About Pride Month…

People really like this Black History Month thing I’m doing and I plan to do it again next year. I’d also like to do similar things for Native American History Month, Hispanic History Month, etc. (Note to self: find out when those are.)

Some people have suggested I do the same thing for Gay Pride Month, which is in June. I’d love to, but there is a logistical problem: I don’t usually know if an MP on Charley is LGBTQ.

I stopped specifically mentioning people’s gayness in the profiles after I got an email from some guy’s sister screaming at me for bringing it up when it had nothing to do with his disappearance.

Obviously in some cases it would be easy to tell by reading the circumstances of disappearance, but for finding such people in a keyword search I’m not sure what to do.

Anyway, what I mean to say is, can any of you throw the names of some LGBTQ Charley Project cases my way for possible coverage on this blog during Pride Month?

Black History Month: Denise El-Mansura

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Denise El-Mansura, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from New Orleans, Louisiana on January 10, 1978.

This is unfortunately one of those cases I don’t have much information on. Even more unfortunately, as far as I know the only other database Denise is listed on is the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified & Missing People. She’s not on NamUs or the NCMEC.

Back in May, Denise’s sister got in touch with me via Twitter. In a Tweeted message to Denise, she wrote, “We miss and love you!! Deedy come home please Nessa, Bruce, Stephen, Akhe Sue (RIP) Khadija and your Mom Danielle”

Denise’s sister also stated the family had lost all their photos of her when Hurricane Katrina trashed the city. The picture in her casefile is apparently the only one left.

If Denise El-Mansura is still alive, she’d be 55 now.

MP of the week: Trukita Scott

This week’s featured missing person is Trukita Jaquita Scott, a 24-year-old and mother of two who disappeared from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 25, 2014.

It’s a sad case, the all-too-familiar tale of a young woman’s life destroyed by domestic violence. They basically know who did this, and the man sounds like a potential serial killer, but he has never been charged in Trukita’s case.

My latest Executed Today entries

I’ve had a few entries run recently on Executed Today that I hadn’t mentioned on this blog yet, so here goes:

  1. January 14, 1792: John Phillips hanged for robbery in Dublin, Ireland. Little is known about the case, but he would probably have been reprieved but for a little snafu with the paperwork.
  2. January 18, 1884: Maggie and Maggie Cuddigan lynched in Ouray, Colorado. They had adopted a little girl from an orphanage and proceeded to starve, neglect, maltreat and abuse her for months until she finally died.
    The outrage must have been tremendous even by lynch mob symptoms — how often do you hear of white women, particularly visibly pregnant ones, getting lynched? The dead man’s own brothers did nothing to help him, though they might have been able to stop the lynching, and afterwards, the local priest refused to perform the funeral service and none of the local cemeteries would accept their bodies.
  3. February 20, 1948: Thomas Henry McGonigle gassed in California for the 1945 murder of fourteen-year-old Thora Chamberlain.
    This was a murder-without-a-body case, one of the first in the state. (Though, after I’d already written the entry, Tad DiBiase told me it wasn’t actually THE first.) Thora is featured on Charley.
    I’m really glad they took the risk of prosecuting this. They had a very strong case, but many prosecutors wouldn’t have wanted to touch the case without Thora’s body. McGonigle was clearly a very dangerous man and sounds like a serial killer in the making if he wasn’t one already.

How this autistic woman grieves

So Michael and his mom and I all went to the visitation together and that was all right. There were lots of people there of course, and lots of floral arrangements.

I told the boys that I had no words for them except how sorry I was. I talked to Brendan’s wife a bit and suggested there were probably online support groups for young widows with children and maybe she should check some of those out.

The accident was not as bad as I had feared. I mean, it sounds dumb to say that because Brendan is still dead, but I had been afraid he was in bits or something and he wasn’t. Turns out the auger grabbed him by the arm and pulled so hard that his head slammed into the side of the machine and his neck snapped. He died more or less instantly. Open casket.

Then after we left, we met up with Michael’s dad, David, and we went to Pizza Hut and then everything somehow went very wrong.

David started teasing me about something or other and then the gears in my head got kind of stuck and I couldn’t think and I got very upset and couldn’t talk right and I started rocking back and forth holding onto myself, trying to keep myself from melting down, but it was already happening.

