I hate having to use mug shots

On the Charley Project’s Twitter account I tweet two cases a day, one male missing person, one female. These tweets are pre-scheduled and go up automatically, and for the past few years they’ve always been accompanied by a photo of the MP.

If there’s a choice of photos, and the photos are all of basically equal quality, I choose the one that I think makes the MP look best. If the photos are of varying qualities, I pick the best quality photo: a clear image taken close up and in good lighting, making it easy to tell what the MP looked like.

Sometimes, too many times, the literal only photos I can find, or the only ones of decent quality, are obvious mug shots. They are obviously better than no photos or really poor quality photos when it comes to identifying someone, and I even once made a blog post defending my use of mug shots and even arguing that they were more useful than candid photos or portraits. But all the same I hate having to use them.

I mean, to me, a photo is a photo. But it seems like the general public, they see something about a missing person and they see a mug shot of that missing person and immediately their empathy switches off. They stop caring about the case and assume the MP must have been a bad person or something. When the general public is just going off a mug shot, they don’t even know why the MP got arrested or what really happened. When even if the MP was not a perfect person they don’t deserve to be kidnapped or murdered and their families don’t deserve the torment and grief.

I especially hate it when the MP whose mug shots I have to use is a person of color. The reason it bothers me is I know it’s a common complaint in the black community that whenever the mainstream news media talks about an ordinary black person, they will use unflattering photos, including mug shots if those are available, and that the mainstream news media does not do this when talking about white people. (For example, it was some time before the news media started using blonde, blue-eyed rapist Brock Turner‘s mug shots after his arrest and eventual conviction for rape. They initially used other photos of him.) I do not wish to be accused of racism.

I do know that at least some police departments have become aware of the issue of using mug shots in their missing persons press releases. At least, they’re aware they are being criticized for it.

I know this because recently I saw a police department post about a missing (white) person and the woman looked a bit rough in the pic, with dark circles under her eyes like she hadn’t slept in many days. I don’t know 100% if the photo was a mug shot but I think it was. In the text of their post about this missing woman, the police department said this was the most recent photo of her and the family had approved of its use. Like they knew they were going to be called out.

This all came up today in my head when I was updating a case where there are a decent number of photos but none are good quality and some have filters. Except for one photo. And it’s a mug shot. And she’s a black woman. It was also used in the investigating police department’s post on Facebook about the missing woman, and people in the comments were complaining about its use, for the reasons I mentioned above. But all the other photos I’ve ever seen of this person are all either heavily filtered or poor quality, and aren’t very good for identification.

Unless I find a decent candid photo or portrait, the mug shot will have to be the photo I select, if I ever tweet about this case.

Inconsistent and minimal reportage strikes again

So I saw this article about Dale Pearl Smith‘s disappearance and it does not really provide any more info than I had before, other than the mention of Westmoreland Road. I have updated Dale’s case with that bit.

The thing is, though… it says she was last seen on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1987. But I looked it up and Mother’s Day was on May 10 that year.

There is no explanation for the discrepancy. Was it a typo? Or maybe there was a scheduling issue and Dale and her daughter decided to meet for Mother’s Day the day after instead of the day of? I have no idea.

I’ve got her disappearance down as May 10 but there’s a good chance it’s May 11. I have no clue.

If anyone who knows something about the case, such as one of Dale’s relatives, finds this blog I’d love to have this matter cleared up so I will know I have the correct date.

Wisconsin missing persons awareness 2022, and social media troubles

I had serious troubles with Facebook last year and the year before that, as documented on this blog. Unfortunately the problem hasn’t gone away, and will persist for as long as Facebook has almost 100% robot moderation.

A lot of my problems before because Facebook’s modbots basically decided I was a Nazi, since I was sharing a lot of memes and articles and such about the Holocaust and World War II. Because there’s definitely no other reason someone might be sharing this material, nope, I must be a Nazi. When any actual human reading my posts would have recognized them as educational content, the modbots just saw red flags all over the place.

Now I’m in Facebook Jail again, which means no posting about the Wisconsin missing persons event on the Charley Project’s Facebook page until I’m out.

What happened this time was that I saw this article on Facebook’s news feed. And I thought it was an interesting story so clicked the button to share the article on my personal Facebook page. Just the link to the article, no accompanying commentary at all. And boom, instant Facebook Jail for “violating community standards on drugs.” For a link to a mainstream media news article that was on Facebook’s own newsfeed.

This particular incident pretty much fits the legal definition of entrapment, but what can you do? I mean, I’ve appealed their decision but robots handle most of the appeals so…

The Wisconsin event was absolutely lovely as usual. I took some pictures and video footage which I will post when they let me out of Facebook Jail.

There were like seven or eight dogs there, all search and rescue dogs I think, including a Clumber Spaniel which is quite a rare breed. Riken, a Dutch Shepherd and S&R dog owned by my friend Rachel, was so enthusiastic about greeting me that she actually jumped up on my table.

