Thoughts on today’s updates

It’s 11:47 p.m. as I type this, so perhaps by the time it’s finished, “today” will be “yesterday.”

For all the updated cases today, except Jahi Turner and Donna Mezo, you can thank Mion, who kindly gathered together a bunch of old newspaper articles about cases I had and emailed them to me.

Regarding my Donna Mezo update, I hope it clarifies the situation with her boyfriend’s death. Earlier I had said there was a suicide note and his death was ruled a suicide in spite of the fact that the gun used was found in “a nearby lake.” Well, I have since learned that “nearby” was more like “a few feet away.” I think what probably happened is that Jeffrie either threw or dropped his weapon into the water during or after firing it.

I found quite a lot on for Marcell Byers‘s case. His NamUs profile includes a clipping about how the people charged with kidnapping him disappeared and their lawyer had been threatened and maybe it was foul play.

Well, the two suspects did disappear, leaving a van shot full of holes, but I guess it was all just an attempt to evade prosecution because they were alive, back in custody and well enough to cop a plea less than a year later.

It’s disturbing that Marcell was never found. All this over a gold chain. The Zuppos pleaded no contest to kidnapping, meaning they didn’t even admit they were guilty. They’d be out of prison by now and I’m not sure what they’re up to these days. I think Gerald Sr. may be dead; someone with the same name and birth year died in North Carolina in 2003.

Tejin‘s case is just sad. (Also, NamUs has him listed as a girl? I admit you can’t really tell from the pictures. If I hadn’t found some articles on his disappearance I’d have been none the wiser.) I found his Facebook page and one picture was of him holding a little turtle, whom Tejin called “my son.” This was just a few months before his presumed death.

Julie Davis‘s case is sad too. Judging from the Facebook page created for her, she was lost for awhile before she disappeared. They only have the one not very good quality and out-of-date photo of her, and from the Facebook page her family apparently wasn’t really clear on when they’d last heard from her. They mentioned getting a letter from her “around 1985 or 1986.” (I’m not sure where NamUs’s date of disappearance comes from.)

She was just sixteen years old and already out on her own, almost four hours from her hometown.  I know things were a bit different back in the eighties, but that’s still pretty unusual. I wonder if she was in foster care. Obviously her family cares about her or they wouldn’t be trying to find her. I hope she’s alive out there and doesn’t even know anyone is looking, and isn’t a Jane Doe somewhere, or worse, dead and never found.

For this case, normally I’d have listed her as just regular “Missing” but then I saw the detail about the track marks and thought “drugs” and upgraded her case to “Endangered Missing.” Question: do track marks ALWAYS mean drugs? There are some medical conditions that require a person to get frequent injections; do those people get similar scars?

Ashley Lynn Thomas has such striking eyes, so big and dark against her pale skin and hair. I hope she’s okay. I hope she and the baby are both healthy and being looked after.

Stuart Owen Collins got a big update today. (Thanks again, Mion!) It does sound like something bad happened to him, and one inevitably wonders about the woman he was with, and even more so about her husband.

With Paul Egan (another big update there) the whole rendering theory is just awful to contemplate. The police seemed to suspect Paul’s friend. They said his friend was not a suspect, but they also made a point of saying they couldn’t confirm the friend’s story.

It could have happened something like this: Paul and his friend got into some kind of argument at the plant after hours — his friend was a foreman, Paul a technician — and things got out of hand something went horribly wrong, and his friend is panicking and thinks “well, there’s this rendering machine, if I just chuck him in and keep my mouth shut, no one will ever know.” I doubt such places had security cameras in 1975. The rendering machine was designed to grind up horses; a human corpse would be easy.

Of course that’s all supposition. I did look up the friend in the Florida DOC database and on Facebook and couldn’t find anyone by that name. I did find a mention of a person by that name (and a photo of that person) from 1970, five years before Paul disappeared. Nothing since then. I wonder if I’ve got the spelling of his surname right.

As far as the note Elsie Elsinga left behind — and her daughter’s poo-pooing the significance of that note — I don’t know. Her daughter said something like “How could someone of that age have done anything to mess up their life?” But perhaps Elsie’s “possible mild depression” was more significant than her daughter thought.

