Removing information

Sometimes people will write me and, for one reason or another, want me to remove information from my casefiles. I’m not talking about mistakes, I’m talking about details that are correct, but the person wants them removed for one reason or another. I thought I’d write an entry about some of the reasons this happens.

  • If the MP was involved with criminal activity before their disappearance or had a drug problem etc., some families are embarrassed and/or afraid people will not care about the MP because of that. In fact, I’d say that’s probably the most common reason I’m asked to remove factual information. That kind of thing is really difficult for me to deal with. On the one hand, I don’t want to cause the families more pain. But on the other hand, I don’t want to conceal information that could very well be pertinent to the disappearance. Sometimes I am willing to take it down, but not always. Here are several examples:
    In many cases, the only photo(s) are available for the MP are mug shots. More than once, I’ve had family members ask me to remove the mug shots. If I have other photographs available, I’m willing to do that. In one case I was able to convince the MP’s relative to let me keep the mug shot up. I pointed out that in all the other photos, the MP was wearing a hat, and only from the mug shot could you tell that he had significant male pattern baldness. This could be important for people trying to match this MP with John Does, I said. The relative agreed with my reasoning and the mug shot stayed up, alongside two regular pics.
    In one case, my MP was a young man who sold used cars for a living. I made a note that although he was never charged with any crimes, the police believed some of the cars he was selling were stolen and he had been under investigation when he disappeared. I heard from the MP’s sister, asking me to remove that piece of information. She didn’t say why, she just said, “The family would like that to be removed.” I took it off. I didn’t particularly want to, but I decided to do it anyway — in part because they asked nicely.
    I have another case where the MP’s sister wrote me a few years ago, very angry about my casefile, and demanding I remove several parts, including the part about the MP being an exotic dancer. I wrote back explaining that I really couldn’t do that: you really can’t tell the story of this disappearance without that particular detail. If the MP had last been seen at the library or the mall, that would be one thing, but she was last seen leaving the club where she worked, accompanied by a customer who was later charged with her murder. Plus, the MP’s father and boyfriend had also been in touch with me, and neither of them had a problem with my saying she was a dancer. Anyway, the MP’s sister is still pretty mad at me about this. I know she’s gone around to other websites badmouthing me and calling me nasty things, words I can’t repeat on this PG-13 level blog.
    Even more strangely, I had a case where all my information came from the local police, who had the MP listed on their site with the missing persons in their jurisdiction. The MP was a known prostitute with a drug problem and was last seen getting into an unknown vehicle in a bad part of town known for its prostitution and drug activity. All of that was on the police department website. I got an email from the MP’s niece, saying “That’s all lies, how dare you, we’re filing a big lawsuit for defamation blah blah blah.” I wrote back telling her I’d got the info directly from the cops, and she wrote back saying the police were liars and the family was going to sue them too. I took the trouble to run a background check on the MP and yup, there were arrests for prostitution offenses. Why the family was lying to me about this, I don’t know. Their whole attitude about the case seems counterproductive: I know that the cops asked them for a DNA sample to compare with a Jane Doe, and the family refused to provide the sample for months before they changed their minds.
  • In some cases, the family would like to protect the MP’s privacy. I’ve seen this happen several times when it comes to HIV and AIDS. There’s such a stigma against AIDS that in cases where the MP was HIV-positive, a few families have asked me to remove that. I have always done so.
  • For resolved cases, I regularly get requests for notices to be removed from that page. Usually the person doing the request is the no-longer-MP themselves. Sometimes, if the MP was found deceased, it’s a family member who doesn’t want their picture on the internet anymore. I always comply with those requests. In fact, the only situation where I will refuse to take down a resolved notice is in the family abduction cases where the abductor wants it removed. Um, no. I’m not going to cater to the whims of criminals, thank you very much. If the CHILD wrote me wanting to be removed, that’s one thing, but I’m not going to do what the ABDUCTOR tells me.
  • I also get occasional requests to remove the casefiles of MPs who are obviously deceased — either MWAB cases, or cases where there was a shipwreck or something like that. Family members ask that they be removed for the same reason that people want their deceased relatives taken off the resolved page — they’re grieving and they just don’t want that stuff on the internet anymore. I remove those cases when asked.
  • In one case I was writing about an MP whose husband (I think — my memory is fuzzy) was the prime suspect in her disappearance. The husband was later arrested for robbery and I mentioned the name of his partner-in-crime in that case. Years later, I got an email from the partner-in-crime, asking me to remove his name. He explained he was out of prison and off drugs and trying to get a job and become a productive member of society and all that, and although my casefile made it clear that no one thought HE was involved in this woman’s disappearance, he didn’t want his name mentioned in that context. I can’t blame him. I have no idea what I thinking when I mentioned him in the first place; I shouldn’t have done so. I removed his name and thanked him for being so nice about it and not yelling at me.

