Read a book about an old missing persons case

So the other night I read Pearl: Lost Girl of White Oak Mountain by Bill Yates, about the 1923 disappearance of three-year-old Pearl Turner from rural Arkansas. In spite of a widespread search and many false leads, she was never found. The book does a pretty good job telling the tale of her disappearance, and the author’s conclusions as to what happened are at the end.

Unfortunately I can’t add Pearl to Charley. I’m not sure I would anyway, given that the case is close to 100 years old and no one is investigating it anymore. (I mean, I did add the quite similar case of Hickle “Dick” Ware, but he disappeared fifteen years after Pearl did and I had a law enforcement agency for the case.) But I can’t because there are no photos of Pearl available. The little girl on the cover of the book isn’t her, only a child who strongly resembled her and was for awhile thought to be her.

I think Pearl just never had any pictures taken of her. She came from a sharecropper’s family and was one of several children. Portraits were probably an unaffordable luxury to them. (Sharecroppers were people who had no land of their own and farmed someone else’s land in exchange for a portion of the crop they produced. They were very poor.)

It’s not too bad a book anyway, especially if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited and can read it free with your subscription.

I haven’t been feeling very well. Right now my bipolar pendulum has got me in a depressive fit, and even knowing it’s just my brain not working right does not make it feel any better. I’m struggling to get much of anything done. Even standard activities of daily living.

Somerton Man identified?

Researchers in Australia claim they have identified the Somerton Man, a very mysterious case of a John Doe who died of unknown causes on Somerton Beach south of Adelaide in 1948. It’s also known as the Tamam Shud case cause those words (Persian for something like “it is finished”) were written on a scrap of paper in his pocket.

They’re saying his name is Charles Webb, who went by Carl. He was an electrical engineer from Melbourne. Honestly I was expecting the Somerton Man to be have had a more interesting occupation than this.

Why Webb was sitting against the seawall on Somerton Beach, with a scrap of paper bearing Persian words in his pocket and all the labels on his clothes removed, and what he died of, remains a mystery.

The police have yet to confirm the ID, hence my question mark in the title of this blog post. It makes me nervous that they haven’t commented yet. I’ve been burned so many times.

Some articles from a variety of sources, both paywalled and not, pick your poison:

I wonder if this is the same man or not

In 1960, a Jimmy Lavern Bushbaum, age 24, and his co-defendant, Arthur G. Jones, pleaded guilty to murder in San Bernardino, California and received life sentences. This is per the San Bernardino Sun’s September 30, 1960 issue:

In 1965, a Jimmy Laverne Bushbaum, age 29, disappeared from Sacramento County, California:

I’m pretty sure they are the same person. The age is right, the unusual name is almost right (I’m not going to quibble about Laverne/Lavern) and the disappeared Jimmy appears to bear a striking resemblance to the murderer Jimmy, though it’s hard to tell due to murderer Jimmy looking down in the photo instead of at the camera, and the photo not being of the greatest quality. The nose and ears look similar, anyway.

Now, “life” sentences tended to be a lot shorter in 1960 than they are now. Don’t quote me on this, but I think the average time actually served on a life sentence in those days was just seven years. I think it’s possible that Jimmy could have pleaded guilty and gotten a life sentence in 1960 and be a free man and able to disappear by 1965.

But I’m not sure. It’s also possible he disappeared by escaping from prison. Sometimes prison escapees who’ve been gone a very long time get registered as missing persons.

I’m going to add him to the Charley Project but I really hope I’m not adding someone who is a fugitive and not a missing person.

Remains found in 1979 identified, and other stories

Today is National Missing Persons day. This article has some info about how the new Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act, which was signed into law on New Years’ Eve, will help communities along the Mexican border.

In Alabama: Skeletal remains have been found in Conecuh County, Alabama. Though they haven’t been identified yet, the police think they’re those of Brian Estrada, who disappeared last October. His ID was found near the bones.

