National Hispanic Heritage Month: Keyla Contreras

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Keyla Contreras, a biracial Hispanic and African-American eighteen-year-old who disappeared from Manhattan on January 13, 2012.

Keyla’s case is concerning because she’s deaf and mute — meaning she can’t speak intelligibly and only communicates with sign language. Obviously that makes her extremely vulnerable. She left her home in the Spanish Harlem area at 7:00 a.m., perhaps to go to work or school, and vanished.

Unfortunately I know very little about her disappearance. Even the Whereabouts Still Unknown blog, known for its wonderful research, couldn’t find much on her.

MP of the week: Jessie Barnes

This week’s featured missing person is Jessie Barnes, a 28-year-old mentally disabled woman who disappeared from West Point, Mississippi, a small town in the northeast part of the state, on July 7, 2000.

Although she had mental challenges, Jessie was relatively high-functioning and would sometimes “drop out of sight for a few days.” Her family got concerned and reported her missing after ten days because her grandma had died and she didn’t show up for the funeral.

I think if she is alive (and this seems unlikely) she may be on the streets somewhere. She has a daughter, and if still alive she would be 46 years old today.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: William Gu

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 William Gu, a 22-year-old City University of New York student who disappeared from Brooklyn on March 7, 2013. I’m not sure of his ancestry but Wikipedia says his surname is either Chinese or Korean.

William was supposed to meet a friend on Staten Island, but never showed up, and his car was found wrecked and abandoned in Somerset, New Jersey. His disappearance is especially worrying because William had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which causes “depression, paranoia, minor hallucinations and psychotic behaviors.”

William’s disappearance reminds me a lot of the disappearance of Sean Sidi, another young Asian man with a TBI who disappeared just two and a half months later, albeit on the opposite coast.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Le Tung Dinh

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 Le Tung Dinh, a 38-year-old man of Vietnamese descent who was last seen standing in the doorway of his family’s apartment in San Diego, California on February 4, 1996.

Dinh was brain-damaged and mentally disabled, and couldn’t take care of himself, so he still lived with his parents. He apparently wandered away when his mom left him alone for a few minutes.

I wish I knew more about this case; I couldn’t find any articles about it in the newspaper archives. Dinh’s parents, who spoke only Vietnamese, are no longer in contact with the police, and NamUs says there’s no DNA available.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Wendy Kimura

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 Wendy M. Kimura, a 28-year-old woman who disappeared from Cary, Illinois on May 21, 1999. I don’t know for sure but I think she’s of Japanese descent; Kimura is a Japanese surname.

Wendy was a Chicago resident who took the train to Cary on May 20, and spent the night with a friend. She was last seen walking along Route 14 the next day.

There isn’t a whole lot out there about the circumstances of her disappearance, but it’s worth noting that she has both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In June 2013, fourteen years after her disappearance, the cops searched the Fox River for her, but didn’t find anything.

MP of the week: Heather Bloom

This week’s featured missing person is Heather Bloom, a 28-year-old woman with Down Syndrome who was last seen in Berkeley, California on October 1, 2005. She probably disappeared sometime after that though.

People with Down Syndrome have various levels of functionality, and it sounds like Heather was at the lower end: non-verbal, wheelchair-bound and requiring “constant care and supervision.”

She was being cared for by her sister, Shari. After Heather’s parents reported her missing, the police tried to check on her welfare, but Shari wouldn’t let them in the house and they never actually saw Heather. The neighbors also said they never saw Heather either. Last I knew, Shari had moved to Norway — without her sister, presumably.

I did find this 2017 article which has more info about the case and additional pictures of Heather. Though the police are saying there’s no evidence she’s dead or in danger, honestly, to me it doesn’t look good. I mean, a person with those medical conditions would presumably have had to see doctors regularly. She was probably on Medicaid and Social Security disability. They should be able to track her if she was still alive.

Thoughts on today’s updates

It’s 11:47 p.m. as I type this, so perhaps by the time it’s finished, “today” will be “yesterday.”

For all the updated cases today, except Jahi Turner and Donna Mezo, you can thank Mion, who kindly gathered together a bunch of old newspaper articles about cases I had and emailed them to me.

