Follow-up on my previous post

Remember my previous blog post about the missing lady whom I believed was Aboriginal Australian? Well, I’ve heard from her brother again. I asked him directly if she was Aboriginal and he says not: she is of Sri Lankan and Indian descent.

But he also said:

I rang up your place at [a Burbank, California phone number] on 30th may 17 and spoke to a lovely lady called Jeanette. She took down my details and said she would get in touch with social security and try to find out about [his sister] but I haven’t heard back from her. Would you be able to just remind jeanette about this please and see if she can follow it up ??. Appreciate your Help as days are approaching fast ( I will be in L.A in 10 days time) and it would be nice if I can meet her.

Um…what? Jeanette who?

I think I’ll have to call this number himself and see if I can find out who on earth he spoke to. I’ll have to wait awhile, though, because right now it’s 3:00 a.m. California time.

Yes, I am aware the Charley Project hasn’t been running very well

I know the database has been pretty patchy the last several days and continues to be so. I enclose an email I got from my host about it:

There appears to be a new botnet that sprung up on Friday which has been causing periodic periods of high load on all servers.

The data center has been diligently working to block the offending machines, but the problem appears to be resurfacing multiple times per day.

This unfortunately has the effect of putting a high load on the servers, and then they cannot service normal customer traffic.

We do not have an ETA as to when the problem will be resolved, but will update you when we know more.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you or your clients.

I don’t understand what this email means exactly, but Lizard Hill is usually quite reliable and I’m sure it’ll get itself straightened around.

A few observations

A friend of mine, not someone involved in the world of MP cases and true crime, sent me an email today to ask if I knew anything about a woman who had disappeared from her area the other day. I replied saying I didn’t really follow cases that recent, but I had Googled the missing woman and reported what I’d found. I added,

Right now the California Department of Justice’s database is classifying her as “voluntary missing,” something her family is taking issue with. I wish I could talk to them and explain that, as far as I can tell, CDOJ classifies missing persons cases pretty much at random. They’ve got a teenager listed as a “runaway juvenile” when she was witnessed jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Yeah, I don’t pay too much attention to CDOJ’s “voluntary missing adult” stuff. I make up my own mind, provided I have information to work with.

Some other MP news today made me think of cases where there is a great deal of suspicion against the missing child’s parents, or the missing adult’s significant other, but not a lot of evidence pointing towards any theory.

I have researched and written about enough MP cases that I think I’m entitled to make this general observation: When the public, and perhaps the police also, have a person of interest in mind like parents or a spouse or whatever, someone close to the MP, a good indicator is to look at the person’s behavior after the disappearance. Let’s say it’s a child and there’s suspicion that the parents did it. From what I have seen, people who are innocent try to keep the case in the public eye, give interviews, put up posters, etc., even at great personal cost to themselves. They want the MP found and if they have to get crucified in the media for that to happen, that’s what they’ll do. Guilty people, on the other hand, tend to hide, desperately hoping the police and the media will shut up and go away.

Called in to the NCMEC today

I’m writing up new cases and put together a certain case featured on the NCMEC database, a 16-year-old runaway girl, missing since September 2014. I drafted a casefile based on her poster, as per usual.

When I Googled her name I found she was on NamUs, but when I clicked on the link, it said “The case you are trying to view is restricted to authorized persons ONLY.” This usually means the MP has been located, but sometimes they do this for other reasons — like when they’re comparing the MP to a UID case and they’re pretty sure it’s a match and are just waiting to confirm. I investigated further and found a press release from August, saying two missing girls — including the one I was planning to post — had been recovered.

So I made a quick call to the NCMEC’s tip line (it’s 1-800-THE-LOST, translated to 1-800-843-5678) and told the nice lady what I found. She looked up the MP’s name and confirmed that yes, she had been recovered. It looks like she got left on the NCMEC website by accident. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

The hotline person thanked me and promised to take action. And now I shall move on to other cases.

Think before you email, people

Got an email from somebody I don’t know saying she had been a witness at the trial and a lot of stuff I said was “very wrong” and I need to get my facts straight. She was pretty ticked off about it.

She failed to mention which case, however. I’ve got 9,500 of them, approximately. If there was a trial, it’s probably a MWAB case, which narrows it down to 575 cases. *headdesk*

“It would help,” I wrote back, “if you told me which case you’re talking about.”

An evolution of thinking

I wanted to share with you guys a conversation I had on the Charley Project’s Facebook page, about a mother who disappeared almost a decade ago and has turned up alive:

fbdiscuss

After getting that final response I realized I’ve become much less judgmental than I used to be about MPs who left of their own accord. I know that around ten years ago I was interviewed by a newspaper about such a case and I said it was “abominably selfish” for a person to do that. Whenever I heard about an MP who turned out to have simply walked out of their lives, leaving their family wondering what happened and if they were still alive, I used to get angry — like the other person in this conversation here. Now my response is much more tempered. I’m not sure when it changed.

I think back to my own early- to mid-adolescence, when I was suffering from horrific, untreated, mental illness. I had very intense thoughts about running away from home, traveling to a distant city, taking my own life there without any ID or anything on me, and getting buried as a Jane Doe. I do not know why this seemed like a great idea at the time. My brain was basically broken.

Mind you, I still think it’s selfish to desert your loved ones without a word, and I still tend to feel much more sorry for the left-behind family and friends than the MP who left them. But now I also tend to wonder “what was going in that person’s life that was so bad that they felt they had to take such steps?” I don’t get mad anymore, I don’t judge them. I just feel glad their family has learned their fate, and hope they all can reconcile or at least reach some level of acceptance.

