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.
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.
I find the disappearance of best friends Mark Anthony Degner and Bryan Andrew Hayes puzzling and troubling. They’ve been missing from Jacksonville, Florida since February 1, 2005 — twelve years, nearly twelve and a half.
At first the circumstances of the boys’ cases look pedestrian enough: they were living in a group home, told friends they were going to run away, and apparently did just that. They were even sighted in Holly Hill, a small town south of Jacksonville on the Florida coast, two months later.
The boys, at just twelve (Mark) and thirteen (Bryan), were extremely young to have been gone this long. Bryan had run away before, but never for longer than a day, and Mark had no history of running away. Furthermore, they were developmentally delayed, functioning on the level of seven- to ten-year-old children, and both suffered from bipolar disorder.
How could they have remained off the map this long? Did the boys meet with foul play? If they’re still alive, why haven’t they resurfaced and who’s helping them stay hidden? Were relatives investigated? Were some member or members of the boys’ families unhappy that they were living in a group home? Or is it possible they fell victim to sex trafficking? Due to their disabilities. I should think they would have been extremely vulnerable to any kind of exploitation — even more so than most runaways.
The case reminds me of Clayton Lynn McCarter and Rodney Michael Scott, who ran away from a Bowling Green, Kentucky children’s home three and a half years ago and still haven’t been found. They were almost the same age: fifteen and thirteen. Clayton was developmentally delayed and had psychiatric issues, just like Mark and Bryan, and there’s a good chance Rodney had similar problems though I don’t know that for sure. I’m not suggesting McCarter/Scott disappearances are related to Mark and Bryan’s, though, given the distance in both time and space.
So what do you think happened to Mark Degner and Bryan Hayes? Let’s talk about it.