MP of the week: Stratis Elmore

This week’s featured missing person is Stratis Elias Elmore, a nineteen-year-old young man of Greek and Hispanic descent who disappeared from Roseville, California on October 19, 2017.

It’s unclear whether his disappearance was a suicide, or a faked suicide. He was facing criminal charges at the time of his disappearance and he had a record, and the police think he might just have done a runner, but his mom thinks he might be dead. In any case, three years is a long time for a teenager to drop completely under the radar.

I haven’t updated in a minute and I’m sorry

It’s been five days since I updated last. I feel incredibly guilty at about that.

The pandemic and the ongoing collapse of society has really got me down. Every day I add obituaries for COVID-19 victims to online memorial forums, and it seems like way too many of them are young people. Every day I see people posting moronic stuff online calling it all a hoax or saying the survival rate is 99.5% or saying it’s no worse than the flu or saying masks are unsafe to wear, and I get extremely angry.

Last night we had two friends over for our weekly Social Distancing Circle Dinner (they both work with Michael so we figure whatever they’re exposed to, so are we). I was feeling so hopeless about the state of the world that I started crying and saying everything sucks and there is no way out of it for us. Michael and our friends applied immediate treatment to my despair, in the form of a series of funny animal clips on YouTube. I did feel a little better, for awhile anyway.

My friends have politely suggested I take a mental health break from obsessively following all the COVID-19 news and obsessively adding names of the dead to the memorial forums. I suppose they’re right.

I’ll try to get myself together tomorrow and put something up on Charley. And remind myself of how fortunate I am to have what I have.

MP of the week: Amber Cates

This week’s featured missing person is Amber Elizabeth Cates, a sixteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Maury County, Tennessee on April 11, 2004. She’d had a bit of a chaotic life and had spent time in foster care, and was living with her older half-sister at the time of her disappearance.

She disappeared after going out with a male friend, who said he left her with another friend, who said he dropped her off and never saw her again.

Initially she was thought to be a runaway due to her age and background, but she’s been missing now for as long as she was alive beforehand, with nothing on her driving record, Social Security number, anything. It doesn’t look good.

I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly sheepish I feel right now

So forget everything I said a little bit ago. Turns out the “device for detecting DNA in soil” is a lot of hooey.

Had it NOT been a lot of hooey, it WOULD have been a game-changer, and I’m afraid I got so excited about the possibility that I didn’t actually bother to investigate what this thing consisted of.

This is me right now:

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Gina Hall’s sister clearly believes in it, and posted a comment (at the bottom of this page that I linked to before) defending Dr. Vass and saying he found Gina. But now I wonder if that scrap of bone that they found and said was Gina’s was ever actually scientifically confirmed to be hers. Based on what I’ve read about this device, it probably was not.

And I’d already resolved her case and everything.

I cannot emphasize how much of a game-changer this is

So, I found out today that Dr. Arpad Vass, a forensic archaeologist I’d heard of, has invented a nifty little widget that detects buried human DNA.

I have no idea how much it works, but it’s already proven its effectiveness: they found Gina Renee Hall‘s DNA in EIGHT PLACES along a river valley FORTY YEARS after her disappearance, as well as a piece of Gina’s bone (making her Charley Project case resolvable, which I have done), as well as DNA from someone else entirely: Angela Mae Rader, a girl who disappeared with her friend Tammy Lynn Akers in 1977. The girls (who were fourteen at the time) have been missing even longer than Gina.

Rather than thinking this means the guy who killed Gina (whose identity is known; he’s Stephen Epperly and he’s serving life in prison for her murder) must have also killed Angela, I think it’s more likely that both girls’ bodies coincidentally ended up somewhere in the same river valley and probably the same body of water. (DNA from Tammy was not found, but it seems likely that she’s somewhere in the same river valley.)

I haven’t resolved Angela’s case, since they only found DNA, not an actual body or even a piece of bone like with Gina. But I’m hopeful that her and Tammy’s cases can still be resolved, even after 43 years.

Dr. Vass’s invention could wind up leading to answers in a LOT of missing persons cases. This is really exciting.

MP of the week: Terrence Diaz

This week’s featured missing person is Terrence Arthur Diaz, who disappeared from Palo Alto, California on either October 14 or November 14, 1999. (I’ve seen two different dates.) He was 45 at the time and would be 66 today.

There’s reason to believe he may be living on the streets, possibly making some money busking. It is strange, however, that after all this time he still hasn’t turned up. I mean, almost 21 years now.

This is going to throw a wrench in things

Happened to catch this breaking news about a new Supreme Court ruling. Headline: “Supreme Court rules swath of Oklahoma remains tribal reservation.” As the article explains:

The court’s 5-4 decision, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, means that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the second-largest city.

