Random missing persons news

According to the New York Times, the rate of elderly missing persons is on the rise — mostly confused people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Furthermore, they are often incredibly difficult to find, according to the article, because they often try to avoid searchers and many of them don’t remember their own names and so they don’t answer to people calling for them. I figure the problem will only get worse, given that the US has an aging population. By the time I am old enough to get it, perhaps they will have come up with a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. But if they have not, if I get diagnosed with the condition I hope I have the courage to shoot myself or, failing that, that my caregivers will have the courage to do it for me.

California leads the nation in international child abductions, and in spite of things like the Hague Convention left-behind parents often have a long, difficult, expensive time getting their kids back. California does, of course, have a large population to begin with, and I looked it up and nearly 30% of Californians are foreign-born. So it’s not surprising they have more of this type of abduction than any other state.

Cleveland has released a report of missing people in their city. Unfortunately it is of limited use to me. There are no photos and it only covers cases from 2006 to the present.

Misty and Hank “Tommy” Croslin’s parents are denying previously published reports that Hank had something to do with Haleigh Cummings‘s disappearance. Misty was Haleigh’s father’s girlfriend, later his wife, now divorced, so Tommy would be her sort-of uncle. There have been unconfirmed stories that Tommy helped abduct Haleigh, or at least knew who had, and Misty connived with him. Of course their parents are saying it isn’t true.

Back in the saddle again

I am quite happy to have returned to my usual updating. I had a lot to catch up on! These last few days I’ve been suffering from really bad hay fever and have just sat in bed, working on the computer. Yesterday I felt horrible and didn’t get out of bed most of the day except to go to the bathroom. I missed class. I ached all over and my nose was running like a faucet and there were no allergy meds in the house. Finally in the evening I dragged my carcass next door to my minister neighbor friend, and she gave me some Claritin that helped a little. I feel somewhat better today, but still snuffly.

Anyvague, highlights of the recent updates:

Nadia Dabbagh has made contact with her mom. This adorable little two-year-old was kidnapped by her father in 1990. He took her to Syria, dumped her with relatives, and went to Saudi Arabia. Nadia’s mother, Maureen, launched on an active and vocal campaign to have Nadia returned to her, but the Syrian government mostly refused to cooperate. Frankly, I didn’t think she’d ever see Nadia again. Well, Maureen emailed me last night to say Nadia, who is now 20, had gotten in touch with her. I don’t know any details, but I am so happy for them. Hopefully Nadia can return to the US and get to know her mother again.

Sherry Sellers, a 50-year-old who disappeared from Tuscaloosa, Alabama last January, has been found in the trunk of her own car. She left a suicide note when she disappeared, and the police concentrated their searches on nearby rivers because Sherry had earlier said if she killed herself, she’d do it by drowning. Sherry’s car was parked in the garage and they checked it, but didn’t find anything of interest and didn’t notice any smell. She had locked herself in the trunk with the only set of keys, so they couldn’t get the trunk open and for some reason they didn’t bother to call a locksmith or anything. Finally her family did, and they found the body. The police have apologized for their oversight.

A guy named Jason Gross has been charged with murdering Rochelle Battle, a sixteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Baltimore like March. Very little information has been released about the murder case. I don’t even have a picture of Gross. I did do a criminal record check on him and found out he’s got a record for all sorts of things, including sex assault.

The police have announced they think Haleigh Cummings was murdered and they have some suspects in her disappearance, whom they haven’t named yet. Odds are these suspects include Misty Croslin, her father’s girlfriend, and Joe Overstreet, Misty’s cousin. There’s an unconfirmed story that Overstreet went to the Cummings home that night looking for a gun to steal, couldn’t find it, and put a knife to Misty’s throat and kidnapped Haleigh instead. I don’t know why Overstreet would have done that, or why Misty wouldn’t have called the cops after he did. I don’t even know whether this story is true or not. But the cops searched a river for evidence and brought Misty (who’s in jail for drug charges) to the search site. They didn’t find anything though.

I just added the cases of Ronkeya Holmes and her daughter, Masaraha Ross. As the story goes, Ronkeya sent Masaraha to live with her father, Lester Ross. Later Ronkeya wanted her back, but was unable to even speak to Masaraha on the phone. Lester always claimed she was asleep or out. Ronkeya drove to Lester’s house to pick up Masaraha in early October last year and Lester promised to turn her over, then reneged. Ronkeya returned to her own home in Georgia and went to the police at that point. A few weeks later she went back to Florida to try again to pick up Masaraha. Then both of them disappeared, and Lester’s cousin was arrested driving Ronkeya’s car. Lester claims he met Ronkeya at a Wal-Mart and gave her their daughter and that was the last he saw of them, but the police looked at the Wal-Mart surveillance cameras and didn’t see any of them on there. So far the cops have been pretty quiet about this case, but it sounds very much like Lester did something to his daughter, then had to stop Ronkeya from finding out. I wonder when was the last time anyone besides Lester saw Masaraha before her reported disappearance.

Haleigh Cummings missing one year

Today is the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of five-year-old Haleigh Cummings. The little girl vanished from her bed in the middle of the night and has never been heard from again. As time passes the story seems to just get more confusing and more sordid.

I found a good article about Haleigh’s family history. It’s very sad.

Nobody really knows what happened to Haleigh. It’s possible she was abducted by a stranger. It’s possible that someone in the family caused her disappearance — that’s certainly what the cops seem to think. It’s quite likely that her caregivers’ dysfunction and neglect contributed to her disappearance, one way or another. I think she’s probably dead.

It looks like Haleigh’s father and his girlfriend loved her very much. Did that make them good parents? Hell no.

