Tania Murrell’s brother has died

March 29, 2015

Per this article: Tania Marie Murrell‘s brother, John, has passed away. The 37-year-old, it says, “had battled drug addictions through most of his adult life.” He was living in a halfway house when he took an overdose of methadone and was taken to the hospital. He convinced a friend to sneak him out so he could make it back to the halfway house by curfew time. They found him dead in his bed the next morning.

Obviously it’s very sad. Drug and alcohol addiction is caused by a lot of complex factors, both genetic and environmental,  but I’m sure the disappearance of his sister when he was a child was a great trauma. It may not have caused his later problems but it certainly didn’t help. He was the one who was supposed to have walked home from school with Tania that day. She went the other way instead, and never came back.

I happened to speak once to a psychologist who, I think as part of his PhD, studied one particular family who had lost a boy when he was a child — literally lost, the boy was kidnapped and is listed on Charley. (I’m not going to identify the psychologist or the boy because I don’t want to upset anyone or get anyone in trouble. I’m not sure it was appropriate for the person to have confided his knowledge to me.) Anyway, the psychologist told me the boy came from a very large family and, in spite of having had a good upbringing with loving working-class parents, the kids were all pretty troubled and several of them became addicted to drugs and alcohol later in life.

John and Tania’s sister has her brother’s ashes and hopes to scatter them at Niagara Falls. If only she knew where Tania was.

Select It Sunday: Claude Shelton

March 29, 2015

Selected by Sarah. Like this week’s Flashback Friday, this is actually a double selection because Claude disappeared with his wife, Martha “Sue” Shelton. On May 21, 1971, they tucked their three kids into bed in their Corbin, Kentucky home, drove away in the family car (which I have pics of) and were never heard from again.

I wonder if this wasn’t an accident of some kind. I tend to suspect that when a person or persons vanish with their car and neither car nor human(s) are ever found, and there’s no evidence of foul play but no evidence that they left on their own either. I checked out pictures of the local area on Google’s image search and there are some mountains and rivers that might be able to hide a car and occupants. It looks like a kind of pretty place, actually.

For the Shelton family, it’s been nearly 44 years. As we have learned from the cases of Dana Null/Harry Atchison and others, it’s possible for such accidental deaths to be resolved even many decades after the fact.

Flashback Friday: Pamela Mayfield

March 27, 2015

This week’s Flashback Friday is Pamela Mayfield, a five-year-old girl who disappeared with her six-year-old brother, Michael. They were last seen on January 10, 1985 walking to Betsy Ross Elementary School in Houston, Texas; they were kindergarten students there. Both kids look adorable in their pictures; Pamela in particular looks like a doll. Unfortunately I don’t know much about their disappearances and the police haven’t said much, other than that they think it was a relative or family acquaintance who took them.

Michael and Pamela would both be in their thirties today.

It looks like I may be going to Wisconsin next month

March 24, 2015

I got an invitation to attend a missing persons event in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It will be at Heritage Hill on April 26. This is part of the email I got:

My life changed almost 23 months ago when my mother, Victoria Prokopovitz, went missing from her Pittsfield Wisconsin home. Having no previous awareness of the frequency of missing persons I have become acutely aware of the difficulty families face when a loved one goes missing. Throughout this ordeal I have become a voice for others that are missing as well as a source of support for their loved ones. I have found there to not be an abundance of resources available to people in my situation which has driven my passion for bringing awareness to this growing epidemic, increasing prevention strategies to decrease the exorbitant number of missing persons and developing supportive services for families who share my current position and quest for answers. It is my goal to lessen the burden even a little in a most difficult situation. 

I’ve become aware of your site after searching others that are missing, realizing you have a great database with information for families. My mom is not listed in your database, but I do see that your initial requirement as that it has be more than a year that the person is missing. If you are not able to attend this event, would you consider giving me some information that I could put out at the event? It looks like you have been at this for quite some time, and have quite an interest in the missing.

Having spoken to my father, I think I will accept this invitation. He says he’d like to go with me, to share the driving and because I’ve learned the hard way that it’s a bad idea for me to travel alone.

Missing person of the week, Timothy Parry

March 24, 2015

Timothy Scott Parry is this week’s featured missing person. He was nineteen years old when he disappeared from Cedar City, Utah on July 17, 1989, and he would be 45 today. Timothy had a lot of things wrong with him, physically and mentally. I doubt he lived long after he went missing.

[Whoops. According to my blog, I actually did him as an MP of the week three years ago. Oh, well. He gets featured again.]

