Black History Month: Zaden McKnight

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Zaden Alexander McKnight, a four-year-old boy who disappeared from Dayton, Ohio on March 25, 2014. Zaden went missing with his mother, Nichelle. Nichelle’s body was found near the Stillwater River two and a half weeks later. She’d been murdered.

Zaden is presumed murdered too, and the police are pretty sure what happened and who did it. Antwan Anderson, Nichelle’s ex-boyfriend, and Tonisha Harris, another woman Anderson had dated, are the prime suspects in the cases.

Neither of them have been charged in connection with the actual homicides, but Harris was imprisoned for using Nichelle’s bank card and later for evidence tampering, abuse of a corpse and failure to report a crime.


The things that people say

Since I can’t work on Charley today — the site keeps going down, then coming back up, then going down again, making it impossible to get anything done — I thought I’d blog about something that has been bothering me for awhile.

I rarely pay attention to Facebook chatter about missing persons, because for the most part I don’t consider such chatter to be reliable enough to use as a source in my casefiles. I have literally never joined a Facebook groups discussing  some specific case or other, for example.

But awhile back, as in months ago, I happened to be viewing the chatter on such a group for an entirely different reason and saw a post that really made me angry.

I’m not going to say who the missing person was, other than that it was a female child who has been missing for many years. No one has ever been charged in the case. The parents maintain that she was abducted from their home, but many people believe the parents themselves were somehow involved. For the purposes of this blog entry that’s all you need to know.

Some Facebook poster on a group about the case made reference to the fact that, several years after the child’s disappearance, the parents took their remaining children and moved out of state. The poster said something like, “Isn’t this a tacit admission of guilt? Why would they move unless they were sure she wasn’t coming back? Don’t innocent people refuse to EVER move, and stay in the same house forever, hoping their child will return?”

Now, I don’t know whether the parents in this case are guilty or innocent, and for the purposes of the point I’m trying to make, it doesn’t really matter. It just really makes me mad that people would judge them based on the fact that they moved away.

It’s not like anyone ever gives you a rule book on “How to Behave If Your Child Is Kidnapped.” You don’t know how you’re going to act in that situation until it happens to you.

It reminds me of how, after I was raped, certain asshats who read this blog were convinced that I must be making up the story because I didn’t act traumatized enough for them.

Never mind that they only had, like, 1% of the information — they weren’t there, they didn’t know me, all they saw were the words I typed into my blog. But they were publicly calling me a liar and a fraud and making all sorts of judgments about me when they didn’t know anything about it. And not one of them has ever apologized for it.

Yes, it’s true that some parents refuse to move away after their child disappears. I know of one case where not only did a missing girl’s mother refuse to move away, she started sleeping on her living room couch and kept it up for years, because she wanted to be sure she’d hear the knock on the front door if her daughter came home in the middle of the night. (That woman did eventually move, but only because her apartment building was being torn down and she had no choice. She still lives in the neighborhood.)

And it’s also true that some families DO move after their child is taken — in fact, I’ve heard of families that moved specifically because they wanted to get away from all the memories, wanted to get on with their lives, and felt unable to do so while still living at the same address. I’ve known of families who not only left the state but left the COUNTRY.

More to the point, in this particular case, the missing child was an infant. There’s no way she would remember her parents or her home address or phone number or anything like that, even if she was alive and became aware she had been kidnapped and wanted to reach out to her family.

And so they moved. And someone on Facebook was calling them murderers because of it.

Just…think about what you say, people. Try to remember that everything you put online can be read by others, that the very people you’re speculating about can find your musings and read them, that words hurt.

I forgot to say

Awhile back, Megan Elizabeth Garner‘s mom contacted me on Facebook. As I had practically nothing on Megan’s disappearance, I was happy to hear from her.

Sadly, Megan’s mom didn’t have much to tell me. She said the police have dutifully followed leads in Megan’s disappearance for the past couple of decades, but never developed a suspect or a theory of the crime or anything.

Megan’s parents were separated when she disappeared, I guess, and Megan lived with her mom. The family was so poor they didn’t even have a phone when Megan went missing.

It’s a sad story. No telling what might have happened if there had been more publicity in this case at the time.

As for working on the site, I finished W today and I’m working on E. I anticipate finishing E today. So I’ve got cases A-D and U-Z finished, and quite a lot of others besides.

Thinking aloud on updates, 10/30/2017

I had a bit of a burst and spent all night and into the morning working on today’s updates. I raided Facebook, as I have said, finding additional pictures and sometimes a lot more.

