National Hispanic Heritage Month: Usbaldo Hernandez

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Usbaldo Arvizu Hernandez, who disappeared from El Dorado County, California all the way back on July 1, 1969, at the age of 44.

Usbaldo, aka Waldo, wandered quite a bit: a military man and then a migrant farm worker, he often rode trains (not the passenger kind) between Arizona and California. I don’t know if he was just a free spirit or if he had to take what he could get; my boyfriend’s grandfather, who was the same age and was also Hispanic, had done the same sort of thing back in the day.

I don’t know anything about the actual circumstances of Usbaldo’s disappearance, and as he’d be 94 today, chances are that whatever did happen to him, he’s no longer alive.

MP of the week: Inez Garcia

This week’s featured missing person is a very old one: Inez Garcia, who disappeared from Santa Fe, New Mexico on November 2, 1952. Sixty-six years ago this year. If still alive, she’d be something like 92 years old. I’m not 100% sure cause I don’t know her date of birth. In fact, I don’t know very much at all about her, and it’s hard to tell what she looked like from the only available photo.

Inez’s husband, Juan Andres Jose Garcia, is the prime suspect in her disappearance, and as recently as 2014 the police dug up the floor of his garage and found some charred bone fragments which were sent away for testing. I’ve heard nothing more about this.

A long-ago disappearance and a repressed memory

I wrote up the case of Maxine Beatrice Green last night. The details, if true, are pretty horrifying. According to Maxine’s daughter Norma, her ex-husband, Hobart, raped Maxine and beat and strangled her to death and buried her body in a river bottom.

The problem with Norma’s story is that she says she repressed the memory and it only came back to her 25 years after the fact, and she has exactly zero hard evidence to support it.

That Norma herself believes the murder happened is evident in the fact that, after the police wouldn’t listen to her, she used her own money to have the alleged burial site excavated. That Hobart murdered his wife I can also well believe; he was a demonstrably violent man who later beat his baby son to death and buried the body on his farm.

But nothing turned up at Norma’s excavation site except a few buttons and some animal bones. They should have found at least Maxine’s purse, or part of it, or some of the contents of it, as Norma remembers the purse being buried with her mother.

It’s possible, I suppose, that every part of Norma’s story is correct EXCEPT the burial site. But I have some other questions:

  1. What about Norma’s sister, who was also alleged to be present at the murder and burial? What is she saying? How old was she at the time; was she old enough to remember any of this?
  2. What about Hobart’s girlfriend, who was also said to have been there? She is unnamed in the news articles. Does Norma know her identity, and was she ever interviewed?
  3. Maxine and Hobart had four other children. Where were they on the night in question, and do they remember anything?

I think Hobart must be dead by now. I can find no record of his death, but he’d be nearly 90 today and I can’t find him listed as an inmate in the Missouri Department of Corrections database.

Given how old the case is, and how Hobart was already in prison for life, I can understand that the police were reluctant to invest a lot of resources in this. But six children grew up with their mother, and it would be nice to know why, and where she is now.

I got quoted in a Torrington Register Citizen article

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.”

 

My latest Executed Today entries

I’ve had a few entries run recently on Executed Today that I hadn’t mentioned on this blog yet, so here goes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Black History Month: Joseph Edwards

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.