Seeing Ida Mae Lee living…maybe

I’ve decided to add a bunch of super-old cases to Charley today, beginning with Ida Mae Lee, who disappeared in 1956. She was working at a hotel at Grand Canyon National Park at the time.

Anyway, I went to Newspapers.com and searched for the phrase “Ida Mae Lee” Arizona and found some interesting results:

The Arizona Republic, December 1, 1953:

idaleenewspaper2

(There were several other mentions of Ida Mae Lee attending Arizona State; an October 1953 article says she lived in Nutrioso, which has a current population of 26. There’s also articles from January and March name Ida Mae Lee among the honor roll students at Round Valley High School, which is in Eager, Arizona, a 21-minute drive from Nutrioso. And in 1952, Ida Mae Lee and some of her fellow Round Valley HS students staged a fashion show.)

And then there’s this, from the Arizona Republic, September 21, 1955:

idaleenewspaper

I’m pretty sure the Ida Mae Lee who married Mr. Jones is the same one that attended Round Valley High School and Arizona State; note the reference to Nutrioso in the marriage announcement. And I think that photo looks an awful lot like NamUs’s picture of the Ida Mae Lee who vanished in 1956 — though I’m not prepared to swear to that, I am not good at all at identifying faces.

So, the 64k question then, assuming all these Ida Lees are in fact the same person: what happened to Mr. Jones during the 14 months before Ida vanished? The fact that she’s listed as missing under her maiden name suggests they were separated or divorced by then.

I did find this obit for a Niles Lee Jones who died in Mesa, Arizona in 2011, age 76. No mention of any survivors, but a search of addresses for Mr. Jones mentions Nutrioso, Arizona as well as other cities.

 

Flashback Friday: Robert Lepsy

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Robert Richard “Dick” Lepsy, who disappeared from the small town of Grayling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on October 29, 1969. He worked at a supermarket, left on his lunch break and never came back. He had four kids.

An interesting thing about Lepsy’s case, left off his Charley Project page: there’s a theory that he was actually D.B. Cooper, who in 1971 hijacked a plane flying between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, ransomed the passengers for $200k (the equivalent over over a million dollars in modern money), parachuted his way to freedom and vanished without a trace. Author Ross Richardson has put forth this theory in his book Still Missing: Rethinking the D.B. Cooper Case and other Mysterious Unsolved Disappearances, which costs $14.99 in dead tree edition, or $4.99 on Kindle, or $0.00 if you have Kindle Unlimited. I suppose I ought to read it.

It’s hard for me to compare pictures, but I suppose if Lepsy lost a lot of weight he would resemble the D.B. Cooper sketch. I don’t feel like I ought to cover the whole skyjacker theory on his casefile until I’ve familiarized myself with it, which I haven’t, yet.

On the other hand, the articles about this have turned up several more pics of Lepsy which I do plan to add forthwith.

ET entry, William Taylor

Another Executed Today entry by me: William Robert Taylor, who was hanged on this day in Lancaster, England in 1862 after he murdered his three children and his landlord. The tragedy began in January of that year when the pipes at Taylor’s home burst and scalded his seven-year-old daughter to death. Taylor blamed his landlord for the accident, and the landlord refused to pay compensation and subsequently instituted eviction proceedings on the family.

The only survivor was Taylor’s wife, who was also charged, but acquitted. I wonder what became of the poor woman.

Teala Thompson found deceased

Earlier this year I added the new/old case of Teala Thompson, a light-skinned, gray-eyed biracial thirteen-year-old who disappeared from Pittsburgh nearly fifty years ago on September 5, 1967. Well, she’s been found: a body that turned up in a Salem Township, Pennsylvania landfill just two weeks after Teala disappeared has been identified as the missing girl.

This case should have been solved a long time ago. I mean, she was found not too long after she disappeared and less than 40 miles away, and they got her fingerprints and were able to chart her teeth. They were off on the age, but only slightly — they thought the dead girl was between fourteen and sixteen, when Teala was thirteen years and ten months.

I don’t really know what happened here and neither, according to the article I linked to, does anyone else:

[Teala’s younger sister] Mary Thompson said some family members believe that police had contacted [their mother] Shirley Thompson once early on in the investigation and had asked her to view a photo of the unidentified remains but that Shirley Thompson had declined. “I think it was just too hard for her. I don’t think she wanted to admit that Teala wasn’t coming home,” Mary Thompson said.

There’s no evidence in the police record that indicates the Thompson family was contacted by police nor that the Thompson family had reported Teala missing.

Perhaps Shirley really did turn down a chance to identify the body. She’s dead now so we can’t ask her. It would explain why she told Mary that Teala had been murdered in Greensburg (which is, I believe, where the landfill was). It’s also entirely on the cards that the police either wouldn’t take a missing persons report for a teen girl — a child of that age would have been written off as a runaway, and probably the fact that she was non-white wouldn’t have helped matters — or that they did take a report but the records were lost later on.

In any case, I’m afraid there may be no more answers to be found. Whoever killed Teala could be dead now, and even if he/she isn’t, building a case after all this time is well nigh impossible.

“I can’t say I remember much about what happened,” her sister Mary says. She was four when Teala disappeared. She adds: “What I remember was that Teala was beautiful and she was loved.”

Other articles

ET: Con O’Leary

Another Executed Today post: Irish fratricide Cornelius “Con” O’Leary. He was convicted of the murder of his brother Patrick and hanged in 1925. It was a pretty brutal crime — the victim brutally attacked, probably as he slept, then dismembered.

All of the family members who still lived at home were charged with murder: Con, the family’s elderly mother and two sisters, Maryanne and Hannah. If there were witnesses to the crime, they never talked; all the evidence was circumstantial. I’m sure Con was guilty. As for the others, I think they may well have guilty knowledge, but I’m not at all convinced they were directly involved in Patrick’s murder.

The mother (I don’t remember her name) was released without being tried due to ill health. Maryanne, who was probably not involved, died of cancer while awaiting trial. Hannah was convicted — unjustly, I believe. I don’t know whether she was guilty or not, but the case against her was very weak and the judge, I think, biased. She served 17 years in prison before being released.

A clarification

On the Charley Project’s Facebook page they recently asked me to upload a photo, so I did. It’s the photo that’s on the left side of the Charley Project’s banner. After I did so, some people said they had no idea who was in that picture and had always wondered. Well, just to clear things up:

The photo is of Charley Ross, the long-lost little boy whom the Charley Project was named after. (See Wikipedia for his story.) It’s the only photograph ever taken of him, and he was two years old at the time; he was four when he disappeared. After his abduction, his family had an artist draw another picture of him as he appeared at age four. It was probably the first age-progression picture ever done of a missing person. The AP photo is on the right side of the Charley Project banner.

ET yesterday

Yesterday I got another ET entry in, #196: Modiste Villebrun, the last person executed in Canada while it was still a colony. Villebrun lived in Quebec and he and his girlfriend, Sophie Boisclair, poisoned his wife and her husband so they could marry each other. They got away with the first murder but they were caught the second time. My guess is the lovers weren’t being terribly discreet about their affair.

Sophie Boisclair’s sentence was commuted to life in prison because she was pregnant. She was released after serving 20 years.

And that’s the last of my Executed Today entries for this month.