In California: They’re still looking for Sydney West, a 19-year-old University of California, Berkeley student who disappeared from San Francisco on September 30. Her parents are offering a $10,000 reward for info leading to her return.

In Colorado: The murder trial of Donthe Lucas in the disappearance of his 21-year-old pregnant girlfriend Kelsie Jean Schelling from Pueblo has begun. Kelsie was last seen on February 5, 2013.

In Florida: They’re still looking for Lemuel Robert Hall, a 79-year-old man who disappeared from Escambia County in 2019. He was last seen in July, but wasn’t reported missing till September.

In Maine: They’re still looking for Jason D. Reil, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Brunswick in January 2012. He had schizophrenia and was off his meds when he went missing.

In Mississippi: They’re still looking for William Brian McKenzie, a 21-year-old who disappeared in September 2019.

In Ohio: They’re still looking for Nylo Lattimore, a 3-year-old boy who disappeared from Cincinnati on December 4. His mother was allegedly stabbed to death in her home on December 5 and her body dumped, but it wasn’t found for a week. Desean Brown has been charged with Nylo’s mother’s murder, but Nylo has never been found and Brown hasn’t cooperated in the case.

In Pennsylvania: They’re still looking for Robert Scott Baron, who disappeared from his restaurant in Old Forge on January 25, 2017. It looks like he was probably killed in a robbery of the business; they found some blood in his car and a tooth in the restaurant’s sink.

In South Dakota: 9-year-old Serenity June Dennard disappeared from the Black Hills Children’s Home two years ago today. Though the case is still open, the police have suspended the search for now, for lack of any ideas where to look.

In Tennessee: They’re still looking for Shelley Lynn Mook, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Shelbyville on February 28, 2011. Her husband Tyler is a person of interest in her case, but has never been charged.

In Texas: They’re still looking for Joshua Jayvaughn Davis Jr., a one-year-old boy who disappeared from New Braunfels on February 4, 2011 — ten years ago tomorrow. The police seem to think his parents were involved or at least know what happened. I’m not sure. I am a firm believer in the axiom that there’s usually no smoke without fire. But one thing I will observe: Joshua’s parents have talked to the media a fair bit about his disappearance and tried to publicize it as much as they can, which in my observation is inconsistent with people who were responsible for their child’s disappearance.

In Oregon: They have identified remains found at the bottom of Multnomah Falls in September 1979. His name is Freeman Asher Jr.

In Washington: They’re still looking for Sofia Lucerno Juarez, who disappeared from Kennewick on February 4, 2003, the day before her fifth birthday. 18 years ago tomorrow.

In Australia: They’re still looking for Lisa Govan, a 28-year-old woman who disappeared from Kalfoorie, Western Australia in 1999. The police believe she was murdered.

Also in Australia: They’re still looking for Steven James Goldsmith, a 28-year-old arborist who disappeared from Toowoomba, Queensland in 2000. Authorities believe he was murdered. There’s a $250k reward out to help solve the case.

In Canada: They have identified a body that washed up on Gulf Island Beach in British Columbia in 1972. The name of the man, who was 41 when he disappeared from Coquitlam in 1967, has not been released.

Also in Canada: They’re still looking for Ben Tyner, a ranch manager who disappeared from Merritt, British Columbia in January 2019.

In Belgium: A car was found in a canal in Bruges; it turned out to belong to Ronny Lateste, a 39-year-old man who disappeared in 1990. His body was inside it.

Twelve-year-old missing for four months is classified as a runaway, and other stories

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was pretty good. Very quiet of course, cause of covid.

In California: the body of Barbara Thomas, a 69-year-old woman who disappeared hiking in the Mojave Desert in 2019, has been found in the desert near Essex.

In Louisiana: they’re still looking for David Claude Yeager, a seventeen-year-old boy who disappeared from Shreveport in 1971, and there’s little indication as to what happened to him. His cousin has created a Facebook page for him.

