsmoking, athletic and, until then, almost impossibly healthy 35-year-old, I couldn't believe I had cancer. Sometimes I still can't. It's the kind of thing that happens only to other people. But believe it or not, I'm still smiling, still working, still enjoying life. I am a cancer survivor--largely thanks to a clinical trial.My oncologist insisted my only option was a chemotherapy...
  • A City Changed

    When I came to San Diego 17 years ago to attend San Diego State University, it was a sleepy town known primarily for its sailors, surf, zoo and proximity to Tijuana, Mexico. Many people came to sun themselves along the shores of the majestic Pacific; others preferred to watch a killer whale swim around in a large fish tank (who could forget SeaWorld?). And if people wanted to make their Southern California dream come true-without any L.A. stars in their eyes-they moved here. ...
  • A Kids Domain

    With Washington raising heck over sex and violence in entertainment, perhaps the time has come for kids to have a domain of their own. Page Howe, a Carlsbad, Calif., Web investor and father of four, recently applied to create a new Internet address system that would end with ".kids." Kids Domain, Howe's company, would control the .kids domain-name database, monitor the content and kick off any Web site or advertiser that violates societal standards for children's fare. "It fills a real void on the Internet," says Howe, who isn't the only one vying for kids. Three other companies--Blueberry Hill Communications, DotKids and ICM Registry--have also submitted proposals to the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the powerful governing body that for the first time in 20 years is accepting proposals to expand the pool of domain names beyond ".com," ".net" and ".org." Toronto-based ICM Registry is also applying for ".xxx," on the premise that both red-light and green...
  • 'This Will Not Shut Us Down'

    Sitting in his second-story corner office at the end of a whirlwind week, Michael Robertson, the embattled chief executive of MP3.com, promised to fight a federal judge's ruling that the online music company violated copyrights of Universal Music, a ruling which could result in millions of dollars in damages.Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that MP3.com willfully violated Universal's copyrights by posting thousands of CDs on its controversial My.MP3.com service and said the San Diego-based digital music company would have to pay $25,000 for each online CD which violated Universal's copyright. With the potential for damages as high as $250 million, the case could be the most expensive example of copyright infringement ever.MP3.com was originally found guilty on Apr. 28 of having violated the copyrights of the Big Five record labels in compiling a database for My.MP3.com. During the past few months, MP3.com had reached settlements with four of the five companies...
  • The Blackout Of 2000?

    The temperature is climbing in Russ Carroll's one-bedroom apartment in the desert outside San Diego. Carroll, 67 and on a tight budget, usually lolls in air-conditioned comfort, but lately he's been sweating it out because his electric bill has tripled to more than $200 during the last two months. That's a familiar story in the increasingly molten Golden State, one of 13 states that have deregulated electric companies in a move meant to cut consumers' bills. Instead, costs are skyrocketing, and citizens are steamed. "Most of us were doing just fine before deregulation," Carroll says. "If it wasn't broke, why'd they fix it?"Just as Americans get used to paying $1.70 for gasoline there comes a new reason to rage: electric prices are on a vertical spike. In New York, the average bill jumped from $52 to $74 last month. California, caught in a heat wave and lacking adequate power plants, has it the worst. In Orange County, utilities have asked schools to cancel classes and warned...
  • A True Cat-And-Mouse Game

    In desperate need of a Hello Kitty calculator? Backpack? Mechanical pencil? Even if you can't make it to one of the new Hello Kitty Cafes sweeping Asia, you can still be sitting purrty courtesy of DreamKitty.com. The online emporium trades in all manner of baubles and tchotchkes stamped with the trendy 25-year-old mug of the mouthless white cat from Japan. The available merchandise at this online boutique out of Canada seems to change frequently. (The Hello Kitty mouse and mousepad we ordered a couple of weeks ago are no longer available.) Last week's hot item: the Hello Kitty Golf Ball for $9.99.
  • A Cinema For Your Pocket

    Laptop computers have been slimming down for years. Now it's time for portable DVD players to go on a diet. Sony's new top-of-the-line DVP-FX1 ($1,500) is only 1 1/16 inch thick and weighs less than a pound and a half. Hide one under the conference-room table for those endless budget meetings...
  • Matching Music To The Macintosh

    Chalk up a point for Mac users in the mp3 wars. Until now, they've been left out by major jukebox makers like RealNetworks. But no more. Last week San Diego-based MusicMatch released a beta version of its jukebox software for the Macintosh. MusicMatch 1.0 for the Mac lets users download, organize, record and play MP3s. And the software allows people to make hassle-free CDs from MP3 files. Mac loyalists can download the free software at .
  • Need Someone In Creative Accounting?

    Ok, kids, here's a quiz: you're taking a test in an ethics class. You should (a) cheat or (b) not cheat. If you answered (a), congratulations! You, too, can be a business student.When San Diego State University instructor Brian Cornforth received an anonymous tip in March that students were cheating in his undergraduate business-ethics course, he decided to make a case study of his own class. The tipster said students in one class had obtained answer keys for the multiple-choice quizzes from earlier test-takers, so Cornforth scrambled the questions for the later class. "I was horrified," Cornforth says: 25 of 75 students simply cribbed the pirated test key, even though many answers were clearly nonsense. Punishment came swiftly. He flunked all 25, and several management majors won't graduate until they retake the required course. "Students really want that piece of paper and apparently they are willing to do anything to get it," says Julie Logan, the school's judicial officer.Some...