I was talking about it with Michael today and I asked him if he thought my change in attitude about MPs like this woman was due to an additional decade of learning about these cases and what motivates these people to walk out, or was it just that I was once 21 and am now 31 and I’ve simply grown up. Michael said the one cannot be separated from the other, that learning new things through reading and stuff is one more part of growing up.

Heard from the cops about Kenneth Welch

I got an email from a detective with the Flagstaff, AZ police department asking me where I got my photo of Kenneth Lawrence Welch, since the Flagstaff police had none available. Welch’s case has never been updated and may have been created by Jennifer Marra back in the MPCCN days.

I was able to tell him where I got the photo — the CDOJ — and now I’m going to have to correct Mr. Welch’s casefile, because Flagstaff says the date of disappearance was April 3, 1980, not April 5, 1990. Whoops.

I’m feeling a lot better. When I took Dad back to his apartment yesterday, we had dinner (my first meal since Monday!) and he gave me a sack of apples to take home with me.

Select It Sunday: Christopher Holverson

Flashback Friday this week was a case from Idaho; here’s another one. Gypsy T., an old friend of Christopher Lyn Holverson, asked me to run his case for Select It Sunday. The circumstances of his disappearance appear straightforward enough: in 1998, Christopher went camping in Madison County with a group of friends, and one night he just left the campsite and never came back. That night it was sleeting and there was snow on the ground. This looks like a case of “got lost and died of exposure” but Gypsy isn’t sure of that and she told me why in the emails she sent me.

With permission, I am sharing some parts of Gypsy’s emails to me, slightly edited for spelling and clarity etc.:

When I was a child I had a friend named Christopher Holverson. We met through his little brother. Chris and I were more the same age and we hit it off. We hung out and chatted on the phone. Later we found out we were distant cousins. Well, as time passed we drifted apart. We would chat occasionally but not much else.

Well, one day in 1998 or 1999 I was watching the news and found out Chris was missing. While camping with friends he had left the tent and never returned. After learning this I became interested in missing person cases. While I am interested in all missing person cases, Chris fascinates me the most of course. The sad part is, Chris is almost one of those forgotten missing persons cases.

Our hometown newspaper did a feature of him a while back, but before that, I could hardly find anything about the case. There was even a time when I couldn’t find a picture. Many people think that he got lost while camping, which I find strange. The place he was camping is pretty popular and not very isolated. He left the tent in the middle of the night. When camping usually you only leave the tent in the middle of the night to urinate. You wouldn’t go far for that. So if he wasn’t far how did he get lost? The area where he was camping is not known for bears or other wildlife dangers. Not saying it didn’t happen, but it’s not likely. My best guess is he was harmed by someone. I don’t know the people he was camping with so I am mot blaming them, but there were other people up there too. Or maybe slim possibility, he decided to make a new life for himself.

When describing her friendship with Chris and what he was like, Gypsy says he was a very kind person and a good friend:

I have a skin disorder, psoriasis.  I was teased horribly as a child. In fact, that is one of the reasons Chris’s case is so hard on me. He met me as a preteen and saw my psoriasis and didn’t care. He was one of the first people that didn’t care. He helped me see myself as a worthy whole human that was beautiful. He made a major impact on my early teen years.

Christopher was eighteen when he disappeared. If he’s still alive, he would be 37 today.

A little help here, again?

[EDIT: Several wonderful angels came through. Thank you so much!]

Twice now I’ve asked you guys for help about this: when I go to the Minnesota state missing persons page and try clicking on any of their PDF posters, I get an error message. I’ve tried my PC, Michael’s PC, my Kindle Fire and my iPhone and get the same stupid error message each time.

Y’all came through and sent me PDFs I can read of the posters, but there are some new ones now. So can you come through again? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

Specifically, I need the ones on the following list. (And yes, I know that many of those on this list are already on Charley; it’s just that I haven’t seen the Minnesota state posters for them, and I want to make sure I don’t miss anything.)

  • Noel Dalluge
  • Theodore Dengerud
  • Kevin Ellsworth
  • Donna Ingersoll
  • John Jacobson
  • Sandra Jacobson
  • Kyle David Jansen
  • Christopher Kerze
  • Daniel Klein
  • David Klein
  • Kenneth Klein
  • Kenneth Scott Kleppen
  • Janet Kramer
  • Hang Lee
  • Daniel Patrick Maleska
  • Victoria Owczynsky
  • Barbara Paciotti
  • April Pease
  • Eric Peterson
  • Sharice Pollard
  • James Tennison
  • William Underhill

Much muttergrumbling

So I was going through Charley’s runaway cases today, making another Make-a-List Monday for them (coming next week!) and purging cases at the same time, and I came across a certain missing girl. She was still on the NCMEC database but she’d been missing an awfully long time, so I decided to run her name through Google and see what came up. A lot of times when a runaway’s been missing for years and years like she was, they write an article about it.

I didn’t find anything about her disappearance, but lo! Someone with the right age, the right first, middle and last name (except for a spelling difference of one letter) and a striking resemblance to the runaway girl got arrested for credit card fraud just a few months ago! This was in a small town a five-hour drive from the major city where she disappeared.

I immediately called up the NCMEC. And they were like, “Um…thank you, but she’s, erm, not missing. She got recovered.”

And I was like, “So why is she still listed as missing on your website?”

So I told them about how you can find her listed on missingkids.com, and they had me read her case number off the poster, and promised to “pass it on” to the appropriate people.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, either.

[EDIT: Wow, that was quick. I just got a recovery notice for her.]