I had this urge to start knocking over plates and glasses and stand up and upend the table. I wasn’t angry, I just had to get the tension out somehow. I didn’t want to make a scene so I went to the bathroom to try to calm down and wound up making a scene in there instead. Screaming and moaning and throwing myself around the room and slamming my head into the tile wall over and over. Full-on meltdown.

I never want these things to happen. I don’t want to do those things and the whole time I was hitting my head I was crying out “stop” and “no” because it hurt and I didn’t want to do it.

After a bit, my waitress came into the bathroom — I don’t think it was to investigate the noise, I think she just had to go.

She already knew someone had died, because she had asked us earlier why were we dressed up, had we been at a party, and we explained we’d just come from a funeral visitation and she’d been like “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Our specials…”

She asked me if there was anything she could do to help and I said no and to please leave me alone, and she went out and told Michael that his wife was in the bathroom freaking out, and Jane came in and got me and said we were leaving. It was the middle of the meal. Pizza shoveled into boxes and everyone getting their coats and leaving and me feeling miserable and embarrassed and guilty for inconveniencing them and ruining what was supposed to be a nice dinner.

Everyone was very nice about it. It would have felt better if they’d been mad at me.

I still can’t really understand what happened. What happened in the bathroom feels like it happened to someone else altogether, not me.

I felt really awful over the next few days, didn’t even want to get out of bed. I hadn’t had a meltdown like that in ages and I had started to think that maybe they wouldn’t happen at all anymore.

Then suddenly it happens and I’m reminded once again that I’m broken in a way no one can fix. And I ruined Michael’s family’s dinner and scared the pizza lady and acted like a two-year-old in the bathroom and I am still really embarrassed. I feel like I can never go back to that restaurant ever again.

My head STILL hurts horribly and aspirin etc. isn’t touching it and I’m afraid to seek medical attention cause I don’t want to have to explain what happened. They might lock me up or something. It sounds really weird and scary and I’d have a bit of a time convincing everyone I’m not actually a danger to myself. The pain will stop eventually. God knows I’ve had worse headaches than this.

Ima just go and resume my normal existence, work on the website some more — I’m on the home stretch, down the last 1,000 cases, woo!

Black History Month: Kael Johnson

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Kael Johnson, a 36-year-old dental student who disappeared from Las Vegas on February 15, 2013.

Johnson had gotten straight A’s and told his roommate he was going out to celebrate. He was last seen withdrawing some money from an ATM at a 7-11. He never returned home and never registered for more classes at the dental school. Thirteen days later, his truck was found abandoned on the 210-acre Wetlands Park Nature Preserve in Clark County.

This case intrigues me and I really wish I knew more about Johnson’s disappearance. He doesn’t seem to have had any reason to walk out of his life. The possibility that he went for a walk on the nature preserve’s trails and got into some kind of mishap also seems remote; he left his wallet and phone inside his truck, and it seems like he would have taken at least the phone along with him.

Black History Month: Laronda Bronson

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Laronda Marie Bronson, an eighteen-year-old who disappeared from Portland, Oregon on November 19, 1982.

I know very little about this case, but Laronda was a prostitute, she disappeared while the Green River Killer was active, and the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington is investigating her case, which suggests she may have been one of Gary Leon Ridgway‘s victims. If she was, he hasn’t admitted to it.

I hope that Laronda is still alive out there somewhere and perhaps she just decided to move elsewhere and put her past behind her. I would love to hear from anyone who knew her. She may use the alias name Michelle Marie Hall, or the date of birth July 29, 1964. (She was actually born on September 9.) If still alive, Laronda would be 53 today.

Black History Month: Joseph Edwards

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Joseph “JoeEd” Edwards, who disappeared from Vidalia, Louisiana on July 12, 1964, at the age of 25. (In the circumstances section of his NamUs page it says he was 21, but all other sources I can find list his age as 25.)

After his disappearance, they found his car abandoned behind a bowling alley, with bloodstains inside and a necktie, tied in the shape of a noose, draped over the steering wheel.

