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.