MP of the week: Jacqueline Cooper

This week’s featured missing person is Jacqueline Cooper, a 27-year-old woman who disappeared from Modesto, California on November 12, 1976. If still alive, she’d be 71. But she’s not still alive.

Jacqueline’s case is one of those where we basically have the gist of what happened to her, we just don’t know where she is. She and at least three other women, Mary Louise Watkins, Hester Lee Chandler and Patty Gay Toliver, are presumed victims of serial killer James Carlin Toliver. (Patty was James’s wife. She and Hester aren’t on Charley for want of photos.)

Toliver died of a heart attack in 1980, just after shooting his last victim to death and lugging $98,000 in looted money back to his car. (Out of curiosity I looked up how much $98k in $100 bills weighed, wondering if Toliver had keeled over from the effort of carrying it. Nope: just 2.161 pounds.) He was never convicted of any of his crimes and his many secrets, including the location of his other victims’ bodies, to his grave.

As to other matters: I am well, and staying at home with Michael. Today was the first day I had left the house in over a week (other than to get the mail and walk the dog); I went to the pharmacy to pick up my medication refills. My family is well and so are my friends.

Sitting there all day staring at my phone doing nothing but reading COVID-19 news (which is all bad) is not doing wonders for my mood. Although crime news is quite minimal at the moment, I am going to try and do some extensive Charley updating tomorrow.

Stay safe people, wash your hands, and unless you are on an essential errand or work in an essential job, practice social distancing and STAY HOME.

I gotta wonder what’s going on at Pine Ridge

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has a population only around 30,000 or so people, but it’s larger than Delaware and Rhode Island COMBINED. It’s also one of the poorest places in the entire country, with 80% unemployment and a per capita income lower than Namibia’s. As I’ve written about before, the statistics are just horribly depressing:

demographics

And the number of missing people from the reservation that are on Charley? Four. I added a new one today. Plus, NamUs has three more: Vincent Steve Little Dog and Robert Anthony Kills Enemy at Night, who disappeared together and aren’t on Charley yet cause they haven’t yet been missing a year, and Perry Ray Robinson, who isn’t on Charley yet and whose life and disappearance will probably take some considerable time to research and summarize.

So, seven missing people. That I know of. And this in a place with a small-town population. And this is not counting Larissa Lone Hill, who was FROM Pine Ridge but apparently disappeared from Rapid City, a city off reservation.

This number is likely to grow, in large part because the MMIW (missing and murdered indigenous women) epidemic has caused information to come out about previously unreported or forgotten-about missing persons and homicide victims who were Native American.

I know there must be a lot of reasons for the disappearances: the poverty, the rampant, alcoholism, the extremes of weather and terrain (that part of South Dakota is called the Badlands for a reason), etc.

But it’s still just… shocking. It’s shocking and depressing and horribly wrong and indicative of a number of very serious, systemic problems that aren’t likely to be solved anytime soon.

The people I have on Charley from Pine Ridge are:

  1. Lori Lee Jealous of Him, 13, missing since 1989
  2. Neil Little Eagle, 49, missing since 2017
  3. Delema Lou Sits Poor, 12, missing since 1974
  4. Alejandro Pilar Vasquez, 24, missing since 2015

All are Native American.

What’s going on at Pine Ridge? A lot apparently.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Stay safe people, wash your hands and for heaven’s sake, if you’re not an essential worker STAY HOME.

Apparently someone had the same thought I did

I hope all of you are safe and are taking appropriate social distancing measures. Michael’s classes are now canceled till May at least. Our friend Leslie, an aide at the residential center, still has to work and says there’s a lot of board games and coloring going on, now that the kids aren’t in class. Anything to keep them busy.

Everyone I know is well.

Not much else to say here, except that Rachel Snyder, author of an awesome book I’ve read called No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, has done an editorial about how social distancing is going to be quite perilous for people currently in a violent relationship. From the editorial:

National and community crises historically have led to increased reports of domestic abuse. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Domestic Violence Hotline saw a 13% increase in calls from the Gulf area from April to June 2010. New Orleans and Lafayette, two of the largest communities affected by the spill, saw increases to their hotlines of 81% and 116%, respectively, during that same period. Hurricane Katrina too saw domestic assaults against women nearly double, and both men and women reported increases of psychological abuse.