In Missouri: they’re still looking for Cheryl Anne Scherer, a 19-year-old girl who disappeared from Scott City in 1979. The article doesn’t have a lot in terms of information, just focuses on her family’s pain and grief.

In New York: they’re still looking for Jaylen Griffin, a 12-year-old boy who disappeared under unclear circumstances from Buffalo in August. The police have this preteen listed as a runaway.

In Ohio: they’re still looking for Mary Jane Vangilder, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared from Willard in 1945. They’re going to check some Jane Does and see if any of them are her.

In Pennsylvania: Justo Smoker, who had previously been charged with Linda Stoltzfoos’s kidnapping, has been charged with her murder as well. Linda, an 18-year-old Amish girl, disappeared while walking home from church in Lancaster County back in June. She has never been found. Smoker was arrested on the kidnapping charges in July.

In Texas: they’re still looking for Patty Inez Brightwell Vaughan, a 32-year-old woman who disappeared from La Vernia on Christmas Day, 1996. She went missing after an argument with her estranged husband, who is the prime suspect in her case, but he has never been charged.

In Virginia: they’re still looking for two people missing from the Richmond area: Stephanie Collette Wallace, a 45-year-old woman who went missing from Richmond in 2005, and Robert Lee Hourihan, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Palmyra in 2011. They also are hoping to identify a white or Hispanic man whose skeletal remains were found near a vacant apartment in Highland Springs in 2014.

In Australia: they’re still looking for Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who disappeared while on a camping trip in the Wonnangatta Valley in eastern Victoria back in May. They are believed to have been murdered.

In Canada: they’re still looking for Melanie Ethier, a 15-year-old girl who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in her small Ontario town in 1996. Melanie’s birthday is on Christmas Day.

Interview with me on Crimes of the Centuries podcast

I was interviewed awhile back for the biweekly Crimes of the Centuries podcast, and my interview appears in the most recent episode, which is called “Charley Ross: America’s First Kidnapping for Ransom.” I have not listened to the podcast before but the Charley Ross episode was a good one, covering Charley’s kidnapping and the frustration and agony that followed in detail. Give it a listen if you like.

Article Dump III

The Washington Post has done a three-part feature, called Indifferent Justice, on the serial killer Samuel Little. He is confirmed to have had over fifty victims, including former Charley Project missing person Mary Gertrude Brosley, and claims he’s killed as many as ninety-three. Part One: The Perfect Victim. Part Two: Through the Cracks. Part Three: Still Unsolved.

Discover Magazine has done this article that isn’t about missing persons may be of interest to y’all: What Explains the Decline of Serial Killers? Me, I have noticed a rise in mass murders in the past few decades and wonder if perhaps some of the people who might have been serial killers have decided to become mass murderers instead. Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2014, comes to mind as the sort of person who could have turned into a serial killer if he hadn’t taken the mass murder route instead.

Dateline is now honoring seven years of doing their Missing in America thing. 156 of the people featured on Missing in America are still missing.

From California: Woman Missing Out of Arcata since January; Mother and Law Enforcement Seek Information. The woman is named Jennifer Lynn Dulin and was last seen January 10.

Also from California: Missing Pico Rivera Woman Carolina Martinez Found After 5 Months. She was found alive (I think), but no other info is available.

From Colorado: Glenwood Springs teen Daniela Trejo-Noyola reported missing since September. She is 16 and was last seen on September 8. She will be 17 soon.

From Florida: Brevard County deputies search for missing woman last seen more than 1 year ago. Tara Coppola was last seen in West Melbourne on September 12, 2019.

From Iowa: Person of interest in missing-girl case set for trial on unrelated charges. The missing girl in question is Breasia Terrell missing from Davenport since July 10. She was ten at the time and would be eleven now, if still alive.

From Missouri: Missouri woman desperate to find mother Echo Lloyd who has been missing since Mother’s Day. Echo has been missing since May.

