Thanks to a Charley Project blog commenter I found out a little bit more about Diane Nguyen Robbins. I had wondered if she was the offspring of an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman he met in the war, and it turned out I was correct. It’s a very sad story: Diane’s mother already had one child when she moved to the US, married an American serviceman and had Diane.
Then, when Diane was twelve, she said her father was sexually abusing her. He was sent to jail and Diane’s mother left him, but the emotional toll remained and Diane vanished only a year or so later. (She may have been a Green River victim, no one knows.) Her mother committed suicide in 1991 — no doubt the grief over her daughter’s disappearance was a big factor in that, though it does sound like she had an unhappy life generally. But Diane’s half-brother is still alive and hopes she may be found. She also has family in Vietnam.
I think this story goes to show the far-reaching consequences of crime. If Diane’s father hadn’t molested her, perhaps she would not have left home and disappeared in 1985. If she hadn’t disappeared, it’s likely that her mother would be alive today. Fortunately her brother seems to have conquered his demons and is now a motivational speaker, married with kids, and involved in trying to promote racial harmony.
Grandma was buried today. Wendy, my minister friend who lives next door, officiated over the funeral. She also gave me a ride there. I was very grateful cause my car has no AC and hers does. Everyone was supposed to wear red cause it was Grandma’s favorite color, so I put on this sort of wine-colored dress I have. It’s very lovely but unfortunately it’s velvet, ankle-length and has long sleeves and a turtleneck so I would have arrived a puddle of sweat if I had had to take my car. As it was I was still uncomfortably warm.
I wasn’t close to my grandmother but Wendy’s funeral oration left me feeling sniffly anyway. She basically said she thought Grandma just decided it was her time to die. She had been through innumerable health crises and always pulled through, but this time her favorite daughter was dead, and so she decided to join her. The after-funeral lunch wasn’t that great. (Though I suppose gatherings of this nature rarely are.) Wendy had other things to do so she left, and I was forced to make small talk with various relatives — not fun — and there were a lot of small screaming children.
Hopefully Grandpa will stick around while longer and we won’t have to go back to the funeral home any time soon. He’s seven years younger than Grandma was, and in better health generally.
Link: Grandma’s obituary.
I found this article about Peter McColl, who was missing fifteen years on Saturday. The article includes several pictures I had not seen before.
Peter’s case is very puzzling. He was a sixteen-year-old out-to-be-junior in high school in Berkeley, California, an honor student, athletic, with a good family and no apparent problems in his life. He hopped on a bus and just vanished off the face of the earth. His family doesn’t live in Berkeley anymore but their hearts still ache for him and they still hope he’ll be found.
As his mother was quoted in the article, “Anything could have happened to Peter.” A six-foot, 160-pound teenager is hardly a likely candidate for abduction, and if he ran away he chose to do so with nothing but the clothes on his back, without having received his driver’s license, leaving all his stuff and $100 in cash behind in his room. The religious cult angle seems as likely as any, but who knows? His case reminds me a lot of Jason Jolkowski‘s — two good-looking teen boys with contented lives who may have been taken by aliens for all we know.
Earlier I wrote about how they were looking to see if a man who died in Texas in 2005 might be Elmer Crawford, who vanished after he murdered his wife and three children in Australia in 1971. The Texas man looked a lot like Elmer, was the right age, and had false ID in several different names. Unfortunately, he’s not Elmer. They compared the Doe’s DNA with one of Elmer’s relatives and it didn’t match. So they are no closer to identifying the man or finding the mass murderer. Piss.
Earlier I wrote that Thomas Collard, whose wife June had been missing from upstate New York since 1980, had been charged with her murder. A few weeks ago, Thomas lead the police to a body buried on his former property in New York. To no one’s surprise, DNA testing confirmed that the remains were June’s. Presumably a plea agreement will follow.
