This week’s Flashback Friday case is David Robert Sampson, a 21-year-old student at the University of Washington who disappeared from Seattle on March 1, 1977. I don’t know his major, but he was interested in “botany, hiking and environmental issues,” so perhaps it was something like biology.
Indications are Sampson left of his own accord; he took several possessions, including survival gear, a Bible and other religious materials, but no ID or cash. He may have joined some kind of cult; his case reminds me a bit of Robert Spurlock‘s. (I ought to do a Make-a-List Monday of cases where the MP is thought to have joined a cult.) It’s worth noting that Sampson disappeared at the tail end of the hippie era, and it sounds like he might have found that lifestyle agreeable.
But if he did join a cult, where has he been since 1977? Canada maybe? But if he left the country, how’d he cross the border without any identification?
I was able to get Sampson’s date of birth today from the Washington State Missing Person Search database. The anonymous author of the excellent Whereabouts Still Unknown blog has an entry for him as well. I couldn’t find anything about his disappearance in the newspaper archives, though, which isn’t surprising giving it was 1977 and he was a college student and a man at that. That profile of missing person is rarely covered in the news even today.
If he is still alive, and he may very well be, David Sampson would be 62 today. There’s a good chance his parents would be dead by now, but perhaps he has siblings or cousins who are still hoping for resolution in his case.
I’ve added a couple of pictures of MPs:
This week’s featured missing person is Alexis Dillard, who is male. A KU senior, he vanished on December 11, 1992, after a night out drinking with his fraternity brothers in North Lawrence, Kansas. There’s a theory that he drowned in the Kansas River, possibly while trying to swim across. He was 22.
And yes, I’m aware that suspect Pedro Hernandez was convicted of Etan Patz’s murder and I’m aware I have to re-write his entire casefile. That’ll be my task for tomorrow.
This week’s MALM is of MPs who were last seen at the bus stop or bus station. It seems to me that people, especially women and children, are kind of vulnerable at bus stops. They’re often standing close to the curb, within grabbing distance of passing motorists. People who are waiting for the bus are often tired, distracted, perhaps hungry, perhaps with their hands full of shopping or whatever, and just generally not at their best. Maybe the weather is terrible; maybe it’s raining or snowing or blisteringly cold, or maybe it’s humid and 95 degrees in the shade. And anyone who’s waiting for a bus obviously wants to go somewhere, and if someone pulls up and offers them a car ride to their destination — especially if it’s someone they know — the person might just say yes.
I did exclude people who were last seen walking towards or away from a bus stop. There are quite a few of those. But if a person was at the bus stop about to leave, or was about to board or even had already boarded, I put them on the list (provided, in the latter instance, that the bus hadn’t left yet).
- Ashok Ankam
- Paget Renee Barr
- Carol Ann Batterman
- Susan Robin Bender
- James Elwood Brady
- Allen Briscoe Jr.
- Larhonda Marie Bronson
- Jose Moreno Caballero
- Fernando Paul Cardenas
- Kevin Andrew McCarthy Collins
- Ingrid Siomara Contreras
- Thwana Mithsell Darrough
- Kimberly Sue Doss
- Jeremiah Edward Foco*
- Mary Frances Gregory
- Gwendolyn M. Hooser
- Sandra Lee Hopler
- Rita Mae Hughes
- Barbara Ann Hutchinson
- Rochelle Maria Ihm
- Willie Mae Jackson
- Matthew Ellis Keith
- Joseph A. Krainak Jr.
- Alexandria Joy Lowitzer
- Faloma Luhk
- Maleina Quitugua Luhk
- Suzanne Gloria Lyall
- Heather Ann MacCrossen
- Kimberly Ann Mallard
- Pedro Castro Martinez
- Marta Alicia Michel
- Jackson Alexander Miller
- Alan Lee Morse
- Judith Erin O’Donnell
- Ariza Maria Olivares
- Carmen Maria Owens
- Byron Eric Page
- Francisco Robles Perez
- Annette Deanne Sagers
- Philistin Saintcyr
- Lloyd Melvin Thomas
- Kimberly Faye Thrower
- Delight Marie Watson
- John Albert Weichelt
- Billy Wellman
- Francis Loretta Heath Wells
- Nancy Debra Willis
Chosen by commenter Alpha75, Matthew David Pendergrast disappeared from Memphis, Tennessee on December 1, 2000. He was 23 years old and within weeks of graduating from Rhodes College when he dropped off the map.
From writings Matthew left behind when he disappeared, it looks like he might have had a nervous breakdown of some kind. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder both usually develop in a person’s late teens or early twenties. However, the cops don’t seem to be buying into the mental illness theory and are focusing on possible foul play instead.
Disturbingly, Matthew’s journal said something about going into the water, and they found his vehicle and the clothes he’d been wearing near a swamp. Whatever happened to him, he was probably naked or nearly so.
I did find this long feature article about Matthew’s disappearance in Memphis Magazine.
I’ve spent much of today combing through Newspapers.com looking up stuff on specific old MP cases when I came across a column in the March 27, 1983 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, written by someone named Elinor Klein. It was about how her brother disappeared when he was 17 years old, and the devastation it caused in her family.
I’m pretty sure I have never heard of this case. But I’m not 100% sure because Elinor Klein never said what his name was, or the town he disappeared from. Just that he was 17, a freshman at an unspecified, possibly Ivy League college, and that he was born on February 22, 1937 and disappeared on November 8, 1954. She even includes his picture with the column. But not his name!
I checked NamUs; there’s only two 1954 disappearances in there, and both are of females. I would love to be able to put this young man on Charley if I can. If he was still missing in 1983 — nearly thirty years after he was last seen — he’s probably still missing now.
I looked up more information about Elinor Klein hoping that would lead me to her brother’s identity. Turns out Elinor was still alive as of 2008 and her maiden name was Friedman. I also learned she had a son named Willy at age 40; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch column says, “When my child was born a few years ago… I named my son after my brother and my father.”
Still not enough to go on. Darn it.
See the below images screenshot from Newspapers.com’s PDFs, the column about the missing boy (Willy Friedman?):
On the bright side, Ms. Klein’s column did yield at least one nugget of information that’s of use to me: there were pictures of random missing children scattered across the bottoms of the first two pages, including one of Holly Hughes that’d I’d never seen before. It even shows her teeth! I added it.
The guy who does the “UnFound” podcasts has just released three more. (My links for the MPs’ names direct you to their Charley Project casefiles; click on the “UnFound” link above to see the podcasts.) There’s:
The podcaster, Ed Dentzel, interviewed me by phone on September 21. We talked for about an hour, and afterwards, at his request, I emailed him a bunch of stuff. The September call was actually what they call a pre-interview. The real, public interview will be next week. In the meantime, Ed is going to send me an outline of how he’d like the interview to go, what questions he plans to ask me, etc., for me to examine and suggest possible changes if needs be.