Two case connections today

Once in awhile it happens that I’m writing up a case and discover that, lo, it’s connected to another one. Sometimes the MPs are relatives; sometimes they have some other shared feature, like how Mary Margaret Cook and Peggy Wynell Byars-Baisden both lived on the same street, although there’s no indication those two cases are connected. Most often, though, the connection is through a third party, usually a suspect in the case.

Today I added two of those: Valarie Sloan and Janis Sanders. Both of these women had been mentioned on the site already in the casefiles of others — Stacey Morrison and Janeice Langs respectively — but I didn’t have any photos or anything for them to have their own files. The same suspect, a serial killer named Joseph Miller, has confessed to killing Valarie and Stacey but hasn’t faced charges and probably never will. In the case of the Two Jans, the same guy, Gerald Libertowski, was actually charged with the murders of his ex-girlfriends Janeice Langs and Janis Sanders, but he got off both times. I tried to find out what he got up to after that, whether he’s still alive, but couldn’t find anything on him.

Possibly the most unusual connection noted on Charley is that of Robert Black, Richard Davison and Patricia Laxer. Those three, plus a woman named Goldie Swanger, all disappeared going either to or from an appointment with the same doctor. Goldie turned up in 2004, but I have no info as to the circumstances. There seems to be no indication of foul play in the Case of the Disappearing Patients, but the whole thing is very Twilight Zone. I only wish I knew more about those cases, though I suspect that at closer look they would turn out to be disappointingly much less mysterious.

15 years of Amber Alerts

As several articles around the country have noted, this month is the 15th anniversary of the abduction and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman from Arlington, Texas. She was kidnapped in broad daylight while riding her bicycle, apparently by a stranger, and found dead four days later. Evidence showed she had been kept alive for two days after the abduction. Her murder remains unsolved to this day.

Amber’s death, of course, lead to the now-ubiquitous Amber Alert program named for her, short for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. Info for an abducted child is automatically put out on radios, TV, highway signs, online, etc, for the public to be on the lookout. Most recently it’s been on Facebook. Certain criteria are supposed to be met: they have to have clear evidence that the child is in danger, they have to have an indication of what to look for (like an abduction vehicle or what). This program is now present in all 50 US states and several foreign countries. Used properly, it can and does find kids and save lives. Just how many lives it saves, no one knows for sure.

I found this Detroit Free Press article and this Vancouver Sun article (they are both kind of repetitive of each other, I admit) about the anniversary and the Amber Alert program in general. It’s not perfect. Sometimes it’s used unnecessarily, or sometimes it isn’t used when it should be, or isn’t used fast enough. Most of the kids who have benefited from the program were kidnapped not by strangers but by relatives and acquaintances. Of course, a child shouldn’t be excluded from getting an Amber if he/she meets all the criteria, just because the abductor was not a stranger. As I hope this blog’s readers know by now, often a kid is in most danger from their nearest and dearest.

Amber would be 24 years old now, if she were still alive. I’m glad people could find a way to get some good out of her death, and I hope her killer is caught.