Some people just seem to hit the lottery for bad luck. I got this idea from Dalton Trumbo’s novel Johnny Got His Gun. The protagonist has lost his senses of sight and hearing, his ability to speak and swallow, and all four limbs to war wounds. I think he probably lost his senses of smell and taste too, but as he’s tube-fed it doesn’t really matter. He’s essentially a torso with an attached head that has no face. His mind still works fine, he just can’t do anything. In the story, as he becomes cognizant of what has happened to him, he reflects that some people lose a limb in war, and others are blinded, and he just happened to lose everything. It had to happen to somebody. Like hitting the lottery: the chances of an individual person winning a million dollars are vanishingly small, but someone always does.
The chances of a person going missing without a trace are also extremely slim. Maybe not as unlikely as winning the lottery, but still very rare. People get reported missing at the rate of thousands every day, but almost all of them turn up, usually in a short time. But some families are unlucky and their loved one stays missing forever. Like the wounded soldiers. And some families lose more than one person this way — like the guy in Johnny Got His Gun with his multiple disfigurements. I call them “lottery families.” I’d like to spotlight these cases today.
I can only think of a few cases where more than one member of a family disappeared in separate incidents. They are:
Stacy Peterson and her mother, Christie Cales. Everyone and their accountant has heard of Stacy. She was twenty-three when she disappeared from Bolingbrook, Illinois in 2007. Her police officer husband probably killed her, but he hasn’t been charged. Not many people know about Christie. She went missing from Blue Island, Illinois in 1998, when she was forty and Stacy was fourteen. Christie may still be alive and perhaps homeless somewhere, but I doubt it. She had a very unfortunate life: alcoholism, depression, divorce, minor criminal offenses and worst of all, the deaths of two of her children. If she is alive I hope she’s happy and has found a way to soothe her psychic wounds.
The Pooler brothers, Edwin and George. George went missing first, from Omak, Washington in 1988. He was thirty-seven. Edwin, then forty-five, disappeared from Keller, Washington in 1991. Foul play is suspected in both brothers’ cases, but they’re not believed to be related. A suspect actually pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Edwin’s case and got a six-year sentence, but the body has never been located.
Timothy Davison and his aunt, Cindy Smith. Four-year-old Timothy was apparently abducted by a stranger in 1985, when he was left alone in a parked car in Decatur, Illinois. Cindy disappeared from Winter Haven, Florida in 1987, when she was twenty-six. It looks like it could have been your typical homicide by romantic partner case, but no charges have been brought.
Annette Sagers and her mother, Korrinna Sagers Malinoski, whom I don’t have profiled on Charley because I lack a picture. This is really bizarre. Korrinna, who was twenty-six at the time, disappeared from a bus stop in Mount Holly, South Carolina in November 1987. Almost year later, in October 1988, her eleven-year-old daughter Annette vanished from the exact same spot, leaving a note saying her mom had come to get her. Neither of them have been heard from again. The cops have verified Annette did write the note, but I don’t think they’ve established that Korrinna really did pick up Annette. Perhaps she did. Perhaps someone (perhaps the same person who abducted Korrinna) forced Annette to write the note before taking her away. Perhaps Annette ran away to find her mother and left the note behind as a kind of fantasy. It would make a great plot for a mystery novel.
Dorothy Douglas and an unnamed brother, whom I don’t have on Charley and don’t know much about. Dorothy, a former nurse, got into a downward spiral and got involved with crack cocaine and prostitution. She disappeared from Cincinnati, Ohio in 1998. Her husband was the victim of an unsolved murder in 1982, and in 1983 her brother vanished in Tennessee, a presumed drowning victim.
I have quite a few more cases of family members who disappeared together, excluding family abductions. Less bewildering, they are just as tragic if not more so, because there’s no interval between disappearances to cushion the impact. There are probably more I don’t have listed here, but this is all I can remember right now.
Kimberly Boyd, her mother Sarah W. Boyd, and a family friend, Linda McCord. I only have Kimberly on Charley. She was two and was on the way home from a gospel concert with her mom and Linda when they disappeared without a trace in Orangeburg County, South Carolina in 1987. Their car was later found abandoned.
