MP of the week: Bob Austin

This week’s featured missing person is Bob Perry Austin Jr., a 19-year-old man who disappeared from Jefferson, Louisiana on March 10, 1995. He was, for some reason, “fleeing” Ochsner Hospital, headed in the direction of the levee. He was never seen or heard from again.

Bob is black, 5’10 and 155 pounds, and was last seen wearing green flowered shorts and white socks. No shirt or shoes apparently. I wonder if he was a psychiatric patient who escaped.

Unfortunately that’s all the info I have for this young man. If still alive, he’d be 47 today.

MP of the week: Hattie Jackson

This week’s featured missing person is Hattie Yvonne Jackson, a six-year-old girl who disappeared from Washington D.C. on July 21, 1961. She was black, with black hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a white long-sleeved blouse, brown and white checked shorts, pink sandals and a blue ribbon in her hair.

Hattie was apparently abducted; witnesses saw two men pulling her into a car. For some reason there’s only a description and sketch for one of the men, the driver. He had approached Hattie and some other children earlier that day and offered to give them a ride, but they’d turned him down.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been anything about Hattie in the news for a very long time. I don’t know if any of her relatives are even still alive. I don’t know how seriously the police looked for her in 1961, or if any suspects in her case have ever been identified.

If she is still alive, Hattie would be about 67 years old today.

What’s a barracuda?

So yesterday I was looking for cases on NamUs and found a 1979 one where the missing man was said to be wearing a “blue barracuda” at the time he disappeared.

I was very confused because as far as I knew, a barracuda was a species of fish and nothing else. I wondered if they actually meant a balaclava, a type of ski mask.

I googled it and discovered Barracuda is a clothing company, but they make all kinds of clothes and I don’t think the company existed in 1979.

I called my mom, who was a grown woman in 1979, and asked if she had any idea what it could be. She did not, but told me a Barracuda is also a type of car. This was an interesting factoid but not very useful information.

I shrugged and posted the question to social media. In the meantime, I posted the case but omitted the barracuda from the clothing description.

Social media provided several answers (I learned that Barracuda is a name for an email screening software) but the only one that made any sense was from someone who asked their father and was told that sometimes back in those days, denim jackets were referred to as barracudas.

This is a pretty good example of why police reports shouldn’t use slang terms or regionalisms. Because people outside that particular time and place may have NO IDEA what they are.

I think my office dog likes it here

So Patrick the Charley Project Dog has been here ten days and I think he likes it:

When not walking around grinning like a very happy doofus he’s being an exhibitionist:

He is QUITE the chewer and my husband and I have been forced to pick up most of our clutter lest he destroy it. I’ve gotten him a lot of dog toys and chews (rawhide, deer bones, pig ears etc), but his favorite toy seems to be a dollar-store Tupperware lid.

When not chewing he likes to annoy his cat sisters. He wants so much to be friends. And perhaps he could be, but he’s so darn pushy about it. He sees Aria or Viola and is like “FREN!!!” and goes gallumphing towards them wanting to sniff them all over and give them kisses, and they’re like “Hiss off, you big clumsy oaf.” They are not afraid of him but they ARE immensely irritated.

I plan to address both the chewing and the cat-bothering when I enroll him in obedience classes after Christmas.

Patrick is a very good boy and excellent company. He follows me from room to room. I’ve joined some online groups for Korean Jindo owners and apparently his temperament and friendly trusting nature are pretty unusual for a Jindo. He’s incredibly sweet and I’m absolutely smitten.

Added a bunch of Virgin Islands cases today

Today I added twelve (as of this writing) cases from the U.S. Virgin Islands, working off this list of cases that came out in November. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find enough photographs and information to make casefiles for each of the names on that list.

Most of the people missing from the USVI are persons of color, which makes sense because the general population of the territory is mostly black and Hispanic.

