That wretched Hart case

The Charley Project does not discriminate: if you’re have not physically turned up alive or dead, you’re missing for the purposes of this database, even if everyone knows perfectly well what happened to you.

Which brings me to the godawful case of the Hart family, of whom one of them, Devonte, has never been located. His sister’s foot washed ashore months ago, but not a tiny bit of Devonte has turned up, not so much as a single vertebra. I had been desperately hoping they’d find some of Devonte before the year was up so I would not have to start digging into this. I might as well be digging a grave.

And with a case as high profile as this, I feel obligated to put him up. Even though we all know, basically, what happened to Devonte and where he is — swallowed up in the Pacific.

And with a case as high profile as this, I feel obligated to do a detailed write-up. It’s just that there’s so much to look over (high profile ya know) and it’s all so absolutely and unrelentingly horrifying. I’ve been reading about the case for the past twelve hours and I feel the way I did when I visited Treblinka.

Even the photos of the kids. So many photos. And they’re so SKINNY. Knobby chins and cheekbones, their faces like skulls, stick arms and legs. And so SMALL. They were starved of food and love for so long, and under so much stress.

The inquest into the family’s deaths will be held next week. It will take two days, will be live-streamed, and is said to be releasing some shocking information, as if what is already known was not shocking enough already.

Those poor, poor children.

MP of the week: Martha Lambert

This week’s featured missing person is Martha Jean Lambert, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Elkton, Florida on November 27, 1985.

In 2009, Martha’s brother, David, confessed to the police that she had died in an accident the day of her disappearance and he had buried her body. David would have been fourteen at the time. Although the police never found Martha’s body and David later retracted his statement, investigators believed his story.

Martha’s mother believes her daughter was abducted by someone outside the family and hopes she is still alive. A friend of mine also believes David is innocent, and put up a Facebook page to draw attention to Martha’s case.

Black History Month: Irwin Stewart

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Irwin Yafeth Stewart, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy who was abducted by his non-custodial mother, Elvia Bravo Ibarra, from Houston, Texas on November 30, 2002. Irwin is biracial; his mother is Hispanic and his father is black.

Elvia and Irwin may still be in the Houston area, or they may have gone to Mexico. Iwin would be 17 years old today.

Black History Month: Monique and Sidney Smith

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is actually three rolled into one: sisters Monique Rae Smith, one month old, and Sidney Keara Smith, one year old, and their mother, eighteen-year-old Jennifer Dawn Lancaster. They all disappeared together from Topeka, Kansas on May 12, 2000. The children are biracial, black and white, and their mother is white.

The family’s car was found at an apartment complex a week later, and that doesn’t look good to me at all. However, I have been able to find very little information on this case, no articles, nothing.

If Sidney and Monique are still alive, they’d be 19 and 18. Jennifer would be 37.

Black History Month: Consuella Cash

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Consuella LeShaun Cash, a seven-year-old girl who disappeared from Los Angeles, California on January 3, 1975.

She’s “missing under suspicious circumstances and may have been the victim of a homicide” but unfortunately I know nothing else about this case, whether it was an abduction, if there was family involvement, nothing. I’ve tried searching in news archives for her name under various spellings but turned up doodly squat.

Consuella must have had a family, someone who loved her, someone who helped put those ribbons in her hair. Someone who missed her. Are any of them still alive today and looking for her?

MP of the week: Debra Cole

This week’s featured missing person is Debra Jean Cole, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Lebanon, Indiana on August 29, 1981.

They’re pretty sure Debra was killed by her mother’s live-in boyfriend, who definitely killed Debra’s sister Frances in 1983. Unfortunately, the boyfriend was never prosecuted in either case. He died in 1989, and Debra’s body has never been found.

Black History Month: Cherie Barnes

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Cherie Nicole Barnes, a two-year-old girl who disappeared from Missouri in 1986/1987ish.

Cherie’s NCMEC poster notes that she “is biracial and is considered to be black and white.” This would match her appearance. I thought the “considered to be” thing meant her paternity was unknown, but a source I found said Cherie’s biological father is known and lives in Los Angeles.

I put Cherie’s height and weight on Charley as “unknown” because, regardless of what the NCMEC says, she was definitely not four feet tall and eighty pounds at the age of two and a half.

So Cherie’s story is a bit complicated. Her stepfather, Larry Vasser, and mom, Elizabeth Ann Turek Vasser, had custody of her, and in 1986 they moved from Nashville, Tennessee to St. Louis, Missouri. Larry was, I guess, a pimp, and Elizabeth was working for him.

Elizabeth disappeared on December 1, 1986, and wasn’t reported missing at the time. Cherie was reportedly seen with her stepfather in Kansas City, Missouri (a three-and-a-half-hour drive west of St. Louis) on January 7, 1987. But I don’t know how solid that sighting is, because the NCMEC has Cherie’s listed date and place of disappearance the same as her mom’s: December 1, 1986, from St. Louis. In any case, no one has seen Cherie since.

Elizabeth’s nude body was found two months later, washed up on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis. It wasn’t identified for seven years, because the police didn’t know she was missing. They made the connection after Elizabeth’s family reported her and Cherie as missing persons.

Larry, who is in prison on unrelated convictions until at least 2028, said Cherie was being cared for by his relatives and is living under an alias in the Kansas City area. Who knows if that’s true, though. If it is, a publicity campaign in Kansas City might lead to her location.

Elizabeth’s murder, and her daughter’s disappearance, are still unsolved. If Cherie is alive today, as Larry Vasser claims, she’d be 34.