Joan Risch disappeared 55 years ago today

I got an email from a reporter today about Joan Risch, asking if he could use one of my photos with attribution. It was only then that I realized this was the anniversary of her disappearance. I sort of forgot about it quickly, but I was just on Wikipedia and she’s on the front page today, in the “did you know” section:

joanrisch

(I realize these last few days I’ve posted a lot of images on my blog entries. I think this is just an anomaly and not the start of a trend though.)

It’s a most mysterious case, one that will probably never be solved.

An evolution of thinking

I wanted to share with you guys a conversation I had on the Charley Project’s Facebook page, about a mother who disappeared almost a decade ago and has turned up alive:

fbdiscuss

After getting that final response I realized I’ve become much less judgmental than I used to be about MPs who left of their own accord. I know that around ten years ago I was interviewed by a newspaper about such a case and I said it was “abominably selfish” for a person to do that. Whenever I heard about an MP who turned out to have simply walked out of their lives, leaving their family wondering what happened and if they were still alive, I used to get angry — like the other person in this conversation here. Now my response is much more tempered. I’m not sure when it changed.

I think back to my own early- to mid-adolescence, when I was suffering from horrific, untreated, mental illness. I had very intense thoughts about running away from home, traveling to a distant city, taking my own life there without any ID or anything on me, and getting buried as a Jane Doe. I do not know why this seemed like a great idea at the time. My brain was basically broken.

Mind you, I still think it’s selfish to desert your loved ones without a word, and I still tend to feel much more sorry for the left-behind family and friends than the MP who left them. But now I also tend to wonder “what was going in that person’s life that was so bad that they felt they had to take such steps?” I don’t get mad anymore, I don’t judge them. I just feel glad their family has learned their fate, and hope they all can reconcile or at least reach some level of acceptance.

I was talking about it with Michael today and I asked him if he thought my change in attitude about MPs like this woman was due to an additional decade of learning about these cases and what motivates these people to walk out, or was it just that I was once 21 and am now 31 and I’ve simply grown up. Michael said the one cannot be separated from the other, that learning new things through reading and stuff is one more part of growing up.

Witness

Michael and I were hanging out last night like we do. Because he’d come home right at the beginning of an episode of Say Yes to the Dress (my worst vice) and was forced to sit there watching silly girls try on overpriced wedding gowns for half an hour, I told him to pick whatever he wanted for the next show. He went on Netflix and selected something called Witness, because it “looks cool.”

Witness was FASCINATING and I highly recommend it to the type of crowd that reads the Charley Project and this blog. It’s a documentary where Bill Genovese, the younger brother of Kitty Genovese, who was the victim of an infamous murder in 1964, tries to figure out the truth behind his sister’s death and the story about how 38 people witnessed her murder and none of them lifted a finger, or a phone, to help save her.

I originally heard the murder story in a freshman psychology course at Ohio State. It’s become kind of part of American culture over the years. I think most people in the country have heard this story in one form or another. It got mentioned in the film Boondock Saints and served as part of the McManus brothers’ motivation to go on their vigilante spree.

(Spoiler alerts follow.)

The business about 38 apathetic witnesses is pretty much a myth. Their number probably did not equal 38, most of them did not realize that a murder was taking place, and some of them DID call the cops or otherwise tried to intervene. But the myth shredded Kitty’s family, lead to the early deaths of her parents, and cost Bill Genovese his legs.

I really had to admire Bill; he seems like a very tough person and also a very level-headed, good-hearted man. He tried to meet with Kitty’s killer Winston Moseley — who by any standard was a monster — and when Moseley refused to meet with him, he met with his son and stressed that he was trying to understand what had happened and hopefully find forgiveness in his heart. (Moseley died early this year, after the documentary came out. Good riddance.)

At the end of the film, Bill actually hired an actress to stand outside the same apartment building where Kitty died and sort of reenact the crime while he sat in his wheelchair nearby and listened in the dark. At the end of the scene the actress broke down sobbing; Bill was very calm and took her into his arms.

It was a very interesting and emotional film. Michael and I were still talking about it at lunch today.

Make-a-List Monday: Gold teeth

A pretty straightforward topic this week: MPs with gold teeth. I included people with gold crowns and caps and grills, but not mere gold fillings.

According to this dentistry website I found, aesthetics aside, gold is still the restoration material most preferred by dentists: “Most dentists themselves prefer gold restorations for their own teeth knowing that they will serve well for several decades, in some case more than 50 years. Cast gold crowns have no match with regard to long-term service and minimal wear to opposing teeth, their greatest advantage.”

  1. Alberto Batista
  2. Mamie Brown
  3. Jane Elizabeth Bui
  4. James Preston Davis
  5. Ronnie Odell Davis*
  6. Lurline H. DeWitt
  7. Torrence George Farrington
  8. Shanythia Mashelle Greene
  9. Mario Herrera
  10. Artdrunetta Lareann Hobbs
  11. Linda Ann House
  12. Alice Fay Jefferson*
  13. Sabah Nasheed Karriem-Conner
  14. Maria Socorro Kimbrell
  15. Anton Lawson
  16. Doris Paola Lopez Lopez
  17. Kimberly Lashawn Mack
  18. Lubov Marchenko
  19. Brandon Dante Raphelle Ralls
  20. Tamikqra Sandreia Rogers
  21. Victor Cruz Sanchez
  22. Antonio Yarnell Taylor
  23. Angie Denise Tucker
  24. Marcus Deon Virgin
  25. Yuette Wabbington
  26. Laresha Deana Walker
  27. Terrance Deon Williams

*maybe