MP of the week: Mercedes Toliver

This week’s featured missing person is Mercedes Zaevon Toliver, an eighteen-year-old black girl who left her Prescott, Arkansas home after an argument at around midnight on December 17, 2016. She was never seen again.

There doesn’t seem to be much out there to suggest might have happened to her. I do think it’s unlikely she left on her own, though, since she didn’t take anything other than her phone and $20, and since she was a responsible young woman who was planning to join the Air Force. I wonder if someone grabbed her while she was walking to her aunt’s house.

Mercedes’s nickname is Cede. I’m not sure if it’s pronounced “Say-dee” like the “cede” in her full name. She’d be about 23 if still alive.

MP of the week: Benjamin Gray

This week’s featured missing person (sorry, I forgot to do it yesterday and earlier today) is Benjamin Franklin Gray, a 50-year-old man who disappeared from Montrose, Colorado on May 30, 1978. He was a rancher and he and a friend went out to lease some cattle that night. His friend said he dropped Gray off at a Montrose bar in the early hours of May 31. He has never been heard from again. After his disappearance, his checkbook was found on a mesa near his family’s ranch.

I find it strange that Gray’s friend lawyered up and wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation after the initial interview with police. But no one has been named as a suspect and authorities have found no hard evidence of foul play… and no evidence supporting any other theory either. Gray was just gone.

He’d be 93 years old today.

Social media update, and contemplating a language change

I am happy to say I now have Facebook access back and no longer need to keep running to my husband’s office to use his account. Hopefully I can avoid further troubles with the platform but honestly I have my doubts. During my time away I encountered, and commiserated with, many people online who had been kicked off Facebook for no good reason, and sometimes no reason at all, and unless the platform makes major changes I think things are only going to get worse.

So posts on the Charley Project Facebook page have resumed as before. Need I also remind you the Charley Project is on Twitter?

I’m also happy to report that I’ve had no side effects from Thursday’s COVID-19 vaccine, other than a sore arm. It was very sore yesterday and much less so today. I also have a sniffly nose, but I’m pretty sure that’s just pollen.

Now on another topic: Occasionally I have adjusted the Charley Project’s vocabulary to fit with the times. For example, I stopped saying “confined to a wheelchair” after it came to my attention that, for people who cannot walk, a wheelchair is not a tool of confinement but liberation. Instead I started saying “uses a wheelchair” or “needs a wheelchair for mobility.” I also changed “committed suicide” to “died by suicide” because suicide is no longer a crime in most jurisdictions, and referring to the act as if it was still a crime contributes to the stigma against it and against people who die in this way, most of whom were suffering terribly.

Josh Duggar’s recent arrest (is anyone surprised? not me!) has got me thinking: I’ve seen a trend, in some publications, to replace the term “child pornography” with “child sexual abuse images.” I think it’s a good change. Adult pornography, whatever feelings you might have about it, is legal in most jurisdictions throughout the world, and participants are doing it voluntarily and are usually paid. Child pornography is obviously not legal and the participants are being exploited and abused, and the term “child sexual abuse images” reminds a person of what is going on in those pictures and videos and the crime that must be committed to produce them.

So I’m thinking of making the change myself, and changing all references of “child pornography” on the Charley Project to “child sexual abuse images” instead.

Thoughts, anyone?

Guess who got vaccinated!

Got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine today and I am so happy to have that taken care of at last. Two more weeks and I’ll be pretty much immune to covid! (Though I do expect they’ll be coming out with annual booster shots.)

I highly encourage everyone else to get the shot, whatever kind is available to you the quickest. Especially if you will be doing any traveling. I’m going somewhere special in June (more about that at a future date) and I am so glad I’ll be fully vaxxed and not putting myself or anyone else through unnecessary risk.

MP of the week: Josie Meadows

This week’s featured missing person is Josie Taylor Meadows, an eighteen-year-old girl who was last seen in Huntsville, Ohio on March 2, 2017. There are very few details available in her disappearance, or about Josie herself. I know she might need medication “for unspecified reasons” and she was once arrested for underage drinking. And that’s about it.

