Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Chengxu and Zhaoxu Wang

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is actually two cases, the twins Chengxu Wang (male) and Zhaoxu Wang (female). They were five when they disappeared from Champaign, Illinois on February 7, 2015.

Per the NCMEC, the twins were abducted by their non-custodial mother. My guess is she’s taken them back to her country of origin, which my guess, based on the children’s names, would be China. Though it could be Singapore or Malaysia or any country where a lot of people are Chinese.

Anyway, if the children were victims of international family abduction, it’s unlikely they can be returned unless the mother chooses it. I don’t think China has signed the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. I’m not sure any Asian country has.

Melissa Brannen’s abductor to be released

See the article here: Melissa Brannen’s abductor, Caleb Hughes, will be freed from prison after 29 years.

Hughes was only convicted of abducting five-year-old Melissa Lee Brannen, not of killing her, though I’m sure he killed her as well. It’s just that they never found a body or other physical evidence of death, or any witness to a killing, or a confession.

There was some blood on tissues in Hughes’s car that was possibly Melissa’s, but forensic testing at the time could only narrow the source down to 40% of the population. The fiber evidence, as detailed in the casefile, was solid, but all it proved was that Melissa had been in Hughes’s car. If they had tried to get him for murder, he most likely would have been acquitted.

So he was sentenced to 50 years for the kidnapping, but barring some unforeseen event in the next four months, he will be set free after just 29 years.

And before you start railing against stupid parole boards, this is not the parole board’s fault. The parole board has tried their best to keep him behind bars; they denied him twice. What is going to happen with Hughes is mandatory release, not parole. Per WaPo:

Under Virginia law before the abolition of parole, there are four classes of “good conduct allowances.” For particularly exemplary prisoners, 30 days of credit is given for every 30 days served, meaning a prisoner could cut their sentence in half…

Hughes has been in custody since January 1990, meaning he will have served 29 years and seven months if he is released in August 2019. That is about 54 percent of his total 54-year sentence, meaning Hughes must have been classified as an exemplary prisoner for much of his term.

: he’s been an exemplary prisoner and accumulated enough “good time” credits that they have to let him go. The law says so.

And before you start shouting about how we have to change this stupid law: it’s already been changed. But the change can’t be applied retroactively.

So Hughes is getting out and there’s no help for it. He will, I hope, get registered as a sex offender anyway, though the article has not said so.

Where’s Melissa, Caleb? He has no incentive to tell us, because they could still get him for murder if her body is ever found.

I have done my best for it

FINALLY got the wretched Hart case finished today, after weeks of researching and struggling to put the story together. The case summary is 3,200+ words, exceeding the Peter Kema casefile by over 1,000 words.

It was a challenge, trying to tell the story in such a way as to minimize confusion when there was so much going on, and so many lies told. While Jen and Sarah are abusing their three adopted kids in Minnesota, at the same time down in Texas three more kids who will be adopted by Jen and Sarah but whom they don’t know yet are being taken away from their biological mother. Etc.

And it’s such an awful story, just sheer horror and misery start to finish. The sadness behind those forced smiles. The tiny, scrawny kids, their limbs like sticks, hungry all the time because their mothers didn’t feed them.

And so many people, in so many parts of the country, screwed up. This is mostly on Jen and Sarah, but it wasn’t all them. They should never been permitted to adopt children, never mind a large number of kids from foster care. They should never been permitted to adopt the first set of kids after how they’d treated their foster daughter. They should never have been permitted to adopt the second set of kids when they had child abuse proven against them, and admitted by them. Once adopted, there was enough proof of abuse and neglect that the children should have been removed from their homes half a dozen times at least, over the years.

Devonte and his siblings did not have to die the way they did.

I have done my best for them.

That wretched Hart case

The Charley Project does not discriminate: if you’re have not physically turned up alive or dead, you’re missing for the purposes of this database, even if everyone knows perfectly well what happened to you.

Which brings me to the godawful case of the Hart family, of whom one of them, Devonte, has never been located. His sister’s foot washed ashore months ago, but not a tiny bit of Devonte has turned up, not so much as a single vertebra. I had been desperately hoping they’d find some of Devonte before the year was up so I would not have to start digging into this. I might as well be digging a grave.

And with a case as high profile as this, I feel obligated to put him up. Even though we all know, basically, what happened to Devonte and where he is — swallowed up in the Pacific.

And with a case as high profile as this, I feel obligated to do a detailed write-up. It’s just that there’s so much to look over (high profile ya know) and it’s all so absolutely and unrelentingly horrifying. I’ve been reading about the case for the past twelve hours and I feel the way I did when I visited Treblinka.

Even the photos of the kids. So many photos. And they’re so SKINNY. Knobby chins and cheekbones, their faces like skulls, stick arms and legs. And so SMALL. They were starved of food and love for so long, and under so much stress.

The inquest into the family’s deaths will be held next week. It will take two days, will be live-streamed, and is said to be releasing some shocking information, as if what is already known was not shocking enough already.

Those poor, poor children.

MP of the week: Martha Lambert

This week’s featured missing person is Martha Jean Lambert, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Elkton, Florida on November 27, 1985.

In 2009, Martha’s brother, David, confessed to the police that she had died in an accident the day of her disappearance and he had buried her body. David would have been fourteen at the time. Although the police never found Martha’s body and David later retracted his statement, investigators believed his story.

Martha’s mother believes her daughter was abducted by someone outside the family and hopes she is still alive. A friend of mine also believes David is innocent, and put up a Facebook page to draw attention to Martha’s case.

Black History Month: Irwin Stewart

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 Irwin Yafeth Stewart, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy who was abducted by his non-custodial mother, Elvia Bravo Ibarra, from Houston, Texas on November 30, 2002. Irwin is biracial; his mother is Hispanic and his father is black.

Elvia and Irwin may still be in the Houston area, or they may have gone to Mexico. Iwin would be 17 years old today.

Black History Month: Monique and Sidney Smith

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 actually three rolled into one: sisters Monique Rae Smith, one month old, and Sidney Keara Smith, one year old, and their mother, eighteen-year-old Jennifer Dawn Lancaster. They all disappeared together from Topeka, Kansas on May 12, 2000. The children are biracial, black and white, and their mother is white.

The family’s car was found at an apartment complex a week later, and that doesn’t look good to me at all. However, I have been able to find very little information on this case, no articles, nothing.

If Sidney and Monique are still alive, they’d be 19 and 18. Jennifer would be 37.