Select It Sunday: Erica Baker

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.

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Flashback Friday: Natasha Shanes

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.

Some behind-the-scenes updates

Yeah, I’m sorry I’ve been kind of absent this month so far. I think I might have mentioned I’m taking some different medicine, cause my old medicine made me gain 40 pounds. This new medicine seems to work, as far as moods go, and I don’t think I’ve gained any more weight, but it’s interfering with my sleeping a lot. It seems like I can’t sleep more than four hours at a time. And four hours plus four hours does not eight hours make. I’ve been really tired and draggy and unable to accomplish much even when I’m awake.

Anyway, I am getting some stuff done today. I have:

Middle Name and Date of Birth Added

  1. Linda Lou Bean
  2. Nanette Evette Thomas
  3. Jacob Lewis Tipton

Date of Birth Added

  1. John Howard Friebely
  2. Adrian Genti Gokaj
  3. Pamela Diane Ingle
  4. Napoleon M. Ray
  5. Joe Saxton
  6. Chad Allen Scudder
  7. Lori Dee Wilson

Pictures Added

  1. David Antonio Cambray
  2. Maria Ann Monrean
  3. Kathy Pereira

AP Updated

  1. Amanda Alexandra Adlai
  2. Brittney Ann Beers
  3. David Michael Borer
  4. Bryan Keith Fisher
  5. Kyron Richard Horman
  6. Ayesha Faheem Khan
  7. Fatima Faheem Khan
  8. Sindy Jazmin Perez-Aguilar
  9. Jasmine Anne Marie Sajedi
  10. Stevey Howard Sommerville
  11. Vivian Aileen Trout
  12. Anna Christian Waters

Strike that, reverse it: murder-without-a-body cases

It has been brought to my attention that Walter Shannon Stevenson, whose case I resolved yesterday, has not been found after all. This article, from which I got the original information, has issued a retraction. A suspect, Jeffrey May, has been charged with his murder, but Walter’s case is currently a no-body homicide.

I hope the body turns up soon. In the meantime, I’ll remove the resolved notice and put up Walter’s casefile again with the next update (probably today).

And speaking of murder-without-a-body cases, it looks like the only indicted suspect in Katherine and Sheila Lyon‘s 1975 disappearances is about to plead guilty. Some articles:

This isn’t the end of the story — there’s another suspect who is also believed to have been involved — but it might be the beginning of the end.

As of this writing, the Corpus Delicti section of Charley — my three lists of murder-without-a-body cases currently on the website — has approximately 615 names. (I saw “approximately” because a few names are on more than one list due to multiple defendants and multiple outcomes. I wish I could find the outcomes for more of those cases on List Three, which surely must have been resolved by now.)

For more details about murder-without-a-body cases, I highly recommend you check out Tad DiBiase’s website (particularly this PDF) and book.

Let’s Talk About It: Tiffany Papesh

This week’s “Let’s Talk About It” is Tiffany Jennifer Papesh, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from Maple Heights, Ohio, in the Cleveland metro area, on June 13, 1980. She’d be 46 today if she is still alive, which is unlikely.

Tiffany’s case is one of the few murder-without-a-body cases where I believe the suspect, Brandon Flagner, may very well be innocent. He was convicted of murder but I really can’t see why. The only thing I can think of is his defense must have been very inadequate.

Flagner confessed to Tiffany’s kidnapping and murder something like 30 times, and he is definitely a serial child molester who had a history of threatening his victims — all young girls — with violence if they didn’t do what he said. Those confessions and his criminal history were, as far as I can tell, pretty much the entire case against him.

However…

Flagner also had an excellent alibi for the time of Tiffany’s abduction: he claims he was at work up until half an hour before Tiffany disappeared. Tiffany’s Charley Project casefile says Flagner’s workplace was 40 miles from where she disappeared; this source says 58 miles. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other: at either distance he wouldn’t have had the time to race over to Maple Heights and abduct the little girl.

Now, it’s true that by the time the police got around to asking, no one specifically remembered seeing Flagner at work that day. But his time card WAS stamped, and furthermore, he worked in a factory production line that needed a certain number of people — him included — to function properly. Since the factory was functioning just fine that day, that seems like a pretty strong indication that Flagner was exactly where he said he was.

