Have heard the news about Melissa Highsmith

According to everybody, Melissa Suzanne Highsmith, a toddler who was abducted by a phony babysitter from her family’s Fort Worth, Texas home in 1971, has been found alive and well and has reunited with the Highsmith family. She had been living under the name Melanie Warren.

This is obviously terrific news. She had been missing for 50 years, 51 years in August!

I am going to wait on official police confirmation on this because past hoax “finds” have made me wary. But it is really awesome news. Her family will have her home for Christmas.

MP of the week: Sabrina Aisenberg

This week’s featured missing person is Sabrina Paige Aisenberg, who was abducted from her crib in Valrico, Florida on November 24, 1997, aged just four months old.

Her parents were subsequently charged with some stuff in the case, but the charges were dropped after it turned out there was basically no actual evidence against them. And there the matter rests.

I know there’s been a lot of suppositions and stuff bandied about on the internet about this case. I once spoke to a man who had been posting a certain photo of a young woman on social media, claiming she was an adult Sabrina. The police had already looked into the matter and told the man she was not Sabrina, but he kept posting the picture and making this untrue claim. I figured if someone was doing that with my photo, I’d want to know about it, so I contacted the woman and told her what was going on. She was horrified.

I doubt Sabrina’s parents were actually involved in the case at all. It seems more likely that the baby was kidnapped by someone who wanted to raise her, or by someone who wanted to sell her for adoption purposes.

Sabrina, if still alive — and there’s really no reason to think she isn’t — would be 25 years old today. She has some Y-shaped marks on her shoulder which might be used to identify her as an adult.

Haleigh Cummings’s dad released from prison

Ronald Cummings, the father of Haleigh Cummings who disappeared from her home in 2009 at age 5, has been released from prison. He had been serving a fifteen-year sentence for drug trafficking. His now ex-wife, Misty, who was watching Haleigh on the night she disappeared (Ron was at work) is serving 25 years for the same offense.

I had always thought that those drug sentences were very severe, and wonder if they were mandated sentences left over from the “get tough on drugs” years in the 90s. I mean, 15 years, 25 years for selling some pills on the street? You can get less time than that, sometimes, for MURDER.

There had been hope that the drug defendants would try to cut their sentences down by offering information on Haleigh. But this never materialized.

With Misty, anyway, there’s a sense that she was sentenced for the wrong crime: if she didn’t outright cause Haleigh’s disappearance, she knows what happened and isn’t saying. But that’s not how things are supposed to work in this country. You’re supposed to be sentenced for the crime you were found guilty of, and ONLY that crime.

In any case, Ron’s release got Haleigh’s name back in the news where it hadn’t been in quite awhile. Maybe something will come of that. I’ve blogged about Haleigh numerous times, but the last time was over ten years ago.

There’s a four-episode podcast about Haleigh, by the way. I haven’t listened to it so can’t comment on the quality.

Read a book about an old missing persons case

So the other night I read Pearl: Lost Girl of White Oak Mountain by Bill Yates, about the 1923 disappearance of three-year-old Pearl Turner from rural Arkansas. In spite of a widespread search and many false leads, she was never found. The book does a pretty good job telling the tale of her disappearance, and the author’s conclusions as to what happened are at the end.

Unfortunately I can’t add Pearl to Charley. I’m not sure I would anyway, given that the case is close to 100 years old and no one is investigating it anymore. (I mean, I did add the quite similar case of Hickle “Dick” Ware, but he disappeared fifteen years after Pearl did and I had a law enforcement agency for the case.) But I can’t because there are no photos of Pearl available. The little girl on the cover of the book isn’t her, only a child who strongly resembled her and was for awhile thought to be her.

I think Pearl just never had any pictures taken of her. She came from a sharecropper’s family and was one of several children. Portraits were probably an unaffordable luxury to them. (Sharecroppers were people who had no land of their own and farmed someone else’s land in exchange for a portion of the crop they produced. They were very poor.)

It’s not too bad a book anyway, especially if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited and can read it free with your subscription.

I haven’t been feeling very well. Right now my bipolar pendulum has got me in a depressive fit, and even knowing it’s just my brain not working right does not make it feel any better. I’m struggling to get much of anything done. Even standard activities of daily living.

