My first animal execution

On this day in 1888, a 76-pound Newfoundland dog was “executed” by an agent of Thomas Alva Edison to “prove” that AC current (as opposed to the DC electric current he promoted) was dangerous to living things. Harold P. Brown, the executioner, went all around New York State for awhile shocking to death all the manner of fauna, but he preferred stray dogs and cats and paid little boys twenty-five cents each to round them up. (One wonders how many of those “strays” were pets stolen from people’s yards.)

That Newfoundland was the first to go. They are wonderful dogs, so sweet-hearted and patient. Nana, the dog in Peter Pan, was a Newfie. My family has had two.

Thomas Edison was an ass. The Epic Rap Battles of History people proved that.

MPs with master’s degrees

This list is of missing people whom I know have a master’s degree in something or other, or were working on one. There are some quite prestigious universities here.

Raed Nayef Al-Farah, unknown field of study, unknown school. Was getting his second master’s (also unknown field of study) from Wayne State University when he disappeared.
Pamela J. Butler, information technology, American University
Eric Dickson Cansler, unknown field of study, University of Colorado
Jeremy Freeman Crocker, medical science, California Institute of Technology
Thomas L. Duesterhaus, English, George Mason University
Jerald M. Gelb, computer science, unknown school
Ylva Annika Hagner, working on a master’s in liberal arts, Stanford University
Mark Douglas Jackson, business administration, unknown school
Laura Vogel: wildlife biology, New Mexico State University
Susan Walsh, writing, New York University
Cynthia S. Wilkins, working on a master’s in education, Northern Illinois University
Wensheng Zheng, electrical engineering, Lamar University

Select It Sunday: Amanda “Nikki” Campbell

Someone suggested I write about Nikki Campbell for Select It Sunday, and I thought: why not? Although I did make her MP of the week awhile back, her case hasn’t gotten much press.

Her full name was Amanda Nicole Eileen Campbell, but everyone called her Nikki. She disappeared in 1991, two days after Christmas, which must make that holiday even harder than usual for her family to bear. Nikki was four and a half, but tall for her age and on the chubby side, so she may have looked a year or two older.

As you’ll see in her Charley Project casefile, some other little girls disappeared from the same general vicinity and some people think the cases are connected. A guy named Tim Bindner has been bandied around as a suspect for years. He might be guilty. Or he might just be very eccentric. Certainly his behavior is suspicious and he’s probably a pedophile, but the police haven’t found one grain of solid evidence to tie him to any of the disappearances. There are other suspects in the offing too, who unlike Bindner are proven child predators.

Tantalizingly, Nikki Campbell disappeared from virtually right outside her front door — she was going to ride her bike to a friend’s house just eight houses down from her own, and never made it. (An aside: I certainly couldn’t ride a bike at four. I wonder if by “bicycle” they actually mean a tricycle? Shrug.)

Statistically speaking, it’s likely that whoever took Nikki lived in the neighborhood and knew her, at least by sight. And there’s no evidence that she’s dead. It’s more likely than not that she was murdered, but with cases like Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart and Carlina White and of course the girls from Cleveland (and other people I’m not going to name because this list is getting too long), you have to wonder. At four, Nikki was just young enough that she could have been raised by another family and forgotten her own.

If Nikki Campbell is still out there, she’s twenty-six now.

Excellent blog coverage of the Bickwit/Weiser case

Sean Munger turned out an excellent overview of the disappearances of Mitchel Weiser and Bonita Bickwit, who disappeared 30 years ago yesterday.

If they’re still alive, which I think is unlikely, they’d be in their mid-fifties today.

Flashback Friday: Cesilia Pena

It’s Flashback Friday again and today I’m going to talk about Cesilia Pena, who disappeared from New York City on October 6, 1976. (This is the day after my birthday, but I wasn’t born for another nine years.) Cesilia was fourteen years old when she went missing but in the photos she looks much younger. She was tiny, only four feet nine inches tall and a little over 100 pounds. She disappeared while taking the subway from her parochial high school in Manhattan to her family’s apartment in the Bronx.

What makes Cesilia’s disappearance a little unusual is that someone might have actually seen her abduction in progress. A witness reported seeing Cesilia looking frightened, with a man holding her by the arm. The witness identified the man as Anthony “Rudy” Flores. Although he maintains his innocence (of course), Flores is considered a person of interest in Cesilia’s case and in the disappearance of another young Hispanic girl from Boston who also went missing in 1976. He was later convicted of the rape and murder of a mother and daughter and sentenced to life in prison.

If Rudy Flores was truly involved in Cesilia’s disappearance, she’s probably dead. I’ve tried to find more information about him, but drew a blank. I don’t know the names of the murder victims, and his own name is too common. There are probably at least a dozen men named Anthony Flores in the New York prison system and I’m not even sure this one is still alive.

In a few days…

There will be a PayPal account set up for Charley Project viewers to donate to, if they want to. I’ve already set up the account, now they’re just connecting it to the bank. The way they confirm it’s attached to the right bank account is kind of cool: they make two small deposits, less than a dollar each, to the bank account. Then when you get the deposits, you notify PayPal and tell them the exact amount. But it takes one to three days.

Let me emphasize this donation thing is totally a choice on the viewer’s part. The website is still free access to everyone. Another thing I should emphasize is the Charley Project is NOT a registered charity, so donations will not be tax-deductible.

The money will be spent on things including but not limited to a new computer, software, repairs and maintenance for the computer, newspaper subscriptions, booze and strippers, the internet bill, hosting fees once they become an issue again, etc.

(I was kidding about the booze and strippers part. In case you couldn’t tell.)

An open letter to Alicia

Alicia, I am not going to use your last name because someday hopefully you’re going to want to get a job or go to college or something and you don’t need this record hanging around your neck. But I have to ask you: why do you keep running away?

You’re not even old enough to drive. And you’ve run away at least THREE times this calendar year alone. And I’m pretty sure you ran away a handful of times in 2012 too. I get tired of seeing your face on “missing” posters, Alicia. I get an NCMEC notification in my inbox and I’m like, “Here we go again, Alicia’s run away for the umpteenth time.” I’ve been following NCMEC poster notifications for eight years and I’ve NEVER seen anyone who runs away as often as you.

One of these days, if you keep this up, I won’t get a “Alicia has been found safe” notification. It won’t be a happy ending. You are risking your life every time you run away. And if you’re like most runaways, when you run away you wind up in a much worse situation than whatever you were fleeing in the first place.

Please, please stop.

UPDATE, August 2: Alicia is back home. For now.