The court’s ruling casts doubt on hundreds of convictions won by local prosecutors. The case, argued by telephone in May because of the coronavirus pandemic, revolved around an appeal by an American Indian who claimed state courts had no authority to try him for a crime committed on reservation land that belongs to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

If I am reading this right, this ruling may mean that Oklahoma state prosecutors cannot prosecute crimes that occur within that area, and such cases will have to be handled by either tribal authorities or federal authorities. Me being me, I wondered what effect this is going to have on the missing persons cases in that area. Tulsa alone has quite a few missing persons listed on Charley.

We’ll have to see what happens, I guess. Another uncertainty in what has become a year full of uncertainties.

MP of the week: Christine Julian

This week’s featured missing person is Christine Julian, a 30-year-old woman who disappeared from Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 14, 2003. She is of Hispanic and Native American descent and has several tattoos on her legs, including a rose on her left leg.

She was last seen at her home in Albuquerque. At the time, relatives suggested she’d moved to Wisconsin where her biological father was. I would guess that lead has been ruled out by now.

She had a somewhat high risk lifestyle and drugs or alcohol could have been a factor in her case. If still alive, Christine would be 48 today.

Happy belated Independence Day (and griping, and missing persons news)

I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend. Mine was kind of terrible. We had a tiny party, four guests (Michael’s parents and two of his coworkers), and I wound up spending a lot of time hiding in the bedroom because I was so stressed by it all. And I was feeling like a failure in general, and wondering how I was going to pull off an entire wedding in October if I was freaking out from anxiety over four guests in my own house.

Of course, who knows if there will even BE a proper wedding in October the way COVID-19 is blazing through this country. I might wind up having to have a Zoom wedding ceremony because of the stupid government not listening to experts and not doing its job to contain the pandemic, and stupid people refusing to wear masks in public because mah rights and mah freedum. We could have been on par with Europe right now as far as flattening the curve goes, but nooooo, people have to be idiots.

(Of course I realize that my wedding is a very small thing in the grand scheme of things, and there are a lot of people out there who are suffering more than me as a result of COVID-19. That doesn’t make me any less angry.)

So some news from the missing persons world:

  1. Later this year, once Americans are allowed to travel to the EU again (assuming that ever happens), a private investigator, a former FBI agent and Annie McCarrick‘s uncle are going to Ireland to make another stab at solving Annie’s 1993 disappearance. (She is on the Charley Project because she was an American, though she disappeared on Irish soil.) They have a new theory about what happened, and have a suspect in mind. I don’t think it’s the same suspect the gardai (Irish police) have had their eye on. Neither person has been publicly identified.
    The gardai think a former IRA member may have killed Annie. He sounds like a nasty character and allegedly raped a twelve-year-old girl, and possibly other victims, and the IRA sent him out of the country so he wouldn’t get prosecuted. He went to the US; I’m not sure where he is now.
    I have wondered before why on earth the IRA would have assisted this man. To begin with, the twelve-year-old he allegedly raped was the daughter of another IRA member. And, though I don’t know much about the IRA, I know they had broad support among the ordinary people of Ireland, and it seems like that wouldn’t be the case if they routinely did things like try to help their child-rapist members escape prosecution. If any of you guys can provide some enlightenment on this, I’d appreciate it if you posted in the comments.
  2. They’ve created a park in Albuquerque, New Mexico in memory of the twelve victims of the still-unsolved West Mesa murders. I’ll say their names again: Jamie Caterina Barela, age 15; her 25-year-old cousin Evelyn JesusMaria Salazar; Monica Diana Candelaria, 21; Victoria Ann Chavez, 24; Virginia Cloven, 22; Syllannia, Terene Edwards, 15; Cinnamon Elks, 31; Doreen Marquez, 27; Julie Nieto, 23; Veronica Romero, 28; Michelle Valdez, 22; and Michelle’s unborn baby. All of the women, except Veronica, were on the Charley Project.
    There are quite a few young women still missing from Albuquerque, and some of them fit the same profile as the women whose bodies were found on the Mesa. I’ve got Nina Brenda Herron, Vanessa Reed, Christine Julian, Leah Rachelle Peebles, Anna Love Vigil and Shawntell Monique Waites, and possibly others.
  3. According to a private investigator, the authorities have a suspect in the 2001 disappearances of of ten-year-old Tionda Z. Bradley and her three-year-old sister, Diamond Yvette Bradley. (The girls disappeared 19 years ago today.) The article says there’s a solid circumstantial case against the suspect (who hasn’t been publicly identified) but prosecutors want some physical evidence, preferably a body, to bolster their case before they file charges against the person.

Oh, and although this isn’t strictly missing persons related, I highly recommend y’all check out this article about the woman who invented the rape kit. Hers was a fascinating and tragic story.