James Phillips

In our world today, there are happenings that can not be explained easily. There are some social phenomena that can not be understood easily. People change over time. People change depending on the surrounding or environment they are in. It is studied in almost every Sociology courses that people are being honed or developed to become the person they are now.

Socialization is a big factor in every person’s life. Because it can be determinant of how a person or an individual would be in the future. It can either make or break a person. We always associate a person from its origin. It is the common basis of people to say something to the person or to simply put – the basis of judgment to any person or people is his or her origin.

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Ralph ‘Bucky’ James Phillips

The case that I will be discussing in this paper is about Ralph James Phillip or commonly known as ‘Bucky’. He was born on June 19, 1962 in Stockton, New York. He is not a recognized citizen of Seneca Nation of India. He is a convicted murderer and he was captured on September 8, 2006 by the Pennsylvania Police. He has been in the Top 10 Fugitive List of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was in the four hundred eighty three in the list replacing Warren Jeff. For the past years he have committed crimes like unlawful flight due to his avoidance to trial, motivated murder, and attempted provoked murder.

Facts of the Crime

Ralph J. Phillips escaped from the Alden Correctional Facility in Erie Country near Buffalo after he has spent twenty years of his life there. This was happened in April 2, 2006 and he made this possible through using a can opener.

During the months of April and June, the police have the suspicion that he is the man behind the several break-ins at hunting cabin. There were trucks that were stolen from one place to another. The residents of Sinclair Ville, Stockton, Randolph, Great Valley, and Bradford in Pennsylvania have spotted him roaming around the area. The police have also speculations that the relatives of Phillips have been helping him out to get away from the police.

The story of the manhunt of Ralph J. Phillips started on June 10, 2006 at Elmira, New York. It happened in the duration of a traffic stop wherein Phillips have shot a Trooper named Sean Brown. From then on, he (Phillips) became the interest of the Troopers and the Policemen. After five days, the search for Phillips continued making the Elmira-Binghamton area the hot spot because it was believed that he has close affinity in the area. There were also checkpoints in Pomfret, Chautauqua County. Then on June 20, there were speculations that he (Phillips) has stolen a car in Hancock, Binghamtom which was identified as a Dodge Caravan. After the incident happened, few days later a New York Trooper have killed a guy named Brad Horton because the former mistook the latter as Ralph J. Phillips. The Trooper has argued that he did it for self defense. There have been investigations about the case. The following day, the reported missing car was found in Sheridan. Because of this, police have speculations that Phillips is just wandering in the area of Chautauqua County; following this incident the police have launched a dragnet in Cassadaga.

Came July, a new diner was opened with a name “Bucky Burgers”. There were also a circulation of shirts with prints like “Where’s Bucky” and “Got Bucky?” These shirts can be found in Chautauqua County. There was a firearm retrieved that was linked to the incident of the killing of Mr. Brown by a Trooper. Five days have passed and Phillips was not captured yet, thus the rewards for the people or person who will give credible information about the whereabouts of Phillips have been raise to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). In the height of the search of Phillips, the Trooper who where shot by him paid a visit in Chautauqua County to give the much needed support to his fellow Troopers. At the same time, there were news that came out that the case of Horton is still ongoing to give him and his family the justice they were asking for. In the same month, a burglary happened which was accounted to Phillips. Because of the incident the hotspot was transferred to Cattaraugus County and there was the establishment of command post in Randolph Central School. At the end of the month (July), operations in both Randolph and Cattaraugus County were closed down.

At the start of August a car napping incident have happened in Olean which was also accounted to Phillips. The car was later on found in Niagara County which made the police leave the Chautauqua County. Then on August 9, it was reported that Phillips was seen near the Tuscarora Indian Reservation sporting a baseball hat. The police did not get any details as to how they get the photos. On August 19, there were residents of Cassadaga that were arrested because they have allegedly helped Phillips. These residents were identified as Natasha Berg, Timothy Seekings, and Alice Kelley. With this incident, the police have decided to make Chautaqua a hotspot for the search for Pillips once again. There were incident wherein Philips has been followed by the Troopers because the motorcycle he was driving then has no sticker for inspection. But he has managed to get away through passing the rear window of the apartment. Following the arrest of the three Cassadaga residents is the arrest of Kasey Crowe, a former girlfriend, and Patrina Wright, the daughter of Phillips. The latter was accused of child endangerment thus removing the custody of her children to her.