  1. Autumn Starr Cerenil-Lee: It’s eerie and sad to find traces of my MPs’ pre-disappearance lives online. I found Autumn’s Facebook page. Less than a month before her disappearance she wrote she was getting a divorce, after a marriage that had lasted under a year. Her husband posted a comment saying she was to blame for what had occurred. Autumn also wrote about her daughter, who had some chromosomal anomalies that caused severe health problems.
    I can only hope that she decided to walk away from her life — and the evidence does seem to indicate that she did walk away, at least for awhile, since she was allegedly sighted in Wyoming. But did she intend to stay gone this long, almost four years now?
  2. Kelsey Emily Collins: I finally found out the name of that scumbag who was pimping her. I wish I could have found his picture too, and that of his woman accomplice. It seems like a massive failure on the authorities’ part that they didn’t offer Kelsey witness protection, but they claim they didn’t know it was needed, and that if she had told them about any threats they would have helped her.
  3. Georgia Nadine Kirk: Shades of Walter Dunson here; they were the same age too, almost. Ted Kirk sounds like a snotrag. I read that he lives on a huge property with something like 20 vehicles on it, and friends reported the place smelled pretty bad. I’m not sure if the cops have searched for Nadine’s body there yet; they asked for permission to go over it with cadaver dogs but Ted said no. It seems like there should be enough evidence by now to get a warrant.
  4. Irma Mkrtchyan: I found Irma’s Facebook page too. She often wrote posts in Russian, and she posted photographs of herself visiting Armenia. She was born there, graduated from a polytechnic there and moved to the U.S. sometime after 1996 (that’s when she got her degree). I found her children’s Facebook pages as well and it says her son was born in Yerevan.
    Irma’s disappearance appears to have torn her family apart. I found a vicious character assassination of her brother Davit (aka David), which accused him of fraud, laziness, dishonesty, and generally being a slimeball. I think it must have been written by Irma’s ex-husband. The horrible statement said Davit had dishonored his sister’s legacy, lied to the police, and started fights within the family, and that Irma’s daughter had a restraining order against him. I hope that anyone who reads it would take it with a grain of salt. Davit appears to be the only one in the family who is actively trying to solve his sister’s disappearance.
    I wonder how Irma’s surname is pronounced. It needs a serious infusion of vowels.
  5. Noah Pomaikai Montemayor: A very sad case — a bright, talented, promising kid who, it appears, cracked under the pressure to live up to that promise. It reminded me of the Matthew Wilson case from ten years ago. Matthew did eventually turn up alive, if not well, and I hope Noah will do the same. They say that the longer you’re gone, the harder it is to call home. But it seems odd that he hasn’t been found by now, especially given he had nothing with him and there was an extensive and well-publicized search. I mean, it’s an island.
  6. Nancy Paulikas: My God Alzheimer’s is scary. Especially in someone as young and smart and successful as she was. Recently I read a book I liked and looked the author up on Facebook, hoping to contact her; I found her page but it hadn’t been updated since 2013 and the last post said she had Alzheimer’s. I concluded there was no point in messaging her because she probably could no longer read. Hopefully by the time I’m old enough to worry about getting it, they’ll have found a cure.

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.

Select It Sunday: Ke’Shaun Vanderhorst

Kristen Y. selected Ke’Shaun Bryant Vanderhorst as this week’s Select It Sunday case. Like Peter Kema‘s and Relisha Rudd‘s, this is a case that really gets to me. Also like with those two, it’s as if the system opened up whole knew cracks just for Ke’Shaun to fall through. What’s more, the 22nd anniversary of this adorable little boy’s disappearance is tomorrow, Monday. He vanished from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1995, at the age of two years and three months.

I wrote about the case on my blog seven years ago, inserting my own commentary into Ke’Shaun’s Charley Project casefile. Since then there’s been an additional development: last October, Tina was charged with murder — not in Ke’Shaun’s disappearance, but in the case of a 64-year-old man whom she allegedly stabbed 77 times before setting his body on fire. She was homeless at the time, and was charged with murder, robbery, arson and “causing a catastrophe.”

I can’t find anything else about the case and don’t know if it has yet been resolved. It often takes a long time to resolve murder cases, as long as several years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Tina is still awaiting trial. It’s been less than a year since she was charged, after all.

I wonder if this murder charge has prompted authorities to take another look at Ke’Shaun’s case. I can only hope so. Tina needs to pay for what she did to her son, and 2 1/2 to 7 years for child endangerment isn’t nearly enough.

If he is still alive — and he almost certainly is not — Ke’Shaun would be 24 years old today.

Flashback Friday: Willie Ann Rucker

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Willie Ann Rucker, who went by her middle name. She was 27 and recently divorced when she disappeared from Waterloo, Iowa on April 8, 1979. Her family believes her boyfriend may have been involved; they were having problems.

I don’t have much on this case. Rucker’s son David Barrett, who was just a baby when she disappeared, became a professional football player, so there’s that.