Michael and I were hanging out last night like we do. Because he’d come home right at the beginning of an episode of Say Yes to the Dress (my worst vice) and was forced to sit there watching silly girls try on overpriced wedding gowns for half an hour, I told him to pick whatever he wanted for the next show. He went on Netflix and selected something called Witness, because it “looks cool.”

Witness was FASCINATING and I highly recommend it to the type of crowd that reads the Charley Project and this blog. It’s a documentary where Bill Genovese, the younger brother of Kitty Genovese, who was the victim of an infamous murder in 1964, tries to figure out the truth behind his sister’s death and the story about how 38 people witnessed her murder and none of them lifted a finger, or a phone, to help save her.

I originally heard the murder story in a freshman psychology course at Ohio State. It’s become kind of part of American culture over the years. I think most people in the country have heard this story in one form or another. It got mentioned in the film Boondock Saints and served as part of the McManus brothers’ motivation to go on their vigilante spree.

(Spoiler alerts follow.)

The business about 38 apathetic witnesses is pretty much a myth. Their number probably did not equal 38, most of them did not realize that a murder was taking place, and some of them DID call the cops or otherwise tried to intervene. But the myth shredded Kitty’s family, lead to the early deaths of her parents, and cost Bill Genovese his legs.

I really had to admire Bill; he seems like a very tough person and also a very level-headed, good-hearted man. He tried to meet with Kitty’s killer Winston Moseley — who by any standard was a monster — and when Moseley refused to meet with him, he met with his son and stressed that he was trying to understand what had happened and hopefully find forgiveness in his heart. (Moseley died early this year, after the documentary came out. Good riddance.)

At the end of the film, Bill actually hired an actress to stand outside the same apartment building where Kitty died and sort of reenact the crime while he sat in his wheelchair nearby and listened in the dark. At the end of the scene the actress broke down sobbing; Bill was very calm and took her into his arms.

It was a very interesting and emotional film. Michael and I were still talking about it at lunch today.

Oooooh, this is frustrating…

I’ve spent much of today combing through Newspapers.com looking up stuff on specific old MP cases when I came across a column in the March 27, 1983 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, written by someone named Elinor Klein. It was about how her brother disappeared when he was 17 years old, and the devastation it caused in her family.

I’m pretty sure I have never heard of this case. But I’m not 100% sure because Elinor Klein never said what his name was, or the town he disappeared from. Just that he was 17, a freshman at an unspecified, possibly Ivy League college, and that he was born on February 22, 1937 and disappeared on November 8, 1954. She even includes his picture with the column. But not his name!

I checked NamUs; there’s only two 1954 disappearances in there, and both are of females. I would love to be able to put this young man on Charley if I can. If he was still missing in 1983 — nearly thirty years after he was last seen — he’s probably still missing now.

I looked up more information about Elinor Klein hoping that would lead me to her brother’s identity. Turns out Elinor was still alive as of 2008 and her maiden name was Friedman. I also learned she had a son named Willy at age 40; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch column says, “When my child was born a few years ago… I named my son after my brother and my father.”

Still not enough to go on. Darn it.

See the below images screenshot from Newspapers.com’s PDFs, the column about the missing boy (Willy Friedman?):




On the bright side, Ms. Klein’s column did yield at least one nugget of information that’s of use to me: there were pictures of random missing children scattered across the bottoms of the first two pages, including one of Holly Hughes that’d I’d never seen before. It even shows her teeth! I added it.

Make-a-List Monday: Minors in unusual living situations

I thought I’d make a list today of kids under 18 who were had atypical housing arrangements. I don’t mean kids residing with stepparents, adoptive parents, foster care, boarding schools, group homes or residential treatment centers. Nor do I include cases where the child was left with a non-relative in what was meant to be a temporary arrangement.

I mean minors living with their friends, those living with adult friends of their families, those living with a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend, those living alone, and those living with members of their extended family, provided the extended family were not officially foster parents or adoptive parents.

I know a guy who lived in a situation like that for a few years. I figured I’d talk about him here. I’m using alias names for everyone, and also placing the story in a different state, for privacy. This story is going to last for several paragraphs so skip to the list if you don’t care. This is what he told me:

START OF STORY: Basically, my friend Alec grew up in a tiny sneeze-and-you-miss it farm community in Illinois. Alec was the oldest of three siblings, and his mother abandoned the family when he was like six years old and dropped completely out of sight. There was a divorce but they couldn’t force her to pay child support because they couldn’t find her.

