Is There a Beer Named for a Famous Rye Murder?
Plus: inmates, service dogs, and crowdfunding fraudsters.
As provocative as the name may be, Deschutes Brewery’s Murder in the Rye is definitely not a reference to the infamous 2009 murder at the former Rye Town Hilton, according to brewery representatives.
Q: I was reading Beer Advocate when I came across a brew called Murder in the Rye. I know small brewers like to be cute with their names, but is this a reference to the infamous murder several years ago at the Rye Hilton? — Benjamin Larson, Tuckahoe
A: Ben Novack Jr., the jet-set heir to the owner of Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel, was found dead in his suite at the Rye Town Hilton (now named Hilton Westchester) on July 12, 2009. His wife, Narcy, discovered him with his head caved in and his eyes gouged out. Theirs was an unusual and stormy relationship. Seven years before that, Ben was found bound and gagged in their home and reported that $400,000 in cash was missing. No charges were filed, and Narcy claimed it was part of some elaborate sex play. Narcy and her brother were later tried and convicted of Ben’s murder.
Couldn’t you go for a cold one ’bout now?
The beer in question is from the Deschutes Brewery, in Bend, OR. Their beers get very high ratings, but they aren’t carried in New York and are mostly distributed in the West. You’re right about craft beer and their cute names. A couple of my favorites carry the monikers “Boom Sauce” and “Flower Power.”
I talked to Valerie Cunningham, Deschutes’ PR person. She told me the beer got the name because it is aged in casks that formerly held rye whiskey. When I asked her if it had anything to do with the murder in Westchester, she laughed and said she isn’t sure where Westchester is.
Go Fund Yourself
Q: Last August, an Ardsley woman was busted for faking cancer and setting up a GoFundMe page that received $50,000 in donations. How easy is this to do? — Mark Meister, Katonah
A: Vedoutie Hoobraj, aka Shivonie Deokaran, of Ardsley, ran a campaign to raise money for what she claimed were her cancer-treatment expenses. She shaved her head, talked about her doctor at Sloan Kettering and even forged a lab test.
She made a very good case that tugged at donors’ hearts, which is at the center of a good GoFundMe campaign. How would a crowdsourcing organization police possible fraud? Should campaigns be required to submit doctors’ notes or lab tests to prove their illnesses? That doesn’t seem to be practical.
Not everyone is a fan of GoFundMe’s efforts to address such scams.
“[GoFundMe] claims it has proprietary tools to detect fraud, but they don’t tell you what they are,” says Adrienne Gonzalez, founder of GoFraudMe.com, which publicizes cases of fraud on GoFundMe. “I got involved because there was a highly publicized animal case that was fraudulent, and [GoFundMe] didn’t take down the page. It’s gotten more proactive, but you have to listen close. It says things like: ‘We will honor those who request a refund,’ which isn’t the same as refunding all fraudulently obtained pledges.”
These days, service dogs perform a wide variety of functions for those coping with physical, emotional, and psychological challenges.
Post-Traumatic Stress Dog
Q: I saw a heartwarming story from an Oprah episode on YouTube about a service dog that was trained at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women for a soldier with PTSD. In the video, the dog, the soldier, and the inmate have a joyful and tearful reunion. I see dogs on airplanes all the time now that look like they serve no other purpose than as a way for their owners to get them in the passenger section.
Can you tell me how a dog helps someone with a psychological problem like PTSD? — Mindy Schwartz, Pelham
A: A select group of inmates at Bedford Hills have been trained to work with canines to develop them into service dogs. Some are used as guide dogs for those who have vision impairments, others for antiterrorism work, and still others are trained to help soldiers deal with conditions like PTSD.
It is worth noting that there are important distinctions among dogs with jobs. Service dogs are trained to do tasks and provide support to mitigate their owners’ disabilities. They require far more training than other working dogs.
A service dog trained to help someone with PTSD isn’t just there to be petted. They do things like alleviate their handler’s anxiety and provide psycho-emotional grounding. They may assist a person in waking from night terrors or provide distraction from a disturbing event or a maladaptive behavior by nudging, pawing, and licking. They can even bring medication on command. Some PTSD service dogs stand in front of their handlers in crowded areas to create personal space in a non-aggressive manner. They will even lead their handlers to building exits during panic attacks.
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