Thinking aloud, 9/5/2016

  • Carol Ann Smith: Well, that looks incredibly suspicious, does it not?
  • Eric Grady Smith: Normally, when someone disappears on a hunting trip, I think “hunting accident/got lost and died of exposure.” But this case really puzzles me. It’s not as if Smith disappeared while hunting in the remote wilderness in some huge national park; he was on his own property. Searchers had a very good idea about where to look, and it can’t have been that large an area, yet they found no trace of him.
    Everyone emphasized how careful Smith was at work (although, ironically, the reason he’s blind in one eye is due to a workplace accident). Mining is a very dangerous profession, and at one point the mine Smith was in charge of won some kind of recognition for going an entire year without a single accident. He carefully followed the safety regulations, and whenever new laws were passed he studied them and made sure to apply them correctly. It seems like someone who was so stringent about safety at work would be that way in his personal life too, which, it seems, would make a hunting accident less likely.
    Yet there is, as far as I can tell, no evidence of foul play and no motive. Rather like the Miller Harlow case.
  • Lee Gregory Snellings Jr.: I wish I knew which mental illness Snellings was suffering from. His mom said he could be talked into anything and not recognize danger. Amber Schulze was also said to be “highly suggestible” due to a mental disorder, but I don’t know what was wrong with her either. I wonder if Lee was in an ATV accident, like Gerald Randall Marion (scroll down to the middle of the page). I didn’t find anything about his ATV turning up.
  • Thomas Walter Sprinkle Jr.: He makes the second Charley Project case I’ve got of someone missing an ear. (This is the first one.) I wonder if this was a suicide. I mean, the poor man was 79 years old, he had cancer, he was missing an ear, and then he finds out he’s being evicted. And he had threatened suicide before. Whatever happened, I think if we find Sprinkle’s van, we’ll find him.
  • Harry Lee Womack: A case with contradictory information: one article I found specifically said he suffered from dementia and seizures, but another said he had no medical conditions that would cause mental confusion. Oh-kay…
  • Howard Kenneth Woolwine: I wrote about him yesterday. I am going to call some people tomorrow and see about that photo. I decided to put him up anyway, but I’ve got grave misgivings as to whether the person in that photo is really him. I would have called around today, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to talk to anyone due to the holiday. Anyway… I’m thinking Woolwine might have hitched a ride with somebody. That would explain why the searchers never found him in spite of the fact that he could barely walk.

Johnny Gosch missing 34 years

At the request of Brittany K., I am writing about John David Gosch on the 34th anniversary of his disappearance.

The facts are these: Johnny was a twelve-year-old paperboy in West Des Moines, Iowa and on the morning of his disappearance, he slipped out of the house before 6:00 a.m. to do this route alone — something he wasn’t allowed to do; he was supposed to bring his dad with him. A witness reported seeing Johnny talking to guy in a car.

After that, no one really knows. Johnny kind of walked into a void. He was missed at seven o’clock when customers began to complain that they hadn’t gotten their papers. Johnny’s wagon and newspapers turned up on the sidewalk just two blocks from his house.

The internet is rife with theories and speculation as to what happened — the more so because Johnny’s mother, Noreen Gosch, claims her son secretly visited her in 1997 and told her he had been abducted by a pedophile ring.

Eugene Wade Martin, a 13-year-old paperboy from Des Moines, also disappeared while on his route, less than two years after Johnny did, and there are a lot of theories that the two cases are connected somehow. And I should note that Marc James-Warren Allen disappeared from Des Moines, less than two years after Eugene Martin, but I don’t know much about his case. He wasn’t a paperboy.

With the latest news about Jacob Wetterling’s remains being found, some people have suggested Danny Heinrich (the prime suspect in Jacob’s case) should be looked at in the Des Moines disappearances as well. I have no idea whether the police have looked into this or not. But I do want to point out that Des Moines is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from St. Joseph, Minnesota, the town where Jacob was taken.

