MP of the week: Sasha Bishop

This week’s featured missing person is Sasha Marrie Bishop, a 37-year-old Hispanic woman who disappeared from Bakersfield, California on May 9, 2015, leaving three children.

Sasha is described as 5’2 and 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She has a couple tattoors, including stars on the side of her face and a full sleeve on her right arm.

The house where Sasha was last seen was “frequented by transients”, whatever that means. One neighbor believed the residents were squatting. Joe Ray McBath was shot to death in that house less than a month after Sasha was last seen. His murder remains unsolved. The police have said they don’t think Sasha’s disappearance and the murder are connected, but did say they were seeking Sasha to interview as a possible witness.

If still alive, Sasha would be 44 today.

All the conspiracy theorists in the Gabby Pettito case are driving me mad

So social media can be a blessing AND a curse, and I think in the Gabby Pettito case it’s mainly turned out to be a curse. People who don’t know anything keep speculating, pulling all sorts of ideas out of their rear ends. There’s a reason I don’t normally hang around web-sleuthing and true-crime forums and Facebook groups and so on because this happens a lot in those places and I find it infuriating.

Back in the days when such talk was confined to one’s immediate social circle in the physical world (the breakfast table, coworkers, your friend group), it was pretty much harmless. But online, it is not necessarily harmless and I think the speculation in Gabby and Brian’s case is a pretty good example of the harm it can cause.

For example, during the time Brian was missing, Internet mobs were harassing men whose only crime was that they bore some vague physical resemblance to him. Armchair detectives were claiming that Brian’s parents must have him hidden in a bunker under their backyard and when his mom appeared to be gardening she was actually passing food and stuff down to his bunker. People were protesting outside Brian’s parents’ house and some rando sued his parents for $40 for absolutely no reason I can determine.

This all kind of reminds me of when the Internet (for some reason) decided the furniture company Wayfair was trafficking children through their website, listing kids for sale in disguise as overpriced cabinets. Internet mobs were actually HARASSING MINOR CHILDREN who had returned home after being missing for a period, to the point where one poor girl went on Facebook Live to say she was alive and well and with her family and had not been trafficked and was begging people to stop this nonsense as it was ruining her life. I was horrified and tremendously angry about this and still am frankly.

And now that Brian has been found, the Internet mobs who had seemed so dedicated to solving the case themselves now suddenly don’t want it to be solved and try to keep coming up with reasons why the remains that were identified as him could not be him.

It’s like these people think that this is a fascinating Netflix series, and now it’s over and they don’t want it to be over and are desperately trying to come up with excuses to carry on with another season of the Gabby and Brian Mystery Show…at the expense of the very real people involved in it. I am really hoping that Gabby and Brian’s respective families and friends are staying offline at the moment and don’t read any of the garbage that’s being spouted. Stuff about fake teeth, fake remains, substituted dental records, all sorts of conspiracies are being made up out of thin air.

But this isn’t Netflix. This is real life. And this is a very sad but very familiar story of a domestic abuser who killed his partner and then, probably, himself. It’s a story that happens every day all around the world and frankly I don’t understand why Gabby and Brian’s particular tragic saga has captivated so many people.

Honestly, I think the reason behind a lot of conspiracy theories is that people want to feel like they’re smarter than everybody else, even the experts. Like there’s some big secret thing going on that only they know about, so they get sucked into believing the most ridiculous things.

I certainly don’t mind if a person has legitimate good-faith questions that can be answered. Like, when I don’t know something, I look it up or I ask someone who knows.

Some people have asked why dental records were used in the identification and not DNA. Answer: dental records are much faster and cheaper than using DNA, and so that’s what’s usually done unless either the records or the decedent’s teeth are unavailable. Others have asked why only partial remains were located. Answer: probably his body had been lying in that nature preserve for weeks, maybe over a month, and animals would nibble on bits and take away pieces to eat.

But those people who ask the questions, then flatly dismiss your answers and laugh in your face and go chasing after some completely implausible story they made up themselves, I cannot stand that. Either you want to learn, or you don’t, you know?

If you DO want to learn, I have some recommendations of books on the topics of forensic science and domestic violence that you guys might find interesting. I have read all of these books myself and found them both interesting and educational.

