An unprecedented communication

So I heard from a lawyer today; they sent me an email regarding one of my cases. I am going to refer to the missing woman and her husband by the pseudonyms “Allison” and “Chad” because I don’t particularly want to hear from anyone else connected to the case, and don’t want this blog entry to turn up on a keyword search. However, this case should be pretty easy for viewers to find on Charley.

So Allison disappeared towards the end of a messy divorce from Chad. Her body has never been found. Chad was charged with her murder, and wound up being tried FOUR TIMES, which may be a Charley Project record. The result was this:

  • Trial #1: Conviction, overturned
  • Trial #2: Conviction, overturned
  •  Trial #3: Hung jury
  • Trial #4: Acquittal

It was just a big mess. Chad is probably guilty, but “probably” does not equal “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And a person ought to get a fair trial the FIRST time, not the fourth.

So now he’s suing for wrongful prosecution or something-or-other. I wonder if it’ll go anywhere. He was a wealthy businessman, but his wealth has probably been drained considerably by four trials’ worth of legal expenses, and it would have been difficult for him to run his businesses from behind bars.

So back to the lawyer. They are representing the defense in Chad’s lawsuit, and wanted to know if Chad had ever donated to the Charley Project, and why was Allison listed on the site in the first place, and how long had she been up there. I replied that Allison is just one out of 13,000+ cases and there’s nothing special about her being on there, and that to my knowledge I have never either heard from Chad or received a donation from him, or from anyone else connected to the case for that matter.

Had a great time at the Wisconsin missing persons event

Everything at last weekend’s missing persons awareness event in Wisconsin went REALLY well. Even the one thing that didn’t go well, turned out to be more good than bad.

After an uneventful trip up there on Friday, I checked myself into a very nice hotel that I could never have afforded on my own. (A certain anonymous person covered the costs.) It had all sorts of plants, and a hot tub, and an open floor plan. Saturday morning, upon arising, I met up in the lobby of the hotel with one of the other people attending the event.

We sat at a table talking and I was lamenting about my makeup. I had forgotten to bring eyebrow pencil and had to make do with eyeliner and I thought it looked terrible, and he was telling me he couldn’t tell the difference.

Meanwhile, four or five stories up, a housekeeper accidentally bumped her cart into the rail of the balcony overlooking the lobby. This caused her clipboard to slide off the cart and over the rail, where it plummeted all those floors down right onto my friend and me. It missed me by a foot or so, but my friend took a direct hit.

He’d been drinking some Starbucks coffee when this happened, holding the cup to his lips, when the clipboard smacked him right there. If his hand hadn’t been over his mouth, and that cup hadn’t been made of cardboard instead of ceramic or something, he probably would have knocked a few teeth out. As it was he just sustained a small cut, and the coffee was of course a total loss.

In response to the two guests screeching in surprise, shouting the F-word, and then one guest jumping up on the table and staring up at the balcony, management and security came running. Profuse apologies were issued. Paperwork had to be filled out and photos taken of the little knick on my friend’s hand. CYA and all. The hotel announced that both our rooms were now free.

At the event itself, later that day, there was a very good turnout. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and got to talk to some awesome people.

Victoria Lynn Prokopovitz‘s daughters were both there; her daughter Marsha organizes these events and Marsha is an absolute sweetheart.

Amber Lynn Wilde‘s family showed up as they always do. I was talking a bit to her aunt, who was really happy to see me, about Amber’s case having been covered on CrimeWatch Daily.

Some of Kenneth Plaisted‘s relatives arrived; this was the first time they’d showed up to one of these things. His daughter explained to me that, although no one has seen Plaisted since 1971, he wasn’t actually listed as a missing person until 1998 or so, which is pretty horrifying. I can understand, given the whole embezzlement thing (see his casefile I linked to), the police thinking he’d just done a runner, but waiting 27 years to declare him missing is just lazy and uncaring.

There was no balloon release. Instead, we were issued little candles, each labeled with a missing person. I got Steven F. Woelfel and Madeline Kelly Edman.

