Benjamin Bearrick

I was writing up cases to post tomorrow when I came across a rather odd one: the January 2009 disappearance of Benjamin Bearrick from Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was 55 years old, unemployed, and living alone. He rented out a small cabin to Shawn Sponholz. Bearrick was a longtime resident of Vickburg; Sponholz had only been living there a couple of months.

On the evening of January 23, Bearrick drove Sponholz to the hospital. Sponholz had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and he died in ER. Bearrick, when questioned, said he’d gone to the cabin and found Sponholz there, injured. It doesn’t look like he provided any more information, but the police are being pretty tight-lipped about it so I don’t know for sure. Anyway, the police questioned Bearrick as a material witness and released him. On January 26, they went to his house to question him again and he was gone. The last time anyone saw him was on January 25.

The cops stated they believed Bearrick’s disappearance was connected to Sponholz’s murder and they think Bearrick, too, was probably killed. They haven’t said why they think this. They claim they have a suspect in the homicide but haven’t named this person, and it’s been a year and no charges have been filed. Presumably, Bearrick saw something he shouldn’t have.

I looked up both men’s backgrounds and both of them have criminal records, but not serious ones. Bearrick has one ancient burglary conviction in Texas. Sponholz has a record in Georgia for marijuana possession and traffic-related offenses. I’m sure there are several decent enough citizens in my neighborhood who can say the same thing about themselves. Nobody seems to know much about Bearrick. He has a daughter and a son, and his daughter was interviewed by a newspaper and said her father was a Vietnam vet and had relatives in Texas whom he hadn’t heard from in twenty years. Even she didn’t seem to know an awful lot about her father.

So what the hell happened? From the sounds of it, either Bearrick committed the murder himself and then split (unlikely, since the cops don’t seem to think so, and they know a great deal more about the case than I), or there’s a double murderer floating around Vicksburg somewhere. A scary thought, either way.

Memorial service for Bonita Karen Sanders

Bonita Karen Sanders‘s family — her father’s side, anyway — has held a memorial service for her, 23 years after her disappearance. The child, who was a few days shy of two years old, almost exactly a year older than I am, was supposedly abducted from the front porch when her mom wasn’t looking. However, Bonita’s mother (also called Bonita Sanders) had a pretty bad habit of misplacing her kids. She abandoned Bonita at the hospital after she was born, and later had another baby and abandoned it too. It looks like she had eight children in all. Why are the most rotten parents always also the biggest breeders?

Bonita Sr. is the prime suspect in her daughter’s disappearance, and the police are now certain that the baby was never abducted at all but died at her mother’s house. They haven’t been able to find a body or any evidence of a crime, however. Her dad, Abdul Salaam, was in jail at the time the baby disappeared, and he seems like a decent man. He was never a suspect in baby Bonita’s disappearance. You can read a touching letter Bonita’s older sister wrote to her and read at the memorial service.

The things that people will do to their children. Sigh. What else is there to say?

Giovanni Gonzalez’s dad is competent to stand trial

Ernesto Gonzalez, father of the missing child Giovanni Gonzalez, has been evaluated and found to be fit to stand trial for charges related to his son’s disappearance. Giovanni, then five, disappeared in August 2008 during a visitation with Ernesto. His mom had custody. Ernesto later claimed he’d stabbed Giovanni to death, but the police can’t find any evidence to support that story. All that remains is that the boy’s missing and Ernesto certainly had a hand in it somehow. He’s awaiting trial for kidnapping and misleading the police.

I feel so sorry for Giovanni’s mother, Daisy Colon. I think she did all the right things. When Ernesto announced he wanted to be part of Giovanni’s life, Daisy said okay, because the boy ought to have a father. She insisted that she and Ernesto go into counseling to learn parenting techniques, and they worked out an informal visitation agreement until they could go to court. And then Ernesto did…whatever it was that he did. And Daisy doesn’t even know whether her son is dead or alive. This case remains me a lot of the Sam and Lindsey Porter case. Their father murdered them to spite their mom, then jerked her and the cops around for years with this story and that one, before he finally confessed to the crime. I hope Giovanni’s fate will be better, but I am not at all optimistic.


The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe again
The Item
The Boston Herald

Special report on the Christian Ferguson disappearance

This report was written last March, but I only just found it now. It’s an indepth-report on the life and disappearance of Christian Ferguson, a severely disabled nine-year-old boy who was supposedly abducted when his father’s car was carjacked in 2003. He was never found and his case remains unsolved to this day.

This report is quite long but well-worth reading. Frankly, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. The police believe Christian’s father, Dawan, allowed his son to die slowly of his medical conditions rather than risk losing him to his ex-wife. The poor child had been undermedicated for months before his disappearance, had his gastric feeding tube ripped out of him, and was reportedly so malnourished as to be skeletal. The poor boy couldn’t take care of himself at all, he couldn’t talk, couldn’t swallow, couldn’t use the toilet, could barely walk, there was nothing he could do for himself. He was completely dependent on others, and all the others failed him.

Stories like this make me want to go out and hit somebody.

And it ain’t no surprise…

Fingerprints have identified the body as Abraham Shakespeare. A correction from my last entry — it seems the body was found on Dee Dee Moore’s boyfriend’s property, not her own property. Not that that will make much difference, will it?

I think it’s likely that more than one person was involved in Shakespeare’s murder. Unless he was shot, I think it would take more than one person to overpower a 6’5, 185-pound man. I’m sure charges will be shortly forthcoming.

