Interesting article from the BBC about why and how people disappear

Thought I’d share this BBC article, which was prompted by the police locating a man who disappeared in 2015. They found him alive and well, living in the woods near a town called Wisbech in the Fens. The man, an immigrant to the UK who was originally from Lithuania, had apparently gone missing on purpose because he was being “exploited” which in this context I think means enslaved.

For the article the BBC interviewed, among other people, a University of Glasgow professor who is “an expert in the geography of missing people.” From the article:

Most missing people, she said, disappeared for a day or two. Cases of long-term missing people were far less common.

Smartphones, social media, CCTV and bank cards can now document our every move, making it more difficult to escape.

But in her study of 40 missing people, many were “very aware” of the locations of CCTV cameras and avoided travelling by bus or train where their image might be caught on camera.

“It surprised us how, in the midst of a crisis and when big emotions are happening, these people managed to navigate such things,” said Prof Parr.

“People are incredibly resourceful.”

Prof Parr said many of those who had disappeared kept moving while missing.

Far more rare, she said, were cases of people “making home”, whether in a deserted building or in woodland, for example.

Article out of Australia about the reasons people walk away

Thought I’d give a shout-out to this article, where they talk about some of the reasons people choose to walk out of their lives. The information was obtained through interviews with Australian people who had done this and then returned. The article notes that

Nearly all missing persons (97%) return within two weeks, which causes these cases to be seen, by both the public and , as simple search operations. Viewing missing persons in this way ignores the underlying issues that trigger disappearances, making prevention strategies more difficult to put in place.

Most of the people who were interviewed said they left during “periods of distress or poor mental health, as well as in response to trauma in their families.” Half of them returned of their own accord and half were found by the police. Support services ought to be provided when they get back, but rarely are.

Happy belated Independence Day (and griping, and missing persons news)

I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend. Mine was kind of terrible. We had a tiny party, four guests (Michael’s parents and two of his coworkers), and I wound up spending a lot of time hiding in the bedroom because I was so stressed by it all. And I was feeling like a failure in general, and wondering how I was going to pull off an entire wedding in October if I was freaking out from anxiety over four guests in my own house.

Of course, who knows if there will even BE a proper wedding in October the way COVID-19 is blazing through this country. I might wind up having to have a Zoom wedding ceremony because of the stupid government not listening to experts and not doing its job to contain the pandemic, and stupid people refusing to wear masks in public because mah rights and mah freedum. We could have been on par with Europe right now as far as flattening the curve goes, but nooooo, people have to be idiots.

(Of course I realize that my wedding is a very small thing in the grand scheme of things, and there are a lot of people out there who are suffering more than me as a result of COVID-19. That doesn’t make me any less angry.)

So some news from the missing persons world:

  1. Later this year, once Americans are allowed to travel to the EU again (assuming that ever happens), a private investigator, a former FBI agent and Annie McCarrick‘s uncle are going to Ireland to make another stab at solving Annie’s 1993 disappearance. (She is on the Charley Project because she was an American, though she disappeared on Irish soil.) They have a new theory about what happened, and have a suspect in mind. I don’t think it’s the same suspect the gardai (Irish police) have had their eye on. Neither person has been publicly identified.
    The gardai think a former IRA member may have killed Annie. He sounds like a nasty character and allegedly raped a twelve-year-old girl, and possibly other victims, and the IRA sent him out of the country so he wouldn’t get prosecuted. He went to the US; I’m not sure where he is now.
    I have wondered before why on earth the IRA would have assisted this man. To begin with, the twelve-year-old he allegedly raped was the daughter of another IRA member. And, though I don’t know much about the IRA, I know they had broad support among the ordinary people of Ireland, and it seems like that wouldn’t be the case if they routinely did things like try to help their child-rapist members escape prosecution. If any of you guys can provide some enlightenment on this, I’d appreciate it if you posted in the comments.
  2. They’ve created a park in Albuquerque, New Mexico in memory of the twelve victims of the still-unsolved West Mesa murders. I’ll say their names again: Jamie Caterina Barela, age 15; her 25-year-old cousin Evelyn JesusMaria Salazar; Monica Diana Candelaria, 21; Victoria Ann Chavez, 24; Virginia Cloven, 22; Syllannia, Terene Edwards, 15; Cinnamon Elks, 31; Doreen Marquez, 27; Julie Nieto, 23; Veronica Romero, 28; Michelle Valdez, 22; and Michelle’s unborn baby. All of the women, except Veronica, were on the Charley Project.
    There are quite a few young women still missing from Albuquerque, and some of them fit the same profile as the women whose bodies were found on the Mesa. I’ve got Nina Brenda Herron, Vanessa Reed, Christine Julian, Leah Rachelle Peebles, Anna Love Vigil and Shawntell Monique Waites, and possibly others.
  3. According to a private investigator, the authorities have a suspect in the 2001 disappearances of of ten-year-old Tionda Z. Bradley and her three-year-old sister, Diamond Yvette Bradley. (The girls disappeared 19 years ago today.) The article says there’s a solid circumstantial case against the suspect (who hasn’t been publicly identified) but prosecutors want some physical evidence, preferably a body, to bolster their case before they file charges against the person.

