MP of the week: Melissa Espinoza

This week’s featured missing person (I’m sorry it’s late) is Melissa Ann Espinoza, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Rancho Cordova, California on December 2, 1993.

She was last seen hanging out at her old apartment complex; her family had moved after a fire. The complex was in a bad neighborhood and Melissa is considered missing under suspicious circumstances and a probable abduction victim, but no suspects have been made and one seems to know anything.

Later today, I’m off to the zoo. Perhaps I’ll run into CrimeBlogger1983 again.

Three more of Terry Rasmussen’s victims identified

It hit the news today (see here on Boston 25 news and here on the Daily Beast, among other places) that authorities have identified three of the four victims found in Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire.

It’s an infamous case. The bodies were found wrapped in plastic and electrical wiring, in two barrels, close to each other: one barrel was located in 1985, and another in 2000. One young woman, and three little girls, two of whom were shown by DNA to be her own daughters. They all died around the same time, sometime between 1977 and 1981.

Now, three of them have names: Marlyse Elizabeth Honeychurch and her daughters, Marie Elizabeth Vaughn and Sarah Lynn McWaters. They disappeared from California in 1978, shortly after Marlyse started dating Terrance Peder Rasmussen. Marlyse was then 24, and the girls were 7 (Marie) and 11 months (Sarah). It doesn’t look like they lived long afterwards.

Rasmussen is a very unusual serial killer, in that he formed romantic relationships with women and sometimes even had children by them before killing them. He committed his final murder in 2001, that of his wife Eunsoon Joon, and died in prison in 2010. At the time, his other crimes were mostly undiscovered.

Denise Beaudin, who disappeared in 1981 at age 23 and listed on Charley, is presumed one of his victims, but her body hasn’t been found. She had an infant daughter at the time of her disappearance (not Rasmussen’s kid), and that little girl was abandoned by Rasmussen in California in 1985. It was the best thing he ever did for her, because as a result she was raised by a good family and apparently doing well. She has chosen not to speak to the media or let her current identity be known.

The fourth person found in the barrels at Bear Brook State park is still unidentified, but DNA proved she’s Rasmussen’s biological daughter. She was a toddler, about two to four years old when she died. She may have Native American ancestry.

There’s a good chance the little girl’s mother is also dead. Rasmussen was arrested under the name Robert “Bob” Evans for minor charges in New Hampshire in 1980, and he had a woman living with him who called herself Elizabeth Evans and said she was his wife. Perhaps this is the mother of the child in the barrel.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Alexandria Suleski

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Alexandria Christine Suleski; her father is white and her mom is Korean. She disappeared from Radcliff, Kentucky on October 26, 1989, at the age of five.

What happened to her is known, and two people were convicted, but I don’t think it’s possible to recover her remains: supposedly the bones were crushed to crumbs.

I updated her case recently after reading Alexandria’s stepsister Nyssa’s self-published memoir, Dark Secret: The Complete Story: The True Account of What Happened to Little Alex Suleski. For a self-published book it’s pretty good, and it’s available on Kindle Unlimited. (Though you might want to skip the last hundred pages or so; the post-trial stuff dragged on and on and on.)

The book describes in vivid detail what life with Nyssa’s sociopathic mother was like, how her mother ultimately tortured and murdered Alex because she kept having potty accidents, and how Nyssa ultimately turned against her mother and testified against her in court.

Poor Alex was let down by every adult in her life. The best that can be said is that after her death, her siblings were all raised by good people, and her killers are both still in prison.

Incidentally, Alex was also a family abduction victim: her dad told her mom he was just taking her and her sister on a vacation, but never returned them, and within two months Alex was dead.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Kianna and Gunnar Berg

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is actually two cases, the missing siblings Kianna Joanna Berg and Gunnar David Berg.

The children, who are half white, half Japanese, were abducted by their mother, Naoko Numakami, from their Fairfax, Virginia home and taken to her native Japan. They were eight and nine years old at the time.

Naoko told Kianna and Gunnar’s father that she was just taking the kids to Japan for a vacation, but once in that country she refused to return them. He hasn’t seen them since.

Unfortunately for the kids’ father, it’s probably going to stay that way. I don’t know if there are ANY cases where the Japanese government actually agreed to return an internationally abducted child. I don’t think family courts, as such, really exist there.

Both kids are now over eighteen and could choose to go back to the US on their own if they like, but my guess is that like many family abduction victims, they’ve been alienated against their left-behind father.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Jenna Robbins

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Jenna Ray Robbins, a nine-year-old girl who disappeared from Killeen, Texas on May 14, 1989, thirty years ago yesterday. She is biracial, and of Korean descent on her mother’s side.

Jenna was playing with a six-year-old friend outside her family’s home when a young man driving a late model Dodge or Plymouth sedan stopped and tried to entice the two girls into his car. Jenna got in, but the other child ran away. Jenna has never been seen again and her abductor has not been identified.

She disappeared on Mother’s Day. I doubt she’s still alive, but with stories like Elizabeth Smart, Shawn Hornbeck, Jayme Closs, etc., I suppose there is always hope.

Stumbled across some info on Telethia Good’s disappearance

So I was reading David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets aka “the book that inspired the TV show The Wire” and discovered Telethia Good is mentioned in it, although not by name.

David Simon shadowed the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide unit for a year, from January to December in 1988, and wrote about the cases they solved, and didn’t solve. One of the most prominent homicides was that of Latonya Kim Wallace, an eleven-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted, stabbed and strangled.

The prime suspect is identified in the book only as “The Fish Man” (because he was a fishmonger). He knew Latonya Wallace and had a history of sexual assault and was just generally creepy, and there was some physical evidence that indicated he might have been involved. Obviously they didn’t have the kind of DNA testing thirty years ago that they have now, though.

The cops looked to see if they could connect the Fish Man to any other cases and at this point the book says that a nine-year-old girl who lived on Montpelier Street disappeared in 1979 and was never found, and she was “a dead ringer” for Latonya Wallace. The cops learn that the Fish Man’s business partner at that time lived on Montpelier Street and the Fish Man visited him there often. When they show the suspect a photo of the missing girl, he initially says he recognizes it, then backtracks and says he doesn’t.

In spite of the police’s best efforts, the Fish Man never confessed to Latonya’s murder, never mind Telethia’s case, and they couldn’t find enough evidence to prosecute him. According to the afterword in the book, he’s dead now.

I immediately checked on Charley to find a girl who matched the particulars of the missing child case in the book. Telethia disappeared in 1978, not 1979, and she was seven, not nine, but she did live on Montpelier Street and she does look quite a lot like Latonya Wallace.

I suppose I’ll add this info to her casefile. Shame I don’t know the Fish Man’s name. Now that he’s dead there’s no harm in releasing that info, I should think.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Chengxu and Zhaoxu Wang

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is actually two cases, the twins Chengxu Wang (male) and Zhaoxu Wang (female). They were five when they disappeared from Champaign, Illinois on February 7, 2015.

Per the NCMEC, the twins were abducted by their non-custodial mother. My guess is she’s taken them back to her country of origin, which my guess, based on the children’s names, would be China. Though it could be Singapore or Malaysia or any country where a lot of people are Chinese.

Anyway, if the children were victims of international family abduction, it’s unlikely they can be returned unless the mother chooses it. I don’t think China has signed the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. I’m not sure any Asian country has.