My table was right next to the table for The Unidentified, and I had a fine time speaking to Rebekah Turner (a medical examiner in training who runs that organization) and her companions. They’re really great people. After the event was over, Rebekah, her friends and I went out to dinner.

My photos and some video from the event are on the Charley Project Facebook page; for some reason I can’t figure out how to link to the individual posts/images from there. I’m sorry.

I had an uneventful trip home but I haven’t been feeling very well, physically, since my arrival home. I think it was I got a bit overextended/overexcited. I am trying to force myself back on my regular schedule and to eat a bit more.

General update on things

So the day before yesterday I discovered Dark Matters on YouTube. You can thank Caleigh Elise for most of the updates I did yesterday. Her video summaries of unsolved murders and missing persons cases and unidentified remains are in depth, well-researched and professionally done. From her research I discovered some factual errors on a few of my cases and corrected them.

Preston Winfrey, my designer, has fixed the drop-down search results on the general search (bad plugin update apparently) so the bar no longer goes blank and stops working if you scroll down. He has also improved the advanced search, fixing a bug that wouldn’t let you search multiple phrases.

Yesterday I got a shocking response from a woman whose sister was on my site. She sent me messages through email and Facebook and we spoke over Facebook messenger. She said I had no right to post about the MP, I had no permission from my family, and everything I had posted was “such baloney.”

I explained who I was and what the Charley Project is and asked what corrections needed to be made. She said the MP was reported missing by her husband; I had had it as her brother. Okay, I said, I will fix that (and did so), what else?

Well, I asked several times but she never said there was any other incorrect information, just kept yelling at me, saying their mom was very upset by seeing the casefile and it was against the law for me to write about missing persons without permission from the family. I told her this was not true.

I do not know what was bothering her, because besides that quite minor error there was absolutely nothing objectionable in the MP’s casefile, nothing that could be construed as remotely critical or judgmental or intrusive. I don’t think the woman’s anger or her mother’s distress had anything to do with me really.

I know I have written and spoken about this kind of reaction several times but it doesn’t happen often at all; most relatives who reach out to me are polite and respectful and appreciate my efforts. I got a really nice email from Morgan Nick‘s mom last month. It’s just that whenever I do get family members who claim I did something wrong or hurtful it’s upsetting to me. But some people just react differently and they are in a bad situation so I try not to take it personally.

Shrug.

I’m doing pretty well right now and everyone’s fine where I’m at: Michael, cats, dogs. Kinsey’s fifteenth birthday was earlier this week and we had her wear a party hat and gave her an Arby’s roast beef sandwich as we sang the birthday song.

What not to do when you want something corrected

So I got an email today from a complete stranger saying this:

[Missing person] was not a drug addict and your story about what happened is not all correct. The police also have not acquired any phone records from any phones.

This was literally all it said. There was no introduction. There was no signature. There was no information on to what exactly was wrong in my “story about what happened” (it was not the part about the phone records, because I never said anything at all about that), and no indication of how the person knew that the MP wasn’t a drug addict and that there were other mistakes in the casefile.

Why should change my casefile, disregarding the information from my other sources, just because some random person writes me an email like this? I don’t know if this person knows what they’re talking about, or if they even knew the MP. I tried Googling the sender’s name along with the MP’s to see if the sender is mentioned in any articles about him, and found exactly nothing.

I get a LOT of emails. If you have a correction to make, and you don’t know me and have never written to me before, it would be a good idea if you were to introduce yourself to me, and let me know how you know I’m wrong.

Things like “I am the MP’s friend/relative” or “I am a cop investigating the case” or “I found this article saying the opposite of what your casefile says, here’s a link to it” are helpful. This can all be accomplished in a few sentences and will make it much more likely that I’ll give you the time of day.

So the crazies were howling at the moon last night

I got approached, via the private message on the Charley Project’s Facebook page, by a young man who said he thought he was a certain child who had disappeared from Florida. I advised him to contact the NCMEC and gave them their tip line number. He claimed the NCMEC were “corrupt” and trying to cover up the disappearance of another child, a girl, who had disappeared from that same county in Florida a few years after the missing boy did.