On forensic science, I recommend (in no particular order):

  1. Sue Black’s Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind and All That Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality, and Solving Crimes
  2. Richard Shepherd’s Unnatural Causes: The Life and Many Deaths of Britain’s Top Forensic Pathologist
  3. Malcolm Dodd and Beverley Knight’s Justice for the Dead: Forensic Pathology in the Hot Zone
  4. Stefan Timmermans’s Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths
  5. Colin Evans’s Blood On the Table: The Greatest Cases of New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
  6. Ryan Blumenthal’s Autopsy: Life in the Trenches with a Forensic Pathologist in Africa
  7. Zakaria Erzinclioglu’s Maggots, Murder, and Men: Memories and Reflections of a Forensic Entomologist
  8. Cynric Temple-Camp’s The Cause of Death: True Stories of Death and Murder from a New Zealand Pathologist

On domestic violence I recommend:

  1. Rachel Louise Snyder’s No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us
  2. George Lardner’s The Stalking of Kristin: A Father Investigates the Murder of His Daughter

(Incidentally, if you read a lot like me and you have a smart phone I highly recommend Scribd. It’s a reading app kind of like Amazon’s Kindle, and provides you with unlimited access to Scribd’s large, regularly updated library of books for just $10 a month. It has a wide selection of books, including academic type books that cost a lot of money to buy, and including some of the books I listed above. You can read as many as you like for just the flat $10 fee. For me, it’s more than paid for itself.)

Still thinking about the Barbara Kelley/Red Baird case

It’s not often that I come across an old case of a missing child from the US that I’ve literally never heard of in my life, but when it happened the other day with 17-year-old Barbara Joe Kelley, missing since 1950, and I immediately added it to Charley.

Before the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office put up a listing of unsolved cold case homicides and missing persons (in chronological order with Barbara at the very bottom), she wasn’t listed anywhere. I’m hoping now that she’s on Charley, other databases will follow suit and add her. I found a better quality copy of the second photo I originally posted and replaced the image today.

I don’t think it’s possible to arrest anyone at this point; whoever did this is almost certainly dead. But it might still be possible to find Barbara and lay her to rest. And in any case, Barbara, Henry “Red” Baird, and this tragic mystery should be remembered and honored.

Gayle Patrick Irish seems like a good suspect to me. The fact that he is said to have been in a mental hospital at the time of his confession is not necessarily an indication he was mentally ill; back in those days a lot of state mental hospitals had dedicated units for “sexually disordered offenders” whose “disorder” was merely that they couldn’t seem to stop raping people or molesting kids.

At the time he was arrested for the sex crime for which he was incarcerated at the time of his confession to killing Barbara, Red, and the Marysville man, he had a hunting rifle in his possession. The police confiscated it, but they don’t seem to have paid any particular mind to it at the time. And why should they have? Irish wasn’t, at the time, suspected of having committed any crimes with a gun; all of his known offenses had been committed with his penis.

By the time Irish made his statements about the murders, the rifle had been lost and it was apparently never found. What a great shame that it was, cause it would have been nice to see if they could have made a ballistics comparison with the Kelley/Baird and Marysville crime scenes.

Unfortunately Irish disappears from the headlines after they were unable to locate Barbara’s body. I don’t know what happened to him or if he ever recanted his statements. If he was alive today he’d be over a hundred by now.

Thoughts?

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.

Sorry for the recent silence

Yeah, I haven’t updated in a bit and I’m sorry. The last week has been super busy, mainly with wedding stuff. Michael and I are getting married Saturday.

I picked up my dress at the alterations place yesterday and it fits me perfectly. In my completely unbiased opinion I’m going to be the most beautiful bride in the world. There’s not going to be any honeymoon because of Covid. Michael will go back to work on Monday and so will I.

So, in lieu of Charley Project updates, here’s a sample of the more interesting recent missing and unidentified persons news:

  1. A woman whose body was found off Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California in 1981 has been identified as 26-year-old Lily Prendergast, who was last seen when she left her family’s Texas home in late 1980.
  2. John Michael Carroll disappeared from Victor, Idaho in 2005. His skeletal remains were found “in the general area” where he lived in 2013, and were identified this month.
  3. Hollis Willingham has been arrested in the murder of Jim Craig Martin, who disappeared from Normangee, Texas on August 6, 2007. It doesn’t look like Martin’s body has been found, however.
  4. Thomas Drew disappeared from Salisbury, Connecticut in 2007. He used to be on Charley but then his daughter asked me to remove the case. She didn’t like what I’d written, I guess. Anyway, he is still missing, and his daughter has recently published a memoir, Searching for My Missing Father: An American Noir. It sounds very interesting and I added it to my wishlist.
  5. Blackfeet Community College, in corroboration with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, has launched a website to help streamline missing persons reports of Native American people: “The website [linked here] allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement.”
  6. A woman’s torso found washed ashore in the seaside community of Benicia, California in 1979 has been identified as Dolores Wulff, who disappeared from Woodland, California that year. Dolores’s husband Carl Wulff Sr. had actually been charged with her murder in 1985, but the charge was dismissed later that year and he died in 2005.
  7. A skull found on Mount Hood in Oregon in 1986 has been identified as that of Wanda Ann Herr, who had left a Gresham, Oregon group home a decade earlier at the age of nineteen. No missing persons report was filed at the time and the most recent photo available showed her at age twelve. The police are asking anyone who knew Wanda or has any info on her 1976 disappearance to contact them.
  8. The police have identified a new suspect in the 1973 disappearance of Barbara Jean Aleksivich from Bath, New York. The suspect, Richard W. Davis, is now dead, but he was recently identified through DNA as the killer of Siobhan McGuinness, a Missoula, Montana six-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1974. Barbara, who was 24, was way out of Richard Davis’s preferred age range for victims, but he did live in Bath at the time Barbara disappeared. A previous suspect in her case, who still lived in the Bath area last I knew, has been cleared.
  9. The body of Ethan Bert Kazmerzak, who disappeared from Hampton, Iowa in 2013, has probably been found. At least they found his car submerged in a local pond, with human remains inside. The remains have been sent to the state medical examiner to be identified, but it’s highly unlikely it’s anyone but Ethan.