Abraham Shakespeare’s remains probably found

The police have found a body buried on property owned by Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Abraham Shakespeare. They have yet to identify the body, but if it turns out it isn’t Shakespeare’s I will be very surprised.

If you’re trying to identify a body, there are certainly advantages to burying it on your own land. You will probably get privacy during the internment, and, unless the cops can get a search warrant (which isn’t easy), it’s unlikely the body will be discovered as long as you maintain control of the property. However, there’s a pretty huge disadvantage: if and when the body is found, it will be very easy to tie it back to you.

Final West Mesa victim identified

And it’s…Jamie Barela. She was fifteen years old when she disappeared from Albuquerque on March 26, 2004. It’s really no surprise that the last victim turned out to be Jamie. She went missing with her cousin, Evelyn JesusMaria Salazar, and Evelyn’s body was identified as one of the Mesa victims two months ago.

So now every body is accounted for. Now they just have to catch the monster who did this.

KOB TV 4 (which is a YouTube vid)

Alright, nobody panic

Remember how a little over a week ago my bank account got broken into? Well, the account is still on hiatus. The bank sent a new debit card but they send the stuff to activate it in a separate mailing for security purposes and the activation letter hasn’t arrived. Ergo, I have no bank account at present. And I believe credit cards are the offspring of the devil, so I don’t have any of those either.

So the long and short of it is, my host was unable to bill me for Charley’s monthly hosting costs and they’ve suspended my account. Splerd. I was hoping my bank would put together a new account for me before the bill came due. But never fear. I borrowed one of my father’s credit cards and went on there and put in the information. However, it will be a few hours before everything gets back on.

So this is why, when you try to go to Charley right now, it says “suspended domain.” It’s all the stupid identity thief’s fault.

Last time my domain got suspended (because my debit card had expired), I got like a kajillion emails from people who were either worried or angry about it, and my host got emails too from people begging him, out of the goodness of his heart, to please put Charley back online.

Cop arrested in Abraham Shakespeare case

I wrote earlier about the disappearance last spring of jackpot lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare. Well, the police have made an arrest in his case, and it’s one of their own, a twenty-year veteran of the Lakeland Police Department. There’s a press release about it.

The story isn’t as exciting as it appeared from the headlines: the cop in question is only charged with taking bribes from DeeDee Moore, the main suspect in Shakespeare’s disappearance, and providing her with confidential information from law enforcement databases. She gave him license plate numbers and he gave her information about the car owners. So far, anyway, it looks like the officer, Troy Young, wasn’t involved in Shakespeare’s actual disappearance.

What strikes me about this: this article says Moore gave “a $200 check to Young and bought a roundtrip ticket for his daughter to travel from Texas to Florida.” That seems like an awfully pitiful bribe to me, seeing as how Young supposedly committed a felony and also risked his job (and a nice civil servant’s pension) for this woman. What an idiot. But this doesn’t seem like an idiot — another article says his “dedication to his job has earned him 16 awards and commendations” since he joined the department in 1990.

Was there something more, I wonder? Not necessarily money — maybe Young and Moore were involved romantically or what? Guys tend to go kind of insane when it comes to women they’re sleeping with. Or maybe Young really didn’t see it as that big a deal. Maybe he thought: I’m just looking up a couple of license plate numbers is all, she’s hardly asking me to destroy evidence or help someone escape from jail.

Well, whatever there was between Officer Young and Dee Dee Moore, I’m sure that by now he’s quite sorry he ever met her.

Child trafficking fears in Haiti

All sorts of nasty things have been occurring in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake earlier this month, as I’m sure everyone knows. Tens of thousands of bodies have been buried in mass graves. Many people remain missing. The true death toll may never be known, as the Haitian government couldn’t even keep track of their living citizenry before the quake. As if this most unfortunate of nations hasn’t suffered enough! My psychiatrist is from Haiti and went on the local TV with his wife (also Haitian) appealing for aid for his country. Fortunately, he told me, he knows his family survived.

And top of everything else, child traffickers may be swooping down trying to take advantage of the tragedy and chaos. I’m not sure how big the problem really is — so far it looks like there’s only 15 confirmed cases of children being removed from the country illegally — but it has the potential to be huge if not checked immediately.

There are a lot of well-meaning people out there who want to help out by adopting a Haitian earthquake orphan or two. Haiti also had a small international adoption program before the disaster. But international aid organizations and the U. S. State Department are advising the would-be adopters to hold their horses. Many of those “orphans” may actually have parents or other relatives alive and able to care for them, and time is needed to sort out the genuinely orphaned from the merely displaced. I am reminded of an incident during the Vietnam war when a few hundred Vietnamese children were airlifted out of the country and sent to the US. The people who took them in were under the impression that they were adopting orphaned children, but those children actually had living parents who were under the impression that their children were merely being fostered until conditions were better, and then they would be returned home. It was a terrible situation for everyone involved.

But non-orphaned children taken abroad to loving adoptive families may be the lucky ones. Haiti had a pretty big child trafficking problem of another kind before the quake — child sex trafficking and slavery in general. As the London Times points out, the situation in Port Au Prince is such that child traffickers now have their pick of victims. All these kids are running around the streets with nowhere to turn — fish in a barrel. And those who disappear will probably be assumed to be simply buried under the rubble.

What can I say? It’s a nightmare over there. It wasn’t exactly a bed of roses before the earthquake flattened Port-au-Prince. But we can help make things better. Or at least not make them worse.