Haleigh Cummings vs. Adji Desir

Haleigh Cummings and Adji Desir were both children about the same age (she was five, he was six) who disappeared from southern Florida early this year. Adji disappeared while playing outside on January 10. Haleigh disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night on February 9. Haleigh’s case has got a ton of publicity, Adji’s very little.

A lot of people, bloggers etc., are saying it has to do with race. Haleigh was a blonde, blue-eyed white girl. Adji was a black, Haitian boy. An Amber Alert was issued in Haleigh’s case, but not in Adji’s, even though in neither instance did the police have any hard evidence that they were abducted. Some people are saying the only difference is that Adji was black. I don’t think so, though. There are in fact significant differences between the cases which go a long way towards explaining why Haleigh got an Amber and more publicity.

To begin with, Haleigh disappeared from her bed in the middle of the night. Adji disappeared during the daylight hours as he played outside. A kid who vanishes from her bed overnight is much more likely to have been abducted than a kid who disappears during the day while outside. Couple that with the fact that Adji is pretty seriously mentally disabled, and I can see why the police thought there was a good chance he just wandered off. (What I want to know is why his grandmother let him play outside alone, given that he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old and can’t talk. Oh well. Too late to do anything about that now.)

Adji lived in a primarily Haitian community. Both his parents are Haitian and his dad actually lives in Haiti. I think that would be a barrier as far as press attention is concerned. If Adji’s loved ones didn’t speak English well, or if they were simply uncomfortable with American reporters prying into their lives, there’s going to be less information about him, and thus, less articles. The Cummings family has been very open to the press — maybe a bit too much so, even, as they seem to use the news against one another. Also, their soap-operaish antics (custody battle and nasty allegations between Haleigh’s parents, Dad’s underage girlfriend, Dad putting a decapitated rat in his brother-in-law’s mailbox) make for interesting reading, though they detract from Haleigh herself.

So you see it’s not just skin color.

Some activity in the Haleigh Cummings case

The police now believe Haleigh Cummings was kidnapped by someone she knew, according to this Orlando Sentinel article. They haven’t ruled out her father’s girlfriend, Misty Croslin, as a suspect and they think she may be withholding information. Misty, who was only seventeen years old, was watching Haleigh and her brother the night the little girl disappeared. Both the girl’s parents have been ruled out as suspects though. Her dad was working and her mom was living in Georgia.

I think Haleigh is probably dead, but beyond that I haven’t a clue what happened to her. Her parents sound like they tried to do the best they could for their kids, which doesn’t make them good parents, but I don’t believe they harmed her. I don’t know about Misty. I suppose time will tell.

Additional articles:
Fox News
Palatka Daily News
WOKV
WJXT Jacksonville
First Coast News
The Gainesville Sun

Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings

I spent considerable time today wading through articles writing up the case of five-year-old Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings, which I plan to post tomorrow. She’s been missing from Florida since February; disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night. The case has gotten a lot of media attention due to Haleigh’s blonde cuteness and due to the mudslinging in her family.

There has been a lot of criticism of Haleigh’s dad, Ronald, and his seventeen-year-old girlfriend (now wife) Misty Croslin. Misty was the last person to see Haleigh before she disappeared. There are reports that she wasn’t even in the trailer when Haleigh vanished, that she’d gone out and left Haleigh and her brother alone. She denies this. Ronald has been criticized for cohabiting with a minor, and both of them were criticized for getting married a month after Haleigh disappeared. Ronald’s ex, Haleigh’s mom, has accused Ronald of child abuse and neglect. It’s worth noting that Ronald had had custody of both their children for years and the mother, Crystal Sheffield, only saw them every other weekend. Ronald says Haleigh’s mother hasn’t been employed in a long time, is behind on her child support and has abused drugs. Sheffield says Ronald was abusive to her during their relationship and abused the children after he got custody. (Curiously, she never went to the DCF with her allegations until some weeks after Haleigh disappeared.) For what it’s worth, Ronald’s been arrested a few times on minor drug charges, but usually the cases were dropped or he got deferred adjudication.

As for the police, they’re not saying much. They won’t say whether Ronald and Misty passed their polygraphs. (They say they did.) They won’t say whether they believe Misty’s story. They do say no one has been ruled out as a suspect at this point but they’re not focusing on any one person right now. I think they’re doing the best they can.

To make matters even muddier, I’ve never seen so confusing and inconsistent reporting. It was like every article told a different story about the events of February 9 – 10. I’m not sure how much of the inconsistencies are actually Misty’s (another thing she’s been criticized for), and how much are the journalists’.

And for me…I have no idea what happened to Haleigh. Not a clue. Not even a theory. It’s all up in the air right now. But I do think the media has been excessively harsh on Misty and Ronald. Recent events have made me very reluctant to criticize or judge a reported crime victim based on their post-crime behavior (i.e. the sudden marriage).

I don’t think I have any problem with Misty having charge of the children, either, just because of her age. A lot of people are like “his UNDERAGE girlfriend” and “the children were being looked after by a MINOR.” Um, Misty was less than one year from her majority, at an age where many girls have their own kids, and she’d been living away from her parents for some time. She was 17, not 12, and there’s no real difference between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old except the legal one. The tendency of people these days to assume a teenager is completely helpless and incapable of being responsible for anything seriously disturbs me. (For more about that, read The Case Against Adolescence by Robert Epstein or Harmful to Minors by Judith Levine. Both of them are very good.)

But getting back to Haleigh: whatever happened, I hope the police figure it out soon and Haleigh comes home, one way or another. I don’t like it when little children vanish without a trace and are missing long enough to wind up on my website.