Well, that was not what I expected

In the Bakersfield, California area in the spring of 2018, there were two men who were murdered: Micah Holsonbake, who disappeared in late March and whose arm was found in the river in December, and James Kulstad, who was shot in his mother’s car in early April. A Bakersfield woman, Baylee Despot, disappeared in late April that year.

They all knew each other and ran in the same circles, and there was talk that the cases must be connected somehow. The media, and the mothers of the missing/murdered individuals, called them “the Bakersfield Three.”

Well, there’s been a break in the case: it turns out the Bakersfield Three is actually the Bakersfield Two, as the police have decided Kulstad’s murder isn’t related to the other cases, and it turns out Despot and her boyfriend killed Holsonbake. She and the boyfriend, Matthew Queen, have been charged with murder, torture and conspiracy, and another man, Matthew Vandecasteele, has been charged with kidnapping and conspiracy in that case.

The police are still not sure what happened to Despot, though, whether she’s on the run or whether she herself met with foul play. With that in mind I’ve decided to keep her up on the Charley Project, murder charges or no. Despot’s mom seems to think Queen killed her, which seems likely to me.

What an awful mess. I feel so bad for the mothers of all involved.

Articles:

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Nina Herron

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 Nina Brenda Herron, who disappeared from Albuquerque, New Mexico on May 14, 2005. She was 21 years old.

Nina is one of MANY women missing from Albuquerque. Eleven victims between the ages of fifteen and thirty-two (and one fetus) were found in a mass grave in the desert on the West Mesa; those murders remain unsolved. Many of other women remain missing, however, and it’s unclear whether their disappearances are tied to the West Mesa murders.

If still alive, Nina would now be 35.

Stumbled across some info on Telethia Good’s disappearance

So I was reading David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets aka “the book that inspired the TV show The Wire” and discovered Telethia Good is mentioned in it, although not by name.

David Simon shadowed the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide unit for a year, from January to December in 1988, and wrote about the cases they solved, and didn’t solve. One of the most prominent homicides was that of Latonya Kim Wallace, an eleven-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted, stabbed and strangled.

The prime suspect is identified in the book only as “The Fish Man” (because he was a fishmonger). He knew Latonya Wallace and had a history of sexual assault and was just generally creepy, and there was some physical evidence that indicated he might have been involved. Obviously they didn’t have the kind of DNA testing thirty years ago that they have now, though.

The cops looked to see if they could connect the Fish Man to any other cases and at this point the book says that a nine-year-old girl who lived on Montpelier Street disappeared in 1979 and was never found, and she was “a dead ringer” for Latonya Wallace. The cops learn that the Fish Man’s business partner at that time lived on Montpelier Street and the Fish Man visited him there often. When they show the suspect a photo of the missing girl, he initially says he recognizes it, then backtracks and says he doesn’t.

In spite of the police’s best efforts, the Fish Man never confessed to Latonya’s murder, never mind Telethia’s case, and they couldn’t find enough evidence to prosecute him. According to the afterword in the book, he’s dead now.

I immediately checked on Charley to find a girl who matched the particulars of the missing child case in the book. Telethia disappeared in 1978, not 1979, and she was seven, not nine, but she did live on Montpelier Street and she does look quite a lot like Latonya Wallace.

I suppose I’ll add this info to her casefile. Shame I don’t know the Fish Man’s name. Now that he’s dead there’s no harm in releasing that info, I should think.

A one-woman crime wave

Having noticed that Newspapers.com had loads of back issues of the Austin American-Statesman, I decided to start researching Austin, Texas cases. I have updated several on Charley, and learned a great deal more about the disappearance of Gracie Nell Nash and the one-woman crime wave that is Naomi Easley Moore.

Our story begins in May 1983, when Melvin Davis broke up with his girlfriend Naomi Easley. Almost immediately, the trouble started. Let’s have a list, shall we.

