SMH at the ineptitude of the cops in Cory Bigsby interview

So today is (allegedly, we’ll get to that) the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of four-year-old Codi Bigsby from his father’s home in Virginia. No charges have been filed in the case, but the police zeroed in on Codi’s dad, Cory, as a suspect very quickly and he is still a suspect. They have said they think Codi disappeared earlier than his dad claimed, although I haven’t seen anything about when he was last seen by anyone outside the household. (Which consisted of Codi, Cory, and three of Cory’s other children.)

When writing up the case I was kind of appalled to see how Cory was treated during his first police interview after he reported his son missing. I was just facepalming.

Now, in my opinion Cory is not a person easy to sympathize with. He was previously arrested for domestic violence against Codi’s mom, and he admits he left his kids (the oldest of whom was only five) home alone for hours at a time because they were “a handful.” But without a doubt, his Constitutional rights were violated in that police interview and that matters.

The interview lasted between 9:30 p.m. and 4:45 a.m. That’s over seven hours, during which Cory was not, technically, under arrest. (On February 3 he was arrested, but not for anything to do with Codi’s disappearance. He was arrested for child neglect for leaving the kids home alone.) During this time, on more than TWENTY occasions Cory said he was tired and wanted to go home to sleep. The police told him “going home is not an option.”

This was a lie: Cory was in fact legally free to stop the interview and go home. But after the very first time he said he wanted to leave and the cops refused to let him go, he was basically under duress and there’s a good chance anything he said would not be permitted to be used in court.

The law asks: would a reasonable person feel like they were being detained and were not permitted to leave? And in that situation, of repeatedly asking to leave and being it’s “not an option”, I think a reasonable person would definitely feel that way. (This, incidentally, is why those “how to handle a law enforcement encounter” advice people say you should directly ask the police if you are being detained.) A statement has to be “free and voluntary” to be used in court and by this point Cory wasn’t there voluntarily anymore.

Furthermore, TWICE Cory said he wanted to see an attorney, and TWICE his request was ignored. Big no-no. Once a suspect invokes their right to counsel, the police are supposed to immediately stop the interview and not ask any more questions of the suspect until the requested attorney arrives on scene.

Now, a lot of you may be thinking “I don’t care about this person’s so-called rights, I don’t care how they were treated, they’re a child neglecter/abuser and possible murderer.” But you should care. Not only because what happened to Cory could easily happen to you, but also because this botched interrogation may (assuming his father killed him, which the police seem to think he did) prevent Codi from ever getting justice.

The law says if a suspect invokes their right to counsel and isn’t given counsel, everything they say after that cannot be used in court. The suspect could confess to the most vile criminal offenses, to being a serial killer even, and their words would not be allowed to be used against them. I have no idea what Cory told the police during his interview, but if he admitted to anything incriminating after he was refused an attorney, those admissions cannot be used against him.

These are not obscure procedural rules. This is Police Interrogation 101. I can’t even with the incompetence here.

The police have since admitted they Did A Bad, and the detective who botched the interview was “punished”… by being pulled off the case and placed on paid administrative leave. So they were punished for their terrible policing by being given a paid vacation from work.

It’s been a year and no one knows where Codi is. I hope this interrogation did not reduce our chances of finding out what happened to him.

This article talks about what went wrong in the interview; it’s a good one.

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.

Have heard the news about Melissa Highsmith

According to everybody, Melissa Suzanne Highsmith, a toddler who was abducted by a phony babysitter from her family’s Fort Worth, Texas home in 1971, has been found alive and well and has reunited with the Highsmith family. She had been living under the name Melanie Warren.

This is obviously terrific news. She had been missing for 50 years, 51 years in August!

I am going to wait on official police confirmation on this because past hoax “finds” have made me wary. But it is really awesome news. Her family will have her home for Christmas.

MP of the week: Sabrina Aisenberg

This week’s featured missing person is Sabrina Paige Aisenberg, who was abducted from her crib in Valrico, Florida on November 24, 1997, aged just four months old.

