What’s going on in MP news

I took a short break from Charley, and the internet in general. I didn’t even go on my computer for like two days. And then this morning I logged on to find like 87 emails. Most of them, fortunately, didn’t merit immediate attention.

The missing-for-a-decade-but-not-reported-till-now Bryant children have an NCMEC poster now. I suppose I will add them to Charley then. They will be part of a relatively exclusive group — very few children on Charley were missing for years without anyone telling the police. Austin and Edward Bryant make two more.

There’s an article on Fred Charles Moseley, who disappeared from Canyon, Texas in 1998, at the age of seventeen. He might have been a runaway, but the circumstances of his disappearance are kind of weird, and in any case it’s highly unusual for a runaway to go without contact for this long. He would be 30 years old today.

There’s also an article on John Leonard Adams, whose case I resolved a few weeks ago. (You can find him on Resolved Cases 71.) I wrote about John before. He had schizophrenia and, like many of those so afflicted, drifted away from his family. He was identified earlier this month as a John Doe in Pennsylvania. I hadn’t heard before how he died, though. The article says his death was apparently an accident; he was hit by a train. At least it was quick, is all I can say, and at least he wasn’t murdered.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has done an article on Victor Trejo, who was 14 when he disappeared from there in 1986. He belonged to a gang and the authorities believe he probably met with foul play, but it’s possible he just ran away and is alive somewhere.

There’s an anniversary article about Taj Narbonne, who disappeared 30 years ago today. I always took somewhat more of an interest in Taj than other cases because he comes from Leominster, Massachusetts, home of the great author-god Robert Cormier. Anyway, the article has lots of new information. The police are looking really hard on his stepdad, who was abusive to Taj and definitely a violent individual, but the investigation is stymied for lack of evidence.

(Thanks to Jamie for sending me those articles.)

Dorothea Puente dies in prison

According to the Los Angeles Times, convicted serial killer Dorothea Puente died Sunday in prison at the age of 82.

Dorothea ran a boarding house for elderly and disabled people. As I recall from what I’ve read in books, they signed their Social Security and other benefit checks over to her, and she used the money to pay for their room and board, and took care of them. Except she was actually drugging them until they didn’t know what was going on, then spending the money on herself. She spent a few years in prison for this, then after her release she opened another boarding house. (Way to go, state of California, that you let her do that.)

Dorothea had learned her lesson from prison: in her second boarding house, rather than drugging the residents into oblivion, she murdered them and buried their bodies in her yard. Most of the residents didn’t have any family or anyone who visited them, so she got away with it for a long time. She was caught after a social worker reported one of the residents as a missing person.

If my memory serves me — maybe I’ll look this up when I get home — Dorothea sprinkled quicklime on the corpses to make them decompose faster. What she didn’t realize is that quicklime only works that way if you mix it with water. Dry quicklime, on the other hand, acts as a preservative, so when the police disinterred the murder victims they were in remarkably good shape. (Again, I’m not 100% sure whether this was Dorothea or another lady serial killer who also killed patients from her boarding home. There were a couple of these. But it’s a fun fact anyway.) [UPDATE: Yeah, I looked it up and it was indeed Dorothea. Courtesy of Harold Schechter’s The Serial Killer Files.]

Dorothea published a cookbook shortly before her death. Apparently she was a wonderful cook when she wasn’t mixing deadly chemicals into the food. Shane Bugbee, the man on the outside who helped her publish the book, says “Thea was a kindly old lady that, it sounds like, she got mixed up with the wrong kind of people.”

Whatever, Shane.

I hope that conditions are better now for vulnerable people in boarding homes, and that social workers or whoever check on their well-being regularly, so they don’t wind up buried in the backyard for months or years and never missed. But I’m not at all convinced that they are. Social services can’t even look after their foster children. Old and disabled people can’t have it much better.

Several Canadian cases

As I noted, the twentieth anniversary of Michael Dunahee‘s disappearance. Well, in honor of that, a Canadian news site has run an article about Michael and several other missing children from Canada.

The other kids mentioned are Tania Murrell (age 6, missing from Alberta since 1983), Courtney Struble (age 13, missing from Saskatchewan since 2004), and Mariam Makhniashvili (age 17, missing from Ontario since 2009).

I wish I could profile Canadian cases on Charley. But I really don’t have the time. Mariam’s case seems quite intriguing, from the headlines I’ve seen about it. She was a recent immigrant from the nation of Georgia (home of Joseph Stalin, born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, gotta love those Georgian names) and I don’t think she spoke English well. She was also supposed to be really shy, hadn’t made any friends yet in Canada and wasn’t the type to run away. I wonder if human traffickers got her.

Technical difficulties

The blog had some, ah, technical difficulties yesterday, but all is well now as you can see.

