The sadness I get from the runaways

I posted one runaway case with today’s updates, a girl from Philadelphia. I won’t say her name because, God willing, her case will get removed eventually and I don’t want this blog entry coming back to haunt her later when she applies for things like rental accommodation and college and a job.

She’s been missing since mid-October 2015 — almost thirteen months. Usually I wait two years to post kids classified as runaways, but I sometimes make exceptions if the runaway is under 14. (Don’t ask me why 14 is my arbitrary cutoff. It just is.) In this case, the girl was thirteen and a half years old.

She’s listed as 5’2 but she’s probably grown an inch or two in the past year. She’s Hispanic, but I would have mistaken her for black. She certainly seems to enjoy fixing her hair in African-American styles; one photo I found showed her with braided extensions down to her waist. But I looked up her surname, and although it doesn’t sound at all Spanish, a Puerto Rican university bears that name.

I found her Facebook account, which is not uncommon in runaway cases. Loads of them are on Facebook, and many keep active accounts even while they’re missing. I also found the girl’s Twitter account —  now THAT I’m pretty sure I’ve never found before, not for a missing person. To check and see I searched charleyproject.org for the keyword “twitter” and came up with only a link to Charley’s own Twitter feed and links to the Twitter accounts of two relatives of MPs.

Of course I could only see what this girl chose to make public, but she hadn’t updated the public part of those accounts since well over a year before her disappearance — May 2014 for Facebook, July 2014 for Twitter. (And she has 496 Twitter followers, over 5 times more than my personal Twitter has.) I snagged several pictures of her from both accounts, and wound up with twelve photos altogether, far more than average. I could have added more, actually, but generally I stop at twelve.

Now, I have no idea what her home life was like before she disappeared. All I know is the street where she lived in Philadelphia, and the elementary school she attended. (Oh, and that she has at least two brothers, probably three, maybe more. That info came from her Twitter.) I checked the school website and it’s a K-8. If you go by her age, she was probably in seventh grade, perhaps eighth, when she went missing. That’s all I know about her personal circumstances before she disappeared.

But nevertheless, the information I uncovered while putting together this child’s casefile just made me feel sad. According to the NCMEC and NamUs, she already had at least one tattoo, and perhaps more, by the time she went missing. Some of her pictures betrayed her age, but others did not; she was clearly trying to look much older than she was. One tweet, posted when she was eleven years old, said, in part, that she was “mad as SHIT” because she liked a boy who didn’t like her back. (I don’t want to quote the whole tweet on here.) Her Facebook page had a photo montage with the caption reading “Trust No Bitch.” When she posted that image, she was two weeks past her twelfth birthday.

Let me emphasize that I am not condemning this girl for her makeup and her social media posts. I think some of them are unwise, but she’s a kid, and kids make mistakes. Certainly I’ve made serious mistakes before about what I post on social media, and will probably keep doing so, and I’m an adult. I just think it’s sad because, from what limited information I have, it looks like she was growing up way too fast.

And now she’s been missing for over a year. There’s a good chance she’s got caught up in the child prostitution trade, drugs, that sort of thing. Child traffickers see kids like that as fresh meat. A child can get snatched up and devoured by those vipers within a few days of leaving home. If this girl has gotten involved with that sort of thing, as a substantial percentage of runaways do, she could be anywhere in the country, or even elsewhere in the world.

She might be too ashamed by what has happened to her to call home. She want to call home but be prevented through threats of violence or worse.

Or she might be dead, lying a slab in a morgue somewhere, or in a potter’s field. Or perhaps still undiscovered, in a shallow grave or a landfill. Think of Syllania Edwards, for example, who ran away from Oklahoma and turned up dead — on that notorious mesa in New Mexico, the youngest known victim of more than half a dozen women murdered by a serial killer who remains unidentified.

Wherever she is, this girl from Philadelphia, I hope she’s safe, and I hope she turns up alive and able to put her life back together.