MP of the week: Julie Englehart

This week’s featured missing person is Julie Danielle Englehart, a 47-year-old woman who disappeared with her husband, John Wade Roberts, also 47, and their daughter, 9-year-old Brooke Addison Roberts, from Hesperia, California in October 2019.

Julie called a relative on October 6 and said she’d found a job and the family was in the process of moving. She said she’d call back the next day, but never did, and no one saw or heard from her or her husband or child again. They weren’t reported missing until 2021.

That’s all the info there is to report, unfortunately. The family was just… gone.

If still alive, Julie and John would be fifty years old today and Brooke would be twelve. I hope they’re still alive.

I’ll be out of Facebook Jail in a week. Here’s some more news.

From California:

  • They’re still looking for Khrystyna Carreno, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Bakersfield in November 2020. (The article spells her name “Khrystina” but the NCMEC and CDOJ spell it “Khrystyna” so I’m going to go with that.) I don’t have her on Charley but figure I should add her. Twelve is very young, obviously, and she’s been missing for a year and a half now. I hope she’s alive and hasn’t been trafficked. Here’s Khrystyna’s NCMEC poster.

From Florida:

From Georgia:

  • They have finally identified the little boy whose corpse was found outside Atlanta over 20 years ago. His name was William DaShawn Hamilton and he was six years old when he was murdered. William was never reported missing. His mother, Teresa Ann Bailey Black, has been charged with felony murder, cruelty to children, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another.

From Michigan:

  • They’re still looking for Kathy Sue Wilcox, a 15-year-old girl last seen in Otsego in 1972. She got into an argument with her parents over an older boy she was dating, stomped out angrily and was never seen again. Kathy would be 65 today. Kathy’s sister does not believe she ran away, and made reference to a “significant antisocial person who was in [Kathy’s] life,” whom she thinks could have been involved.

From Minnesota:

  • Remains found in Rosemount in 2014 have been identified as James Everett, a New York man who was not listed as missing. They do not know the cause or manner of death, but they believe Everett died sometime in the autumn months of 2013. I wonder if he died of exposure; Minnesota can get very cold, and I doubt a “decommissioned railroad utility shed” would have heat or insulation.

From New Hampshire:

  • They’re still looking for 15-year-old Shirley Ann “Tippy” McBride, last seen in Concord in 1984. Although there haven’t been any new developments, the article talks about the case in great detail.
  • They’re still looking for Maura Murray, and are searching an unspecified “area in the towns of Landaff and Easton.” This search isn’t based on any new info, though, they’re just shooting in the dark.

From New York:

  • They’re trying to find Judith Threlkeld, a 22-year-old woman who disappeared from Chautauqua County in 1976. She was last seen walking home from the library. I added the case to Charley yesterday.

From North Dakota:

  • Check out this awesome in-depth three-part series on the 1996 disappearances of Sandra Mary Jacobson and her son, John Henry Jacobson: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 (this last part is paywalled, but I was invested enough to fork over two bucks for a subscription). Very mysterious case. I feel terrible for Sandra’s older son, Spencer: he lost his mom and half-brother, literally, and later on his father was murdered, and neither of these cases have been solved. A few years after the murder of Spencer’s father, Spencer’s wife died tragically young at 24, from strep throat of all things, leaving him a young widower with three kids. Poor Spencer has had enough bad luck to last a lifetime.

From Ohio:

  • They’re still looking for Charles King Blanche, a 39-year-old man who disappeared from his Youngstown group home in 1991. Blanche’s cousin says he was a very talented musician who was recruited to tour in Europe in a marching band, but his life kind of cratered after he developed an unspecified severe mental illness. An all-too-common story on the Charley Project.

From Texas:

  • It’s being reported that sometimes when Texan foster kids run away, the agencies just wash their hands of them and end their guardianship over them. This sounds terrible, but given how often foster agencies fail their wards, and given as it’s Texas where they can’t even keep the lights on, I’m not entirely surprised.
  • Using genetic genealogy, they have identified a Jane Doe whose partial remains were found south of Midland in 2013. The victim was Sylvia Nicole Smith, who disappeared in 2000 at the age of sixteen. The case is being investigated as homicide.

