Missing persons case prompts investigation into possible police racism

According to this article, a brain-damaged Asian refugee (identified in this article as former Chinese dissident Yu Dongyue) wandered away from a relative’s Indiana home and was reported missing. Meanwhile, the police picked him up for public intoxication. He couldn’t tell them his name so they listed him as “Jackie Chan” on the intake papers.

Apparently some people think that is Seriously Not Funny. They even suggest that perhaps not calling him the usual “John Doe” hindered the search for him. That is, if his family checked the jail for an unidentified man (and it’s not clear that they did), they wouldn’t have been able to find him because he would be listed under a name but not his own name. (Dongyue was released without charge eighteen hours after his arrest and someone found him eight miles from the jail, recognized him from the missing persons fliers and took him home. He’d been missing about a day and a half.) So now there is a review at the police department and the chief is making a public apology and someone is going to get seriously yelled at and possibly fired.

Tasteless? Definitely. Insensitive? Definitely. I don’t know if the cop who did this was racist, but he certainly should have known better.

My review of Paul Begg’s book “Into Thin Air: People Who Disappear”

(This is quite an obscure book. You may have a hard time locating it, even online. My library had it, but in the storage section where all the old books go to die.)

Paul Begg is better known to me from his Jack the Ripper writings. I’m glad to see he’s turned his research talent and common sense to the topic of missing people. Though this book was written in the seventies, it’s not terribly dated. There’s a centerfold of pictures, some of them curiously irrelevant to the book. Begg mentions a few contemporary cases but mainly focuses on mysterious vanishings thought by some to be paranormal. He discusses the Bermuda Triangle, the disappearance of the captain and crew of the Mary Celeste, and the story about the guy who vanished crossing a field, among other cases. Begg is a very good debunker. Going back through the old records, he is able to prove that many of these wild stories about disappearances are replete with serious errors, if not made up entirely. (He’s especially good at this in his Bermuda Triangle chapter.)

I wouldn’t call this a true crime book, since most of the cases he discusses are not criminal in nature. But it would interest anyone interested in the paranormal (skeptic and believer alike) and, of course, anyone interested in missing persons.