Regarding my Donna Mezo update, I hope it clarifies the situation with her boyfriend’s death. Earlier I had said there was a suicide note and his death was ruled a suicide in spite of the fact that the gun used was found in “a nearby lake.” Well, I have since learned that “nearby” was more like “a few feet away.” I think what probably happened is that Jeffrie either threw or dropped his weapon into the water during or after firing it.

I found quite a lot on Newspapers.com for Marcell Byers‘s case. His NamUs profile includes a clipping about how the people charged with kidnapping him disappeared and their lawyer had been threatened and maybe it was foul play.

Well, the two suspects did disappear, leaving a van shot full of holes, but I guess it was all just an attempt to evade prosecution because they were alive, back in custody and well enough to cop a plea less than a year later.

It’s disturbing that Marcell was never found. All this over a gold chain. The Zuppos pleaded no contest to kidnapping, meaning they didn’t even admit they were guilty. They’d be out of prison by now and I’m not sure what they’re up to these days. I think Gerald Sr. may be dead; someone with the same name and birth year died in North Carolina in 2003.

Tejin‘s case is just sad. (Also, NamUs has him listed as a girl? I admit you can’t really tell from the pictures. If I hadn’t found some articles on his disappearance I’d have been none the wiser.) I found his Facebook page and one picture was of him holding a little turtle, whom Tejin called “my son.” This was just a few months before his presumed death.

Julie Davis‘s case is sad too. Judging from the Facebook page created for her, she was lost for awhile before she disappeared. They only have the one not very good quality and out-of-date photo of her, and from the Facebook page her family apparently wasn’t really clear on when they’d last heard from her. They mentioned getting a letter from her “around 1985 or 1986.” (I’m not sure where NamUs’s date of disappearance comes from.)

She was just sixteen years old and already out on her own, almost four hours from her hometown.  I know things were a bit different back in the eighties, but that’s still pretty unusual. I wonder if she was in foster care. Obviously her family cares about her or they wouldn’t be trying to find her. I hope she’s alive out there and doesn’t even know anyone is looking, and isn’t a Jane Doe somewhere, or worse, dead and never found.

For this case, normally I’d have listed her as just regular “Missing” but then I saw the detail about the track marks and thought “drugs” and upgraded her case to “Endangered Missing.” Question: do track marks ALWAYS mean drugs? There are some medical conditions that require a person to get frequent injections; do those people get similar scars?

Ashley Lynn Thomas has such striking eyes, so big and dark against her pale skin and hair. I hope she’s okay. I hope she and the baby are both healthy and being looked after.

Stuart Owen Collins got a big update today. (Thanks again, Mion!) It does sound like something bad happened to him, and one inevitably wonders about the woman he was with, and even more so about her husband.

With Paul Egan (another big update there) the whole rendering theory is just awful to contemplate. The police seemed to suspect Paul’s friend. They said his friend was not a suspect, but they also made a point of saying they couldn’t confirm the friend’s story.

It could have happened something like this: Paul and his friend got into some kind of argument at the plant after hours — his friend was a foreman, Paul a technician — and things got out of hand something went horribly wrong, and his friend is panicking and thinks “well, there’s this rendering machine, if I just chuck him in and keep my mouth shut, no one will ever know.” I doubt such places had security cameras in 1975. The rendering machine was designed to grind up horses; a human corpse would be easy.

Of course that’s all supposition. I did look up the friend in the Florida DOC database and on Facebook and couldn’t find anyone by that name. I did find a Newspapers.com mention of a person by that name (and a photo of that person) from 1970, five years before Paul disappeared. Nothing since then. I wonder if I’ve got the spelling of his surname right.

As far as the note Elsie Elsinga left behind — and her daughter’s poo-pooing the significance of that note — I don’t know. Her daughter said something like “How could someone of that age have done anything to mess up their life?” But perhaps Elsie’s “possible mild depression” was more significant than her daughter thought.

For Helen Robinson, I wonder if she decided to take a plane to visit one of those CB radio friends she had, and maybe something happened that prevented her from coming back. It was two solid years before her van turned up; by then, the weeds might have grown over the flight records. Robinson is definitely dead now; I don’t think she would have lived long in any case, because of her emphysema.

I added 27 updates and I’m very pleased with my work output today. I hope y’all have noticed how much more productive I’ve been ever since the site got redesigned. It takes less time to add/update stuff, since I don’t have to write all the code by hand, or hand-add case names to the lists.