Y’all might have noticed that now, in cases where there’s a date of birth available, the computer automatically calculates what the MP’s current age would be.
It’s kind of eerie for me. Like, I was touching up Breiton Ackerman‘s casefile and noticed: my god, this kid would be 18 now. Graduating high school, off to college or the workforce or the Army or wherever life would have taken him. But instead he’s four forever.
I forget who suggested this, but I promised to do a Select It Sunday for Timmothy James Pitzen, who disappeared from Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin on May 12, 2011 at the age of six. He is missing under unusual circumstances.
Timmothy’s mom, Amy Fry-Pitzen, signed him out of kindergarten and took off with him without telling his dad. They went to the zoo, then to two resorts before checking into a hotel in Rockford, Illinois. The next morning the hotel staff found Amy dead; she’d taken her own life. There was no sign of Timmothy. Amy left notes saying he was being cared for, but she didn’t say where he was or who was taking care of him.
Investigators believe Amy may have been planning her son’s disappearance for months. As to where he is, or if he’s still alive, nobody seems to know.
Chosen by Tara H., this case is Erica Nicole Baker, a nine-year-old who disappeared from Kettering, Ohio on February 7, 1999. Kettering is a suburb of Dayton, and about an hour and a half south of the hamlet where I grew up.
Erica went out to walk her aunt’s dog and never returned. The dog was found running around unaccompanied with its leash still attached, and eventually got picked up by Animal Control, but there was no sign of Erica.
She has been missing for 18 years, but we pretty much know what happened: Christian Gabriel was convicted of evidence tampering and abuse of a corpse after he confessed to running over Erica with a van, panicking and then disposing of her body. There are two other suspects who were thought to have been in the van at the time, but one of them died and the grand jury declined to indict the other one. Gabriel, who has since been released from prison, has retracted his confession and nobody knows where Erica’s body is.
This week’s FF case is Natasha Marie Shanes, a six-year-old girl who was apparently abducted from her mother’s Jackson, Michigan home on May 8, 1985.
Although they never identified the abductor or found any bloodstains or the like, I’m pretty confident Natasha died around the time she was taken, because of her medical problems. She had a seizure disorder and needed medication for that. She was also slightly intellectually disabled and she had scoliosis, though to what degree I don’t know.
In the very unlikely event that Natasha is alive, she’d be 38 today.
Sometimes it seems like I don’t get a resolved case for a month and then suddenly get hit with a dozen at once. This next update will have five. So far. I’m linking to their casefiles but they won’t be up for much longer.
- Runaway Sualee Jeseenia Gonzalez Castro has been found alive, per NCMEC. She had been missing for two years and almost two months and is now 19 years old.
- Runaway Alondra Hernandez-Trujillo has also been found alive, per NCMEC. She had been missing for almost three years. She is now 18.
- Convicted murderer Thomas Riffenburg has confessed to the killings of his girlfriend, Jennifer Anne Walsh, and their son, Alexander Mitchell Riffenburg, who had been missing from Palmdale, California since January 9, 2009. Jennifer was 23 and Alexander was only a year old. This article provides a lot of background info about their cases, more than I have on Charley. Thomas provided hand-drawn maps to where he’d buried their bodies, and the cops found remains and are awaiting DNA confirmation of their identities. I think I’ll resolve their cases now; it’s highly unlikely they’re anyone but Jennifer and Alexander.
- A skull found in the woods 2001 has been identified as Ella Mae Williams, an 80-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease who wandered from her Gainesville, Florida home on March 25, 1990. (The article incorrectly gives her age as 78.)
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Charles Christopher “Christy” Francis, a seven-year-old boy who disappeared from Santa Ana, California on April 9, 1979. He’d gone to work with his dad that day. (I’m not sure why, cause it looks like it was a school day.) Dad delivered water tanks. Charles disappeared while waiting for his dad to pick him up.
There hasn’t been a lot of press about this, either back then or now, alas. The police had some suspicion that it might have been a custody matter, but they seem to have ruled that theory out.
This week’s featured missing person is Benjamin McLaurin-Johnson, a baby who disappeared from San Francisco, California on January 13, 1995. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about the case. He’s listed on NamUs but not on the NCMEC, although the NCMEC clearly made that AP photo of him, since it’s got their logo on it. I have no actual photographs of the boy or any information about the circumstances of his disappearance, other than that he was last seen with his babysitter. Is the sitter a suspect? A fellow victim? I have no idea.