Alec’s father, Craig, was an alcoholic. The only jobs he could get were low-paying manual labor — construction, farm work, that sort of stuff. There was basically no chance of him improving his career prospects because he was more or less illiterate. Craig could write his name, and he could slowly sound out words if he had to, but his comprehension was just about nil. I don’t know if he had dyslexia or an intellectual disability or whether he simply wasn’t properly educated, but it’s hard to find any kind of decent job if you can’t read.

Craig was also an unreliable employee because of his constant drinking. At home, when drunk, he would verbally abuse his children. I asked Alec once if his father ever beat him and he said no, but he did say Craig “smacked him around” sometimes. When Craig wasn’t working, the family subsisted on food stamps and welfare (this was back before the big welfare overhaul in the mid-nineties) and on whatever Alec could bring in from his own part-time jobs.

One day, when he was 16 or so, Alec just fed up with it and left, with no belongings, and only the clothes on his back. He went across town to his best friend from high school, Trevor Martin. By rural Illinois standards, Trevor’s family was rich. Mom was a professional counselor. Dad was an anesthesiologist, which is one of the highest-paying medical specialties. Alec basically showed up on Trevor’s doorstep and asked the Martins he could stay there for two years until he graduated high school.

And they let him. I wouldn’t say the Martins treated Alec like their own son, but they provided for his material needs and they were nice to him and didn’t use them as their verbal or physical punching bag. Alec remains in close touch with the Martin family to this day.

After Alec graduated high school, the Martins’ generosity did not extend towards paying for his college education. I’m not even sure he wanted to go to college anyway, and his GPA wasn’t that great. He opted to join the military. After his discharge he got a high-paying job using the training the military gave him, and he’s doing well for himself.

Technically I suppose this was a runaway situation, but Craig knew exactly where Alec was the entire time, and never reported him missing to the police. Alec continued to attend the same high school, and the teachers knew he was actually living with the Martins, and nobody reported it. I mean, let’s face it, he was in a much better living situation than CPS could have provided him. END OF STORY

Now on to the list!

  1. Anthony Ross Allen
  2. Andria Ann Bailey
  3. Erica Monique Bradley
  4. Kristina Delane Branum
  5. Zackery Lee Brewer
  6. Niki Diane Britten
  7. Monica Cassandra Carrasco
  8. Amber Elizabeth Cates
  9. Christopher Gage Daniel
  10. Tracy Lynn Davenport
  11. Timothy Jacob Davison
  12. Theresa M. Fishbach
  13. Elizabeth Franks
  14. Angela Lee Freeman
  15. Debra Lee Frost
  16. Richard Gorham
  17. Coral Pearl Hall
  18. Tinze Lucinda Huels
  19. Jennifer Jane Hughes
  20. Karen Beth Kamsch
  21. Mary Sue Kitts
  22. Ruth Ann Leamon
  23. Kase Ann Lee
  24. Chloie Rhianna Leverette
  25. Alexandra Cassandra Livingston
  26. Kristopher Charles Loesch
  27. Faloma Luhk
  28. Maleina Quitugua Luhk
  29. Brianna Alexandria Maitland
  30. Tianna Neshelle Martin
  31. Ila Veronica Tucker Maynard
  32. Heather Lorraine Mehlhoff
  33. Launa Renee Merritt
  34. Garnell Monroe Moore
  35. Sophia Felecita Moreno
  36. Tristen Alan Myers
  37. Ariza Maria Olivares
  38. Victoria Jane Owczynsky
  39. Alicia Guzman Padilla
  40. Jose Francisco Fuentes Pereira
  41. Larry Wayne Perry
  42. Eric Wayne Pyles
  43. Christina Marchell Richart
  44. Joseph Rodriguez
  45. Kathleen Edna Rodgers
  46. Qua’Mere Sincere Rogers
  47. Cristina Ester Ruiz-Rodriguez
  48. Alisha Smiley
  49. Roland Jack Spencer III
  50. Rocio Chila Sperry
  51. Edward Ashton Stubbs
  52. Kylan Patrick Stubler
  53. Patricia Lynn Taylor
  54. Mary Rachel Trlica
  55. Daffany Sherika Tullos
  56. Jahi Marques Turner
  57. Leah Jean Van Schoick
  58. Mary Ann Verdecchia
  59. Brittany Renee Williams
  60. April Susanne Wiss
  61. Quinn Renard Woodfolk
  62. Shelby Raistlin Wright


An honorable mention: Marble Ace Arvidson. Although his residence was officially a foster home, his “foster father” was in his twenties — that is, only a few years older than Marble — and many accounts refer to the other residents in the home as “roommates.”

It’s pretty hard to put a list like this together. I may very well have missed a few, or more than a few. My apologies.

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:


(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:


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.”

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