The Los Angeles Times has done an excellent, if short, article about the series of teen girls who have mysteriously disappeared from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (just across the river from El Paso, Texas). The missing girls of Juarez have become notorious over the past several years. I saw a documentary about the case three or four years ago. Over 350 young women were killed in Juarez between 1991 and 1993, but the more recent missing girls are of a different profile: from stable, working- or middle-class families, whereas the early 90s victims were poor and mostly worked in the city’s factories. It’s theorized that the missing girls have been forced into prostitution.
The upside is if the prostitution theory is correct, most of these girls are probably still alive. Human trafficking claims more victims than we’ll probably ever know, and not just in third world countries either. Nicholle Coppler, who disappeared in 1999 from Lima, Ohio (a city near my home, where my father works and where I used to attend school) may have been forced into prostitution. I talked once to a friend of mine, a university professor in Lima, who claims he had a student who had at one time been a prostitute and his student told him she’d run into Nicholle in Las Vegas. This is all very vague, of course, and third-hand, but I think she probably was in the sex trade after her disappearance, assuming she wasn’t killed.
The Cleveland Examiner has posted a very good guide for the parents of teen runaways or potential runaways. I think it’s quite detailed, sensible and easy to understand.
I seriously considered running away from home twice when I was a teenager. At fourteen I wanted to run away because my relationship with my mother (never very good even at the best of times) had become a misery for both of us, and mainly because I was suffering from a very severe depression and thought a geographical solution would ease my emotional pain. I even had a place to run to — an online friend in Seattle wanted me to come stay with her. I never got the nerve to actually do it, though. At sixteen, I seriously considered running away with my boyfriend. My parents didn’t approve of our relationship because he is eleven years older than me. I thought perhaps he and I could go to Mexico or somewhere, get married, and come back saying, “You can’t touch us, we are husband and wife now.” My boyfriend rejected the idea, saying he didn’t want to mess up my life by marrying me when I was too young. And my parents, very sensibly, decided to allow me to continue to see him, because they knew he was a good man and good for me and because, frankly, there was little they could do to stop me, due to the way I was living at the time. (I had quit school at thirteen and, by sixteen, was attending classes at Ohio State University, where I met my boyfriend, who was also a student there. Keeping me away from my boyfriend would have involved removing me from the university and sending me back to the local excuse for a high school and its poor education and bad emotional environment.) My boyfriend and I are still together after seven and a half years.
In both cases I’m very glad I didn’t run away from home. It would have seriously screwed things up for me, particularly the first time, at fourteen, when I very well could have run into some nasty character on my way to Seattle and have wound up with grass growing over my head.
A few days ago I wrote about the trial opening for Aaron Thompson, who’s charged with, among other things, child abuse resulting in death in the case of his missing daughter Aarone. Well, in the opening statements yesterday, Aaron’s attorney acknowledged the child was dead. As most people predicted, Aaron’s story is going to be that his girlfriend Shely Lowe killed Aarone and Aaron only helped her cover it up. Lowe is the perfect person to put the blame on, as she died in 2006 and can’t defend herself.
This is the same defense Michelle Pulsifer‘s mom used, blaming Michelle’s death on her boyfriend who had died by the time of the trial. It worked for Michelle’s mother, though only after two trials and two hung juries. (A few months ago I heard from one of the jurors in the second trial. Now I understand a little better why they couldn’t agree to convict her.) I think it’s going to be harder for Aaron Thompson, though. Aarone’s case is much fresher than Michelle’s — Aaron is going to trial three and a half years after his daughter’s disappearance was reported, whereas Michelle’s mother wasn’t tried until thirty-eight years after Michelle was last seen. Also, Aaron is a man. People tend to believe, correctly or otherwise, a man would be much more likely to abuse his children than a woman would.
And one other thing: if Aaron is only covering up Aarone’s death and didn’t actually kill her, why hasn’t he lead the cops to the body?
Jeanna Dale North disappeared from Fargo, North Dakota in 1993, when she was eleven years old. Later, Kyle Bell was convicted of her murder. He escaped from prison only a month after his sentencing and was on America’s Most Wanted as a result. They found him two months later and he is safely behind bars again.
Well, Jeanna’s mother died last week. She was only 58 years old. The article doesn’t say what the cause of death was.
I may have spoken about this earlier in my blog, but I’ve observed that parents of missing children tend to die young. Jeanna’s mother was 58, Debra Frost‘s father was 58, Amanda Berry‘s mother was I believe in her forties or early fifties, and Sofia Juarez‘s mother just twenty-six. These were all deaths from natural causes, too, not accidents or anything like that. I wonder if perhaps the stress of having a missing child leads to a shorter lifespan. But I don’t have a lot of info on this and I’m sure no studies have been done. Perhaps parents of missing kids actually live about as long as anyone else and I only notice the ones who die early. Amy Billig‘s mother died of a heart attack at age 80, after surviving a bout with what should have been terminal lung cancer (she was a smoker). Connie Smith‘s father was still alive last I knew, and in his nineties.
Last night I had a very detailed dream about Jeanine Camille Barnwell. She disappeared from Philadelphia in 1985 and I have exactly zilch info about it. “Last seen by her mother.” What on earth does that mean?
Anyway, I dreamed that my Newslibrary searches finally bore fruit and I found out Jeanine had disappeared on a cruise ship coming into Philadelphia. (Never mind that Philadelphia is not connected to any major bodies of water.) Jeanine was traveling with her mother and younger brother after a visit with her father, and according to her mother she was abducted by someone who threw her off the ship into the water, but her mom didn’t tell anyone about it until after the ship docked and the child was missed during a final count of passengers, so Mom was considered a suspect. Also, I was able to obtain Jeanine’s Social Security card and it said her real name was Peaches Honeyblossom.
I shared my information with Bessie, my librarian friend (a real person who works at the library I patronize and sometimes keeps books under the counter for me if she thinks I might like them), and she said there had been some stuff about Jeanine in Google News lately. I checked it out and found a whole bunch of additional pictures of her, and happily updated my Charley Project casefile to include the same.