Well, this is terrible

As everybody has probably heard already, the rape conviction against Bill Cosby was overturned and he’s been released from prison. Since it was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, I don’t think the prosecution can appeal this ruling — there’s no higher court to go to — and I don’t think they can charge him again either, at least not in that particular case. Cosby is very old, blind and in poor health anyway, and he’s not likely to live through another trial even if more charges are laid against him.

Now, I think I understand why the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled as it did. Basically it boils down to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which grants people the right to avoid self-incrimination.

As simply as I can explain it: Cosby confessed to crimes in civil court, under an agreement by a previous prosecutor that this confession would not be used against him in criminal court. That prosecutor is gone now, and it was another who prosecuted Cosby and used his civil court statement against him. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that this violated Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights and should not have happened. The Fifth Amendment, like all Constitution rights, applies to terrible humans as well as good ones.

In other words, this was a legit legal error, and they had to give it to him because that’s how the law is supposed to be. This is not a vindication of Cosby; it does not mean he is factually innocent. But he is now LEGALLY innocent despite like 60-some women having accused him. I understand the law but I am angry and sick at heart.

I met one of Cosby’s victims at CrimeCon. She was there to give a talk, like me. We ran into each other in the speakers’ lounge and spoke as one rape victim to another. I’m sure she’s a mess right now, poor lady. I’m sure a lot of rape victims, and not just Cosby’s, are a mess today.

In other news, the elderly mother of a friend of mine from college has been missing for almost a month. I feel super bad for my friend (she’s the one who did the interview in the article). Of course she’s beside herself with worry. She asked for my help, and I provided her with referrals to some resources, but I felt a bit at loose ends myself since I don’t work with cases this “new”. (Mind you, the case is already in a rare category for having gone as long as it has; about 90% of missing persons cases are resolved within a week.)

I really hope my friend’s mom is found soon and I don’t have to put her on the Charley Project in eleven months and three days.

MP of the week: Carola Davenport

This week’s featured missing person is Carola Yvonne Davenport, a 22-year-old woman last seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1975. She left all her clothing and her car behind and, most notably, her twin children, who were less than a year old at the time. I don’t know anything about Carola’s situation, but it’s highly unusual for the mother of a tiny baby or babies to just up and leave. Especially without the aforementioned clothes and car.

For whatever reason, she wasn’t reported missing until February 1976, by which time the case was four months’ cold. She’s black, about 5’5 and 125 pounds, with burn scars on her right hand and left arm. She also has a “fish-shaped” birthmark but the location is not noted.

Per NamUs, Carola’s son and her boyfriend at the time are both deceased now, but her daughter — only eleven months old when her mother went missing — is still alive and has submitted DNA. I wish there was more info available about this case.

MP of the week: Christopher Temple

This week’s featured missing person is Christopher Alan Temple, a 17-year-old high school senior who disappeared while camping with four friends in a campground in the woods in Bath Township, Michigan on April 22, 1990. His friends said he just walked away from the campsite in the night and never returned.

The Charley Project says the only sign ever located was one of his shoes, found about 300 yards from the campsite over a year after his disappearance. However, the Case Remains site says Christopher’s other shoe was found nearby a few weeks after the first, along with “handfuls of long, strawberry blond hair, enough to fill two 8 x 10 envelopes.” It wasn’t Christopher’s hair, which was brown.

The police initially thought it might be a runaway case, or just ran into some misadventure in the swampy woods surrounding the campsite. But it’s come out that Christopher sold weed and sometimes shorted customers, so there’s a theory that an unhappy customer went after him.

There hasn’t been much about this in the news since it happened, and it’s been over 30 years now. Christopher’s father is deceased; I’m not sure about other family members. I’m sure they’d like to know what happened to him, or at least where he is.

MP of the week: Angelia Hilbert

This week’s featured missing person is Angelia Spaulding Hilbert, a 22-year-old woman who disappeared after leaving work in Louisville, Kentucky on June 3, 1989. She was supposed to follow her parents (her in her car, them in theirs) to Owensboro, where they were moving, but never arrived there. I’m not sure at what point she became separated from her parents, but she was last seen in the area of Dry Ridge Road at about midnight.

For some reason she wasn’t reported missing until June 16; I don’t know if the police refused to accept a report before then, or what. On June 26, her car was found abandoned in a nightclub parking lot.

Some distinguishing info about Hilbert: she has a surgical scar on her back where she had metal rod inserted in her spine to correct scoliosis. Probably that rod has a unique serial number; medical devices of that kind usually do. She was pregnant at the time of her disappearance but I’m not sure how far along.

If still alive, Angelia would be in her mid-fifties today.

(Sorry forgot to put this up yesterday.)

The Charley Project at CrimeCon

So Michael and I arrived home from CrimeCon late Sunday night and immediately went to bed. Yesterday I basically spent all day recovering from the weekend; it was a thrilling but EXHAUSTING weekend. Today I had some appointments and so had to drive to those (an hour to and from) and also trying (successfully) to catch up on Charley Project social media and (unsuccessfully) trying to catch up on the emails. Tomorrow I plan to sit down and slam updates in.

So! CrimeCon. I’m so glad my wonderful husband joined me on this trip; in addition to being my emotional support human in the airport, he proved indispensable at the event itself. He came up with the ideas for most of the booth materials. We had:

  • A banner
  • A cardboard trifold display board from Dollar Tree with:
    • Materials about the Charley Project
    • An “about Meaghan” page
    • Some sample cases from the Austin area
    • A sign saying we were both vaccinated but would mask up on request
  • Free Charley Project merch:
    • Stickers saying “The Charley Project” in the same font/colors as on the logo on the site itself
    • Rubber wristbands in various colors saying “Charley Project” with the site URL
    • Business cards which you’ve seen on this blog before
  • Three binders to leaf through, with printouts in clear plastic sleeves:
    • “Our Story” with info about the Charley Project and its “employees” (aka me, our cats and the dog)
    • “Charley Project Cold Case Sample Book”; I tried to select a cross-section of the database
    • “Resolved Case Sample Book”; again, I tried to select a variety of resolved cases

Mom had been under the impression that we were going on a vacation or something, and was texting me being all like “So are you going to visit the Alamo?” And I was like “lol no.” In fact I don’t think either Michael or I ever left the hotel the entire time we were there. (Fortunately it was a super snazzy hotel.) We were far too busy.