I talked to loads of people. Attendees had an “event bingo” sheet of stuff to do at the event and one of the things was “visit the Charley Project table and find out who Charley is.” One woman who was there with her children, listened to me tell Charley’s story and then pointed out to her kids that his story is a great example of why they should stay away from strangers. (You know the axiom “don’t take candy from strangers”? That was cause of Charley. He got lured away from home by two strange men who offered him candy.)

Rose Marie Bly’s family was there this year. I don’t remember seeing them at previous events. Rose has been missing since 2009. And Rose’s niece, Summer Wells, disappeared last June. Lightning struck twice in that family.

Anyway we had a nice discussion about the garbage way missing people’s families are often treated by the general public, especially online. It seems like people say all kinds of awful things about crime victims in general and their families, but it gets even worse when it’s a child who disappears and their parents are being discussed.

I told Rose/Summer’s family that seems like missing kids’ parents can’t do anything right. If they don’t go on TV about it, they didn’t care about the child and probably were the perpetrator of the child’s disappearance. If they go on TV to beg for their child’s safe return and are reasonably calm about it during their segment, they were TOO calm and probably were the perpetrator of the child’s disappearance. If they go on TV and beg and they are sobbing hysterically, they’re faking it and relishing in the attention and were probably the perpetrator. You get the picture.

I remember reading about one high profile child abduction where, like three days after the child’s disappearance, her mom (who had been too worried to eat until that point) finally had a sandwich so she wouldn’t collapse from hunger. She was photographed eating and criticized for having the gall to sit there and EAT A SANDWICH while her poor baby is MISSING, what a cold and uncaring mother, how could she?!

Sigh.

So I think I hit it off with Rose/Summer’s family. I hope I don’t have to add Summer to the Charley Project but I expect I probably will.

I also spoke to Amber Wilde’s family, briefly (they said as far as they know there’s been no recent progress in her case), and to a group of Native American motorcycle riders who had helped search for Gene Cloud (whose family attended the event several years ago, dressed in the ceremonial regalia of the Ho-Chunk Tribe to which they belonged, but haven’t been back since).

I asked the Native bikers if they thought Pacific Islanders should count as indigenous under the MMIW (missing and murdered indigenous women) movement, which focuses on Native Americans. This came up recently when I tweeted about a missing woman from Hawaii who was of Native Hawaiian ancestry and I wasn’t sure if I should use the #MMIW hashtag or if it would upset people. The Native bikers, however, believed missing and murdered Pacific Islanders ought to be included in the movement, since they are indigenous too.

The speeches at the event were very moving. The police who investigated Victoria Prokopovitz’s case talked about the case and how finally her killer was prosecuted in a murder-without-a-body case, and there was no going into great detail about what went down. What I mean is, this isn’t the kind of event true crime fans necessarily flock to, it was more just about providing support for missing people’s families and trying to get answers.

I had a great time. I always do. My husband, who was accompanying me for the first time, says he too had a good time.

News outlets, please do better than this

So this article came out yesterday and I wanted to bring it to attention because it’s useless.

The article says Bula Mae Robertson disappeared “back in 1993” from Warner Robins, Georgia. And that’s pretty much all it says. No exact date of disappearance, no information about the missing woman, how old she was, her physical appearance information, etc. The accompanying video isn’t much better, it only adds that Robertson disappeared during the month of October. Which is still a 31-day window.

I mean, they were able to go to her old house and show that on the screen, and interviewed a neighbor who remembered the disappearance, but they didn’t put out the most basic, crucial information. What’s the point?

Fortunately, the press release the police put out (I think it was flashed on the screen in the news video, but you weren’t able to actually read it) has the necessary information. But it would have been nice if the article had had it too.

Yesterday was not Tuesday

Yeah, so I put up the missing person of the week yesterday cause I spent the entire day under the mistaken impression that it was Tuesday. It was not Tuesday. It was Monday. My apologies.

And my brain is still broken apparently cause I just took the trash to the curb under the impression that today is Wednesday and trash pickup is tomorrow. It is not Wednesday. Oh well.

I haven’t felt very well lately. I know what’s going on — I’ve just hit the depression cyclce in my bipolar-ness, that’s all — and I know that nothing is really wrong, that all the problems I am worrying about were the same problems I had last week and the week before that, that this terrible feeling will eventually cycle back up. But it doesn’t make me feel any less terrible. My feelings don’t care about the facts.

Later this month is the missing persons event in Wisconsin that I go to. Obviously the event in 2020 was canceled, and last year’s was a virtual event, so I haven’t been since 2019. I am really looking forward to this one, not only cause it’s been a few years but also because this is the first time my husband will be accompanying me to one of these events.

It’s on April 23, at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

I hope all of you are doing well.