Her parents were subsequently charged with some stuff in the case, but the charges were dropped after it turned out there was basically no actual evidence against them. And there the matter rests.

I know there’s been a lot of suppositions and stuff bandied about on the internet about this case. I once spoke to a man who had been posting a certain photo of a young woman on social media, claiming she was an adult Sabrina. The police had already looked into the matter and told the man she was not Sabrina, but he kept posting the picture and making this untrue claim. I figured if someone was doing that with my photo, I’d want to know about it, so I contacted the woman and told her what was going on. She was horrified.

I doubt Sabrina’s parents were actually involved in the case at all. It seems more likely that the baby was kidnapped by someone who wanted to raise her, or by someone who wanted to sell her for adoption purposes.

Sabrina, if still alive — and there’s really no reason to think she isn’t — would be 25 years old today. She has some Y-shaped marks on her shoulder which might be used to identify her as an adult.

Haleigh Cummings’s dad released from prison

Ronald Cummings, the father of Haleigh Cummings who disappeared from her home in 2009 at age 5, has been released from prison. He had been serving a fifteen-year sentence for drug trafficking. His now ex-wife, Misty, who was watching Haleigh on the night she disappeared (Ron was at work) is serving 25 years for the same offense.

I had always thought that those drug sentences were very severe, and wonder if they were mandated sentences left over from the “get tough on drugs” years in the 90s. I mean, 15 years, 25 years for selling some pills on the street? You can get less time than that, sometimes, for MURDER.

There had been hope that the drug defendants would try to cut their sentences down by offering information on Haleigh. But this never materialized.

With Misty, anyway, there’s a sense that she was sentenced for the wrong crime: if she didn’t outright cause Haleigh’s disappearance, she knows what happened and isn’t saying. But that’s not how things are supposed to work in this country. You’re supposed to be sentenced for the crime you were found guilty of, and ONLY that crime.

In any case, Ron’s release got Haleigh’s name back in the news where it hadn’t been in quite awhile. Maybe something will come of that. I’ve blogged about Haleigh numerous times, but the last time was over ten years ago.

There’s a four-episode podcast about Haleigh, by the way. I haven’t listened to it so can’t comment on the quality.

Read a book about an old missing persons case

So the other night I read Pearl: Lost Girl of White Oak Mountain by Bill Yates, about the 1923 disappearance of three-year-old Pearl Turner from rural Arkansas. In spite of a widespread search and many false leads, she was never found. The book does a pretty good job telling the tale of her disappearance, and the author’s conclusions as to what happened are at the end.

Unfortunately I can’t add Pearl to Charley. I’m not sure I would anyway, given that the case is close to 100 years old and no one is investigating it anymore. (I mean, I did add the quite similar case of Hickle “Dick” Ware, but he disappeared fifteen years after Pearl did and I had a law enforcement agency for the case.) But I can’t because there are no photos of Pearl available. The little girl on the cover of the book isn’t her, only a child who strongly resembled her and was for awhile thought to be her.

I think Pearl just never had any pictures taken of her. She came from a sharecropper’s family and was one of several children. Portraits were probably an unaffordable luxury to them. (Sharecroppers were people who had no land of their own and farmed someone else’s land in exchange for a portion of the crop they produced. They were very poor.)

It’s not too bad a book anyway, especially if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited and can read it free with your subscription.

I haven’t been feeling very well. Right now my bipolar pendulum has got me in a depressive fit, and even knowing it’s just my brain not working right does not make it feel any better. I’m struggling to get much of anything done. Even standard activities of daily living.

MP of the week: Julie Englehart

This week’s featured missing person is Julie Danielle Englehart, a 47-year-old woman who disappeared with her husband, John Wade Roberts, also 47, and their daughter, 9-year-old Brooke Addison Roberts, from Hesperia, California in October 2019.

Julie called a relative on October 6 and said she’d found a job and the family was in the process of moving. She said she’d call back the next day, but never did, and no one saw or heard from her or her husband or child again. They weren’t reported missing until 2021.