The police investigating Tiffany’s disappearance, as well as Tiffany’s own family, think the way that I do, that Flagner is innocent (of this crime anyway) and someone else abducted her. The case is still open. You can see a lot of articles and stuff about Tiffany’s disappearance and Flagner’s conviction here. He made headlines again about ten years ago when he claimed the Ohio Department of Corrections violated his religious rights by forcibly cutting off his beard (he had converted to Orthodox Judaism while in prison).

Flagner comes up for parole in 2019. Given his background as a serial child molester and his insistence that he’s innocent of Tiffany’s murder, I highly doubt he’ll get released then.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the man himself. I think he’s a danger to the community and belongs behind bars, but not for this reason. And as long as he sits in prison convicted of abducting and killing Tiffany Papesh, that means whoever DID abduct Tiffany is still out there.

So what happened here? Does anyone think Flagner is guilty? How did he get convicted in the first place, and how can this problem be fixed? If Flagner didn’t do this, who did? Let’s talk about it.

Sigh, there are things people should know

I read a really long article that was recently published about a nearly twenty-year-old case of a missing child and learned a lot about her case that I hadn’t previously known. Not so much the details of disappearance, mind. There isn’t much: she just vanished into thin air basically, there are no leads and no suspects, and if anyone saw anything they’re not talking.

What I learned was some crucial physical/medical information. Such as the following:

  1. She had a malfunctioning bladder and, at the age of eight, still had to wear Pull-Ups (disposable, absorbent underpants which are normally worn by toddlers in the toilet training stage).
  2. Her kidneys didn’t work right either and she’d had to have surgery on them at least once. (I spoke to a relative on Facebook and she told me more details about this, saying the right kidney was underdeveloped from birth.)
  3. One of her kneecaps was out of place and she had to wear a leg brace as a result. (The relative I spoke to confirmed she was still wearing the leg brace when she disappeared.)
  4. Because of her state of health, the police don’t think she would have survived to adulthood without continuing medical treatment.

But what I want to know is: where was this information before now? The girl is listed on both the NCMEC and NamUs and neither source says doodly squat about any of this. In fact it never came out at all before now, as far as I can determine.

If you ask me, it should have. This is pretty important information. I mean, if they find a body somewhere, an eight-year-old girl wearing Pull-Ups, that would be a huge thing right away. And if they find skeletal remains with no clothes or anything left, there’s that thing with the kneecap.

People need to KNOW these things. They shouldn’t have to wait almost 20 years for this information to come out.

Wasn’t expecting this

I got an NCMEC message in my email saying Aleacia Di’onne Stancil has been found alive. This comes as a most unexpected surprise. Frankly, I had not expected her to be found at all, never mind found alive. The police were outright admitting they had no idea where to look for her.

The NCMEC, of course, offers no details, and as of this writing, there’s nothing in the news. I’d love to know the circumstances under which Aleacia, who would now be 23 years old, was located, and what sort of woman she’s become. I’m hoping she was properly raised and is in college or something like that. It seems like the odds are against her growing into a functional young adult, but we can hope, right?

I’ve got a case, one of my “foul play is suspected but few details are available” cases, involving a toddler who disappeared in the eighties. A relative emailed me to say the child’s mother sold it for drugs. I don’t doubt this information, but I wasn’t able to confirm it with any official source so it’s not in the casefile, just in my head. In a way I hope that kid WAS sold for drugs, because if it was, maybe it’s still alive.

I often wonder about the little babies on my site who disappeared ages ago and are presumed to be still alive — I wonder what they’re like now. Alexis Manigo/Kamiyah Mobley and Nejra Nance/Carlina White seem to have turned out all right in spite of being raised by their abductors. Aleacia’s mother struggled with drug addiction and was murdered a year after her daughter disappeared; it’s entirely on the cards that whoever raised Aleacia was able to provide a more stable home environment than she could have gotten from her biological family. But the circumstances of Aleacia’s disappearance aren’t that clear and I’m not sure if she was, in fact, abducted.

I hope there’s something in the news soon. I’m happy to learn this baby lived to grow into a woman.