MP of the week: Rene Perez

This week’s featured missing person is Rene Perez Jr., who disappeared with his mom, Cecilia Elizabeth Newball, from Los Angeles in 1994. Rene was six years old; Cecilia was thirty-two.

Cecilia’s husband of one year, Alfredo (who is not Rene’s father) claims Cecilia and Rene simply left one day and never came back. Cecilia left a goodbye-card and her wedding and engagement rings, and Alfredo got a typewritten letter a few days later. The letter said Cecilia (who is originally from El Salvador) was moving to Honduras with a guy named Arturo.

However, foul play is suspected in their cases. Cecilia was eight months pregnant, and women don’t usually pick that time to make major life changes or travel internationally. Furthermore, all of her and Rene’s belongings were left behind, including Cecilia’s car, their clothes and Rene’s glasses.

Some general questions that occur to me with the info that’s available:

  1. Did Cecilia and Rene’s passports disappear with them? Did Rene even have a passport?
  2. Was there any record of either of them leaving the United States?
  3. Did Cecilia even know how to type? Did she usually type her letters?
  4. Did Alfredo own a typewriter? If so, did the police check and see if it had been used to write that letter?
  5. Was Rene’s father a presence in their lives, and has he been ruled out as a suspect?
  6. Does Alfredo have a criminal record or a history of violence towards women?

If he’s still alive, Rene would now be 30 years old. I think he’s probably still six. And I don’t think his younger sibling was ever born.

Thoughts on updates of 3/18

Done 26 updates for today — so far. It’s only ten a.m. I’ve been working since around midnight and enjoying every minute of it.

I found a decent amount of information on baby Matthew Crocker‘s 1983 abduction. If there had been an Amber Alert back then, perhaps he would have been found.

The abductor claimed she had two children who died shortly after birth, which could go a long way towards explaining why she took Matthew. I’m not sure if the car was ever located. Anyway, the night there was a party at the house, and the adults all got drunk — except, perhaps, this “Kathy Johnson” person — and after everyone passed out she made off with the baby.

Chances are he’s alive and doesn’t know he’s missing. That concave chest is a good identifier. I wonder if there’s a guy out there, 35 out there, who isn’t sure who he is, who’s got a bit of a dent in his chest.

Keith Fleming‘s disappearance strikes me as so sad. That silky hair and those dark earnest eyes. Just a good-looking boy growing up into a young man. Having fun surfing, riding his bike, his first hit of weed, his first girlfriend — he gave her her first kiss the very night he disappeared.

I wonder if McRae really was involved, though. I mean, that would make the most sense, yes. But he knew Charles Collingwood and Kipling Hess; police were never able to prove he knew Keith, except perhaps by sight. And McRae’s wife said he told her he’d killed Charles and Kipling, but she didn’t say anything about Keith.

So, monster though McRae may have been, I’m not 100% sure he was the monster responsible for Keith’s disappearance. Though whatever happened to Keith must have been bad.

So was is whatever it was that happened to Andrew Dudley. NO ONE is going to literally run away while their Thanksgiving dinner is literally cooking in the kitchen.

Lloyd Gilsdorf‘s mom believed he was set up to be murdered. I think if that was the case it had to have been someone he knew. This was a pretty elaborate scheme if the aim was just to lure him to New Orleans so someone could kill him. Robbery couldn’t have been a motive; he was divorced, unemployed and broke.

I tried to be all professional-like when describing the circumstances of Rebecca Powell‘s death, but…wow. It filled me with some pretty unpleasant mental images, and that’s just reading the sanitized newspaper version. No wonder the trial testimony made a juror throw up.

I can’t say I think highly of any of the three men in that story. They all sounded like absolute scum, including the roommate who didn’t find out what happened till the next day but kept his mouth shut and pitched in to destroy evidence.

It doesn’t really seem fair that Fleming could have gotten a death sentence when his friend (who, by his own admission, witnessed the crime, didn’t report it, and helped clean up the scene and hide the body) got off scot-free, but of course without that friend’s testimony there would have been no case.

