A case for more creative naming

As of tomorrow, I will have three people named Maria Mendoza on Charley. All from California. I don’t even know their middle names, so it’s just “Maria Mendoza” three times in a row in my listings. I also have:

4 Jose Gonzalezes
3 John Davises
3 Michael Johnsons
3 Jose Lopezes
3 Juan Rodriguezes
3 Jerry Smiths
2 Michael Blacks
2 Robert Browns
2 Steven Clarks
2 Jose Cruzes
2 Michael Gordons
2 Claudia Guillens (though to be fair they’re mother and daughter)
2 James Harrises
2 William Hendersons
2 William Henrys
2 Thomas Jameses
2 Joshua Johnsons
2 Theresa Johnsons
2 William Joneses
2 Michael Maddens
2 Barbara Martins
2 Joseph Martins
2 Michael McLaughlins
2 Joseph McStays (father and son)
2 Grace Reapps (mother and daughter)
2 James Peterses
2 Lawrence Powells
2 James Robinsons
2 Jose Rodriguezes
2 Harold Simpsons
2 James Smiths
2 John Smiths
2 Robin Smiths
2 John Taylors
2 John Wagners
2 Cheryl Williamses
2 David Williamses
2 Jimmy Williamses
2 Larry Williamses
2 Randy Williamses
2 Jennifer Wilsons
2 William Wrights

That’s how big and annoying the problem is. And there’s probably some more I missed.

For awhile I had two Anthony Davises, two Jose Hernandezes, two Samantha Garcias, two Amy Johnsons, two Brian Joneses, two David Millers, two Karla Rodriguezes, two Miguel Romeros, two James Thompsons and two Kimberly Thompsons but one of each got removed.

How I deal with it: if the second MP has a middle name or middle initial, I go with that. Like, I’ll have good_meaghan_elizabeth or good_meaghan_e. If they don’t have a middle name, I go with good2_meaghan. Sometimes I make an exception. Like, I have reapp_grace and reapp_gracie, since the child’s nickname was Gracie. Or for juniors I sometimes use mcstay_josephj.

Once I had a case where a mother and her four, maybe five daughters disappeared (I forget the exact details, it was back in the MPCCN days), and every single one of the little girls was named Mary. They had different middle names, but still. Imagine when they got old enough to receive mail!

When I take over the world and become Supreme Dictator For Life, I will require people with a common last name like Smith or Brown or Rodriguez to take an uncommon first name. Something like Abijah or Quebec or Ghislaine. If they want to use a common first name, they have to hyphenate their last name. I would also forbid people to give their children the exact same names as themselves — give them a different middle name at least. Like my grandfather and father: both are called Charles, but Grandpa was Charles Henry and Dad is Charles William. This would prevent a lot of paperwork problems.

Article about MPs from South Carolina

I found this month-old article that talks in detail about several missing persons cases out of South Carolina. I can’t find anything I can usey; in fact, it looks like they used the Charley Project as their main source for some of these accounts. Woodrow Taylor, Shanta Johnson, Andrea Hayslette Brittanee Drexel and Lisa Neugent are mentioned, as well as three cases I don’t have: Cynthia Bullock, Glenn Howlett and Rebecca Slavinsky. No pictures for those three, though.

Trying to identify bodies in Harris County, Texas

According to this article, the authorities in Harris County, Texas are renewing their efforts to identify some of the 400-odd John and Jane Does they have in their jurisdiction. One of the Does mentioned in the article was a victim of the serial killer Dean Corll, who preyed on teenage boys during the 1970s.

The county’s forensic anthropology director, Jennifer Love, dubbed “the Bone Detective,” has won a $180,957 grant from the National Institute of Justice that she will use to exhume 25 bodies in the next 18 months. Using money from the grant, she hired another forensic anthropologist, Deborrah Pinto, to comb through hundreds of cold case files for new clues to help decide whom to exhume.

They plan to collect DNA samples from the UIDs to help identify them. But, as the article points out: “in order to use any newly collected DNA samples to restore identities, forensic anthropologists also need new clues from the public.” They’re hoping family members might take note of the distinctive clothes some of the victims were wearing.

Good luck, is all I can say.

(Wow. Two UID posts in one day.)

I hate it when this happens

I just wrote up a casefile — even spent money to buy an article for researching it — only to discover I already posted the same case on Charley (and bought the same article, presumably) almost a year ago.

I have an encyclopedic memory of my Charley cases, but sometimes it fails me.


Just so the money I spent won’t be completely wasted, I decided to update his case with a few incidentals about his life which I didn’t include the first time around.