From Virginia

  • Cory Bigsby, the father of four-year-old Codi Bigsby, has been indicted on thirty counts, the majority of them child neglect charges. Codi has been missing since January. None of the indictments are related to his disappearance; they’re connected to Cory’s allegedly terrible parenting from prior to Codi’s disappearance. Codi has not been missing long enough to go up on Charley, so here’s his NCMEC poster, and here’s another poster for him.

From Washington state:

  • There are forty known Native American people listed as missing from the Yakima area. And here’s a list of all the Native Americans listed as missing from the entire state.

From Washington DC:

  • They’re still looking for Relisha Tenau Rudd, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from a Dickensian homeless shelter in 2014. I’ve blogged about Relisha several times, as recently as earlier this week when they put up a new AP for her. If still alive, Relisha would now be 16. Here’s another detailed article about her case, with links to the earlier series of articles the Washington Post did about it.

And in general:

  • Although they don’t drop kids from the guardianship rolls when they disappear, in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Illinois, most missing foster kids who resurface are not screened to see if they were trafficked during the time they were gone. The article says Texas actually has a better record in this regard, with over 80% of missing-and-then-located foster kids being screened. But the number should ideally be 100%.
  • My husband has persuaded me to finally turn the Charley Project into an official registered nonprofit organization. Right now we’re saving up the money to pay a lawyer to file the paperwork to do this though it’s going to be awhile at this rate; money is super tight right now. If the Charley Project is a registered nonprofit, all donations will become tax-deductible and also the organization could become the recipient of grants. I’d use the grants to travel to more missing persons events, and pay the subscription fees for more databases to use in researching cases, and maybe hire an editor or something.

New age-progression for Relisha Rudd just dropped

So I just put up a new age-progression for Relisha Tenau Rudd, last seen in Washington D.C. in 2014 at the age of eight. The AP shows her as she might appear at her current age of 16.

I don’t normally make whole new blog entries just for one AP, but I have a particularly soft spot for Relisha as it seems every adult and every institution she came across in her short life, failed her miserably.

Since I’m in Facebook Jail again, here’s the news

Facebook didn’t like a meme I posted — despite the fact that it’s elsewhere on Facebook — and gave me 30 days in jail. But then they changed their minds and decided the meme is okay after all, but forgot to remove my 30-day sentence. Shrug. It is what it is. Facebook is broken.

In California:

  • The biological parents of Classic and Cincere Pettus, later known as Orson and Orrin West, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state of California, alleging the state wrongfully removed the Pettus boys from a safe home and placed them with the people who have since been charged with their murders.

In Massachusetts:

In Michigan:

In Minnesota:

  • There’s a new podcast about the disappearance of Joshua Cheney Guimond, a St. John’s University student who disappeared from the university’s Collegeville, Minnesota campus in 2002.

In New Hampshire:

  • They’re still looking for Harmony Montgomery, and her father Adam’s lawyers have asked for police body cam footage of his arrest. Adam is charged with abusing Harmony prior to her disappearance, and with failure to report her missing. A little over a week ago the police searched Harmony’s old apartment and removed items, including a refrigerator. My guess would be they’re checking anything large enough to conceal a five-year-old child’s body.

In New York:

  • On this coming Saturday, the New York City Medical Examiner is holding an event to publicize missing persons in NYC. At the event, the ME’s office will accept “will accept any voluntarily shared information, like photos and DNA samples to help identify missing people.”

In South Carolina:

  • They interviewed the lead investigator in Shelton John Sanders‘s disappearance and presumed murder, asking him why they were unable to get convictions in that case. The investigator still thinks the suspect in guilty.
  • They have identified remains found at a recycling plant as Duncan Gordon, a missing man. He was last seen sitting on top of a shredding machine, and “a substance that looked like ground up flesh” was later found in that machine. Sounds awful; I hope it was quick. I’m predicting Gordon’s family files a lawsuit and OSHA hands out fines for this.

In Virginia:

In Washington state:

  • Othram has identified two more unidentified bodies: they are Blaine Has Tricks, who disappeared in 1977, and Alice Lou Williams, who disappeared in 1981. I know with Alice they got some help from the Charley Project; I know because the guy who owns Othram told me so.

