Mariam Makhniashvili’s funeral

The funeral for Mariam Makhniashvili has taken place — a public ceremony on Friday, and a private one yesterday. Although she wasn’t a Charley Project case because she disappeared in Canada, I did follow it to a certain extent and blogged about her in my March 11 entry “Final Leaps.”

Mariam’s disappearance (now presumed to be a suicide, although not officially ruled as such) tore her family apart. Literally. Some months after she vanished, her father, Vakhtang, snapped under the pressure of it all and stabbed a guy whom he accused of being involved in Mariam’s disappearance. A sympathetic couple, strangers to the Makhniashvili family, bailed Vakhtang out of jail. He later stabbed one of them too. Of course this violent behavior lead to speculation that Vakhtang had also harmed his daughter. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to six years in prison. He isn’t dead, of course, but at least until he gets out of prison the family has to all intents been reduced by half: now it’s just Mariam’s younger brother, George Makhniashvili, and their mother, Lela Tabidze.

Vakhtang has reportedly behaved well in prison, but he was not allowed leave from prison to attend his daughter’s funeral. The decision was “partially based on Mr. Makhniashvili’s court-ordered psychiatric assessment.” He has a “delusional disorder” and I guess they think he’s (still) dangerous.

I can understand the authorities not wanting to take a risk with Vakhtang, but it’s still a shame that he couldn’t attend. The Makhniashvilis are immigrants from the Republic of Georgia and I don’t think they have any relatives in Ontario. They had been living in Canada for only three months. Mariam was shy, had no friends, spoke no English, and had attended school for all of four days by the time of her disappearance. Of course some of the teachers and students from her school showed up at the funeral and said nice things — the principal called Mariam “a wonderful student, a person who was highly introspective and highly sensitive and very intuitive” — but let’s face it, they didn’t know her.

In a sense, every grieving person is alone in their sorrow, but Lela Tabidze and George Makhniashvili must feel especially alone, surrounded by all these kind well-wishers, but no one who actually knew Mariam and could share memories of her childhood, her personality, all that she was.

Open for discussion

This five-page article: Are child porn laws unfair? Viewers’ sentences can be worse than molesters’

I want to hear your views on this matter! Tell me in the comments section. Discuss this among yourselves for my entertainment.


Here’s another, related topic for discussion:

When I was thirteen or fourteen or so, my dad had just got a scanner, and one afternoon I was alone at home and I got a little silly and actually scanned my private parts just to see what it would look like. (The answer: absolutely nothing like a woman’s private parts.) I do not possess the jpg file anymore, but suppose I did? You could make a good case that such an image constituted child pornography. If I did still have the image, would it make sense for the state to prosecute me for possessing child pornography of myself?

I think this is an issue that will come up in court sooner or later. I can’t have been the first minor to take naughty pictures of herself. Suppose a man was arrested for possession of nude, sexually suggestive photographs of a boy (probably in his teens, but definitely underage). Should he get acquitted if he is able to prove that the images are of himself, taken by him in the mirror or something, long ago?

What do y’all think?


The very sad case of little Dwight Stallings

Alas, another not-reported-for-ages missing child: Dwight Stallings, age 11 months, whom I will probably be adding to Charley tomorrow. He was last seen in April of last year and it wasn’t until now that the police listed him as missing.

Little Dwight’s mother, Tanisha Edwards, lead a “transient lifestyle” and had “regular contacts” with both the police and Child Protective Services. Her mother had custody of two of her other children. Relatives last saw Dwight sometime in April 2011. Four times between April and August, CPS attempted to check on his welfare, but each time they went to Tanisha’s apartment she wasn’t home. She kept having her “contacts” with the police and at no time did they ever see a little boy with her.

For some reason CPS didn’t tell the police that Dwight had dropped out of sight. Maybe it was confidentiality laws, I don’t know. But this month, CPS did get a court order to make Tanisha produce Dwight so they could verify that she was okay. The police went to her apartment to serve the papers and found her under the influence, which gave them the excuse to arrest her for probation violation. There was no sign of Dwight anywhere and Tanisha has given many stories that contradict each other and are “literally all over the map.”

The cops are “aggressively seeking his whereabouts.” But they seem to have no idea where this baby is. He’d be almost two years old now, if he’s alive.

Qua’mere Rogers. Peter Kema. Adam Herrman. Edward Bryant and Austin Bryant. Brittany Williams. Rilya Wilson. Aarone Thompson. Rene Romero. Etc etc etc. So many children. So many. And now one more. How many children in the US are missing right now, but nobody knows about them, because nobody bothered to report it?

Investigators are hoping against hope that Dwight is alive. He could be, I guess. He might be living somewhere under another name. Tanisha could have given him away, or sold him. (Frankly, he’s probably better off without her in any case.) But already the police are like “there’s a good chance he’s dead” and “this could turn into a homicide investigation.”

