Sean Munger profiles Donna Michalenko

Sean Munger has written about Donna Michalenko on his blog. The case is 45 years old and Donna would be an old woman if she is still alive. Which she could be, I suppose. Although “foul play is suspected in her case” I don’t know why that is, whether there’s concrete evidence like blood or something, or just four and a half decades of silence.

Donna disappeared from Kief, ND, which might well be the smallest town listed on the Charley Project. The population was 97 the year she disappeared, which seems like New York friggin’ City to what it is now: 13. THIRTEEN.

7 thoughts on “Sean Munger profiles Donna Michalenko

  1. M86 July 5, 2013 / 11:33 pm

    I’m familiar with where Kief is… It’s isolated and rural. The nearest population center is Minot, which is about an hour away. There are quite a few towns in ND that actually have less population. Ruso, for instance, has 4 people, according to the 2010 census.

    • Meaghan July 5, 2013 / 11:50 pm

      Wow. Four people…holy wow.

      When I was in college in Arkansas, I was a history major and took a course called Historiography, which is basically “how to study history like a science.” The course was a bit of a joke, really. The professor is from North Dakota and was writing a book about Walsh County, and he had us students transcribe old census charts for him as part of our coursework.

      It was hellish — trying to make out what was written from poor quality scans of what was written a century ago with a leaky fountain pen by a semi-literate Norwegian census taker. We worked in groups of three, each person transcribing one decade’s worth of data, then the three of us writing papers trying to draw conclusions on the thirty years. The professor warned us it would be very hard to read. He showed us the example a prior student had written: the name “Learles Kvikaboo” which turned out to actually be “Charles Knickerbocker.” The census takers also tended to make errors. I found in my own documents a 14-year-old listed as the mother of a 4-year-old child, which is highly unlikely to say the least.

      My group was lucky because we landed Grafton, the county seat, which provided slightly more interesting data — that is, not everyone’s population was listed as “farmer.” I remember seeing “teamster” a lot of times and got exciting, thinking about the Mafia, Jimmy Hoffa, etc., then I found out “teamster” just meant someone who drove a horse and wagon, and was very disappointed. I recall that a lot of people’s place of birth was given as “Jutland” which made me confused, as I’d never heard of a place and couldn’t find it on any North Dakota maps. Midway through my term paper I got a lightbulb in my head and realized it meant the main peninsula of Denmark.

      • M86 July 6, 2013 / 1:18 am

        You went to college in Arkansas? I live in Northwest Arkansas now. I’m originally from South Dakota.

        I think I would have loved that class! I find stuff like that so fascinating. I’ve seen old census records… I used to think people just had horrible handwriting back then, but they didn’t have the fancy ball-point pens that we have now.

        Also, not sure if you’d be interested, but http://www.ghostsofnorthdakota.com is a very interesting website. They profile ghost towns in ND. I love seeing the photos and trying to imagine what those places were once like. Kief is actually listed.
        http://www.ghostsofnorthdakota.com/2010/05/18/kief-nd/
        Kief isn’t a true ghost town, but it sounds like it’s on its way.

      • Meaghan July 6, 2013 / 1:23 am

        I know about the Ghosts of ND site. In fact, I think I sent the link to Sean which was what prompted his post. He does “Geo Charley” posts on the charleysmissing Twitter feed sometimes, where he shows a picture (usually from Google Earth) of the place the MP was last seen.

        I went to Hendrix College. It was a wonderful place, the perfect environment for me really, full of crazy liberal hippie intellectuals like myself.

  2. M86 July 6, 2013 / 2:29 am

    For some reason, there was no reply link to your last comment, Meaghan. But, liberal hippies unite! I wasn’t aware of Hendrix in Conway. 🙂

    • Meaghan July 6, 2013 / 2:34 am

      The comment threads will only go down three times before you can’t reply to them anymore.

      Hendrix is a pretty small school — only a few thousand students — and pretty national in its student body. I think about half the students came from Arkansas; the rest were from all over. My roommate was from Connecticut, and the room across the hall from us my freshman year had a girl from California and a girl from Minnesota. There was even a guy in my dorm who was from Nepal. He probably hated me because I’m really interested in Nepal and kept asking him questions about it every time I saw him. Once I was drunk and cornered him at a party and determined he tell me about the Kumari, which he claimed he’d never heard of.

      • M86 July 6, 2013 / 3:31 am

        Lol… I’d be the same way.

        On a side note, I really want to create a map (online, or maybe an app?) for missing persons. I’m not sure how I’d go about it.

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