My memory fail may be partly because of my current condition. I feel as if I’m drunk, but I haven’t had any alcohol in weeks. I am stumbling around, having trouble with my eye-hand coordination, and having trouble focusing my eyes. (As I write this I keep making typos and having to correct them.) I don’t know what’s wrong. I hope it’s nothing bad because I Seriously Cannot Afford another doctor bill. Maybe eating will help. I’m glad there’s food in the house because I’m probably too impaired to drive. *goes to the kitchen to get lunch*

Toddler’s body on NY shore still unidentified

Although I don’t think I ever wrote about it, many of my readers will no doubt be aware of the case where several missing women, mostly prostitutes, were found murdered on the shore of Long Island. A few Charley Project cases were among them. Well, I found this New York Times article about a little girl’s body that was found on the same stretch of beach on April 4 — but a mile away from the other women’s bodies, so the police don’t think the deaths are related. The child, who was between 18 and 24 months old, was however only about 250 feet away from another woman’s head, hands and forearm.

In spite of where her body was found, the police have not classified the toddler’s death as a homicide, since they can find no evidence of trauma to the body. Her body was wrapped carefully in a blanket and hidden in the brush at the foot of a tree, and they think a caregiver, perhaps a parent or both parents, put it there.

It’s been almost two months and it doesn’t sound like the police are anywhere close to identifying the little girl. It’s unlikely she was ever reported missing. Cracking this case may well depend on a neighbor or distant relative realizing they haven’t seen so-and-so’s child in quite a long time and the explanations for her absence don’t hold water.

This case has Boy in the Box overtones. I hope, unlike in that case, they’re able to identify this girl quickly. I usually don’t post about unidentified bodies but this one touched my heart.

Very good article about Elizabeth Smart and others

I found this excellent article called “Elizabeth’s choice: Take path to advocacy or fade into ‘normal’?” It talks about the possibility that Elizabeth will either become a crime victims’ advocate or just have a normal obscure life and marry and have kids or what. It also talks about two crime victims (one case was a shooting, the other a gang rape) that became victims’ advocates. One works as an attorney for crime victims and the other is a public speaker and on the Utah Domestic Violence Council.

Updates on resolved cases?

I was looking through my old resolved cases today. A lot of cases where people have been found deceased have “his/her death/murder is under investigation” thing. I know that in a lot of those cases, later on the cause of death was determined and it was not foul play, or a suspect was charged or convicted of murder. (As if I don’t have enough work to do) do you guys think it would be a good idea to add updates to my resolves? I think the only time I ever did this was in a family abduction case, where the boy’s mother abducted him a second time. Or do you think not enough people look at old resolves to make updates there worthwhile?

Golden Gate Bridge suicides

On the Charley Project I have many people who have probably jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and were never found. I found this article about Golden Gate Bridge suicides, which mentions Matthew Chase Whitmer, a young man with schizoaffective disorder who jumped off the bridge in 2007. His mother has a website about him and other Bridge suicides; she is lobbying for the authorities to put up an anti-suicide barrier.

The main arguments against the barrier which I have seen is that it would cost money, and it would be unsightly. This is absurd. A barrier probably save a dozen lives, at least, every year.

The argument that “they would just go kill themselves somewhere else” doesn’t really hold water. A lot of suicides are impulsive acts and if someone attempts, or is going to attempt, to kill themselves and gets prevented the first time, they often don’t try again anytime soon. In fact, Casey Joanna Brooks is known to have approached the bridge at night not long before her suicide, and was stopped because there was a pedestrian gate that was locked during the nighttime hours. Later (it was either days or weeks, I forget), she returned during the day and jumped.

Also, the Golden Gate Bridge is such a famous and beautiful place that it attracts suicides. There’s another bridge not too far away which would be just as lethal to jump from, but very few people do.

I suspect that the California Department of Justice MP database has more suspected Golden Gate Bridge suicides than I know of. I usually only find about about the probable suicide through reading a mention on the database, but the fact that the MP was probably a bridge jumper is not always mentioned in the file. Casey Brooks, for example, is listed as a “runaway juvenile” in spite of the fact that her jump was witnessed. (I found out the true cause of her disappearance from other sources.) I actually called the DOJ hotline number about that — I think Casey’s family would be really upset if they heard of her classification — but nothing was done.

Karen Mero’s father dies

The Redding Record-Searchlight has reported that Robert Neil Knechtel, father of Karen Knechtel Mero, died this past Monday. He was 67 years old and had been in poor health for some time, a fact he blamed in part on his daughter’s disappearance. Karen’s mother, Alice, is still alive.

Karen disappeared from McCloud, California in 1997, at the age of 27. Authorities think she may have been the victim of a serial killer. Wesley Howard Shermantine, who was convicted in four women’s presumed deaths (including two cases where the bodies were never found) and suspected in the disappearance of Hannah Zaccaglini (who also disappeared from McCloud in 1997), is the prime suspect in Karen’s disappearance as well.