So we set up the booth right after we arrived, and we hadn’t even finished setting it up when I was approached by a woman whose sister is on Charley; she wanted to thank me. Throughout the weekend Michael manned the booth, telling people about the Charley Project and offering our wares. I went back and forth between manning the booth and mingling, talking to people at the other booths and to CrimeCon guests and speakers.

As for the other presentations that were given at CrimeCon, though I had been interested in attending some of them, I went to exactly none of them. I spent all the time meeting people and talking to them about Charley and about the work the other people were doing.

I met loads of people, some of whom knew about the Charley Project, some of whom didn’t. I met quite a few people whose relatives were on my site. And our booth was situated right next to Gina DeJesus’s booth; the Cleveland kidnap survivor (who survived a carjacking also, just last month) has started her own organization, the Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults, to assist families of missing persons. I didn’t see much of Gina herself but did speak for awhile to her cousin and I think her aunt also.

While I was at CrimeCon, another speaker informed me that Sally Ann Hines, whose body was recently identified, was identified by someone who saw her on the Charley Project and recognized her as the woman in the composite sketch of the woman whose head was found in a bag in a Louisiana swamp. Someone had even written an article about how the Charley Project had helped with the identification, but no one told ME about it… until CrimeCon!

At one point, Nancy Grace walked up to my booth and basically told me she used the Charley Project as a source a lot, was very impressed by my work and wants me to call her producer to make arrangements to be on her show. And then she wrote down the producer’s number and walked back to her own booth leaving me slightly stunned in her wake. Like “did that really just happen?”

(She doesn’t look at all like she does on TV; without all that makeup and what have you, she looks like an ordinary sixty-something woman. She was also much nicer in person than on TV. I suppose that whole Judge Judy like persona is just that, a persona.)

Despite making sure to get plenty of sleep on Thursday night and Friday night, by Saturday evening I was dead on my feet, and my presentation was first on the lineup for the next morning. Not wanting to make a complete disaster of the presentation, I wound up going to bed, without any dinner, at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. I didn’t wake up again till 7:00 a.m. We had to be checked out of the hotel by 11:00 a.m. and at the airport to catch our flight home by as soon as possible after that, so we were packing up and I was trying to make myself look good for my 9:00 a.m. presentation.

I had feared I would get tongue-tied and forget everything I was supposed to say, but fortunately the presentation went awesome!

I’m not sure how many people attended because there were all these bright lights on the stage and the audience was in darkness and I couldn’t really see anyone beyond the first row, but I know over 170 people had pre-registered. And basically I told everyone about who I was, and what the Charley Project was, and brought up a few cases from it that touched my heart (Peter Kema and Garnell Moore), and brought up several examples of cases that had been solved as a direct result of the Charley Project. (And I forgot to mention Sally Hines among the examples. Phooey. She wasn’t in the PowerPoint I made in advance for the presentation, cause, well, I didn’t know about her at the time.) My presentation got loads of applause and some people have told me it was the best one they saw at CrimeCon!

I am so happy I went. I met so many awesome people and had a great opportunity to share with others about how the Charley Project can help solve cases.

Now I suppose I need to call Nancy Grace’s producer. Her TV persona isn’t what I would choose for myself, but being on her show could really be a great opportunity to further get the word out there.

MP of the week: Kristian Justice

This week’s featured missing person is Kristian Dejuan Justice, age 7 months, who disappeared with his six-year-old half-sister, Kaylah Neveah Hunter, from Detroit, Michigan on May 24, 2014.

Kristian’s father is Erin Maurice Justice. (Kaylah has a different father.) Erin had been married to the children’s mother, Alicia Marie Fox, for only four months when the couple separated and Alicia moved out with both kids. June 6, nearly two weeks after the children were last seen, Kaylah missed her kindergarten graduation ceremony and their family reported Alicia, Kaylah and Kristian missing. On June 9, Alicia’s body was found in the basement of a vacant home in Detroit.

Erin was subsequently arrested in Atlanta and charged with murder in Alicia’s case. He had left town on May 29. Although Erin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 45 to 80 years, he never revealed what happened to the children.

Authorities can only hope that Kristian and Kaylah are still alive. There has been no indication of their whereabouts since 2014.

Off to CrimeCon tomorrow

Michael and I are packed and ready to head off to the airport at the crack of dawn tomorrow (at least it feels that way). We will have a layover in Dallas then will arrive in Austin at 1:37 pm.

We’ve set up a display board for our booth. One of those cardboard trifold things covered in taped-on printouts. Unfortunately it is like 1.5 inches too wide for my suitcase. I’m really hoping they let me take it on the plane but if they don’t, we are bringing extra copies of the print-outs and will buy another board in Austin.

The TV network Oxygen is sponsoring CrimeCon. They interviewed me via Zoom yesterday. I think they’re interviewing all the speakers.

I hope all goes well. I think it will. And if things start to go sideways Michael can help me. We are staying at the hotel where the conference is being held.

We’ve already dropped the dog off at his parents’ house for the weekend and I already miss her. But Michael’s parents love Kinsey and will take good care of her and make sure she eats her special treats for her joints.

I’ll let y’all know how it goes.