For those who wrote me about this, it turns out I was mistaken: although my assumption was not unreasonable under the circumstances, it seems that these technical difficulties were not caused by any human being but by WordPress itself.

Carry on.

Two locations and one anniversary

Many people sent this one in: Dana McPeek, a 33-year-old woman who’d been missing from Lompoc, California since 2001, has been located. At least, her jawbone has been. It turned up in northern Santa Barbara County, California, in the ever-popular “remote area.” No sign of the rest of the body, and obviously, no cause of death known at this time, though the assumption seems to be foul play. Her family issued a statement thanking the police for their work.

And, in Marin County, California, partial remains found last September have been identified as Michael Anton Kudsieh, a 25-year-old who had been missing from the area since 2002. I had had no details about his disappearance, but the article said he suffered from “intense mental illness” and left suicide notes saying he was going to jump off a cliff.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of Michael Wayne Dunahee, a four-year-old who was abducted from a playground in British Columbia, Canada in 1991. He would be 24 years old today, if he is still alive. I had him profiled on Charley at one time after I heard about a possible sighting in the U.S., but then I found out the sighting had been discounted so I removed him. Anyway, Michael’s parents have issued a plea for help in solving his disappearance.

Article about cold case MPs in Colorado

Per Jamie: this article about cold case missing persons and homicides in Colorado. It mentions Michael Rust and Michael Walcyzak as well as James Rowe and Casey Berry. There are also a few other MPs mentioned that I don’t have on Charley.

I really wish these kinds of articles would include photos. I’d like to list Jack N. Gordon and Seryina Trujillo, but I can’t if I don’t have photos of them. How can they get found if you don’t know what they look like?

John Leonard Adams and schizophrenia

Jamie sent me this article about John Leonard Adams, a man who was listed on Charley until I resolved his case last month. He had been listed as missing from New Mexico since 1997. No one knows what happened over the next four years, but in October 2001 he was found dead of head trauma (accident? homicide? doesn’t say) in Pennsylvania and buried in a potter’s field as a John Doe. He was identified by fingerprints and his body has been returned to his family in Washington.

John Adams had schizophrenia and this is what lead to his disappearance. It can be somewhat controlled with medication, but a lot of schizophrenics resist taking medicine because (A) they “lack insight” in the psychiatric parlance, meaning they don’t realize they’re sick and (B) the side effects on the anti-psychotic drugs are often really terrible. John apparently couldn’t think when he was taking his meds, and there can be some bad physical side effects too, like drooling. And on top of it all, the drugs usually don’t work all that well.

There are a lot of schizophrenics listed on Charley. I did a search for the word and turned up 1,700 results. I should note, though, that back before around 1980, “schizophrenia” was often used as a catch-all term for many mental illnesses, especially those involving psychosis. There are a lot of people who were diagnosed with schizophrenia in the sixties and seventies who would today be diagnosed with depression, or a personality disorder, etc.

In any case it is a terrible illness, probably the worst mental illness you can get. People with schizophrenia have a very high rate of suicide. They often end up in jail, not because they are violent or inherently criminal but because the mental health system is broken and they can’t get help. Like, a psychotic person standing on the sidewalk yelling to the voices in his head might get arrested for disturbing the peace. It seems especially tragic when you have a gifted young person — as John Adams was — cut down by this disease in the prime of life. It usually strikes people in their teens or twenties. I have heard of people sort of “outgrowing” the illness and more or less stabilizing once they become elderly — if they live that long.

I wonder if anyone has done a study to see how many people who get reported missing have schizophrenia or some other severe mental illness. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was at five or ten times the rate in the general population.

Patrick Alford in Cleveland?

According to this article and this one, seven-year-old Patrick Alford, who disappeared from New York City over a year ago, may be alive and in the Cleveland, Ohio area. The police evidently got some kind of tip, a sighting or something.

I really, really hope this tip pans out. Patrick’s disappearance is ridiculous. Seven-year-old boys don’t just “run away.” Or, if they do, they don’t get far without running into serious trouble. From what I’ve read, he shouldn’t have been placed in a strange foster home to begin with. There were relatives who were willing to take care of him. Patrick’s foster mother didn’t even speak English.

He looks like such a beautiful kid. Sigh.

Most mysterious

Today I saw the neurologist (the one who referred me to the Cleveland Clinic) and told her the good news. She was very happy for me. She still wants me to keep taking the Neurontin though (that’s the prophylactic) and she warned that the headache might still return.

I asked her if she had any notion what caused the blood vessels in my head to get so inflamed. “They weren’t,” she said. My MRI and blood work had shown a normal, healthy brain with normal blood vessels.

“So why did the dexamethasone work then?”

“We have no idea how it works,” she answered. She’d heard of it being used to treat persistent headaches but the mechanism is unknown.

Hopefully this will be my last “headache” post.