From North Carolina: Fayetteville police looking for woman missing since September. Heather Nichole Holmes was last seen on September 28.

From Ohio: Youngstown police seek info on man they just found out has been missing since 1969. The man is named Frank Cerimele and he was 21 years old when he went missing.

From Pennsylvania: Family & Friends Of Missing 22-Year-Old Tonee Turner Hold Silent Walk. She disappeared from the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh on December 30, 2019.

From South Carolina: Human remains found in Murrells Inlet park in 2018 identified as missing man. The man, David Scott Woolslayer, is listed on the Charley Project; I’ll resolve his case.

From Tennessee: Retired homicide investigator taking on two missing persons cases out of Dunlap. Tiffany Diane Holbert, missing since June 13, 2018, and Matthew Tyler Henry, missing since April 15, 2018. Though they both disappeared from the same town just a few months apart, the cases aren’t believed to be related.

From Texas: 33-year-old veteran missing from Houston home since October, mother says. The man, Marshall Powell, was last seen on October 23.

Also from Texas: Crime Of The Week: Cold case missing person last seen in 1961. Eleven-year-old Scott Andreas “Andy” Sims was last seen in Wichita Falls on December 9, 1961 — that’s 59 years ago tomorrow.

From Wisconsin: MPD: Plea for help in search for woman missing since Oct. 2016. Jamie Lee Hoaglan was last seen in Milwaukee on October 20, 2016.

From Australia: Missing kids campaign: “We’re frozen in time”. About the 1968 disappearances of sixteen-year-old Maureen Braddy and seventeen-year-old Allan Whyte, who disappeared after going out together to a dance at the YMCA in Bendigo, Victoria.

Also from Australia: Human remains found in bushland believed be missing NSW woman. Allecha Boyd has been missing from Coolamon, New South Wales since August 10, 2017; they found remains in the woods near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales and think they’re hers.

From Canada: Remains found in 2009 identified as missing Penticton man. James “Jim” Neufeld disappeared from Penticton, British Columbia in January 2009. His remains were pulled from the Salish Sea about half a mile north of Orcas Island off the Washington coast a few months later, but not identified till now.

From Ireland: Ireland’s missing people: 823 cases remain ‘open’ with the Garda.

From Mexico: The Search for the Disappeared Points to Mexico’s Darkest Secrets. Apparently as a result of the drug war, Mexico now has more missing persons than Guatemala, El Salvador and Argentina do.

From the UK: Fears of rise in Christmas missing people rates due to lockdown.

Also from the UK: Mum of missing Saltdean teen Owen Harding prepares for Christmas. Owen was sixteen when he went for a walk on March 26, three days into the UK’s national coronavirus lockdown, and never returned. This was in Saltdean, a coastal village in the city of Brighton and Hove, England.

MP of the week: Thomas Bowman

This week’s featured missing person is a very old case, over 60 years old in fact: Thomas Eldon Bowman, an eight-year-old boy who disappeared during a hike with his family in Arroyo Cinco Canyon in Altadena, California on March 23, 1957.

Investigators believe he was abducted and murdered by serial killer Mack Ray Edwards, who was active in the fifties and sixties. He pleaded guilty to the murders of three children and has been linked to the disappearance of six missing kids besides Thomas. His known and presumed victims’ ages ranged from seven to sixteen.

Edwards suicided on death row in 1971. He was a heavy equipment operator who worked on high construction in California. A good job for a serial killer; police think he buried the missing children’s remains under the highways.

Latest MP stuff in the news

So I wrote a blog entry on the WordPress app on my phone last night about latest missing persons news. But then the entry refused to upload, no matter how many times I tried to get it to. It wasn’t online at all, only on my phone, so I couldn’t even use my computer to upload it. Grr. Lot of time wasted. Now I will try my best to recreate it.