And that contractor in the Dock Thompson case sounds totally shady. I was surprised when I looked him up in the Florida DOC database and didn’t find him anywhere — I would have figured he’d have ended up in prison for SOMETHING after 1989, but he didn’t, at least not in Florida.

Well, spit and slime

Yeah, so a mistrial has been declared in the Jahi Turner case. The jury could not reach a verdict — they deadlocked at ten (for acquittal) to two (for conviction of second-degree murder).

This irks me to no end. I cannot understand how this happened. Of course, I wasn’t there, I didn’t see the trial, so there’s no way for me to know. Circumstantial cases are always difficult, as are murder-without-a-body cases, and this was both.

A mistrial is never a good thing for anyone involved in a murder case. For the state, it means having to spend money and manpower and resources to do the whole thing over again. For the defendant, it’s more time — often years — stuck in limbo, and often in jail, as the case awaits its conclusion. For the family of the victim, it’s more time without closure, without justice, in another kind of limbo.

If he was still alive, Jahi would now be eighteen years old. A young man, in his final term of high school, about to graduate and go out into the world. But I’m quite sure his life ended at two.

I hope they try the case again and do a better job of it this time.

Recommended Reading III

So I found this two-and-a-half-year-old blog about the 1978 disappearance of Christopher William Vigil, a nine-year-old whom I assumed had simply gotten lost while hiking with his family in the Poudre Canyon in Colorado.

Having looked at this blog, however, Chris’s case is starting to look more and more like an abduction. I have dutifully updated his casefile with info from the blog, but invite readers to have a look at the source, which has more details.

Black History Month: Zaden McKnight

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 Zaden Alexander McKnight, a four-year-old boy who disappeared from Dayton, Ohio on March 25, 2014. Zaden went missing with his mother, Nichelle. Nichelle’s body was found near the Stillwater River two and a half weeks later. She’d been murdered.

Zaden is presumed murdered too, and the police are pretty sure what happened and who did it. Antwan Anderson, Nichelle’s ex-boyfriend, and Tonisha Harris, another woman Anderson had dated, are the prime suspects in the cases.

Neither of them have been charged in connection with the actual homicides, but Harris was imprisoned for using Nichelle’s bank card and later for evidence tampering, abuse of a corpse and failure to report a crime.

Black History Month: Emmanuel Kalief Birts

February is Black History Month. I got the idea to use the month to showcase some of the African-American MPs on the Charley Project. I thought maybe I should focus on the cases that didn’t get a lot of media attention, but that would be practically all of them — black missing people, and black crime victims in general, really tend to get ignored by the mainstream media.

Anyway, this blog is going to profile one missing black person per day for the entire month of February. The first is little Emmanuel Kalief Birts, who was abducted from his mother’s Dallas, Texas home on September 14, 1989, at the age of just five weeks.

The woman who took him claimed to be a social worker named Debra Manning and she was nothing if not brazen: she actually visited Emmanuel’s house and spoke with his family a total of FOUR TIMES.

The first time was on September 12, when she told them Emmanuel needed to be tested for HIV. “Manning” returned on September 13 with a letter, supposedly from the Child Welfare Department, that authorized her to take the baby away for testing. His mom, Kisha, wanted to go along, so “Manning” made an excuse and said she’d be back the next day. The next day she showed up, but didn’t have a car seat, so she said she’d go and get one. She came back with the car seat, whisked Emmanuel away and never returned.

The case made the local papers in Dallas, but quickly dropped out of the public eye, and I haven’t found anything in the news since 1990. He did eventually get added to NamUs, but only in 2014, and he wasn’t put on the NCMEC until sometime after that.

Both of Emmanuel’s parents have since tested negative for HIV. There’s no reason to believe he isn’t still alive out there, perhaps even still in Dallas, living his life with no idea he’s a missing person. He would now be 28 years old.

There’s a current-age thingy now

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.