That’s all the info there is to report, unfortunately. The family was just… gone.

If still alive, Julie and John would be fifty years old today and Brooke would be twelve. I hope they’re still alive.

Bits and pieces of things as I update

I make a lot of typos on the Charley Project, in particular leaving out words by accident. I’m sure you’ve all noticed. I don’t mind when people point them out to me, because that gives me an opportunity to fix the mistake.

It is kind of embarrassing though, when a news article quotes from the Charley Project and has to put in a typo correction in the quote. As happened today. *facepalm* Don’t worry, when I saw what I’d done wrong I immediately logged into the dashboard and added the missing words.

I am adding a case today where I found the missing teen girl’s Facebook page, and it had been updated multiple times after she went missing. Although not recently, at least as far as I can see; if you’re not “Facebook friends” with a person, what you can view on their profile is limited.

Just from the pictures I would have guessed the poor kid is being trafficked: the photos were very sexy and revealing, and none of the photos showed her face. Her face was always either cropped from the picture or covered with something, either that or she was looking away from the camera. The girl’s NamUs page confirmed my suspicion that this is a presumed case of sex trafficking. I called the NCMEC to tell them about the Facebook page, in case they didn’t know.

Michael Sewell‘s disappearance reminds me a lot of the Sodder childrens’ case. My guess is Michael died in the fire like his two friends. That cabin sounds like a serious fire hazard: made of railroad ties (which are of course wooden, and often coated with flammable creosote to keep the wood from rotting), with a wood-burning stove and a kerosene lantern, and with no windows and only the one door. It’s enough to give a fire marshal the vapors.

Articles report that they only found a few bones, and identified the dead boys based on their class rings. It’s not like they had DNA testing in 1971. The police, re-investigating the case in 2022, are going to exhume Michael’s friends’ remains to see if they didn’t accidentally bury some pieces of Michael in those coffins.

I added a case the other day of a missing twelve-year-old boy (he’d now be fourteen) who “may be in the company of an adult male.” When I was doing my research for the write-up I found some Facebook comments identifying the adult male in question by name, with a picture of him, and saying who the man is in relation to the missing boy.

But I can’t really rely on social media gossip for something like that, lest the Facebook comments are incorrect. If I did post the info and it’s wrong, it could muck up the investigation and I could potentially get sued into oblivion by the man in question for wrongfully accusing him of kidnapping a child. So on Charley it just says “adult male.”

But if I found those Facebook comments, you, dear reader, probably can too. I’m just saying.

I’ll be out of Facebook Jail in a week. Here’s some more news.

From California:

  • They’re still looking for Khrystyna Carreno, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Bakersfield in November 2020. (The article spells her name “Khrystina” but the NCMEC and CDOJ spell it “Khrystyna” so I’m going to go with that.) I don’t have her on Charley but figure I should add her. Twelve is very young, obviously, and she’s been missing for a year and a half now. I hope she’s alive and hasn’t been trafficked. Here’s Khrystyna’s NCMEC poster.

From Florida:

From Georgia:

  • They have finally identified the little boy whose corpse was found outside Atlanta over 20 years ago. His name was William DaShawn Hamilton and he was six years old when he was murdered. William was never reported missing. His mother, Teresa Ann Bailey Black, has been charged with felony murder, cruelty to children, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another.

From Michigan:

  • They’re still looking for Kathy Sue Wilcox, a 15-year-old girl last seen in Otsego in 1972. She got into an argument with her parents over an older boy she was dating, stomped out angrily and was never seen again. Kathy would be 65 today. Kathy’s sister does not believe she ran away, and made reference to a “significant antisocial person who was in [Kathy’s] life,” whom she thinks could have been involved.

From Minnesota:

  • Remains found in Rosemount in 2014 have been identified as James Everett, a New York man who was not listed as missing. They do not know the cause or manner of death, but they believe Everett died sometime in the autumn months of 2013. I wonder if he died of exposure; Minnesota can get very cold, and I doubt a “decommissioned railroad utility shed” would have heat or insulation.