In Canada:

  • They’re still looking for Vernon George Martin, who disappeared in 2009 after a fire at the airport hangar he co-owned. He could be missing or he could be on the run, as he’s wanted for sex offenses.

In New Zealand:

In the UK:

  • The father of Claudia Lawrence, who disappeared in 2009, died in February, and in his will he left £10,000 to a charity for missing persons.
  • They found Michael Anthony Lynch, a man who had been missing for 20 years. It appears he drove his car into Lough Erne, near Corradillar Quay, in Northern Ireland.

Where There Is Evil

I wanted to drop a book recommendation: Sandra Brown’s memoir Where There Is Evil. Sandra’s dad, Alexander Gartshore, is the prime suspect in the notorious 1957 disappearance of Moira Anderson. It’s one of the most notorious child disappearances in Scottish history.

Sandra is the one who turned him in after he made suspicious comments about Moira’s disappearance to her in 1992. She was already somewhat aware by then what sort of man her father was, and when she investigated his background she learned he molested numerous young girls, including all her girl cousins. She already knew he molested her friends when she was little, because he wasn’t very discreet about it and would do it right in front of her. She was too young to know what she was looking at, at the time.

Mind you, Sandra shouldn’t have had to turn in her dad. The police should have been onto him from the start. Alex Gartshore was, at the time of eleven-year-old Moira’s disappearance, out on bond awaiting trial for the rape of his children’s thirteen-year-old babysitter. Furthermore, Alex was a bus driver on the job on the night Moira disappeared, and Moira was last seen (as far as anyone knows) at a bus stop.

The fact that the police did not investigate him, didn’t so much as interview him one time, is suggestive of either corruption, or incompetence so extreme it might as well be corruption. The only thing Sandra can think of is that her dad belonged to a certain social club whose local membership was 90% cops, and so they covered for him.

Others covered for him as well. Sandra found out, post 1992, that her grandfather had suspected his son in Moira’s case and gone so far as to search various places associated with Alexander, ripping up floorboards even, trying to find Moira’s body. But he never went to the police with his suspicions. Or if he did, they were not noted down in the file due to the previously mentioned corruption/incompetence.

And when Sandra told her family she thought Alex had killed Moira Anderson and she was going to police, many of them were not exactly thrilled about it and some of them got extremely angry at her. Not because they thought Alex was innocent really — they all knew what sort of man he was, like I said he wasn’t discreet — but because of being embarrassed and not wanting the public to connect Alex with them. It was a small town, you see, and Alex and his relatives were the only people in it with his highly distinct surname.

The book is about Sandra’s childhood with such a father, then the 1992 revelation and search for answers and justice. It is well worth a read.

MP of the week: Mayra Sandoval

This week’s featured missing person (so sorry it’s late, been failing at life lately) is Mayra Erisuria Sandoval, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Sarasota, Florida on January 10, 2006. She was seeing getting off the school bus, but didn’t attend school that afternoon and never returned home. A week later she called home and said she was okay and still in the US, but didn’t say where she was or who was with her.

This may be a case where the missing person has actually gotten in touch with family but the police have not been notified of this. It happens sometimes that families of missing people sometimes lose contact with law enforcement. It seems more likely in this instance because after Mayra went missing, it came out that her family was living in the US illegally and they were asked to leave go back to Mexico. If they did go back, perhaps Mayra (who is also believed to be in Mexico) contacted them.

Her case is classified as a runaway by all agencies including the Charley Project, but when it comes to a preteen child and a “male acquaintance who is in his twenties” it seems like abduction would be more appropriate. I don’t think anyone who convinces as twelve-year-old to run away from home has their best interest at heart. If she was in fact lured from her home by this “male acquaintance”, they may no longer be together. Sixteen years is a long time.

If still alive, Mayra would be 29 years old today. She’s Hispanic, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was 5’1 and 130 pounds in 2006 but she’s probably grown since then. She was last seen wearing a light blue and beige sweatshirt with the word “Micky” on the front, blue jeans, white sneakers and a light blue backpack.