Spotlight Case: Charles Hall III

Fifteen-year-old Charlie Hall disappeared from Nashville, Tennessee twenty-seven years ago today. He was last seen that afternoon when he went to walk to his girlfriend’s home, but he never arrived.

I have next to no information on this case. That always frustrates me. Teenage boys don’t seem like very good targets for kidnapping, but there’s got to be some reason why the NCMEC has listed his case as a Non-Family Abduction. I’ve been unable to find any articles in the old newspaper databases, and his common name makes research all the more difficult.

His NCMEC picture shows him wearing a dress shirt, sport coat and bow tie — a school dance, perhaps, maybe the prom? A wedding? He looks as if he’s trying to decide whether or not to smile. His cheeks are still soft — I think he seems younger than fifteen. His hair is done in a poofy Afro, so common in the seventies and eighties.

Someone knows what happened to this boy. Someone knows where he is. I hope that someone comes forward, so Charlie’s family won’t have to wait another year for resolution.

Dealing with the families

I don’t contact them on my own, but I get a lot of emails from family members of the missing people profiled on my website. Most of them write to thank me for posting their relative. Some of them have additional information for me, or corrections. I’m always glad to get those.

Once in awhile, though, I get a family member’s email that’s troubling. Once, shortly after I set up the Charley Project, a woman wrote to me claiming her husband was profiled on my website. She was absolutely furious that I’d posted his missing persons file without asking her permission first, and accused me of insensitivity and copyright violation, among other things, and demanded I take his file down. I did so immediately, but she apparently went around bad-mouthing me to other people online and I heard about it. I have no idea what her problem was. Sometimes I wonder if the man whose profile I removed was really her husband, or if something else was going on.

Today I got an email from a woman whose son is on my site. She was very upset because in his file I put that he was suicidal at the time of his disappearance. She wants his whole casefile removed. I’m trying to talk her out of that, suggesting I just remove the part about suicidality. I got that information from law enforcement, incidentally, and I showed her the source. I’ve gotten several emails like these: family members asking me to remove information from the casefiles that seemingly portrays their loved one in a bad light, but is nevertheless true. Another man I posted on Charley, the police said he was a suspected car thief, though he hadn’t faced any charges. His sister asked me to remove this piece of information. I was uncomfortable. I didn’t want to offend her — god knows that poor man’s family had been through enough — but the MP’s alleged criminal activities may well have played a role in his disappearance. In the end I removed the information.

I think about what my own Charley Project casefile would look like, if I were missing and someone was doing a write-up for me. I suffer from a certain serious medical condition which, while I’m not ashamed of it, has a stigma attached to it. You could also say I have a “history of alcohol abuse.” (I used to go on fairly spectacular drinking binges from time to time. I have vowed to stop that, and I haven’t had an alcohol at all since August.) Now, to me, an MP is an MP and I don’t care if they were criminals or mentally ill or on drugs or whatever. But I can see why some people don’t want that sort of information getting out.

It’s a quandary. I have always acceded to the family’s wishes as far as removing embarrassing information, but I’m never very happy about it.