Lindsey Baum and a million girls like her

Today I wrote up the case of ten-year-old Lindsey Jo Baum, who disappeared from McCleary, Washington exactly six months ago, on June 26. I hope to post her case on Charley later today. From all accounts she was an ordinary little girl. She liked reading and the movie Twilight and she wanted to be a veterinarian or a writer when she grew up. She lived with her divorced mother and older brother in a small suburban town. And she vanished. No one really seems to have much on her — she was just gone, less than two weeks before her eleventh birthday.

I think ten to fourteen is a pretty vulnerable time for kids, especially girls. At that age parents are starting to give them more freedom (such as the freedom to walk home from a friend’s house at night, as Lindsey was doing when she disappeared), and they think themselves very grown-up. But they’re still pretty naive at that age, testing their wings. A predatory adult could easily take advantage of them. There must be scores of Lindseys on my website. I can think of twenty or so right now, starting with Connie Smith and Beverly Potts almost sixty years ago. Ordinary girls, ordinary lives — in all likelihood, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Surprising recovery

I received an email today from a relative of Seif Benkailly Mahssen, who held the distinction of being the oldest family abduction case profiled on the Charley Project. He was less than a year old when his Yemeni father ran off with him back in 1958. Frankly, I didn’t expect they would ever find him. But Seif’s relative says he’s been found alive and well in Yemen! I’m sure his mother must be so glad. I hope Seif is willing to reconnect with her.

I know I’ve been awfully quiet lately…

…not blogging much, or updating much, these days. In truth I haven’t felt much like doing it, or doing anything. Work has been rough lately due to the Christmas rush and they’ve kept us late a lot. I’ve come home just wanting to sleep all day, and often I do. However, the Christmas rush is almost over and hopefully things will pick up around here again.

I certainly hope 2010 is a better year for me than 2009 or 2008. The last few years of my life have been difficult: health problems, personal problems, financial problems. But I see light up ahead. I’ve already thought up a few New Years’ resolutions. I was actually able to keep two of mine for this year.

Suspected Green River murder victim identified

The cops have identified a suspected Green River Killer victim as sixteen-year-old Angela Marie Girdner, who disappeared back in 1983. She wasn’t reported missing until 1985, though. This is the first time I’ve heard of her. She looks like such a pretty girl in the picture. Very blue eyes.

The police actually misplaced her bones (something that happens more often than you’d think; it happened to one of Ted Bundy’s victims), but they found them and were able to identify them based on dental records. This article has some more detail. Gary Leon Ridgway insists that he didn’t kill Angela, but the cops kind of doubt it. It’s my understanding that he pleaded guilty to 48 murders in King County, Washington and got a life sentence. If they can pin any murders on him outside the county, the process starts all over again and he could be sentenced to death.

Rest in peace, Angela.

Maria Anjiras and Amy Billig

The Hour, a newspaper out of Norwalk, Connecticut, has done a really good article on the 1976 disappearance of fourteen-year-old Maria Anjiras. It has loads of info on her case that I didn’t know before, and this is just the beginning, as the article is only the first of a two-part piece. It seems that Maria ran away with some bikers and hung around the general area for at least six months afterwards, but she never returned home.

Her case reminds me a lot of Amy Billig. Both pretty brunette teenagers, aspiring actresses, who disappeared in the mid-seventies and apparently spent quite awhile running around with bikers after they went missing. Both of them are probably dead now. It looks like Amy and Maria came from good homes, and it seems highly unlikely that they would go over thirty years without ever contacting their folks again.

Yet another set of disappearances from an institution

choolEarlier on this blog I wrote about three teenage boys who all disappeared (years apart) from the same treatment facility for troubled youths and were never found. Well, I have just discovered another set of disappearances from another institution, in this case a state-operated institution for retarded people.

Seventeen-year-old Steven Eugene Anderson and twelve-year-old David Williams disappeared together from the New Lisbon State School for Retarded Males in 1975 and were never found. Steven was moderately retarded (from his picture he looks like he might have Downs Syndrome). I don’t have any info on David’s mental condition, but I know he takes medication, and I listed him as mentally disabled since he did, after all, live at the school.

I just found the NamUs profile of 46-year-old Kenneth Arthur Schweighart, who disappeared from New Lisbon State School in 1982. From what little information is available, the circumstances look about the same: walked off campus and vanished without a trace, no evidence to speak of.

I think this is rather odd, to say the least.

The New Lisbon State School is now called the New Lisbon Developmental Center. According to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, it houses over 400 people. It’s coed now and only serves those 18 and up. I wish I could find info as to what the place was like in the seventies and eighties.

I wonder if anyone has looked really hard at the school and its employees? Were there any more links between the 1975 disappearances and the 1982 one, besides the location? I can see one retarded guy wandering off. But three? Were Steven and David supervised? It seems to me that a seventeen-year-old and a twelve-year-old with mental disabilities should not be able to just leave campus without someone with them. I would love to know more about these cases but I can’t find much. As ever.

Ulysses Roberson convicted of second-degree murder

Ulysses Roberson has finally been convicted of murder in the death of his four-year-old son, Alexander Olive. I say “finally” because the trial didn’t begin until eight years after charges were filed, and the trial itself lasted two months. Ulysses could have been tried in 2006, but he fired his public defender and everything ground to a halt again. I hope the delay of the trial won’t become an appeals issue later.

Anyway, he faces 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder. Prosecutors had hoped for a conviction for first-degree murder (25 to life), but I don’t think it makes any practical difference. Ulysses is a monster with a criminal record for violent and sexual offenses. I don’t think any parole board is going to let him go. And judging from his photo, he’s getting up in years. He will most likely die in prison.

7,928 cases and counting

I just counted all my cases to see if I’d topped 8,000 yet. Close, but no cigar: 7,928 cases profiled. In a week or two I should make it. Charley has nearly doubled in size since its inception, when it only had a little over 4,000 cases.

It sounds like a huge number. It’s close to the population of the nearest town to me. (Okay, there is a settlement of less than a hundred people a few miles from here, but it seems to me that a place ought to possess at least one traffic light to be labeled a “town.”) But 8,000 is only a tiny sliver — less than one percent, I think — of the total number of people listed as missing in America right this minute.

A problem I’ve never encountered before

Many, many women listed on Charley are noted to be victims of domestic violence at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends, even if the aforementioned haven’t faced any charges in connection with the disappearance. In one particular case, I have little info, just that the woman (a girl, really, 21 years old) was going through a divorce and her family said her husband was abusive and had threatened her life.

Well, hubby has just emailed me, furious and demanding I remove that detail. He accuses me of “dragging his name through mud” and says it is my “last and final warning.” (I actually don’t refer to him by name in the casefile, and didn’t even know his name till he wrote me.) I did a bit more probing after I got the email and found the missing woman’s MySpace page, last accessed just before her disappearance. She writes a little bit on there about how she’s so glad she got away from her abusive husband and that their two small children are away from him and safe.

It seems my options are thus:

1. Comply with his demand — no way in hell. Even if he had nothing to do with her disappearance, I’m satisfied that he did abuse her and, it appears, the kids as well. Men who beat their wives and kids deserve to have their names dragged through mud.
2. Ignore him and block his email address.
3. Reply to him telling him to go to hell, then block his email address.

I think I’m leaning towards Option 2. I don’t want to provoke this guy any more than I already have. I mean, I guess it’s unlikely that he would drive all the way up from the Deep South to Ohio to track me down and beat me up or something, but stranger things have happened.