CBS Sacramento
ABC News 10
Fox 40

Grab your torches and pitchforks, everybody. I’ve had enough of everything.

Article about MPs from Alaska: and, my take on each of them

I found this three-page article about missing persons in Alaska. It talks about MPs in general, and in particular Scott and Amy Fandel, Megan Emerick and John Wipert. There are presently 78 missing persons profiled on Alaska’s Department of Safety website. Most of those are on Charley too. The woman from Alaska who was in the I-Match program with me, I asked her about Alaskan disappearances and she said people there vanish all the time. Not only are the climate and terrain rather rough (to say the least), but there are high rates of crime, alcohol and depression.

The Fandel children are probably the most famous missing persons case in Alaskan history. There’s been speculation that Amy’s biological father, Roger, had something to do with it. Roger wasn’t Scott’s father, but he had raised him since Scott was two years old. He and the children’s mother were in the process of a divorce, I guess; Roger had left Margaret in January 1978 and moved to Arizona. He was considered a suspect for years, but the police don’t seem to think he was involved anymore. I’m not sure if he is still alive.

My own theory is that the children were victims of a random or semi-random predator. Perhaps a pedophile saw Amy at the restaurant that evening and decided he wanted to hurt her. He could have followed the family back to their house, then lay in wait until the children were alone. Scott might have gotten in the way and been injured or killed in the abduction attempt, or perhaps he was the abductor’s target instead of Amy. From the photo, and his size — less than five feet tall — it seems like he would have looked younger than his age. It’s just a hypothesis, but it seems to make as much sense as anything else.

Megan Emerick is a bit of a tough call. The police think she could have been a victim of Robert Hansen, a serial killer who murdered at least 17 young women and was sentenced to 461 years in prison for his crimes. But, although he confessed to the 17 homicides, he said he didn’t have anything to do with Megan’s disappearance. Also, I don’t know if the cops have any actual evidence against him for Megan, other than the fact that she fits the profile. I’m a bit leery of just assuming a missing person was killed by a serial killer just because the MP fit the profile and the killer was operating in that area at the time. As was pointed out in my comments section, for decades the police thought Katherine Merry Devine had been killed by Ted Bundy, although he always denied it. DNA testing eventually proved she was murdered by William E. Cosden.

Megan COULD have been one of Robert Hansen’s victims. She could also have run away, although that doesn’t make much sense; not only did she leave all her stuff behind, but she was already living away from home by the time of her disappearance, living in student housing at a tech school. So it’s not like she would have had to run away to escape curfews or some other form of parental oppression. It also seems unlikely that Alaska ate her, as it tends to do with hikers, mountain climbers etc. on a regular basis. Seward, the town she disappeared from, is in southern Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula, and it’s relatively settled. Hardly a tropical paradise, but it’s not some teeny fishing village about the Arctic Circle, a hundred miles north of anywhere. And for what it’s worth, Megan also disappeared in midsummer. So…I am out of ideas.

As for John Wipert, the cause of his disappearance is pretty obvious: he was taking care of someone else’s lodge all by himself in the summer of 2009, and at some point in June he left, taking two horses and leaving a note saying he was going to “check the cabin” and be back “tomorrow night.” Problem was, there wasn’t any cabin, or much of anything, within a day’s ride of the lodge. Wipert left all his clothes behind, and left the lodge unattended. The remaining horse had nearly died of starvation and dehydration by the time the owner showed up in July. There was rotting food on the counter and in the sink, and some odd vandalism. The usual extensive search turned up no sign of man or beasts. The authorities had a very cold trail; Wipert had been missing for about three weeks or maybe longer before his disappearance was even noticed.

Authorities don’t seem to think Wipert stole the horses and made off somewhere, at least not deliberately. One theory is that he kind of went crazy from the isolation (living for months in that kind of isolation will try anyone’s soul) and left the lodge for reasons only he could understand. There were some indications that he didn’t plan on being gone long. Possibly he was trying to get to Canada; the border was about 35 miles away. Since he didn’t have his clothes, wasn’t familiar with the area and probably didn’t have any survival skills or equipment, chances are he didn’t last long.

This is totally unrelated

Do any of my readers have experience buying stuff and “flipping” it on eBay or whatever, selling it for more than you paid for it? Can you make money from this? Is it worth the hassle? I have never used eBay before, buying or selling, but I came across a most delectable item that’s a heck of a deal, if I can resell it. (And no, I’m not telling what it is, or the rest will be wanting it too.)

UPDATE: Well, poop. Someone went and bought it already. Since it’s gone I might as well tell you what it is: a 1970s vintage (real) wolf fur coat, in very good condition, no rips or tears or wearing away of the fur, men’s size small. It seemed kind of badass to me — “I don’t need no stinkin’ nutria, I am wearing a WOLF HIDE thank you very much.” The coat was $85. All the similar coats I could find for sale online cost twice that, or more, which is why I thought of flipping it if not wearing it myself. Oh, well.