Yonks ago I wrote about Eunice Lydia Burwell-Workman, a compulsive hoarder who was missing for years before she turned up buried under a pile of crap in her own house. Well, here’s another one. Billie Jean James was missing for four months. As the article says,
It wasn’t until this week that Bill James noticed his 67-year-old wife’s feet sticking out from under a pile that the search came to an end…”For our dogs to go through that house and not find something should be indicative of the tremendous environmental challenges they faced,” police spokesman Bill Cassell told The Associated Press.
The AP article provides more info on the James family home:
In the driveway sits two huge trash bins that require industrial-sized trucks to haul them away. The front patio is filled with knickknacks including old chairs, smaller trash bins and a 10-foot basketball hoop.
Inside, Cassell said James’ piles of clutter left just small pathways to walk and strong odors that hindered their search — generated by animals, decomposing garbage, food, clothes and other stuff.
“If there had been any indication that there was a remote possibility that somebody was back underneath that stuff we would have taken the appropriate action,” Cassell said.
Sari Connolly, who walked dogs with James and her husband daily at a nearby park with a group of friends, said the woman bought things at thrift stores each day and accumulated them in the house.
I have a compulsive hoarder in my own family and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she meets with a similar fate someday.
After a protracted decline, my grandmother finally died this afternoon. She was 87 years old. She had been very sick and on hospice but this had happened several times before and she’d always pulled through — my way of putting it was “Grandma is dying again.” But since my aunt, her favorite daughter, died, Grandma just seemed to give up.
I was visiting my mother when the nursing home called. There was a man working on Mom’s kitchen cabinets. I was about to leave. I picked up the phone, handed it to her, went upstairs to get my stuff, came down and said, “I’m going.” And the cabinet man said, “You’d better stay.” And I noticed Mom was crying and then I knew. I wound up fetching the minister and then calling my siblings and my uncle and my cousins to let everyone know. Then I drove Mom to the nursing home and several of us — Mom, Dad, me, my brother and sister-in-law, my sister and brother-in-law, and my uncle — all sat around communing with Grandpa and the dead body. There was a shortage of chairs but only my sister was brave enough to sit on the bed where Grandma was lying.
Eventually the funeral home came and took Grandma away and I suppose the funeral will be Monday or Tuesday. Grandpa is rather devastated. They had been married for something like 55 years. (Not bad since he was her third husband. Though the second one barely counts. He left her in Texas during the honeymoon, packed his stuff and all their money and disappeared in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again. Grandma had to wire her parents for funds to get back to Ohio.)
Frankly, I’m glad it’s over. Grandma was in a lot of pain.
I got a letter in the mail from the county sheriff’s office. I spent some time in pants-wetting panic bunny mode: what do they want with me, am I in trouble, am I being sued, have they found the meth lab, the bodies in the basement, etc. Finally, with much trepidation, I opened the letter.
They want me for jury duty.
The police have announced that they are going to look for Karen Adams‘s car using sonar. Karen and her car have been missing since 2007, and the cops seem to think she might have driven into a river or a lake. (In my experience, that’s a very likely possibility.) Find the car, and they find Karen — or at least they find a clue.
Recently they found Crystal Wilson, who’d been missing six and a half years, inside her car in a lake. You couldn’t see it from the ground, but a helicopter or something flying overhead spotted the vehicle. I hope the sonar turns up something in Karen’s case.
As was announced today, Pilar Rodriguez‘s babysitter, Melissa Cooper (now Melissa Jones or Harding-Jones), has been charged with killing her. Melissa had taken Pilar on vacation with her and her boyfriend, Keith Allen Wilson, in 1999 and Pilar vanished sometime during the trip. Melissa and Keith have been blaming each other for it ever since. Melissa married after Pilar’s disappearance, had a couple of kids and now lives in Washington state.
I’m surprised it was Melissa who was arrested, because for years the cops have been focusing on Keith. She’s charged with aggravated manslaughter and faces a 30-year sentence if convicted. Articles:
The Everett Herald
The Sarasota Herald Tribune