  1. Easley writes letters to Melvin’s boss trying to get him fired.
  2. Melvin and John Davis’s shared house is burglarized, and someone slashes the tires of John’s car and trailer.
  3. Melvin catches Easley pouring sugar and syrup into his gas tank.
  4. Easley and Melvin get in a physical confrontation inside his house, she pulls a gun on him, and he takes it away from her. She runs out of the house, then returns to ask for the gun back. He refuses to give it to her, and calls the police. Easley is put on a bond to keep the peace.
  5. Someone breaks into the Davises’ house, slashes all of John’s clothes and tries to start a fire in the bedroom.
  6. Someone sets the Davis brothers’ garage on fire, destroying one of John’s race cars.
  7. A third brother, Ronnie, is shot at by an intruder in Melvin and John’s house. He is uninjured.
  8. Easley shoots Melvin in the wrist. She is arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and bails out.
  9. Three days later, someone fires several shots at John and misses.
  10. Gracie Nash, the Davises’ sister, disappears, apparently abducted from the parking lot of her workplace, the day after Christmas.
  11. The next day, the Davis parents get a call from someone who tells them if they ever want to see Gracie alive again, Melvin has to drop the charges against Easley.
  12. Gracie’s car turns up abandoned with Nash’s coat and evidence of a shooting, including a large amount of blood. Her body is never found.
  13. John is shot to death outside his house.
  14. Easley goes to trial for shooting Melvin, but the jury deadlocks, and she takes a plea and gets probation.
  15. Four and a half years later, Easley (now married and using the last name Moore) shoots her husband to death and is FINALLY sent to prison.

I have several questions about this:

  1. Is the Austin Police Department really so incompetent that they can’t put a case together against Naomi for any of the other burglaries, arsons, attempted murders, and two murders she obviously committed?
  2. Did Naomi stop her campaign of terror against Melvin Davis and his family after she was put on probation, or did it just drop out of the news at that point?
  3. Is anyone in the Austin PD still bothering to investigate John Davis and Gracie Nash’s murders? I looked her up, and Naomi Easley Moore is very much alive in prison right now. In fact, she became eligible for parole in 2004. And, um, Texas is a death penalty state.
  4. Did Naomi Easley have a pre-1983 history of launching into psychotic crime sprees against other ex-boyfriends?
  5. If it’s ever legally verified that Naomi Easley murdered Gracie Nash and John Davis, along with the third murder of her husband in 1989, would that qualify her as a serial killer?

Honestly, I obviously don’t have all the information, but I’m getting the impression that the police just didn’t care about what was happening. I don’t know if it was a race/class thing or what; the Davises were black children of sharecroppers and there were 17 kids in the family. They seem to have been respectable people but no doubt they were poor.

At her trial in the shooting of Melvin, the jury wasn’t allowed to hear about the murders of John and Gracie, and I’m not sure how much they heard about all the other stuff that happened. Three of the jurors wanted to convict her of attempted murder. Six opted for aggravated assault, and three wanted to acquit her.

One of the ones who voted for acquittal said he wasn’t sure Melvin could see Easley clearly as it was getting dark at the time of the shooting. Another said he thought Melvin was “going out on” Easley, which seems very improper to me — whether Melvin was being unfaithful or how he treated her was not at issue, the issue was whether or not she shot him.

But even if the jury couldn’t hear about the murders, the court knew about it. And she somehow managed to get PROBATION, after all of that. And the story ended in another man’s death.

I have done my best for it

FINALLY got the wretched Hart case finished today, after weeks of researching and struggling to put the story together. The case summary is 3,200+ words, exceeding the Peter Kema casefile by over 1,000 words.

It was a challenge, trying to tell the story in such a way as to minimize confusion when there was so much going on, and so many lies told. While Jen and Sarah are abusing their three adopted kids in Minnesota, at the same time down in Texas three more kids who will be adopted by Jen and Sarah but whom they don’t know yet are being taken away from their biological mother. Etc.

And it’s such an awful story, just sheer horror and misery start to finish. The sadness behind those forced smiles. The tiny, scrawny kids, their limbs like sticks, hungry all the time because their mothers didn’t feed them.

And so many people, in so many parts of the country, screwed up. This is mostly on Jen and Sarah, but it wasn’t all them. They should never been permitted to adopt children, never mind a large number of kids from foster care. They should never been permitted to adopt the first set of kids after how they’d treated their foster daughter. They should never have been permitted to adopt the second set of kids when they had child abuse proven against them, and admitted by them. Once adopted, there was enough proof of abuse and neglect that the children should have been removed from their homes half a dozen times at least, over the years.

Devonte and his siblings did not have to die the way they did.

I have done my best for them.