In Chautauqua County, robbery of a gun shop was reported. The suspect that was given by the police is no other than Phillips. There was also a reported car napping. There were a total of forty one (41) stolen guns but there are only thirty five (35) recovered in Ludlow by the Pennsylvania Police. After this incident, Todd Nelson was accused of the accessory of a crime – he helped Phillips for almost two weeks of hiding in the area. There were also two Troopers who were wounded by a rifle-style shooting. The said troopers were brought to the hospital through the state aviation. At the same time, the custody of Wright’s children has been given to her again.

Came September, State Police have identified Phillips as the person behind the shootings. With this, there were seventy five (75) troopers added in the wide search for Philips. The reward for his capture has increased up to two hundred twenty five thousand dollars ($225,000). After a few days, Trooper Joseph Longobardo died. His death has added another seventy five troopers (75) to search for Phillips. There was also an advisory to the hunters to stay out of the woods until Phillips have not yet captured, and the children to stay indoors.

September 6, 2006 was the day Phillips is declared as one of the Top 15 Most Wanted by the United States Marshals. The following day, he was added in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s List of Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives. The numbers of Troopers and Police who are in search for Phillips have increased to four hundred (400) accompanying the increase in the reward for Phillips capture to four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000). Two days after, at around early morning Phillips have spotted running into the woods, there were chase happened, then at the end of the day Phillips have finally surrendered to the Pennsylvania Police.

In his capture, Ralph J. Phillips has been charged with eight counts of murder of different kind. This is connected to the June 10 incident. Through the request of Attorney Terrance Flynn, the focus of Phillips case is on the serious state charges. After his (Phillips) arrest, there was a .308 rifle found in the place where Phillips surrendered.

The president of the Police Benevolent Association of the New York Troopers have released a statement saying that the process of manhunt of Phillips was a poor person, he said that the police and the troopers could have done better.

A month has passed and Phillips has come out with a statement that he has received maltreatment from the guards of Chemung County Jail. But this was denied by the guards of the said County Jail.

During the court trials, it was found out that he (Phillips) is guilty of different murder incidents including the case of Troopers Longobardo and Baker. He was also found guilty in the break out happened in Erie County Correctional Facility.

On December 19, 2006, he, Ralph J. Phillips has given a sentence of life imprisonment and twenty five (25) years to life in Chautauqua and Erie County Court respectively.


Criminology Theory

Some theories believe that being a criminal or criminality has something to do with the individual socialization and how a person or a criminal have been influenced by the people around him or her.

One of the major thinkers of criminology theory is Sutherland, he is also the considered Father of Criminology. His theory is called, Differential Association Theory. This theory states that, criminal behavior is learned through interaction with other people. It can be seen in primary groups like family, friends, and their closest companion. The process of learning includes acquisition of techniques, drives, rationalizations, motives and attitudes. The latter two and its direction can be learned and patterned from the legal codes which can be considered as pleasant or not. The time an individual turned into a criminal is the time when the violation of law in in excess, this is where DA or differential association sets in. It can differ depending on the frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. The mechanisms used in the learning of a criminal behavior are like of other learning. Lastly, given that a criminal behavior is a form of expressing general needs and attitudes it can not be compared to those who are not criminals.

From the case of Ralph J. Phillips, it can be observed that his case is like an adventure to him. He was trying to defy the norms and he was trying to mock the police by doing the things that he has done. By doing so he gets the satisfaction that he is better than any policemen because he have triumphed in hiding. He has outdone other police or troopers for that matter. One point is that there are people who have helped him to get away from the police. This shows that people are just like him who is trying to prove that policemen and/or troopers are not that good as they may seem.

Those people who have helped him to get through the atrocities of his escape wanted to prove that Phillips or Bucky can do better than the policemen. On the other hand, he, Phillips think that he can never get out of his situation, although he knows that he can be granted a parole, that does not stop him from doing his plans of escaping. He has learned that once a criminal has been imprisoned he or she will always be in that situation and there is no way that he or she can get out. This could be accounted to the fact that he, Phillips have been socializing with other criminals who probably think that way.