Sitting here pondering about minutae that’s of interest to no one

So what’s going on with Carole Louise Rodriguez‘s dress? This photo is said to have been taken just hours before her disappearance, but…

NamUs, which is the source of the photo, claims it’s a “purple mini dress with a print of Chinese pagodas and other Chinese decorations.” But I’ve had a good close-up look (and you can too, click on the photo above to make it larger) and the images on the dress look nothing like pagodas except for their shape. They appear, to me, to be images of snow-covered evergreen trees, snowflakes, reindeer and an all-around winter/Christmas theme, nothing Chinese.

But she disappeared in August. Why was she wearing a Christmas dress (assuming I’m correct and it was a Christmas dress)? And why, if it was indeed a Christmas dress, was it purple? It’s not a scandalous color choice but it is strange, given that most Christmas-themed clothes are red or green.

I think this has got to be either the wrong description or the wrong photo or both. But the dress is long since gone now, like Carol herself. I suppose no one really cares that much what the print on it was. No one except me.

Even modern day photos can be so difficult to figure out when you get into the small details. I put up a guy today who’s been missing only a year, and I found photos of him showing his tattoos, but they are all blurs to me except one.

Finished!

So yesterday, after a fourteen-hour stretch at my desk, I finally finished the last letter’s worth of cases.

The vehicle change is now fully implemented! And I purged hundreds and hundreds of cases.

By this point I felt like a used dish rag. I staggered into the bedroom and then my husband and I went out for something to celebrate the conclusion of the vehicle change with.

When we came home I watched TV with my husband for a few hours, and then slept for like 18 hours.

Having rested, I no longer feel like a used dish rag, but I still feel pretty tired.

I figure I’ll resume updates on Friday or Saturday. Certainly there are a lot of them.

On the home stretch

So I’m 1/3rd of the way though the letter R and after that, I just have S and T left to do.

I have purged hundreds of cases as I go along. When I started this update/housecleaning, the Charley Project had a little more than 15,000 cases listed (I don’t remember the exact number). Now I’m down to 14,600-ish and am predicting I’ll remove at least 100 more before this is over.

After I finish R, S, and T, I am going to get drunk. After I recover from that, I’m going to start on the updates I’ve been neglecting for the past couple of weeks.

On the bright side, my kitten Viola has only had one potty accident in the past two or three weeks, and I *almost* trust her on the bed again.

Map dowsing, rewards and scammers

So once in awhile I’ll get emails from people who claim they have found, or think they have found, a missing person or some information on a missing persons case through paranormal means. Psychic impressions, talking to ghosts, and so on.

This post is not meant to spark a discussion on the various pros and cons of using paranormal means to find a missing person, or find anything at all. All such methods are just so much made-up nonsense. I am not here to debate this and please do not do so in the comments section.

One paranormal “search method” is something called map dowsing. You can read more about it at this link, but basically it involves studying a map of an area, pointing out a particular spot and claiming that whatever you’re looking for is in or near that spot. It’s no more accurate than any other person’s educated guess.

(Once I actually replied to a map dowser’s email politely telling him that map dowsing was hooey and not to waste his time. A few weeks later, to my astonishment, he wrote back saying upon further reflection. I had been right and he was sorry he’d bothered me. Shocking.)

Anyway, today I got an email from another map dowser who claims to have located a certain missing person. He says he will reveal the person’s location, but only in exchange for whatever reward money is being offered for the recovery of that person. (I don’t know what the reward is, I don’t talk about those in my case summaries.) He wanted me to connect him with the missing person’s family.

I have a strong urge to reply and very IMpolitely tell him where he can shove his psychic abilities and theories. Like, if he actually knows some long-term missing person’s location and he’s refusing to disclose if he gets paid? Disgusting. And he DOESN’T even actually know (though he may perhaps genuinely think he does) so he’s just trying to scam a vulnerable, desperate family.

Yeah.

So as far as my vehicle change/purge is going, I’m up to the letter N now. I plan to finish N tonight.

Chugging along

So this update is kind of more of the same: I’m still working on the vehicle change, and at the same time purging loads of outdated cases that have been removed from the sources database which means the person is probably not listed as missing anymore.

Right now I’m working on the letter L. After I finish L, I’ve got to do M, N, P, R, S and T. I try to finish at least one letter a day, which generally takes several hours at minimum. There are a LOT of missing with last names starting with M, S etc., and those may take more than one day to do. I’m doing this as fast as I can without compromising the thoroughness of it.

I just want to get this done as quickly as possible. I’ll resume updates when I’m done. Yes, I know Jarral Osburn and Serenity McKinney have both been found deceased. RIP to them both.

Everything in my life is going pretty well right now. My kitten Viola has apparently ceased peeing on the bed, though she’s kind of on probation at the moment and we try to keep her off the bed unless she’s sitting on one of us while we’re on the bed. Viola doesn’t seem to mind being shooed off the bed, since, like most kittens, she is full of zoomies and has the attention span of a toddler with a cocaine problem.

All of you guys — my blog readers, my site readers, my supporters — are really awesome people and I never forget that. The Charley Project is a partnership. I couldn’t do this without you.