While writing up the disappearance of Kristi Cornwell, I found this sarcastic article/editorial about her disappearance and what the armchair sleuths are saying: namely, that a lot of them accuse Kristi’s boyfriend of being involved. Kristi’s boyfriend was talking to her on the cell phone while she was out for a walk, and he claims she said a car was following her, then he heard sounds of a struggle and Kristi screaming “Don’t take me!” before the line went dead.
The article I linked to says it about as well as I can — that people are saying all kinds of things, but there’s really no evidence against anyone at this point. And the police have ruled out Kristi’s boyfriend as a suspect.
I have said it on this blog many times before, and I’ll say it again: I really hate it when people who know nothing talk trash about missing people or their loved ones. It is natural, perhaps unavoidable, that you should form opinions when you read. If you read an account of a crime and think, “Ah, I bet ____ did it, I have a feeling about him,” you can hardly be blamed for your thoughts. But to gossip about it, and accuse people of committing terrible acts without any evidence — particularly on the internet, where potentially anyone could read it — is at best insensitive and at worst unconscionable.
As far as suspects go, I generally go by what the police say, because the police generally know a lot more than is printed in the media. If the police name someone as a suspect in a missing persons case, I have no problem putting that information in their Charley Project casefile — just as I have no problem saying someone was ruled out as a suspect. And if the police name a suspect and describe mountains of evidence implicating him or her (as in cases like Peter Kema, Adam Herrman, Abraham Shakespeare…), I have no problem saying on my blog that I believe that person is guilty, even if they haven’t been convicted, even if they haven’t been charged, because my opinion is supported by a lot of facts. But I think it’s horrible when, based on a “feeling” or a “hunch” or even simple statistics (in the Cornwell case, the statistic that an intimate partner is the mostly likely perpetrator in a woman’s murder) to accuse anyone.
Malicious gossip of any kind is horrible — more so, I think, when directed at family or friends of a missing person. I remember several years ago, people on a bulletin board I belong to were discussing a missing child cold case and someone said something like, “I live in the neighborhood, and I heard her mother was was in bars getting drunk all the time in the weeks after she went missing.” Very nice! Even if it’s true…is this relevant? Is this helpful? What was the point of making such a statement?