He said the girl’s parents were trying to help cover up her disappearance too, and that the police knew all about it and weren’t doing anything because they wanted to avoid a lawsuit.

I told him I was unable to assist him and then he accused me of being paid by the girl’s parents to help cover up her disappearance!

crazyconvo

Oh-kay…

He also found a two-year-old blog post of mine that had been shared on Charley’s Facebook page, which mentioned the missing girl, and posted a photograph of a young woman whom he claims is her. Whoever that young woman is, I didn’t want her photo on Charley’s Facebook page, but I couldn’t figure out how to delete his comments so I had to delete the entire post from the Facebook page. Fortunately the only comments on it were his.

A very sad conversation I wish I hadn’t had to have

Yeah, so I’m home again. I got a text from Mom saying she’d be home around noon and after I fed her cat I could just leave if I liked. So I did.

Last night I had to have a very sad conversation, via text, with the mother of a teenage girl who ran away years ago and is still missing.

You see, when I first added this woman’s daughter to Charley, I had written a blog entry about two runaways: one who had been found alive and well in Canada (whom I did not name, since she had never been on Charley and she was not missing anymore and I wanted to protect her privacy), and the other being this woman’s daughter.

Then yesterday the woman commented on my entry saying “I’m so-and-so’s mother and I had no idea she was even alive until I read this entry. Please text me at the following number and tell me everything you know.” (I have since deleted her comment, because it had her phone number on it.)

And I realized to my horror that she had misunderstood my entry and thought I had been referring to one person, not two: in other words, she thought I was saying I had located her daughter in Canada and she was alive and well.

So then I had to text her and explain that I was very sorry but she had misunderstood me and I didn’t have any more idea about her kid’s whereabouts and well-being than she did. I felt absolutely terrible for raising her hopes for five minutes and then having to break them.

It turns out that, unbeknownst to me, this woman’s daughter had left a note saying she was running away to Canada. That’s probably a good part of the reason why she misunderstood my blog entry.

The thing is, her daughter could very possibly be dead. It’s more likely than in the average runaway case. She suffers from a very serious medical condition which, even with treatment, still kills people. And of course, as a runaway, she doesn’t have her medication with her or access to her doctors.

Fortunately the girl’s mother wasn’t angry at me, but I felt really bad. We texted back and forth for awhile. I kept telling her how sorry I was that I couldn’t be of more help. She told me a little about her daughter. I think I’ll add this info to the girl’s Charley Project page.

Yet another “I hate it when this happens”

In the past week two different family members of MPs have contacted me asking to correct errors on the MPs’ respective casefiles.

One of them emailed me saying:

The profile mentions that [MP’s] sons were raised by [MP’s] parents. Actually, while [MP’s parents] had custody of the boys for the year after [MP’s] disappearance, my husband and I adopted and raised them. They joined our natural family of five (one daughter and two sons) on August 10, 1996. I am [MP’s] first cousin and her will named me as guardian for her children. My husband’s name is XXXXX. The boys are now grown and doing well.

I corrected the information and told her it sounded like MP’s kids were lucky to have her and I was glad they were doing well after having suffered such a terrible loss early in life.

The other found my personal Facebook account and told me one of the two photos I had for her son wasn’t of him. (Color me surprised; that photo was on his CDOJ page for years.) And, she said, if I didn’t remove the wrong photo immediately she would “be forced to take further action.”

Oh-kay then. I did of course remove the photo. I don’t want wrong info on my site and all she had to do was, like MP’s cousin above, explain that it was in error and politely ask for me to fix it. I was slightly flabbergasted.

I asked my friend Wendy the Minister why people behaved that way (like the second person I mean) and she said, “Because they’re so used to being ignored. They’re used to people not caring, so they learn that they have to threaten people if they want anything done.”

That’s probably true. And very sad.