Some cold case missing persons have been resolved:

  • Edward “Ashton” Stubbs disappeared from Dickinson, North Dakota on June 17, 2013, a few days before his sixteenth birthday. He was from Texas and had gone up to North Dakota to stay with a cousin and work a summer job. He disappeared from his job site. Ashton’s skull was found on private property in Dickinson in December. It has just been identified. His death is under investigation.
  • Sheila Sherrell Franks, age 37, disappeared from Eureka, California on February 2, 2014. A woman of similar appearance, Danielle Bertolini, had disappeared a few days earlier, and people thought their cases might be connected. In 2015, Danielle’s skull was found in the Eel River. Now Sheila’s remains have been identified; her femur, or part of it, turned up in June, near the mouth of the Eel River. Unlike Danielle’s death, Sheila’s death has not (yet) been labeled a homicide, but it is considered “suspicious.”
  • Jo Anne Dolly Burmer has been identified, forty-six years after the 25-year-old disappeared in 1973. A fragment of her skull was found in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it was entered into the DNA database, and it wasn’t until now that there was a match. As nothing else has been found or is likely to be, probably we will never know what caused her death, but I wonder about exposure. This article is very detailed and talks about Jo Anne’s background and her son, who was put in foster care after her disappearance and later adopted by another family.

Some other news:

  • The police have a new lead on the possible identity of “Beth Doe”, a young pregnant woman who was raped and brutally murdered in 1976. Her body was dismembered, stuffed in three suitcases and thrown off a bridge into the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. They think it’s possible that Beth Doe may be Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz, a sixteen-year-old foster child who ran away. They’re trying to find relatives of this Maggie Cruz to get DNA from them to test. I think it’s a long shot.
  • Georgia “Nadine” Kirk‘s son Ted has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for stealing his mom’s Social Security benefits after her disappearance and presumed death. Nadine was 98 years old and in poor health in 2010, the last time anyone saw her. She was reported missing in 2015, and Ted was unable to explain her absence. It seems likely that she simply died of age-related natural causes and Ted, who hadn’t worked since 1980, disposed of her body and kept cashing her checks. Fifteen months in prison, and $30k restitution, seems light, given the circumstances, and the fact that $80k in total was taken from taxpayers. Nadine’s body has never been found.
  • Bernard Brown, the ex-boyfriend of Moreira “Mo” Monsalve, has been charged with her murder. Moreira disappeared from Hawaii in 2014. Her body hasn’t been found and they haven’t said much about the case against Brown, but it seems likely it’ll be circumstantial and possibly include cell phone ping evidence. Murder-without-a-body cases aren’t that common in Hawaii (or anywhere) but other examples include Bongak “Jackie” Koja in 1997, Masumi Watanabe in 2007, and of course Peter Kema in 2017.
  • Nancy Beaumont has died at age 92, 53 years after her children Jane, Arnna and Grant disappeared at the respective ages of nine, seven and four. The Beaumont children have never been found and their disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in Australia’s history. Their father, Grant “Jim” Beaumont, is alive, but is also in his nineties and I think it’s unlikely he will find answers on this side of the mortal plane.
  • The police have released a new sketch of one of Christine Eastin‘s abductors, based off of a recent witness description. I think that’s a reeaaaallly long shot. It’s a rough drawing, this witness’s memory is by now almost fifty years old, and at the time they apparently didn’t realize the significance of what they saw and so they probably took little notice of it. Christine disappeared in 1971 at the age of 19.

MP of the week: Carol Norton

This week’s featured missing person is a very old one, 54 years old in fact: Carol Frances Norton, missing from El Cerrito, California since June 2, 1965. Unfortunately the only photos I have of her are from the mid-fifties, about ten years earlier.

What happened to Carol is pretty much established, and I think if it had happened today, her husband Harvey would probably have been charged with her murder. The mystery is where is her body is. It looks like it could be anywhere between Oregon (where Harvey said they parted ways) and Corpus Christi, Texas (where his bloodstained car was found abandoned).