Oh, and although this isn’t strictly missing persons related, I highly recommend y’all check out this article about the woman who invented the rape kit. Hers was a fascinating and tragic story.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Denis Revolorio Perez

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 Denis Ariel Revolorio Perez, who disappeared from the border city of McAllen, Texas on April 30, 2018. He was 24.

Denis is from Guatemala and at the time of his disappearance, he and a friend were trying to cross the U.S. border illegally by swimming across the Rio Grande. (NamUs has it as “Bravo River” and I’m assuming that’s from the Spanish name for the river, Río Bravo del Norte.) Anyway, Denis’s friend made it; Denis did not and is presumed drowned.

He’s listed with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and presumably with the Mexican authorities as well, as is his remains could turn up on either side.

I found out a little bit more about Denis on Facebook and got some photos from there. He was from Santa Rosa, Guatemala and apparently worked as a dairy farmer. His family still hopes he’s alive, and there is a video in Spanish of a reporter with a woman, presumably a relative of Denis’s, holding up his picture and talking about him. (I cannot understand Spanish.) He came to the U.S. looking for a better life.

It is a HORRIBLY dangerous journey and the desert border areas of northern Mexico and the southwest U.S. are scattered with the remains of migrants who didn’t make it. I know they have a hard time trying to identify the bodies. There’s been an attempt to map migrant deaths; the link shows a map restricted to just one country in Arizona, and it’s got over 3,000 bodies recorded on it.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Ines Paredes

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 Ines Paredes, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared on March 26, 2009.

There isn’t a whole lot of information available. She boarded a bus in Houston, en route to her home in Mexico, but just where in Mexico isn’t said. It would have been a long trip, as Houston is halfway across the state from the nearest border crossing. She apparently never arrived at her destination.

I’m not sure whether the border authorities keep a record of exactly who crosses where, and how the situation is handled with things like a bus. Because the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Ines’s case, I would guess they think she never made as far as Mexico.

It’s noted that Ines may be driving a yellow 1999 Ford pickup with Texas plates. I don’t know how the vehicle is associated with her, since she is supposed to have left in a bus. A lot of unanswered questions here.

If still alive, Ines Paredes would be 44 now.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Enrique Garibay Ruiz

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 Enrique Garibay Ruiz, a 51-year-old who disappeared from Los Angeles, California on October 5, 2017. Two years ago, less a day.

Garibay Ruiz is originally from Mexico, and he traveled to Hungary for college and decided to stay. He lived there with his wife and two kids and had some pretty prestigious jobs: professor, nuclear physicist, mathematician and writer.

He went to Los Angeles for vacation and disappeared on the day he was supposed to fly back. He called his wife and said he was on standby for his return flight, but that doesn’t make sense to me — surely if that was the case, he would have returned his rental car, and he didn’t. In fact the car has never been found. So Garibay Ruiz was lying? If so, why?

He never made his flight and was never seen again. The last sign of him is on October 6, when his credit card was used at a restaurant.

From what I can see it looks like a voluntary disappearance, but it’s entirely on the cards that there’s a lot more going on here that I’m just unaware of.

Latest MP stuff in the news

So I wrote a blog entry on the WordPress app on my phone last night about latest missing persons news. But then the entry refused to upload, no matter how many times I tried to get it to. It wasn’t online at all, only on my phone, so I couldn’t even use my computer to upload it. Grr. Lot of time wasted. Now I will try my best to recreate it.

Some cold case missing persons have been resolved:

  • Edward “Ashton” Stubbs disappeared from Dickinson, North Dakota on June 17, 2013, a few days before his sixteenth birthday. He was from Texas and had gone up to North Dakota to stay with a cousin and work a summer job. He disappeared from his job site. Ashton’s skull was found on private property in Dickinson in December. It has just been identified. His death is under investigation.
  • Sheila Sherrell Franks, age 37, disappeared from Eureka, California on February 2, 2014. A woman of similar appearance, Danielle Bertolini, had disappeared a few days earlier, and people thought their cases might be connected. In 2015, Danielle’s skull was found in the Eel River. Now Sheila’s remains have been identified; her femur, or part of it, turned up in June, near the mouth of the Eel River. Unlike Danielle’s death, Sheila’s death has not (yet) been labeled a homicide, but it is considered “suspicious.”
  • Jo Anne Dolly Burmer has been identified, forty-six years after the 25-year-old disappeared in 1973. A fragment of her skull was found in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it was entered into the DNA database, and it wasn’t until now that there was a match. As nothing else has been found or is likely to be, probably we will never know what caused her death, but I wonder about exposure. This article is very detailed and talks about Jo Anne’s background and her son, who was put in foster care after her disappearance and later adopted by another family.

