Like a month ago I was interviewed about the Connie Smith case, and the articles about it are finally coming out. This one came out on August 13; now the second one has been released, and it contains a quote from me:
Meaghan Good, 32, of Ohio, has been administrator for The Charley Project website since 2004. The site profiles approximately 10,000 “cold case” missing people, mainly from the U.S., from the 1800s up until now, with 10, 671 cases currently open.
Good posits that Connie likely met with foul play: “You see this a lot, especially in the 10-to-13 age group,” she said. “They start becoming more independent but they are still pretty naïve.”
“It is very, very sad,” she said. “The father lived to be a Biblical age and never found out about her. The suspect would likely be dead now. But it is possible for the case to be solved. Technology makes it resolvable.”
Got another Executed Today entry for y’all, the first in quite awhile: Seisaku Nakamura, the Hamamatsu Deaf Killer, a teenage serial killer in World War II Japan. He didn’t prey on deaf people but was himself deaf.
Nakamura was able to rack up a considerable body count for his age. He was hanged at the age of nineteen.
I’ve had a few entries run recently on Executed Today that I hadn’t mentioned on this blog yet, so here goes:
- January 14, 1792: John Phillips hanged for robbery in Dublin, Ireland. Little is known about the case, but he would probably have been reprieved but for a little snafu with the paperwork.
- January 18, 1884: Maggie and Maggie Cuddigan lynched in Ouray, Colorado. They had adopted a little girl from an orphanage and proceeded to starve, neglect, maltreat and abuse her for months until she finally died.
The outrage must have been tremendous even by lynch mob symptoms — how often do you hear of white women, particularly visibly pregnant ones, getting lynched? The dead man’s own brothers did nothing to help him, though they might have been able to stop the lynching, and afterwards, the local priest refused to perform the funeral service and none of the local cemeteries would accept their bodies.
- February 20, 1948: Thomas Henry McGonigle gassed in California for the 1945 murder of fourteen-year-old Thora Chamberlain.
This was a murder-without-a-body case, one of the first in the state. (Though, after I’d already written the entry, Tad DiBiase told me it wasn’t actually THE first.) Thora is featured on Charley.
I’m really glad they took the risk of prosecuting this. They had a very strong case, but many prosecutors wouldn’t have wanted to touch the case without Thora’s body. McGonigle was clearly a very dangerous man and sounds like a serial killer in the making if he wasn’t one already.
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 Joseph “JoeEd” Edwards, who disappeared from Vidalia, Louisiana on July 12, 1964, at the age of 25. (In the circumstances section of his NamUs page it says he was 21, but all other sources I can find list his age as 25.)
After his disappearance, they found his car abandoned behind a bowling alley, with bloodstains inside and a necktie, tied in the shape of a noose, draped over the steering wheel.
Because of the noose thing, and because JoeEd had dated white women, the prevailing theory is that he was killed by the Ku Klux Klan. The FBI have gotten tips to that end; some stories say he was covered in concrete and thrown in the Mississippi, others that he was skinned alive.
In any case, over 50 years after JoeEd’s disappearance, it’s likely that anyone who was involved in his case is dead now.
This week’s featured MP is Anna Francis Leatherwood, one of my older cases. She’s been missing for over 50 years. Anna disappeared from Sevierville in eastern Tennessee on May 20, 1966, at the age of 45. For reasons that should be obvious from the casefile, her husband is the prime suspect in her disappearance and presumed murder.
Middle-aged married couple William Durrell Patterson, 52, and Margaret M. Patterson, 42, vanished from El Paso, Texas on March 5, 1957. They were last seen by a neighbor who dropped by with some Girl Scout cookies. Margaret looked upset at the time and William didn’t seem to want company. That night there was unspecified “unusual activity” observed at the Patterson home. The next day they were gone, and it looked like they had left in a hurry.
William in particular seems to have been involved in some kind of sketchy things. His own father said he “made his living doing sleight-of-hand tricks” and he had always expected the Pattersons to disappear eventually.
There are some indications that they left of their own accord, the appearance of the house nonwithstanding. Let’s break it down:
- On March 15, the Pattersons’ accountant got a telegram with instructions on how to manage their business in their absence. HOWEVER, the telegram was signed “W.H. Patterson” and not “W.D. Patterson.” The obvious explanations I can think of are (1) William did not really send that telegram or (2) William did send the telegram but messed up his initials on purpose as a duress signal.
- William’s mistress, who lived in Juarez, said she saw him in the early morning hours of March 6 (the day after he and Margaret were seen in El Paso) and he told her he had important things to tell her and “when they come for me, I’ll have to go in a hurry.” HOWEVER, she later recanted this statement. What I’m wondering is: if William had important things to tell her, why not just tell her right then, since they were together and all?
- The couple’s business associates went around telling everyone they were on an extended vacation. No word as to where they were getting this information, but as a result they weren’t reported missing for five months.
- The Pattersons’ lawyer eventually got a letter, supposedly from William, postmarked May 29. It said they were getting out of dodge and would not be returning, and instructing that their property should be divided up. HOWEVER, the selection of heirs was…curious, to say the least, and handwriting experts were not sure that William had actually signed the letter, and for several legal reasons (starting with the fact that Margaret co-owned the couple’s photography business), it had no actual value as a will.
In 1984, a witness went to the police and said he had been hired to clean the Pattersons’ home after they disappeared and he saw blood in the garage, a piece of human scalp stuck to William’s boat propeller, and someone carrying away bloodstained sheets. The witness was an illegal immigrant and he said he didn’t go to the police at the time because he was afraid he’d be deported. I’ve got no idea if there’s any evidence to back up his statement. I’ve watched Forensic Files; I know they have all sorts of gizmos and experts in all kinds of obscure fields of crime scene analysis and it seems like if the house had still been there, they might have found something.
For what it’s worth, Margaret was completely estranged from her family. They hadn’t heard from her in 20 years and they assumed she was dead, which is an odd assumption if you ask me. She was a young healthy woman and she doesn’t appear to have vanished out of their lives into thin air; she became estranged from them because they disapproved of her marriage to William. So why would they assume she was dead?
Now, it’s been 60 years, and both of the Pattersons would be over 100 years old by now, so it’s a safe bet to assume they’re not alive anymore. What I would like to know is: do y’all think they were alive after 1957?
Let’s talk about it.
Flashback Friday today is Lorraine Judith Chance, or Barrie-Chance according to this Facebook page someone set up for her. Her nickname was Lee. Lorraine’s been missing nearly seventy years: since 1948. On January 3 of that year, she left her only child at a babysitter’s and never came back to get it. This was in Santa Cruz, California.
Lorraine would be about 95 now so it’s very unlikely she’s still alive, but there’s also no evidence of foul play in her disappearance. They know she was alive nearly three months after she left her daughter at the babysitter’s, because on March 28 she applied for VA benefits; her deceased husband had been in the Navy. Her application got approved in August, but by then she was nowhere to be found.
There’s every chance in the world that Lorraine, a recently widowed single mother only 25 or 26 years old (I don’t know her exact date of birth, just the year), simply got overwhelmed and decided to walk away, only to resurface elsewhere and lead a long life. Maybe she remarried and had more kids, and her daughter has half-siblings out there.
I mean, it’s happened before many times. Think of Esther Gavin. Lucy Johnson.
Lorraine’s family would like to know her fate. I wonder if her daughter or any other relatives has tried submitting their DNA to Ancestry?