The entire Uden family: Virginia, thirty-two, and her sons Reagan, ten, and Richard, eleven. They vanished from Lander, Wyoming in 1980, on the way to see Virginia’s ex-husband. It’s not really clear whether he was the boys’ father or not. The Udens’ car was later found in a canyon. Someone had tried to hide it, and Virginia’s blood was inside it. It looks like the cops suspect Virginia’s ex-husband in this, but no one has been charged and there isn’t a whole lot of info available.
Nearly half the Sodder family: Maurice, fourteen, Martha, twelve, Louis, nine, Jennie, eight, and Betty, five. The five children disappeared from their parents Fayetteville, West Virginia home on Christmas Eve in 1945. A fire burned the house to the ground that night. The Sodder parents and five of their children got out, but the other five had vanished. At first everyone thought they’d been consumed in the fire, but that started to look less and less likely as time went on. Their parents are now dead.
Denise Fagot, twenty-two, and her one-year-old son, Daniel Spangle. They vanished without a trace from their apartment in Lancaster, California in 1989. There isn’t much evidence in this case, but it doesn’t look like they left on their own.
Fannie Stuart, her sister Jessie, and their mom, Mary. Mary took Fannie, one, and Jessie, two, out for the day in Honeydew, California in 1977 and never came back. It’s not clear whether Mom or their vehicle was ever found and I don’t have Mary on Charley. She might have been pregnant when she went missing, but I’m not really sure.
Brandi Summers, age five, and her two-year-old half-sister Tiffani Wise. They disappeared from San Bernardino, California in 1977. Their mother was found murdered in the house, and a baby was left behind unharmed. The Doe Network says Brandi’s father is a suspect in the murder and abductions. Brandi had cystic fibrosis, so she’s almost certainly dead now, even if she wasn’t killed shortly after she disappeared. Tiffani, who wouldn’t have been old enough to remember her mom, may be alive.
Ivy Matory, twelve, her sister Violet, nine, their half-sister Yolanda Williams, seven, and Sir-Kristopher Marshall, a three-year-old boy who was spending the night, disappeared from a house in Los Angeles, California in 1977. That night the house burned down and the next morning the girls’ mother, Earlene Williams, was found murdered inside. Earlene’s husband James, who is Yolanda’s father, was seen with the children at a restaurant early the next day, after the house fire and murder. Later on he was alone. He was later convicted of Earlene’s murder, but he never revealed the whereabouts of the children and he has since died. There’s been no sign of the children since 1977.
Michalle Houchman, age fifteen, her parents Elaine and Sol Solomon, and her brother Mitchel Solomon. I’m not sure why Michalle has a different surname. She’s the only one I have on my site. They disappeared from Reseda, California in 1982, leaving behind a violent crime scene at their home. Harvey Rader was tried for the family’s murders in 1992, but was acquitted.
Claudia Berenice Guillen, twenty-one, and her two-year-old daughter Clauda Jareth Guillen. They disappeared from Yuma, Arizona in 2004. Little evidence is available here. Perhaps they left on their own.
Sarah Skiba, age nine, her father Paul, thirty-eight, and one of Paul’s employees, Lorenzo Chivers, thirty-six. They disappeared from Paul’s moving business in Westminster, Colorado in 1999. At first this was also thought to be a family abduction case, with Chivers assisting the Skibas in their flight. That was before the cops found Paul’s truck, which was riddled with bullet holes and spattered with blood on the inside.
Barbara Burhans, eight, and her parents Diego Garcia, twenty-eight, and Carmen Garcia. I don’t have Carmen on Charley. I’m not sure why Barbara has a different last name than her parents. This family disappeared from Los Angeles, California in 1982. Their car was found abandoned in the San Gabriel Mountains a month later. No clues.
Nelta Jacques, twenty-seven, and her daughters Juanita Jacques, five, and Johanna St. Louis, seven. They disappeared in 1999, on their way home to Tampa, Florida from Nelta’s dad’s home in Fort Lauderdale.
Sandra Jacobson, thirty-six, and her five-year-old son John. They disappeared from Bismarck, North Dakota in 1996. Sandra’s car was later found parked near the Missouri River. She had been having a nervous breakdown and the police think she may have drowned her son and herself.
Van “Stephanie” Nguyen, twenty-six, and her children Kristina, four, and John, three. They disappeared Cincinnati, Ohio since 2002. The mother left behind a suicide note and again, this is thought to be a probable murder-suicide.