From New Hampshire:

  • They’re still looking for 15-year-old Shirley Ann “Tippy” McBride, last seen in Concord in 1984. Although there haven’t been any new developments, the article talks about the case in great detail.
  • They’re still looking for Maura Murray, and are searching an unspecified “area in the towns of Landaff and Easton.” This search isn’t based on any new info, though, they’re just shooting in the dark.

From New York:

  • They’re trying to find Judith Threlkeld, a 22-year-old woman who disappeared from Chautauqua County in 1976. She was last seen walking home from the library. I added the case to Charley yesterday.

From North Dakota:

  • Check out this awesome in-depth three-part series on the 1996 disappearances of Sandra Mary Jacobson and her son, John Henry Jacobson: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 (this last part is paywalled, but I was invested enough to fork over two bucks for a subscription). Very mysterious case. I feel terrible for Sandra’s older son, Spencer: he lost his mom and half-brother, literally, and later on his father was murdered, and neither of these cases have been solved. A few years after the murder of Spencer’s father, Spencer’s wife died tragically young at 24, from strep throat of all things, leaving him a young widower with three kids. Poor Spencer has had enough bad luck to last a lifetime.

From Ohio:

  • They’re still looking for Charles King Blanche, a 39-year-old man who disappeared from his Youngstown group home in 1991. Blanche’s cousin says he was a very talented musician who was recruited to tour in Europe in a marching band, but his life kind of cratered after he developed an unspecified severe mental illness. An all-too-common story on the Charley Project.

From Texas:

  • It’s being reported that sometimes when Texan foster kids run away, the agencies just wash their hands of them and end their guardianship over them. This sounds terrible, but given how often foster agencies fail their wards, and given as it’s Texas where they can’t even keep the lights on, I’m not entirely surprised.
  • Using genetic genealogy, they have identified a Jane Doe whose partial remains were found south of Midland in 2013. The victim was Sylvia Nicole Smith, who disappeared in 2000 at the age of sixteen. The case is being investigated as homicide.

From Virginia

  • Cory Bigsby, the father of four-year-old Codi Bigsby, has been indicted on thirty counts, the majority of them child neglect charges. Codi has been missing since January. None of the indictments are related to his disappearance; they’re connected to Cory’s allegedly terrible parenting from prior to Codi’s disappearance. Codi has not been missing long enough to go up on Charley, so here’s his NCMEC poster, and here’s another poster for him.

From Washington state:

  • There are forty known Native American people listed as missing from the Yakima area. And here’s a list of all the Native Americans listed as missing from the entire state.

From Washington DC:

  • They’re still looking for Relisha Tenau Rudd, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from a Dickensian homeless shelter in 2014. I’ve blogged about Relisha several times, as recently as earlier this week when they put up a new AP for her. If still alive, Relisha would now be 16. Here’s another detailed article about her case, with links to the earlier series of articles the Washington Post did about it.

And in general:

  • Although they don’t drop kids from the guardianship rolls when they disappear, in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Illinois, most missing foster kids who resurface are not screened to see if they were trafficked during the time they were gone. The article says Texas actually has a better record in this regard, with over 80% of missing-and-then-located foster kids being screened. But the number should ideally be 100%.
  • My husband has persuaded me to finally turn the Charley Project into an official registered nonprofit organization. Right now we’re saving up the money to pay a lawyer to file the paperwork to do this though it’s going to be awhile at this rate; money is super tight right now. If the Charley Project is a registered nonprofit, all donations will become tax-deductible and also the organization could become the recipient of grants. I’d use the grants to travel to more missing persons events, and pay the subscription fees for more databases to use in researching cases, and maybe hire an editor or something.

New age-progression for Relisha Rudd just dropped

So I just put up a new age-progression for Relisha Tenau Rudd, last seen in Washington D.C. in 2014 at the age of eight. The AP shows her as she might appear at her current age of 16.

I don’t normally make whole new blog entries just for one AP, but I have a particularly soft spot for Relisha as it seems every adult and every institution she came across in her short life, failed her miserably.