Obviously my speech went very well

March 23, 2015

So tonight was my speech before the Venedocia Lions Club. They served an excellent meal of salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, pot roast and apple crisp, then it was time for me to do my thing. I stood up and talked about missing persons for awhile, gave examples of cases the Charley Project profiles, talked about my mission of trying to make sure MPs get remembered, talked about ways the Charley Project has helped locate MPs, passed out business cards, etc. I also mentioned that kidnapping by strangers was vanishingly rare, and said the people you really had to be afraid of were the people you knew. So the best way to keep safe, I said, was don’t know anybody. Hide inside your house 24 hours a day and disown your family and friends. That got a good laugh out of my audience.

Everyone clapped enthusiastically and they seemed very pleased with my talk. There were several questions asked at the end, then I sat down, and someone else stood up to give their own talk requesting funds to support a local campground so they could have discount prices during the summer. After he spoke, we both left and the meeting continued without us.

Things obviously went better than I realized, because about an hour after I had left the clubhouse, Dad called to tell me the Lions had voted to donate to the Charley Project. This was something I was totally not expecting and certainly didn’t ask for; I only gave my talk because Dad volunteered me and because I love talking about missing persons and what I do. I was really touched!

So thank you, Venedocia Lions, for contributing to the cause. I am totally wowed and I think I might use the funds this summer to upgrade the site and drag it, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. Like, with a search function that will search by age and race and stuff. That would be nice.

Make-a-List Monday: Caution advised

March 23, 2015

There are a few MPs where, for whatever reason, “caution is advised” if you encounter them. Unsurprisingly, almost all of these are male.

  1. Dean Duane Bechtold
  2. Charles Dwayne Bell Jr.
  3. Terry Gene Broyles
  4. James Scott Butler
  5. James Preston Davis
  6. James Malcolm Diamond
  7. Ronald Lee Duncan Jr.
  8. Martin Encinas
  9. Katrina Yvette Everett
  10. Leon Robinson Everett
  11. Fabian Humberto Gutierrez
  12. Thomas Randall Hedgecock
  13. Deron Tyriek Hill
  14. Robert H. Houk
  15. Adam Benjamin Lake
  16. Barbara Sue Laster
  17. Gerald Steven Polk
  18. Leuvrias Sirius
  19. Dedrick Bernard Smith
  20. Patrick John Tenorio
  21. Richard Wayne Vollstedt Sr.
  22. Daniel Ted Yuen

Select It Sunday: Angelica Longoria

March 22, 2015

This Select It Sunday was chosen by Gus, Angelica Maria Longoria‘s brother. All the databases I can find claim she disappeared from El Monte, California on November 23, 1985 (see below). She was was fifteen in 1985, but for some reason the bigger photo of her on her NCMEC poster is of her at the age of nine or ten. (I think she’s older in the inset photo.) The only reason I can think of why they might have done that is, unlike the other photos that are available, the older photo clearly shows Angelica’s chipped tooth. If Angelica’s height and weight at the time of her disappearance are accurate she was quite small for her age, only 4’8. I was taller than that at eleven years old.

In approximately 2006, Justin Jackson-Mann, a Charley Project blog reader and my good friend, wrote to law enforcement asking for information about her disappearance. He got this response:

The missing case was reported in 1999, However she was last seen in 1983 (according to our reports). The missing is now 36 yrs old. We were close to finding her in Illinois when she left her home quickly with no forwarding information and we believe that she does not want to be found.

And that’s all I have.

My speaking date is almost upon me

March 22, 2015

My Lion’s Club speech is at 6:30 p.m. on Monday. 40 hours away. When I talked to Dad today he said, “I know you’ll make me proud of you.” Great, but…pressure, people. Pressure.

The only preparation I’ve done so far is to make a list of MPs that I’ll use as kind of a sample of various types of cases that appear on Charley often: a teen runaway, a baby taken by a stranger, a family abduction, an old man with Alzheimer’s who wandered from a nursing home, a woman with mental illness who’s apparently been drifting up and down the eastern seaboard since her 1994 disappearance, a young woman who obviously met with foul play but at whose hands no one knows, etc.

“You’re the expert,” Michael said when I told him about my apprehension. “What do you want them to know?” I thought for awhile and said I wanted them to know what sort of thing the Charley Project was and what it wasn’t, and also the facts and the common misconceptions about people who are missing. “So tell them,” he said.

Dear California Department of Justice

March 21, 2015

Dear CDOJ,

I want to say that I really love your MP database. It was one of the earliest searchable state databases of missing persons, and it is still the largest and in my opinion, the best. It’s a model for other states to use.

However, recently you’ve had a tendency to post new cases with the photographs cropped in really close. Too close. The December 1, 2014 disappearance of David Alderete is a good example. You can’t even see his ears, never mind things like the shape of his face or what his hair looks like.

That’s really annoying. I wish you would stop doing this.

Keep up the good work, though.


The Charley Project.


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