Twelve-year-old missing for four months is classified as a runaway, and other stories

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was pretty good. Very quiet of course, cause of covid.

In California: the body of Barbara Thomas, a 69-year-old woman who disappeared hiking in the Mojave Desert in 2019, has been found in the desert near Essex.

In Louisiana: they’re still looking for David Claude Yeager, a seventeen-year-old boy who disappeared from Shreveport in 1971, and there’s little indication as to what happened to him. His cousin has created a Facebook page for him.

In Missouri: they’re still looking for Cheryl Anne Scherer, a 19-year-old girl who disappeared from Scott City in 1979. The article doesn’t have a lot in terms of information, just focuses on her family’s pain and grief.

In New York: they’re still looking for Jaylen Griffin, a 12-year-old boy who disappeared under unclear circumstances from Buffalo in August. The police have this preteen listed as a runaway.

In Ohio: they’re still looking for Mary Jane Vangilder, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared from Willard in 1945. They’re going to check some Jane Does and see if any of them are her.

In Pennsylvania: Justo Smoker, who had previously been charged with Linda Stoltzfoos’s kidnapping, has been charged with her murder as well. Linda, an 18-year-old Amish girl, disappeared while walking home from church in Lancaster County back in June. She has never been found. Smoker was arrested on the kidnapping charges in July.

In Texas: they’re still looking for Patty Inez Brightwell Vaughan, a 32-year-old woman who disappeared from La Vernia on Christmas Day, 1996. She went missing after an argument with her estranged husband, who is the prime suspect in her case, but he has never been charged.

In Virginia: they’re still looking for two people missing from the Richmond area: Stephanie Collette Wallace, a 45-year-old woman who went missing from Richmond in 2005, and Robert Lee Hourihan, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Palmyra in 2011. They also are hoping to identify a white or Hispanic man whose skeletal remains were found near a vacant apartment in Highland Springs in 2014.

In Australia: they’re still looking for Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who disappeared while on a camping trip in the Wonnangatta Valley in eastern Victoria back in May. They are believed to have been murdered.

In Canada: they’re still looking for Melanie Ethier, a 15-year-old girl who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in her small Ontario town in 1996. Melanie’s birthday is on Christmas Day.

7 thoughts on “Twelve-year-old missing for four months is classified as a runaway, and other stories

  1. Ron G December 27, 2020 / 4:18 pm

    I just want to say that I admire what you are doing here. Please continue to cover the missing.

    Thank You!

  2. Patrick Kerrigan December 27, 2020 / 4:39 pm

    I read the story on David Yeager, the other day. The cousin mentions the Gainrsville Ripper as a person of interest. However, except for the man, woman and child, his victims in Gainesville, were college students.

    Plus it sounds like he was a big kid, according to one law enforcement person. So, it may have been more then one person involved in his disappearance.

    Also, was reading up on the disappearance of Patricia Depunte from Atlantic City, in 1990. I am confused because some information seems to leaving the Irish Pib between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.. Yet, others mention she left at 1100 p.m

    Also, she had some sort of argument with two females at the Irish Pub. There is no mention if they were interviewed. The guy claims to have either dropped her off a 1/2 mile or a couple of blocks from her apartment in the pouring rain.

    I don’t why not take her to her front door. Unless, she did not want anyone seeing her being dropped off by a man.

    There are always unanswered questions in these disappearances.

  3. Patrick Kerrigan December 27, 2020 / 5:09 pm

    I read the story on Jaylen Griffin. His older brother is shot in February 2020. I would think he is dealing with some severe emotional shock.

    Then another older brother is murdered after he disappears. The Buffalo Police claim ran away. I think they should rethink that mindset.

    How many young people that supposedly ran away were murdered.

    In a western suburb of Chicagoland, a 11 year old boy was missing from his home. The local police claimed that he ran away, because the family was moving out of state. That was their attitude, until he was found murdered.

    Then of course they changed their tune. The investigation led to a group of teen burglaries. One if them found the victim hiding under a bed and stabbed him to death.

    There was recent story about two 15-year-girls who ran away with a 19-year old from Ohio on Thanksgiving Day.

    They made it to California. One girl is alive, the other girl died in a Nevada hospital. She had gone to Nevada with the 19-year-old.

    We need law enforcement and schools to talk about running away and the dangers involved.

    I came across an article several years ago, about a 12-year girl, who went off with some Hispanic guy. He sexually assaulted her. The authorities were able to track her down, thru her Apple device.

    The article however printed a online conversation she was having with another unidentified male, via a chat line connected to some online game.

    She was telling him about going away with the other guy. The online male, was somewhat upset, because she claimed to have loved him. She also admitted to having the Kik app on her phone, which would get her in trouble with mom.

    Last year at my church they had a FBI agent and three detectives from the Chicago Police Department talked to students about this stuff.

    I attended the evening program because of my background. I and our pastor were the only males there besides the investigators. There were several women, but the turnout was sparse for such an important issue.

  4. J. Leon December 27, 2020 / 9:20 pm

    Call me paranoid, but something makes me a little suspicious of the report that the remains of Barbara Thomas ( have been found.

    First, only a couple of sketchy-looking websites are reporting this. Neither the Arizona Republic nor Inside Edition, among the other more seemingly trustworthy sources you linked in her entry, are mentioning anything regarding recovery of her remains-or,for that matter, anything recent about the case. You’d think someone else would have picked up on it by now.

    And did I mention she’s still listed as missing on NamUs (

    Unless you have definitive word from the horse’s mouth-i. e., the investigating agency, or perhaps a family member or friend close to the case-that she’s been found, I’d tread carefully.

    Oh, before I forget-season’s greetings and please accept my heartfelt, if belated, congratulations on your marriage. Best wishes for both of you.

    • Meaghan December 27, 2020 / 9:22 pm

      NamUs is infamous for leaving cases up long after the person has been found. It can take months, in some cases years, for a resolved case to be removed from there.

    • Sheryl December 27, 2020 / 10:56 pm

      Hello, I live in the Los Angeles area and I remember reading in the local press when Barbara Thomas went missing. I also recall hearing/reading that her remains had been found. I am also a hiker who loves the Mojave, so I pay attention to this kind of thing. Thank you Meaghan for all your hard work.

      • Meaghan December 27, 2020 / 10:58 pm

        Thank you. She’s not listed in the California DOJ database anymore either.

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