Some other news:

  • The police have a new lead on the possible identity of “Beth Doe”, a young pregnant woman who was raped and brutally murdered in 1976. Her body was dismembered, stuffed in three suitcases and thrown off a bridge into the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. They think it’s possible that Beth Doe may be Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz, a sixteen-year-old foster child who ran away. They’re trying to find relatives of this Maggie Cruz to get DNA from them to test. I think it’s a long shot.
  • Georgia “Nadine” Kirk‘s son Ted has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for stealing his mom’s Social Security benefits after her disappearance and presumed death. Nadine was 98 years old and in poor health in 2010, the last time anyone saw her. She was reported missing in 2015, and Ted was unable to explain her absence. It seems likely that she simply died of age-related natural causes and Ted, who hadn’t worked since 1980, disposed of her body and kept cashing her checks. Fifteen months in prison, and $30k restitution, seems light, given the circumstances, and the fact that $80k in total was taken from taxpayers. Nadine’s body has never been found.
  • Bernard Brown, the ex-boyfriend of Moreira “Mo” Monsalve, has been charged with her murder. Moreira disappeared from Hawaii in 2014. Her body hasn’t been found and they haven’t said much about the case against Brown, but it seems likely it’ll be circumstantial and possibly include cell phone ping evidence. Murder-without-a-body cases aren’t that common in Hawaii (or anywhere) but other examples include Bongak “Jackie” Koja in 1997, Masumi Watanabe in 2007, and of course Peter Kema in 2017.
  • Nancy Beaumont has died at age 92, 53 years after her children Jane, Arnna and Grant disappeared at the respective ages of nine, seven and four. The Beaumont children have never been found and their disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in Australia’s history. Their father, Grant “Jim” Beaumont, is alive, but is also in his nineties and I think it’s unlikely he will find answers on this side of the mortal plane.
  • The police have released a new sketch of one of Christine Eastin‘s abductors, based off of a recent witness description. I think that’s a reeaaaallly long shot. It’s a rough drawing, this witness’s memory is by now almost fifty years old, and at the time they apparently didn’t realize the significance of what they saw and so they probably took little notice of it. Christine disappeared in 1971 at the age of 19.

Five (sorta) missing people in the wreckage of a crashed plane

So, if a plane crashes and they find the crash site but are unable to recover the bodies for whatever reason, I don’t usually consider those people to be missing, even by my quite generous definition. After all, their fate and the location of their remains is known.

But today, I added five people whose case fit those parameters: plane crash, wreckage found. I decided I could just about wedge the case within the Charley Project’s case requirements because, after the crash site was initially located, it vanished again. It moved.

I doubt that happens all that often, but this was in Alaska, the Land That Eats People.

A small plane carrying four Polish tourists and their pilot was on an aerial tour of Denali National Park when it hit the side of the mountain. This was at 11,000-foot elevation, on an unstable field of ice and snow. When park rangers found the site a few days later, the plane was embedded in snow right on the side of a cliff, as you can see in the photo accompanying this article. The fact that it’s gone now is not terribly surprising: shifting/melting ice and snow, wind, etc.

So anyway, the victims are now up on my site: the pilot, Craig Layson, from Michigan, and the four passengers: Janusz Intek, Maria Libacka, Kazimierz Miernik and Robert Sieniawski, all of them Poles. Rest In Peace. The mountain is their grave.

The Facebook gods smile upon me again

So a week or so ago the Charley Project’s Facebook page inexplicably tanked and all the sudden no one was seeing the posts, no one was liking or sharing or commenting on any of my posts. Now, equally inexplicably, the page’s reach has returned to normal. Shrug. I am glad of it, anyway.

I have no idea how online algorithms and analytics and whatnot work. Sometimes I wish I did. I was reading about the guy behind the hugely popular Twitter account that rates dogs, and he makes a six-figure annual income just from that account, like from selling ad space and merch. Which isn’t to say he isn’t doing anything. He pays very close attention to the analytics and, out of hundreds of dog pictures submitted for consideration every day, he selects the one he thinks will get the most likes and shares, and then after posting a tweet he keeps an eye on it for like fifteen minutes and if it’s not getting an acceptable number of likes and shares, he deletes it and tries again with another dog, another tweet.

So anyway. The most popular story on Charley’s Facebook at present is this one about Shawn Hornbeck’s family. Sadly, Shawn’s stepfather has passed away from cancer at only 57. He had help raise Shawn from infancy and Shawn and his siblings thought of him as their father. Another really popular story is this one, about a Chinese man who was found alive and well, eighteen years after his abduction at the age of three.

The story I would recommend, which hasn’t gotten much attention since I posted it during the time Facebook was ignoring me: this one. The headline basically says it all: “A Girl, 15, Reported a Sexual Assault, