Sorry for the recent silence

Yeah, I haven’t updated in a bit and I’m sorry. The last week has been super busy, mainly with wedding stuff. Michael and I are getting married Saturday.

I picked up my dress at the alterations place yesterday and it fits me perfectly. In my completely unbiased opinion I’m going to be the most beautiful bride in the world. There’s not going to be any honeymoon because of Covid. Michael will go back to work on Monday and so will I.

So, in lieu of Charley Project updates, here’s a sample of the more interesting recent missing and unidentified persons news:

  1. A woman whose body was found off Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California in 1981 has been identified as 26-year-old Lily Prendergast, who was last seen when she left her family’s Texas home in late 1980.
  2. John Michael Carroll disappeared from Victor, Idaho in 2005. His skeletal remains were found “in the general area” where he lived in 2013, and were identified this month.
  3. Hollis Willingham has been arrested in the murder of Jim Craig Martin, who disappeared from Normangee, Texas on August 6, 2007. It doesn’t look like Martin’s body has been found, however.
  4. Thomas Drew disappeared from Salisbury, Connecticut in 2007. He used to be on Charley but then his daughter asked me to remove the case. She didn’t like what I’d written, I guess. Anyway, he is still missing, and his daughter has recently published a memoir, Searching for My Missing Father: An American Noir. It sounds very interesting and I added it to my wishlist.
  5. Blackfeet Community College, in corroboration with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, has launched a website to help streamline missing persons reports of Native American people: “The website [linked here] allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement.”
  6. A woman’s torso found washed ashore in the seaside community of Benicia, California in 1979 has been identified as Dolores Wulff, who disappeared from Woodland, California that year. Dolores’s husband Carl Wulff Sr. had actually been charged with her murder in 1985, but the charge was dismissed later that year and he died in 2005.
  7. A skull found on Mount Hood in Oregon in 1986 has been identified as that of Wanda Ann Herr, who had left a Gresham, Oregon group home a decade earlier at the age of nineteen. No missing persons report was filed at the time and the most recent photo available showed her at age twelve. The police are asking anyone who knew Wanda or has any info on her 1976 disappearance to contact them.
  8. The police have identified a new suspect in the 1973 disappearance of Barbara Jean Aleksivich from Bath, New York. The suspect, Richard W. Davis, is now dead, but he was recently identified through DNA as the killer of Siobhan McGuinness, a Missoula, Montana six-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1974. Barbara, who was 24, was way out of Richard Davis’s preferred age range for victims, but he did live in Bath at the time Barbara disappeared. A previous suspect in her case, who still lived in the Bath area last I knew, has been cleared.
  9. The body of Ethan Bert Kazmerzak, who disappeared from Hampton, Iowa in 2013, has probably been found. At least they found his car submerged in a local pond, with human remains inside. The remains have been sent to the state medical examiner to be identified, but it’s highly unlikely it’s anyone but Ethan.

Stephanie Crane missing 27 years

Yesterday was the 27th anniversary of the disappearance and presumed abduction of Stephanie Lyn Crane, a nine-year-old girl from the tiny, rural town of Challis in central Idaho. I found multiple articles that commemorated the anniversary: this one from KVIV TV, this one from Idaho News 2, and this one from East Idaho News. None of them really have anything new, though I did add a new photo to Stephanie’s casefile, courtesy of The Abyss Podcast.

Stephanie’s family has had more than its fair share of tragedy. Her parents divorced after she disappeared and just a few years later her mother died of a blood clot. I think she was only in her thirties.

Per this article, her father took Stephanie’s younger sisters out of state to raise them “as normal kids” in a place where people didn’t automatically associate them with their sister’s abduction. He passed away in 2012 of a heart attack, nineteen years to the very day after Stephanie went missing. You can’t tell me that stress and grief wasn’t a factor.

Stephanie still has her sisters, though, and members of her extended family, who hope for answers in her case someday. It sounds like somebody just grabbed her. Imagine living in that tiny town wondering every day if it was one of your neighbors who did this. No wonder her dad moved.

We are almost the same age, her and I. If still alive, Stephanie would be 36 today.

MP of the week: Ashley Conroy

This week’s missing person of the week is really two people: both seven-month-old Ashley Nicole Conroy, whose name and photo are on the Charley Project’s frontpage, and her mom, Jennifer Lynn Conroy, who was only fifteen years old. They disappeared together from Kansas City, Missouri on December 14, 1993. Eleven days before Christmas.

There’s been very little said about this case from what I can find. Nothing in the newspaper archives. I wonder how long it took before the police finally stopped assuming Jennifer had just run away. Now, foul play is suspected in their cases.

Because so little information is available in the case, it’s hard to even speculate as to what happened. I do wonder about Ashley’s father, whoever he was. Jennifer was only fourteen when Ashley was conceived, and the age of consent in Missouri (at least at the present time) is seventeen. If Ashley’s father was older than seventeen, he could have gone to prison, which would have been an excellent motive for him to make both of them disappear. But I have no idea who the father was.

If anyone knew Jennifer, I’d love to have them post in the comments here. If still alive, Jennifer would be 42 today. Ashley would be 27.

Happy belated Independence Day (and griping, and missing persons news)

I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend. Mine was kind of terrible. We had a tiny party, four guests (Michael’s parents and two of his coworkers), and I wound up spending a lot of time hiding in the bedroom because I was so stressed by it all. And I was feeling like a failure in general, and wondering how I was going to pull off an entire wedding in October if I was freaking out from anxiety over four guests in my own house.

Of course, who knows if there will even BE a proper wedding in October the way COVID-19 is blazing through this country. I might wind up having to have a Zoom wedding ceremony because of the stupid government not listening to experts and not doing its job to contain the pandemic, and stupid people refusing to wear masks in public because mah rights and mah freedum. We could have been on par with Europe right now as far as flattening the curve goes, but nooooo, people have to be idiots.

(Of course I realize that my wedding is a very small thing in the grand scheme of things, and there are a lot of people out there who are suffering more than me as a result of COVID-19. That doesn’t make me any less angry.)

So some news from the missing persons world:

  1. Later this year, once Americans are allowed to travel to the EU again (assuming that ever happens), a private investigator, a former FBI agent and Annie McCarrick‘s uncle are going to Ireland to make another stab at solving Annie’s 1993 disappearance. (She is on the Charley Project because she was an American, though she disappeared on Irish soil.) They have a new theory about what happened, and have a suspect in mind. I don’t think it’s the same suspect the gardai (Irish police) have had their eye on. Neither person has been publicly identified.
    The gardai think a former IRA member may have killed Annie. He sounds like a nasty character and allegedly raped a twelve-year-old girl, and possibly other victims, and the IRA sent him out of the country so he wouldn’t get prosecuted. He went to the US; I’m not sure where he is now.
    I have wondered before why on earth the IRA would have assisted this man. To begin with, the twelve-year-old he allegedly raped was the daughter of another IRA member. And, though I don’t know much about the IRA, I know they had broad support among the ordinary people of Ireland, and it seems like that wouldn’t be the case if they routinely did things like try to help their child-rapist members escape prosecution. If any of you guys can provide some enlightenment on this, I’d appreciate it if you posted in the comments.
  2. They’ve created a park in Albuquerque, New Mexico in memory of the twelve victims of the still-unsolved West Mesa murders. I’ll say their names again: Jamie Caterina Barela, age 15; her 25-year-old cousin Evelyn JesusMaria Salazar; Monica Diana Candelaria, 21; Victoria Ann Chavez, 24; Virginia Cloven, 22; Syllannia, Terene Edwards, 15; Cinnamon Elks, 31; Doreen Marquez, 27; Julie Nieto, 23; Veronica Romero, 28; Michelle Valdez, 22; and Michelle’s unborn baby. All of the women, except Veronica, were on the Charley Project.
    There are quite a few young women still missing from Albuquerque, and some of them fit the same profile as the women whose bodies were found on the Mesa. I’ve got Nina Brenda Herron, Vanessa Reed, Christine Julian, Leah Rachelle Peebles, Anna Love Vigil and Shawntell Monique Waites, and possibly others.
  3. According to a private investigator, the authorities have a suspect in the 2001 disappearances of of ten-year-old Tionda Z. Bradley and her three-year-old sister, Diamond Yvette Bradley. (The girls disappeared 19 years ago today.) The article says there’s a solid circumstantial case against the suspect (who hasn’t been publicly identified) but prosecutors want some physical evidence, preferably a body, to bolster their case before they file charges against the person.

Oh, and although this isn’t strictly missing persons related, I highly recommend y’all check out this article about the woman who invented the rape kit. Hers was a fascinating and tragic story.

Wondering if they’re still missing

I was going through an archived 1972 issue of the Philadelphia Daily News that has an article about missing persons cold cases in the city. Almost all of them are people I have never heard of and I inevitably wonder if they are still missing.

Beverly Sharpman is still missing, as is Dorothy Forstein (though she’s not on Charley). Lydia Zayas had been missing for five years by the time the article ran. Minnie Seeds had been missing for seventeen years, William Molan for six years, and Domenick Caruso for ten years, and I have no idea whether any of them have been found.

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Native American Heritage Month: Delema Sits Poor

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Delema Lou Sits Poor, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared in 1974 from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She’s of Oglala Sioux heritage and her nickname in 1974 was Babe.

Pine Ridge is one of the poorest places in the entire U.S. and has numerous other socioeconomic problems. To quote from Wikipedia:

The population of Pine Ridge suffer health conditions, including high mortality rates, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, malnutrition and diabetes, among others. Reservation access to health care is limited compared to urban areas, and it is not sufficient. Unemployment on the reservation hovers between 80% and 85%, and 49% of the population live below the federal poverty level. Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewage systems; and many use wood stoves to heat their homes, depleting limited wood resources.

The exact date of Delema’s disappearance is no longer known with just uncertainty, just sometime in February that year. She reportedly disappeared while walking “on a back road Oglala to Manderson” in subzero temperatures. You might wonder how they know the temperature at the time she disappeared but not the date, but my guess that just about EVERY day in February in Pine Ridge, North Dakota is subzero.

According to Google Maps, there are two routes you can drive between Manderson and Oglala; one is shorter in distance, 23.5 miles, but takes an hour, and the 40.2 mile roundabout way is shorter to drive. Either one is a VERY significant distance for a child to walk in subzero temperatures. Why was she out that day? Was she running away from something, or to something?

It’s extremely sad that a twelve-year-old girl’s disappearance seems to have been forgotten about by the authorities, but it doesn’t surprise me all that much. The situation of missing and murdered indigenous women has only recently become a topic attracting national attention.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Yessenia Suarez, and Thalia and Elijah Otto

[Yeah, so this was supposed to go up yesterday but somehow it didn’t. I am putting it up now. My apologies.]

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is three cases: Yessenia Ivette Suarez, age 38, and her children, nine-year-old Thala Ivette Otto and eight-year-old Michael Elijah Otto, who was addressed by his middle name. They were last seen alive in Deltona, Floria on October 22, 2013.

We know what happened in this case, but this woman and children’s bodies have never been found. Luis Toledo, Yessenia’s husband and the children’s stepfather, murdered them in a horrific act of violence, then coerced a neighbor into helping him clean up the crime scene. After his arrest he tried to blame that same neighbor for the murders, but that didn’t go anywhere. For some reason, he was spared the death penalty when he was convicted.

It’s such a tragic story and such a waste. You might read it and think “if only Yessenia had pressed charges against him for the fight they had earlier that day” or “if only Yessenia had spent the night at her mom’s like she’d initially planned” and so on. But the real “if only” should be “if only Luis Toledo hadn’t done these awful things.”

In hearing stories about domestic violence people often ask why women stay. The real question ought to be why the men are so violent to them. Some people talk about anger management issues or whatever, but these men often have no problem controlling their anger in the workplace, with their friends, etc. It is a deliberate choice that they take it out on their wives and girlfriends.

Latest MP stuff in the news

So I wrote a blog entry on the WordPress app on my phone last night about latest missing persons news. But then the entry refused to upload, no matter how many times I tried to get it to. It wasn’t online at all, only on my phone, so I couldn’t even use my computer to upload it. Grr. Lot of time wasted. Now I will try my best to recreate it.

Some cold case missing persons have been resolved:

  • Edward “Ashton” Stubbs disappeared from Dickinson, North Dakota on June 17, 2013, a few days before his sixteenth birthday. He was from Texas and had gone up to North Dakota to stay with a cousin and work a summer job. He disappeared from his job site. Ashton’s skull was found on private property in Dickinson in December. It has just been identified. His death is under investigation.
  • Sheila Sherrell Franks, age 37, disappeared from Eureka, California on February 2, 2014. A woman of similar appearance, Danielle Bertolini, had disappeared a few days earlier, and people thought their cases might be connected. In 2015, Danielle’s skull was found in the Eel River. Now Sheila’s remains have been identified; her femur, or part of it, turned up in June, near the mouth of the Eel River. Unlike Danielle’s death, Sheila’s death has not (yet) been labeled a homicide, but it is considered “suspicious.”
  • Jo Anne Dolly Burmer has been identified, forty-six years after the 25-year-old disappeared in 1973. A fragment of her skull was found in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it was entered into the DNA database, and it wasn’t until now that there was a match. As nothing else has been found or is likely to be, probably we will never know what caused her death, but I wonder about exposure. This article is very detailed and talks about Jo Anne’s background and her son, who was put in foster care after her disappearance and later adopted by another family.

Some other news:

  • The police have a new lead on the possible identity of “Beth Doe”, a young pregnant woman who was raped and brutally murdered in 1976. Her body was dismembered, stuffed in three suitcases and thrown off a bridge into the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. They think it’s possible that Beth Doe may be Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz, a sixteen-year-old foster child who ran away. They’re trying to find relatives of this Maggie Cruz to get DNA from them to test. I think it’s a long shot.
  • Georgia “Nadine” Kirk‘s son Ted has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for stealing his mom’s Social Security benefits after her disappearance and presumed death. Nadine was 98 years old and in poor health in 2010, the last time anyone saw her. She was reported missing in 2015, and Ted was unable to explain her absence. It seems likely that she simply died of age-related natural causes and Ted, who hadn’t worked since 1980, disposed of her body and kept cashing her checks. Fifteen months in prison, and $30k restitution, seems light, given the circumstances, and the fact that $80k in total was taken from taxpayers. Nadine’s body has never been found.
  • Bernard Brown, the ex-boyfriend of Moreira “Mo” Monsalve, has been charged with her murder. Moreira disappeared from Hawaii in 2014. Her body hasn’t been found and they haven’t said much about the case against Brown, but it seems likely it’ll be circumstantial and possibly include cell phone ping evidence. Murder-without-a-body cases aren’t that common in Hawaii (or anywhere) but other examples include Bongak “Jackie” Koja in 1997, Masumi Watanabe in 2007, and of course Peter Kema in 2017.
  • Nancy Beaumont has died at age 92, 53 years after her children Jane, Arnna and Grant disappeared at the respective ages of nine, seven and four. The Beaumont children have never been found and their disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in Australia’s history. Their father, Grant “Jim” Beaumont, is alive, but is also in his nineties and I think it’s unlikely he will find answers on this side of the mortal plane.
  • The police have released a new sketch of one of Christine Eastin‘s abductors, based off of a recent witness description. I think that’s a reeaaaallly long shot. It’s a rough drawing, this witness’s memory is by now almost fifty years old, and at the time they apparently didn’t realize the significance of what they saw and so they probably took little notice of it. Christine disappeared in 1971 at the age of 19.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Marisela Pino

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Marisela Pino, who also may use the surname Pino-Vasquez or Vasquez-Pino. Marisela was eleven years old when she disappeared from Waterbury, Connecticut on March 20, 1993. She was last seen in the vicinity of a Nash’s Pizza & Groceries. The business, it seems, no longer exists, at least not under that name.

I found Cherry Street on Google Earth satellite view, but I don’t really know how to use Google Earth and I can’t figure out to access street view. Today, anyway, it appears to be in a working-class residential neighborhood. It may have appeared much different in 1993.

It bothers me that there is almost no information available on this case. Until recent years it wasn’t even listed with the NCMEC. I mean, this is a little girl, and it looks like this could well have been an abduction. By contrast, the unsolved disappearance of ten-year-old Bianca Lebron, a Hispanic child who went missing from Bridgeport, Connecticut eight years later, received a lot of media attention.

Does Marisela have a family? Do they still live in Connecticut? Perhaps there was a language barrier and that was a problem when her case came to getting the press attention it deserved?

Marisela has a possible scar on her left ankle, and a possible burn scar (described as “duck-shaped”) on her chest or abdomen. She was last seen wearing a black and gray jacket, a green and white shirt, jeans or a green denim skirt, white socks and blue shoes. If she is still alive today, she’d be 38 this month.

That’s all I know.

So, about competency for trial

After I shared an article on Charley’s Facebook page about how after years of psychiatric treatment and a second opinion, Catherine Hoggle is STILL mentally incompetent to stand trial in the murders of her children Sarah and Jacob, someone was asking questions about what it meant to be competent or incompetent to stand trial, so I thought I’d talk about that cause probably more than one person doesn’t know.

Basically, in order to face a criminal trial in the U.S. you have to be mentally capable of defending yourself. The barrier to this is not very high; you can have low intelligence and be severely mentally ill and still be competent to stand trial.

You have to know the basics of what a trial is, and the roles of everyone involved: the state says you broke X Law, the prosecutor is against you, the defense attorney is for you, the judge makes sure the trial is fair and legal, the witnesses tell what they know and the jury decides if you are in fact guilty of breaking X Law. A child could be made to understand these things.

You also have to be capable of working with your defense, and this part is what causes problems for people like Catherine Hoggle, who is incompetent to stand trial because of her mental illness.

Now, Catherine has schizophrenia and every psychiatrist who has tested her competency over the last few years, including the one the government recently hired for a second opinion on the matter, agrees she is not competent to stand trial but with treatment could become competent in the future. (She has recently been prescribed Clozapine, the last-resort Holy Grail of antipsychotic drugs which can work wonders for treatment-resistant schizophrenia.)

Speaking hypothetically here, if you are very intelligent and understand the mechanics of a trial and the roles of everyone involved, but you have a severe schizophrenic delusion that your defense attorney is actually an alien from the Planet Zog who only wants your brain for the Zog beings’ Museum of Humanoid Anatomy and will suck out your brain through your esophagus if you so much as part your lips in the attorney’s presence, obviously this is going to present severe problems in building your defense. If you genuinely believe your defense attorney is not actually on your side and only wants to steal your brain for alien naturalists to gawk at in a museum, you’re not going to be able to work with your attorney to come up with a defense in your upcoming murder trial. And the Constitution says the government can’t put you on trial if you are incapable of defending yourself.

So in order to make you competent, the government puts you in a secure psychiatric facility and has psychiatrists and therapists and other mental health clinicians treat you in hopes that you will eventually become well enough to cast aside the whole “Planet Zog wants my brain” delusion at least in part. The goal is just to get you to be able to talk to your defense and assist them in whatever strategy they’re going to use to defend you, and to know what’s going on with the trial and potential consequences.

So that’s my TED Talk on mental fitness for trial. Hope you found it illuminating.