This all sounds grim, but many of these situations involve couples who were not in healthy relationships to begin with. On a call from her Baltimore home, Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the country’s foremost researcher in domestic violence, was careful to point out that someone who is not psychologically or physically abusive before a crisis like coronavirus is not going to suddenly become violent. “This is not like anything I’ve lived through,” she said, “and my hypothesis is that any kind of horrific anything externally can exacerbate domestic violence.”

Campbell created a danger assessment decades ago that many programs now use to try to predict a domestic homicide before it happens. The stressors identified that make a situation lethal are the same whether we are in a pandemic or not: guns in the home, forced sex, unemployment and, most notably, prior incidents of domestic violence.

But the research on how domestic violence might be affected by our current situation simply does not exist. When an entire society shuts down, when children are home all day from school, when sports and gyms and social activities are all canceled, when friends can’t leave their own families to help, when places of worship are shuttered, when everything that ever tempered a violent situation is suddenly, terrifyingly, no longer available. What happens then?

She doesn’t know.

MP of the week: Anthony Johnson

This week’s featured missing person is Anthony Amadeo Johnson, a 52-year-old man who disappeared on August 29, 2010 from his home in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. He’s got some disabilities, including trouble walking and memory lapses, and is supposed to take a lot of medications which he doesn’t have.

There isn’t much about his disappearance, but I wonder if he might be homeless, perhaps not knowing who he is or how to get home. He’s got a distinctive appearance, in that his body is just about covered in tattoos.

If still alive, Johnson would be 61 today.

Stay safe everyone. Stay home if you can, and WASH YOUR HANDS.

Social distancing

I hope everybody stays safe during the Coronavirus epidemic, washes their hands frequently, and avoids unnecessary contact with others.

Ohio State University, where my dad still teaches, has canceled in-person classes, and he’s struggling to adapt to online instruction; he’s never done it before. The school Michael teaches at has also canceled classes for at least a month.

His school is in a residential facility for children with severe emotional/behavioral problems. They can’t live at home because it’s not safe for them or others. No internet access either, as these kids are prime targets for traffickers; so no online education for them. The poor kids will be stuck on their residential units for the duration; I suppose it’ll be a job to keep them from rioting.

I find myself wondering if people will be more likely to disappear, or less, during the social distancing. Cabin fever can result in severe friction even for healthy families, and people who live with abusive relatives are going to be at exceptional risk during this time period. The quarantine may also give some unhappy individuals the opportunity to walk out of their lives, since they’re unlikely to be missed for awhile.

MP of the week: Kara Vaughn

This week’s featured missing person is Kara Enid Vaughn, a 40-year-old woman missing from Natchitoches, Louisiana since November 3, 1993. Her car, a white 1978 Honda, is missing also.

She had previously threatened to drive into the river, but searches of the river turned up nothing. The circumstances of her disappearance are unclear. If still alive, Kara would be 66 today.

Well, this is messed up

So I saw this case posted on NamUs and Googled her to start the process of putting her on Charley too. And I found this article. I don’t think the poor woman, Julie Mott, qualifies for the Charley Project, but her case is certainly puzzling and disturbing.

Julie died of natural causes on August 8, 2015. She was only twenty-five. On August 15, her loved ones held a memorial service for her. Sometime after the service, before the body could be interred, it disappeared. It has never been found.

I think I speak for everyone when I say: WHO DOES THAT?!!!

They have a person of interest, per the article:

A year later, surveillance video was given to San Antonio Police by Mission Park Funeral Home of Mott’s former boyfriend, Bill Willburn, twice attempting to enter the funeral despite previously being served a criminal trespass warrant.

Wilburn was arrested and charged with two counts of criminal trespassing.

He has consistently denied stealing Mott’s remains and was never charged with the crime.

Well, the thought of Willburn being involved is …icky, to say the least. I don’t know whether he did it or not, of course. And I don’t know which is worse, the idea that Julie’s body was stolen by a man who loved her (it’s happened before) or that it was stolen by a stranger for god knows what nefarious purpose.

Julie’s family sued the funeral home and was awarded $8 million. They’ve advertised a reward for the return of her remains, but they have never been found and I doubt they ever will be.