Strike that, reverse it: murder-without-a-body cases

It has been brought to my attention that Walter Shannon Stevenson, whose case I resolved yesterday, has not been found after all. This article, from which I got the original information, has issued a retraction. A suspect, Jeffrey May, has been charged with his murder, but Walter’s case is currently a no-body homicide.

I hope the body turns up soon. In the meantime, I’ll remove the resolved notice and put up Walter’s casefile again with the next update (probably today).

And speaking of murder-without-a-body cases, it looks like the only indicted suspect in Katherine and Sheila Lyon‘s 1975 disappearances is about to plead guilty. Some articles:

This isn’t the end of the story — there’s another suspect who is also believed to have been involved — but it might be the beginning of the end.

As of this writing, the Corpus Delicti section of Charley — my three lists of murder-without-a-body cases currently on the website — has approximately 615 names. (I saw “approximately” because a few names are on more than one list due to multiple defendants and multiple outcomes. I wish I could find the outcomes for more of those cases on List Three, which surely must have been resolved by now.)

For more details about murder-without-a-body cases, I highly recommend you check out Tad DiBiase’s website (particularly this PDF) and book.

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Let’s Talk About It: Tiffany Papesh

This week’s “Let’s Talk About It” is Tiffany Jennifer Papesh, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from Maple Heights, Ohio, in the Cleveland metro area, on June 13, 1980. She’d be 46 today if she is still alive, which is unlikely.

Tiffany’s case is one of the few murder-without-a-body cases where I believe the suspect, Brandon Flagner, may very well be innocent. He was convicted of murder but I really can’t see why. The only thing I can think of is his defense must have been very inadequate.

Flagner confessed to Tiffany’s kidnapping and murder something like 30 times, and he is definitely a serial child molester who had a history of threatening his victims — all young girls — with violence if they didn’t do what he said. Those confessions and his criminal history were, as far as I can tell, pretty much the entire case against him.

However…

Flagner also had an excellent alibi for the time of Tiffany’s abduction: he claims he was at work up until half an hour before Tiffany disappeared. Tiffany’s Charley Project casefile says Flagner’s workplace was 40 miles from where she disappeared; this source says 58 miles. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other: at either distance he wouldn’t have had the time to race over to Maple Heights and abduct the little girl.

Now, it’s true that by the time the police got around to asking, no one specifically remembered seeing Flagner at work that day. But his time card WAS stamped, and furthermore, he worked in a factory production line that needed a certain number of people — him included — to function properly. Since the factory was functioning just fine that day, that seems like a pretty strong indication that Flagner was exactly where he said he was.

The police investigating Tiffany’s disappearance, as well as Tiffany’s own family, think the way that I do, that Flagner is innocent (of this crime anyway) and someone else abducted her. The case is still open. You can see a lot of articles and stuff about Tiffany’s disappearance and Flagner’s conviction here. He made headlines again about ten years ago when he claimed the Ohio Department of Corrections violated his religious rights by forcibly cutting off his beard (he had converted to Orthodox Judaism while in prison).

Flagner comes up for parole in 2019. Given his background as a serial child molester and his insistence that he’s innocent of Tiffany’s murder, I highly doubt he’ll get released then.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the man himself. I think he’s a danger to the community and belongs behind bars, but not for this reason. And as long as he sits in prison convicted of abducting and killing Tiffany Papesh, that means whoever DID abduct Tiffany is still out there.

So what happened here? Does anyone think Flagner is guilty? How did he get convicted in the first place, and how can this problem be fixed? If Flagner didn’t do this, who did? Let’s talk about it.

Sigh, there are things people should know

I read a really long article that was recently published about a nearly twenty-year-old case of a missing child and learned a lot about her case that I hadn’t previously known. Not so much the details of disappearance, mind. There isn’t much: she just vanished into thin air basically, there are no leads and no suspects, and if anyone saw anything they’re not talking.

What I learned was some crucial physical/medical information. Such as the following:

  1. She had a malfunctioning bladder and, at the age of eight, still had to wear Pull-Ups (disposable, absorbent underpants which are normally worn by toddlers in the toilet training stage).
  2. Her kidneys didn’t work right either and she’d had to have surgery on them at least once. (I spoke to a relative on Facebook and she told me more details about this, saying the right kidney was underdeveloped from birth.)
  3. One of her kneecaps was out of place and she had to wear a leg brace as a result. (The relative I spoke to confirmed she was still wearing the leg brace when she disappeared.)
  4. Because of her state of health, the police don’t think she would have survived to adulthood without continuing medical treatment.

But what I want to know is: where was this information before now? The girl is listed on both the NCMEC and NamUs and neither source says doodly squat about any of this. In fact it never came out at all before now, as far as I can determine.

If you ask me, it should have. This is pretty important information. I mean, if they find a body somewhere, an eight-year-old girl wearing Pull-Ups, that would be a huge thing right away. And if they find skeletal remains with no clothes or anything left, there’s that thing with the kneecap.

People need to KNOW these things. They shouldn’t have to wait almost 20 years for this information to come out.

Make-a-List Monday: The Gospels

Cody N. suggested I do a Make-a-List Monday for people named Matthew, Mark, Luke or John — that four Gospels in the New Testament. I actually did a list of people named some form of John last fall. Today’s list is for people named John (and ONLY John, not Jonathan or Evan or Sean or suchlike) who have been added since then, and for people named Matthew, Mark or Luke (first names only, variants not included).

JOHN

  1. John Michael Baham Jr.
  2. John Peter Fox
  3. John Howard Friebely
  4. John P. Suggs
  5. John Curtis Tensley
  6. John Graham Thompson
  7. John William Wingler Sr.

