Striking gold

My dear friend Annie Keller of For the Lost fame found an old “Missing Person” poster for the Clinton Avenue Five cases: Randy Johnson, Michael McDowell, Melvin Pittman Ernest Taylor and Alvin Turner. Prior to this, for everyone except Alvin (for some reason) I had only very poor quality photos and the ages of each, no other information as far as what they looked like. Now I’ve got birthdates, heights, weights, clothing, hair and eye color and any other distinguishing characteristics. Yay!

Their story is told in their casefiles and in my previous blog entries; I don’t feel like recounting it again. I don’t doubt that the boys were murdered, but if I were on that jury I would have voted for acquittal too. The “tricked the five of them into going into a closet, locked them in and set the place on fire, leaving no physical evidence at all” story seems implausible in the extreme, and the star witness, a career criminal, was PAID $15,000 for his cooperation.

Those poor boys and their families never got justice.

Guest-posting on Sean Munger’s blog

I had written an Executed Today entry about a massacre of 100 men in a tiny Polish village in December 1942, but it was not accepted — only the second time this has happened — because it was “not distinctive enough” (depressingly true) and because I really didn’t have any details about what happened, besides a list of the victims.

So I gave it to Sean Munger (he of the CharleysMissing Twitter account) and he posted it on his blog. Check it out here: History: Massacre at Bialka, Poland, December 1942. He didn’t include the victim list due to formatting issues but here are some details from it:


  • Some of the “men” shot on this day were as young as 15 years old.
  • The oldest was 70.
  • One man was not selected, but when he found out his seventeen-year-old son was on the list to be shot he volunteered to join him in death.
  • There were many cases of multiple victims from a single family, including one set of four brothers.

Poland got it from both sides in World War II; the country was bled white.

Girls of a certain age

I have a feeling I might have blogged about this before, but if I did I can’t find it, so…

Someone posted a comment pointing out that the four-year anniversary of Lindsey Baum‘s disappearance is coming up in a few weeks. It seems to me like girls in the 9-to-12 age group are disproportionately represented when it comes to non-family abductions. I can think of two reasons for this:

1. Females of any age are more likely to be targets of sexual predators than males.
2. At that age, you’re old enough to be getting some more freedom, like being allowed to walk to school alone and so on, but young enough to be still quite naive when it comes to personal safety.

I am of the “free range” persuasion and I think children are over-protected these days. An American child is safer right now than they ever were. Some weeks ago some poster on my blog said in his opinion, if you wanted to keep your children safe you should home-school them and “never let them go anywhere alone” until they’re at least 16. I was kind of horrified by that notion and I think it’s a terrible idea. But predators are definitely out there.

So even though it is not Make-a-List Monday, I thought I’d profile some of the girls like Lindsey: around that age, who just vanished without a trace while enjoying some of the privileges kids tend to get once their age reaches the double digits. I’m not going to try to make this comprehensive; these are just girls I can think of in my head, without searching the database for them.

Lindsey herself disappeared during a ten-minute walk home from a friend’s house, just before her eleventh birthday.
Faloma and Maleina Luhk, aged 10 and 9 respectively, vanished from their school bus stop.
Tabitha Tuders, 13, disappeared while walking to the school bus stop.
Mikelle Biggs, 11, was waiting for the ice cream truck.
Annette Sagers, 11, another bus stop case. A bit unusual, this one.
Michelle Jolene Lakey, 11, had visited her mom in the hospital and was walking to a friend’s house to spend the night.
Yuan Xia Wang, 12, a foster child, took the bus home alone for the first time and was supposed to take a cab to a doctor’s appointment but never showed up.
Ivy Marie Leinen, 11, was walking her dogs alone when she apparently fell through thin ice.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.


I’m going through another dicey depressive period right now. This compounded by personal problems I’m having with certain people in my life. It’s all well and good to say, “Try not to care about what other people think of you” and I agree with that statement for the most part, but when those other people can and will make your life miserable if they don’t like you for some reason, it’s a bit different.

I can’t get anything done. Even reading has been by the wayside for some time now. I have read shockingly little this year: 76 books completed. I realize that 76 books is more than most people read in a lifetime, but my standards are different. By this time last year I’d read twice as many.

It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s that I don’t have the inclination. I have 874 books on my to-read list at present. Normally, looking at that list makes me feel incredibly, viscerally hungry. But now? It’s just another to-do list. Wash the dishes. Do Michael’s laundry. Go get him dinner. Read 874 books. I’m just like, “Oh, those.” I go to the library with list in hand, check out a dozen or so books, take them home and realize I don’t want them.

I forced myself to finish something the other day: The Story of Spanish, a history of the Spanish language, by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow. They also wrote another book I haven’t read, The Story of French, which is a history of the Uzbek language. (Just kidding. It’s a history of French of course.) The Story of Spanish was very interesting and I learned many things from it, which is why I read books in the first place, but the entire time I was counting how many pages I had left to go.

Right now I’m chipping away at A Kazakh Teacher’s Story: Surviving the Silent Steppe by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov. I read his previous book, Silent Steppe. Both are memoirs. Shayakhmetov was one the Kazakh pastoral nomads whose religion and traditional way of life were stomped out by the Communists, and wrote about his childhood in a Kazakh aul (a rural village), surviving the terrible famines in the thirties, growing up a proud Soviet party member under Stalin, becoming a teacher, and getting kicked¬†around in the system and suffering because his father had been a rich peasant. He died in 2010, age 88.

I’ve decided to try to force a turn-around where the reading is concerned: I’m not going to update Charley until I finish a book. I will finish something, probably Shayakhmetov’s book (which is half the length of The Story of Spanish). Then I will update Charley. Then, I will have to finish another book before I update Charley again. And so on. If that doesn’t work I don’t know what else to try.

It’s more than reading that’s at stake here. I might feel better about myself if I can say “I read X many pages and learned X things today” rather than “I lay in bed and stared at the ceiling all day.”