I hope Josie is still alive. She is 23 years old now if she is. It’s been four years now and I wonder why there has been no news about it.

Per police, Kristin Smart’s body was buried in Paul Flores’s dad’s yard but got moved

More info has come out since the recent arrests of Paul and Ruben Flores for Kristin Smart‘s 1996 disappearance and presumed murder. Paul has been charged with murder and his dad, Ruben, as an accessory: authorities believe he helped hide Kristin’s body.

Now the police are saying that the Floreses buried Kristin’s remains in Ruben’s yard, but “recently” moved them to another location. And furthermore, that Paul is a serial rapist and “dozens” of women have come forward about his “sexual assaults and predatory behavior.”

None of this is terribly surprising to me. I don’t think it would surprise anyone who’s followed this case over the years.

If Paul had just confessed to Kristin’s murder at the time, owned up and apologized and taken some kind of plea bargain, he might very well be out of prison by now.

Honestly I despise him for torturing the Smart family over the past 25 years, as much as I do for Kristin’s killing. I don’t think there is any worse pain you can cause a family, than make their child disappear without a trace and never be found. At least my parents know where my two dead brothers are. At least they had a chance to bury them properly, and can visit their graves, and know they’re not scared or sad or suffering.

MP of the week: Ayyub Pugh

This week’s featured missing person is Ayyub N. Pugh, a 45-year-old black man who disappeared from Layton, Utah on August 14, 2010. There isn’t much information about his disappearance, but there apparently aren’t any indications of foul play and he could still be alive somewhere.

Pugh suffers from mental illness and could be in a mental hospital/treatment program. He has used several different alias names in the past. He has previously lived in Florida and New York. If still alive he’d be 55.

EastPark John Doe, missing persons events, and other stories

Colorado: There will be two events to honor the May 10, 2020 disappearance of Suzanne Morphew from Chaffee County. (I haven’t added her yet cause it hasn’t yet been a year.) The first will be held at the Poncha Springs Visitor Center at 7010 U.S. Highway 285 in Poncha Springs, Colorado at 7:00 p.m. on April 30. This day would be/have been Suzanne’s fiftieth birthday. The second event is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on May 2, at the Community Garden at 202 East Church Street in Alexandria, Indiana; Suzanne grew up there and many family and friends still live there. I might attend that event as it’s only an hour and ten minutes from where I live.

Kentucky: In EastPark, on the edge of Boyd County, last July, hunters found the badly decomposed remains of a murdered man partially buried. He had been dead for between approximately two weeks and a month. The man was wearing only boxer shorts and there were no personal effects. The man was between 20 and 40 years old and about 5’8 and 140 to 160 pounds, with brown hair between earlobe length and shoulder length. He had been shot, but also had drugs in his system when he died. The place where he was buried, although somewhat secluded, had easy access to the interstate; the dead man “literally could have come from anywhere.” The man has yet to be identified.

Also in Kentucky: Skeletal remains found in Hardyville in February 2020 have been identified as Jacob Lewis Tipton, a 24-year-old man who disappeared from Berea on April 23, 2016. Unfortunately there wasn’t much left of him and they couldn’t establish a cause of death.

Also in Kentucky: They’re still looking for Andrea Michelle Knabel, a 37-year-old woman who disappeared from Louisville on August 13, 2019. A retired homicide detective has taken an interest in the case and believes he’s found a three-hour discrepancy in the timeline of the night of Andrea’s disappearance.

Mississippi: They’re still trying to identify a Jane Doe who were found under a bridge over the Pearl River in Rankin County in 1978. She was nude and wrapped in an old blanket. She had died of multiple blows to the head and may have been killed by serial killer Samuel Little, who died late last year. They’re looking into the possibility that the Jane Doe may be Wendy Susan Byron, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Glendora, California just two days before Jane Doe was found in Mississippi.