For Helen Robinson, I wonder if she decided to take a plane to visit one of those CB radio friends she had, and maybe something happened that prevented her from coming back. It was two solid years before her van turned up; by then, the weeds might have grown over the flight records. Robinson is definitely dead now; I don’t think she would have lived long in any case, because of her emphysema.

I added 27 updates and I’m very pleased with my work output today. I hope y’all have noticed how much more productive I’ve been ever since the site got redesigned. It takes less time to add/update stuff, since I don’t have to write all the code by hand, or hand-add case names to the lists.


Well, spit and slime

Yeah, so a mistrial has been declared in the Jahi Turner case. The jury could not reach a verdict — they deadlocked at ten (for acquittal) to two (for conviction of second-degree murder).

This irks me to no end. I cannot understand how this happened. Of course, I wasn’t there, I didn’t see the trial, so there’s no way for me to know. Circumstantial cases are always difficult, as are murder-without-a-body cases, and this was both.

A mistrial is never a good thing for anyone involved in a murder case. For the state, it means having to spend money and manpower and resources to do the whole thing over again. For the defendant, it’s more time — often years — stuck in limbo, and often in jail, as the case awaits its conclusion. For the family of the victim, it’s more time without closure, without justice, in another kind of limbo.

If he was still alive, Jahi would now be eighteen years old. A young man, in his final term of high school, about to graduate and go out into the world. But I’m quite sure his life ended at two.

I hope they try the case again and do a better job of it this time.

Executed Today: Robert Emond

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, everyone. I’ve got a new Executed Today story for you: Robert Emond, hanged on this day in Scotland in 1830.

It’s a sad and all-too-familiar story of family problems, domestic violence and a loser who finally acted out in a jealous, paranoid rage.

The state had an ironclad case, and in the end Emond itself admitted his guilt. One question remains, however: according to the evidence, Catherine Franks’s body lay in the pigsty for two days or more, and the neighbors finally found it when they came to investigate the pig’s squeals of hunger. Why did the pig not eat HER?

*Facepalm* *Headdesk*

Yeah, it just came to my attention that little La’Shyra Dotson, who disappeared one year and one week ago from Columbus, Ohio at the age of ELEVEN, is classified as a runaway by the NCMEC.

WHY? Why is a kid who had barely reached the double-digit years, and who has been missing for a full year, been written off as a runaway?

Even if she did run away, the chances that she’s been trafficked or is living in some other similarly horrid situation are very high. That poor girl.

I’ve gone and added her on to Charley. It’s the only thing I can do.

Song about Kay Kanaki

Per the person who runs the Missing in California Twitter account, a local singer/songwriter composed a song about Kay Kanaki (who, incidentally, is male), who disappeared in 1986 and is one of my “few details are available” cases.

You can listen to The Ballad of Kay Kanaki here, or buy the mp3 for 99 cents on Amazon here. The lyrics seem to imply foul play may have been involved. I wish I knew more.

Cleveland Hill is maybe dead

So someone sent a message to the Charley Project’s Facebook page to say that Cleveland Hill, who is the prime suspect in the disappearances of Margaret DashRetha Hiers and Donyelle Johnson, has died. He was never charged in any of the women’s cases.

I found an obituary for a Cleveland Hill Jr. who died last month, but I don’t think it’s the right one, as the state is wrong and so is the date. My informant (who might be a relative of Hill’s; they have the same surname) says he died earlier this week in Virginia.

So consider this info unconfirmed, but I don’t have any particular reason to doubt it.

Hill was totally a serial killer. NO ONE is so unlucky that not one, not two, but three of their girlfriends disappear without a trace and under suspicious circumstances over a fifteen-year period. And Hill had a documented history of violence; he did time for assault after he shot his wife and mother-in-law.

MP of the week: Anna Manning

This week’s featured MP (I missed last week, sorry) is Anna Lee Manning, who disappeared from Danville, Kentucky on November 19, 1992. She was 23 years old and left behind a young daughter. She wasn’t reported missing until early 1994.

The obvious possible suspect in Anna’s disappearance would be abusive husband, but he was not involved — he was in jail when she disappeared, and that’s about as good an alibi as you can get, short of being dead. Foul play is suspected in her case.

The admirable Unsolved Appalachia blog, which I’ve been mining as of late, ought to profile this case.