(If you guys are wondering why I haven’t resolved his case yet, it’s because according to my user stats, everyone is looking at right now. I’ll give it another day or so before I pull him.)

Thinking aloud with yesterday’s updates

  • Robert Edward Lee Jr.: Well, if there ever was much in the way of info about his disappearance online — and I kind of doubt it, the media usually doesn’t cover missing black men — it may well have gotten lost in all the material about a certain other Robert Edward Lee.
  • Consuela Sheena Marie Malone: *checks NCMEC for young black boys who disappeared from Virginia in January 2015* Nobody. *checks NamUs for the same* Nobody there either. Gosh darn it. It makes no sense to me that they would list the mother as missing but not the children.
  • Leyla Mastova McCullagh: The press release the cops put out about her disappearance is pretty confusing. Leyla Mastova McCullagh, 36, was last seen with a family member at her home on Evergreen Mills Road, according to reports. At the time she appeared to be suffering from an unknown medical condition. What on earth does that second sentence even mean?
  • Harold Eugene Molohon: Another case with details that puzzle me. Molohon’s surfboard was found in the back of his truck, and several articles described him as a “surfing enthusiast.” But in an interview with the media, his wife said he had not used “the surfboard” in years. Given the wording, I’m not sure whether she meant he hadn’t surfed at all in years, or whether she meant he hadn’t surfed using that particular board in years. If he was a surfing enthusiast, perhaps he had several. (Those things are not cheap.) Other details don’t make sense to me: if Molohon had a doctor’s appointment on the day of his disappearance, why would he decide to go surfing at a beach that was a two-hour drive from home? Did he regularly surf at that beach? Wasn’t there anyplace closer? Norfolk itself is on the coast. And if Molohon drowned, as his wife believes he did, why would his surfboard be in the back of the truck?
  • Amara Fayiah Nyorkor: *Googles his companion’s name* I found records for a woman by that name from Charlottesville, and it says she’s in her fifties. Old enough to be Nyorkor’s mother. Perhaps she is his mother. In any case, I have no other info on her, and I’m not sure if she is a missing person, or if she was missing and got found, or if she was never considered missing, or what. Shrug. I also tried to figure out Nyorkor’s ethnic origin and I think it’s Liberian, judging by the other people I found with that surname.
  • John Dunwell Samen: Samen’s father died in 2014; his obituary is like “by the way, his son is missing; here’s some photos of him and here’s what he was last seen wearing.” I haz a sads, reading that. I do wish I knew exactly which institution Samen was living in when he disappeared; that might provide an indication as to what his medical issues were. There are several residential facilities for adults in that community, most of which are listed as nursing homes. Nursing homes are generally seen as places for elderly people, but many disabled younger adults live in them also. Furthermore, just because an institution is listed on online directories as a nursing home doesn’t mean it IS a nursing home. In July 2009, I spent five days in a residential facility for mentally ill adults; that facility is listed in several nursing home directories and it isn’t one.
  • Waverly Grayson Sharpe: On NewsLibrary I found a 1989 article about a man who was killed in a car accident, and it was mentioned that one of his surviving family members was a brother, “Waverly Sharpe of Goochland, VA.” But the dead man was 61 years old, so I’m thinking probably the person listed in the obit was my Waverly’s father. And I could find nothing at all about Waverly Jr. or his disappearance. Sigh.

It’s finally happened

Someone emailed me today with the name of a particular MP in the subject line. This is the entire email:

I don’t see where we need her entire life story. All we need to know was the details of where she was missing from, a few key details, her description and contact information if she’s seen. This went into a Long dissertation of half her life and her career.

And I replied,

And if I could do that with everyone on my site, I would — my motto is basically “the more info, the better.” You are literally the first person in the Charley Project’s nearly twelve-year history to complain that I have too MUCH information.

Sure, over the years I’ve gotten complaints about having some SPECIFIC detail or other on a casefile, but never a blanket “TMI!”

The case wasn’t even that long really — the “details of disappearance” is just under 700 words. Peter Kema‘s has 1,916 words.

Make-a-List Monday: Gender-nonconforming MPs

A list of missing persons on Charley who are transgender or otherwise gender non-conforming.

  1. Ivory Francis Green
  2. James H. Mayberry Jr.
  3. Naum Rafael Mendez
  4. Tirrel Santiago
  5. Dashad Laquinn Smith
  6. Evon Young

I had two others who are now in the resolved section. Both were found deceased — one murdered, the other in a car accident.