New York: They’re still looking for Flossie A. Wilbur, a 75-year-old woman who disappeared from Angelica on August 24, 1985. David Sherk, one of her then-neighbors, confessed to her murder in 2020 and told authorities he had buried her body near the Almond Dam, but the body has never been found. Doesn’t mean the man was lying; the dam has flooded multiple times since 1985. Sherk had terminal brain cancer when he made his confession and I’m not sure he’s still alive now, but he was never charged.

South Dakota: In Rapid City, groups and leaders both from town and from Native American reservations across the state united yesterday to raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous people. Here are some photos of the event.

Virginia: It’s been ten years now since Robert Lee Hourihan disappeared, leaving behind a wife and six-year-old daughter her adored. Foul play is suspected in his case. His wife has never remarried and still hopes every day that he will be found.

Also Virginia: Human remains found in the woods on the campus of Hollins University back in February have been identified as Jessica Darling Dickson, a 30-year-old woman who disappeared from Roanoke on June 1, 2019. Jessica’s death is under investigation, but the police said there doesn’t seem to be any connection to the university and they don’t think the students (it’s a women’s college) are in danger.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada: There’s an interesting article/podcast episode on the systemic failures of Toronto Police and missing persons cases.

New Waterford, Nova Scotia, Canada: They’re still looking for Debbie Hutchinson, 59-year-old woman who disappeared on April 15, 2017 and wasn’t reported missing for twelve days. Her niece found groceries lying on the floor of Debbie’s home, and her car later turned up abandoned and burned.

When a missing person goes missing again

So a woman disappeared, and she was missing long enough to get posted on the Charley Project, so I posted her. I’ll call this woman Yvette. Then recently Yvette got arrested on some minor charges in another state. So I listed her case as resolved, explaining about the arrest etc.

I heard from Yvette’s sister-in-law. Apparently, she vanished again immediately after she got out of jail. and the family was frantic with worry. Could I relist the case?

I wasn’t sure what to do in this case. Presumably Yvette’s missing persons report had been closed when she was arrested; even if she has since been re-listed as missing with the police (and I wasn’t sure if she had been or not), didn’t her arrest kind of restart the clock? Like, wasn’t she now missing for a week instead of over a year, in which case she’d be ineligible for the Charley Project? It seemed that way to me but I wasn’t sure I had the heart to tell the relative I wouldn’t re-list Yvette’s case.

I decided to first settle the issue of whether Yvette’s is currently listed as missing with any law enforcement agency. I wrote back to ask the sister-in-law this. My email bounced. I can’t get in touch with her. Fooey.

It’s a very sad situation for the family. But I don’t know, if I were the police, whether I’d accept a second missing persons report. Yvette clearly does not want to be found.

Facebook is a broken system and I hate it, part III

I had written about Facebook woes last winter, here and here. Well, now my account has been permanently disabled. The last straw, for them, was a meme I posted two. years. ago. (And it didn’t violate community standards, then or now.)

They aren’t even letting me download all my info like they’re supposed to. This is an account I’ve had since like 2004. I’ve had it since back in the days when you had to be a college student to get an account.

I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just the stupid moderation bots, as I discussed in the previous entries linked above, who don’t understand the difference between a historical meme educating someone about World War II, and a pro-Nazi meme.

I kind of knew this was coming. The same thing has been happening to a lot of people for a long time.

No, it’s not really possible to just make a new account. No, I can’t contact customer service. Facebook doesn’t really have customer service.

This is really quite catastrophic. Leaving aside the social consequences of suddenly being cut off from all my happy online friendships (and I miss them all horribly)… I need Facebook to run the Charley Project. SO MUCH missing persons stuff is on Facebook. This is a critical source of information, almost as big for me as something like Google is, that I’m suddenly cut off from. Without an account I can’t even search Facebook for anything.

[EDIT: And to all the people suggesting I simply make a new account, I’ve tried. It can’t be done. I’ve tried different names, email addresses, phone numbers. I’ve tried using a VPN to hide my IP address. I can’t start a new account; they all get suspended immediately.]