I think it’s telling that the most famous missing persons cases from there–Hannah Upp, Sarm Heslop and Lucy Schuhmann–are all white women and none of them are originally from the USVI. Hannah moved there a few years prior to her disappearance to take a teaching job, and Sarm and Lucy were both tourists. There are quite a few islanders missing but very little press about those cases. Missing White Woman Syndrome strikes again.

I haven’t added Sarm to the Charley Project yet. I expect I’ll get to her tomorrow or something. Hannah I added in 2019. It’s likely she had another dissociative fugue state and went to the water like she had always done, and this time her luck ran out and she drowned. Why she moved to the USVI, when she knew she’d had repeated episodes of losing herself and turning up in water, is a mystery to me. If I were her I would have moved to someplace very far away from any body of water larger than a puddle.

A few years ago I actually spoke to one of Hannah’s island acquaintances on the phone and I asked her if it was possible for a person to go missing without a trace and without leaving the islands, since they’re so tiny. She said it was extremely possible due to the thick jungle terrain. She told me a story about a sheep or something that went missing and how its body was found months later; it had been lying unburied within yards of its home the entire time but nobody had found it before because of how thick the vegetation is there.

Boy in the Box identified; name to be announced tomorrow

If you haven’t already heard, last week the police announced they’d finally identified the Boy in the Box, a young boy aged approximately three or seven years old whose naked, malnourished, beaten body was found in a cardboard box in the woods in Philadelphia back in 1957.

I didn’t think they’d ever be able to put a name to him, frankly, though I know they have tried very hard over the years. But genetic genealogy has been a game-changer for so many cold cases and apparently this was one of them.

They will be announcing the child’s name at a press conference scheduled for 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

I’m not sure why they’re waiting to announce his name. Maybe there’s a suspect who’s still alive and they’re trying to track that person down before they make the announcement? Or maybe they’re trying to locate and notify next of kin? Word is he came from a “prominent” family, whatever that means.

I’m so happy that they’ve been able to find out his name. I know many people from law enforcement and from the wider community have worked so hard on this case over the past 65 years.

MP of the week: Kevin Lenting

This week’s featured missing person is Kevin Edward Lenting, a 41-year-old man who disappeared from Mason County, Washington on October 3, 2009. Three days later, his truck was found abandoned at a bridge near a campground.

Lenting was having issues at the time of his disappearance: he had a history of abusing heroin, his family thinks he suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness or illnesses, and police believe he was suicidal. Yet there’s no hard evidence he took his own life. He’s just gone. If still alive, he might be among the homeless population.

Lenting is white and 6’3 with a medium to heavy build (there’s a large weight range, 185 to 240 pounds), with graying brown hair and blue eyes. If still alive he’d be 54 today.

New office dog

After I adopted my previous dog, Kinsey, she became the official Charley Project office dog because she would hang out with me in my office when I worked. Kinsey passed away last year, shortly before her 17th birthday.

Well, now the Charley Project has a new office dog! His name is Patrick and he’s a Korean Jindo mix whom I adopted from Humane Fort Wayne on December 2. Korean Jindos are famous in South Korea but rare in the US. In preparation to select and adopt a new dog I read a book about dogs that had info on 100 different breeds, but the Jindo was not one of those. I’ve been getting most of my info on them from YouTube.

Patrick is about a year old. He was born on a meat farm in South Korea, and got picked up by a rescue organization and flown to the United States in May.

I think he must have had a stellar foster family prior to his adoption, because I highly doubt he was well socialized in his first months but he’s very well behaved, not aggressive, walks well on a leash, etc. When visitors come he barks at them but will stop after a little bit once he realizes they’re not here to kill us all.

Neither of the cats is all that happy about their new brother. Aria remembers Kinsey and doesn’t seem to be afraid of Patrick, just annoyed by him. Viola has never lived with a dog before and is hiding most of the time, and hisses at him during the face-to-face encounters they’ve had. But the cats will get used to him. Patrick for his part is mildly curious about them but nothing more.

So let’s all welcome Patrick to the Charley Project family. I think he will work out fine.