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Aw shucks, I couldn’t resist

Having completed my Charley updates today, and not having much else to do, I found myself making more YouTube videos. Even though I promised to do only two a week, I wound up doing six more:
Charles Howard Bolter

Michael James Gaughan

Alexis Geraldo Hernandez

Rebeca Gabriela Nuno

Deborah Ann Quimby

Kristi Lynn Vorak

MP of the week: Rebeca Nuno

This week’s featured MP is Rebeca Gabriela Nuno, a 21-year-old mother of three who vanished, or perhaps was kidnapped, from Cedar Hill, Texas on May 31, 2005.

I don’t know that much about the case but it looks like she could have been a victim of human trafficking. She called her parents and said everyone should stop looking for her, but she acted strange during the conversation and wouldn’t say where she was or if she was actually okay.

There hasn’t been any news on this case, at least not in the English language media, in a long time.

A Charley Project reader sent me this

A fascinating article on the life of Linda Taylor, who epitomized the urban myth of the “welfare queen” who collects public assistance whilst driving a Lincoln and shopping at Barney’s.

What readers of this blog will find most interesting is the section on Paul Fronczak. Taylor, whose many crimes included trafficking in infants, was considered a suspect in the Fronczak baby’s abduction. She was never cleared and no one knows where she is today or even if she’s still alive she’s been dead for a decade now.

Indian child returns home after being missing seven years

According to this Times of India article, an unidentified thirteen-year-old girl has showed up back in her old district in Jashpur in the state of Chhattisgarh in eastern India, seven years after she was abducted by human traffickers at the age of five.

The little girl’s family had assumed she was dead, and had a ceremony in her memory every year on the anniversary of her disappearance. She claims she was forced to work as a domestic servant in private homes in New Delhi and endured every manner of abuse. I don’t doubt it. Human trafficking is a serious problem in India.

I’m so glad she’s back with her family. I hope they can catch the people who did this to her.

“Couple allegedly traded truck for baby”

From this link: Jamie and Jeremy Brown have been charged with human trafficking after they allegedly swapped their pickup truck for Heather Kaminskey’s newborn boy back in January. They took good care of the child, it says. Kaminskey is also facing charges but is still at large. “She reportedly followed the baby-for-truck trade with a truck-for-meth transaction.”

You know, I think the baby was probably better off with Browns anyway. Why not let them keep him and just deal with the baby-selling drug-using mom? I think she is the greater criminal.

Yuan Xia Wang

I found some additional articles about Yuan Xia Wang and updated her case with a lot more detail today. A citizen of China, She attempted to enter the U.S. illegally with someone else’s passport in 1998. They caught her and sent her to a foster home, from which she disappeared six weeks later. She told the authorities she was twelve, but her foster parents thought she was more like fourteen or fifteen. In any case, she’s been missing for thirteen and a half years.

They don’t seem to know much about Yuan, only what she told them: that she comes from the city of Fuzhou in China and all her immediate family lives there. (Assuming this is all truthful.) Her parents paid big bucks to a Thai man to take her to the U.S., where he was supposed to drop her off at a hotel. He served eight months for passport fraud; I couldn’t find anything else about him. Yuan didn’t speak a word of English, only Mandarin Chinese. Her foster family didn’t speak Mandarin. She was enrolled in junior high, where none of the students spoke Mandarin and only one teacher did. Her foster parents thought she seemed happy enough in their home, but she must have felt really lonely.

It’s up in the air what happened to Yuan, whether she ran away to avoid deportation, or if the smugglers’ network rescued/kidnapped her, or if something else entirely caused her disappearance. The police said it didn’t seem to be like an ordinary human trafficking situation, where the people arrive in the U.S. owing money to the smugglers for their passage and have to work as virtual slaves at sweatshops and brothels: Yuan’s parents had paid for her trip in full ahead of time. In 2008 there were leads placing her in the Kansas City area, but I don’t believe they were ever able to prove she was there. I suppose she could have returned to China.

If she is alive today, Yuan Xia Wang would be somewhere between 25 and 28 years old. Maybe someone out there will recognize a tall Chinese girl with a very round face.