Because of the noose thing, and because JoeEd had dated white women, the prevailing theory is that he was killed by the Ku Klux Klan. The FBI have gotten tips to that end; some stories say he was covered in concrete and thrown in the Mississippi, others that he was skinned alive.

In any case, over 50 years after JoeEd’s disappearance, it’s likely that anyone who was involved in his case is dead now.

A word about mug shots

A lot of Charley Project MPs have mug shots featured in the casefiles. In fact, some cases have ONLY mug shots featured, simply because there are no other photos available. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone through NamUs or the FDLE database or whatever, looking up photo-less MPs on prison databases and mug shot websites, so I can get just one picture of them and be able to put them on Charley.

Some people have a problem with me putting up mug shots. It goes back to the same reason they don’t want me to put up information about criminal records, mental illness, etc. — they think it’s shaming the MP and their family. As I have explained numerous times, though, that’s definitely not the reason I do it.

All MPs are equal in my eyes. I refuse to judge anyone and have no wish to shame anyone. If a person views any MP casefile on Charley, or reads an article about an MP, and see that they were sex worker or involved in drugs or whatever and think “why should I try to find this person, they deserved whatever happened to them”, than that person is an asshat.

But honestly, if I was limited to posting ONE picture and had a choice between a mug shot or a nice photo where the MP was all dressed up and had their hair styled nicely and was smiling, I’d pick the mug shot.

My reasoning is this: people don’t look their best in mug shots. They’re usually pretty angry or sad about being arrested and don’t smile for the camera. They’re often unkempt, their faces might be puffy and their eyes red from crying, they may have visible injuries and they may be obviously under the influence of something.

It seems to me that if an MP is alive, wherever they are now, they probably don’t look their best. They’re probably not living in a suburban house with a white picket fence, a dog, a spouse, a salaried job and 2.5 children. In other words, if they’re alive, they probably look more “mug shot” than “studio portrait” or “party” or “family gathering.”

They may be living on the streets or in a homeless shelter or the like. They may not remember who they are, they may be suffering from mental illness or addiction or both, they may be being trafficked.

There’s also another issue also: the police procedure involving mug shots is to show the full face and head, without adornment or obstruction. I’m not sure even eyeglasses are allowed — at least, when I did a Google Image Search for “mug shot” and glanced at the results, I didn’t see any glasses wearers.

This can make a difference too. In one case, I had three photos of an MP, two of him wearing a hat and one with no hat. The latter pic was obviously a mug shot; he was wearing one of those bright orange jail things and, although the photo is cropped, you can see the edge of a law enforcement logo at the bottom.

The MP’s grandson contacted me and politely asked me to remove the mug shot. He explained that his grandfather had been arrested just one time, and it was only for driving without a license or something minor that, and his family didn’t want people to think he was a habitual lawbreaker.

Normally I would have agreed to remove the photo out of respect for the family’s wishes, since there were other pics available. I didn’t want to in this instance, though, because the mug shot showed that he had almost completely bald, with just a bit of hair around the sides. With his hat on, you couldn’t tell that at all; before I’d seen the mug shot I assumed he had a full head of hair.

I could have said “receding hairline” in the physical description, but there are varying degrees of baldness and I think it’s better to show a picture if possible. Once I explained my reasoning, the grandson agreed to let me keep the mug shot. Knowing just how bald he was might make all the difference when it comes to finding him.

So basically, it all goes back to the same reasons I write about other “uncomplimentary” aspects of an MP’s life. The more information that’s available, the better.

Black History Month: Naomi Wilson

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Naomi Wilson, who disappeared from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on April 12, 1981, at the age of 32.

Naomi seems to have had life pretty well in hand. She had a good job and she had recently purchased a new car and a house. Her car was found abandoned in the local K-Mart parking lot two days after she was last seen.

It’s worth noting that her boyfriend moved into her house after she vanished and never made any of the mortgage payments, staying there until it got foreclosed, which is weird at best and frankly a bit sketchy, but the police haven’t named any suspects in her case. The boyfriend is now in his sixties, and as far as I know he’s still alive and still in Cedar Rapids; I found this article about a fire at his home in 2009.

So what happened to Naomi? I don’t know but I don’t think it was anything good.