LUKE

  1. Luke Robinson
  2. Luke Adam Sanburg
  3. Luke David Stout
  4. Luke Townsend
  5. Luke Aaron Tredway

MARK

  1. Mark Wayne Adamson
  2. Mark Addison
  3. Mark Lindsey Bachelder
  4. Mark Anthony Berumen
  5. Mark Bonner
  6. Mark Lawrence Bosworth
  7. Mark Travis Burkett Jr.
  8. Mark Kamaki Cajski
  9. Mark Twain Celestine
  10. Mark Skinner Clarke
  11. Mark Alan Cohen
  12. Mark Allen Collman
  13. Mark Anthony Cook
  14. Mark William Cowardin
  15. Mark Norman Dantche
  16. Mark Randall Davis
  17. Mark Anthony Degner
  18. Mark Lee Doose
  19. Mark Jeffrey Dribin
  20. Mark Duane Folz
  21. Mark Allen Garnett
  22. Mark Thomas Gibson
  23. Mark Joseph Himebaugh
  24. Mark R. Hudson
  25. Mark Allen Husk
  26. Mark Douglas Jackson
  27. Mark Randall Johnson
  28. Mark William Kotlarz
  29. Mark Stephen Lemieux
  30. Mark Steven Martin
  31. Mark R. Marvin
  32. Mark Arthur Maty
  33. Mark Allen Merritt
  34. Mark Allen Miller
  35. Mark Allan Nichter
  36. Mark Julian Oldbury Jr.
  37. Mark A. Peal
  38. Mark Wade Potts
  39. Mark Donald Ramin
  40. Mark William Seelman
  41. Mark Lane Smith
  42. Mark Allen Thompson
  43. Mark D. Tomich
  44. Mark Raymond Tourney
  45. Mark Andrew Wilborne
  46. Mark Wendell Wilson
  47. Mark Eugene Yoli
  48. Mark David Zeichner

MATTHEW

  1. Matthew Glen Anderson
  2. Matthew Cameron Barrows
  3. Matthew Colter
  4. Matthew Wade Crocker
  5. Matthew Jonathan Curtis
  6. Matthew John Ferris
  7. Matthew Kirby Gale Jr.
  8. Matthew Paul Garnes
  9. Matthew Scott Hulse
  10. Matthew Ellis Keith
  11. Matthew Stephen McCaskey
  12. Matthew Alan Mullaney
  13. Matthew Nolan
  14. Matthew Jacob Salazar
  15. Matthew Vincent Sueper
  16. Matthew Chase Whitmer
  17. Matthew Stephen Wood

Flashback Friday: The Houghland Family

I promise I will TRY very hard to get my “weekly features” obligations actually met this weekend. (Any suggestions for Sunday?) This week’s Flashback Friday case is actually three cases: Norma Louise Houghland, a 27-year-old mother, and her two sons, 8-year-old Richard Allen Houghland and 6-year-old Thomas James Houghland. They vanished from Sacramento, California on July 15, 1978, but because Norma was divorced and her ex-husband, the boys’ father, lived out of state, no one realized they were missing for a week.

Given the condition of the family’s apartment — uncashed welfare check left behind, nothing missing, dishes in the sink — it seems unlikely they left on their own. Given the fact that Norma’s car has never been found, I think the most probable explanation for this triple disappearance is an automobile accident. Norma and the boys may be in a ravine or at the bottom of a cliff somewhere, or more likely in a lake or river.

Wasn’t expecting this

I got an NCMEC message in my email saying Aleacia Di’onne Stancil has been found alive. This comes as a most unexpected surprise. Frankly, I had not expected her to be found at all, never mind found alive. The police were outright admitting they had no idea where to look for her.

The NCMEC, of course, offers no details, and as of this writing, there’s nothing in the news. I’d love to know the circumstances under which Aleacia, who would now be 23 years old, was located, and what sort of woman she’s become. I’m hoping she was properly raised and is in college or something like that. It seems like the odds are against her growing into a functional young adult, but we can hope, right?

I’ve got a case, one of my “foul play is suspected but few details are available” cases, involving a toddler who disappeared in the eighties. A relative emailed me to say the child’s mother sold it for drugs. I don’t doubt this information, but I wasn’t able to confirm it with any official source so it’s not in the casefile, just in my head. In a way I hope that kid WAS sold for drugs, because if it was, maybe it’s still alive.

I often wonder about the little babies on my site who disappeared ages ago and are presumed to be still alive — I wonder what they’re like now. Alexis Manigo/Kamiyah Mobley and Nejra Nance/Carlina White seem to have turned out all right in spite of being raised by their abductors. Aleacia’s mother struggled with drug addiction and was murdered a year after her daughter disappeared; it’s entirely on the cards that whoever raised Aleacia was able to provide a more stable home environment than she could have gotten from her biological family. But the circumstances of Aleacia’s disappearance aren’t that clear and I’m not sure if she was, in fact, abducted.

I hope there’s something in the news soon. I’m happy to learn this baby lived to grow into a woman.

 

There’s been a social media storm these last 24 hours

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a woman who claims she is Jennifer Klein who disappeared in 1974. This story has been floating around the internet for about a month, but yesterday there was a YouTube video published where the woman claimed she had DNA testing done and it proved her identity.

This woman also claims her abductors were members of a Satanic cult and that they kidnapped Kurt Newton and Etan Patz (who both disappeared in the 1970s, across the country from Jennifer) as well. She says she was brainwashed and didn’t start remembering what happened until after she was injured in a car accident.

As for what I think, well, I didn’t write this editorial but it pretty much sums up my own position on the matter.

Hopefully the truth will come out over the next few days or so. Until then, that’s all I’ve got to say.