Select It Sunday: the Thompson Family

This profile was selected by Michael (not my Michael, but a blog commenter): the very sad case of Everett Thompson, his wife Lydia, and their two young sons, Everett Jr. and Andrew. The Thompsons lived in Chicago — when they disappeared in the summer of 1996. Everett was a businessman.

It’s a lot like the McStay family disappearance: mom, dad and two boys gone without a trace. But unlike in the McStay case, it’s pretty obvious what happened. Although there’s some suggestion that the family simply pulled up stakes and moved away, the inconvenient facts are this: Lydia’s charming brother, Byron White, had a record for kidnapping and rape, he was living with the Thompsons at the time of their disappearances, and a few days before they were last seen Lydia called the cops because her brother had threatened her with an ax. Oh, and after the family vanished, White stole her van and forged her signature on a check.

Unfortunately, we may never know what exactly went down and, more importantly, where their bodies are. White committed suicide in jail (mail fraud) eighteen months after his sister and her husband and kids disappeared.

A very sad case. It must have been — and is — devastating for both sides of the family. The boys have such sweet, sunny smiles in their photos.

A book y’all might want to check out

I belong to the book organizer/social networking site Librarything and participate in their Early Reviewers program, where they give you free books, often before they’re published for the masses, in exchange for posting a review. My latest free book (which comes out in a few days), was Bosnia’s Million Bones: Solving the World’s Greatest Forensic Puzzle by Christian Jennings.

For those interested in the forensic side of missing persons, I’d recommend this book. Tens of thousands of people vanished during the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in the mid-nineties, and turned up in mass graves. The book is mostly about a group set up to identify them, the International Commission on Missing Persons. It reminds me quite a lot of NamUs: they approached the relatives of the missing, collected DNA samples, collected DNA from the graves, and set about doing comparisons. The book also discusses why it was so important for the families and the country in general to identify these bodies, even though the people knew their missing relatives were dead — something that certainly rings true with Charley Project type cases. Here’s the relevant part of my review:

A sort of combination true crime and science book, this is the story of attempts to identify the thousands of people who disappeared in the genocide in the former Yugoslavia. Employing Bosnian scientists and using DNA testing that was groundbreaking at the time, the International Commission on Missing Persons was successful at identifying loads of people, in spite of the fact that many of the bodies had been dismembered and buried in separate mass graves. (The same techniques would be used at the sites of 9/11, the Indian tsunami, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and more.) The book also covers the activism on the part of survivors of the genocide, and the manhunt for those responsible.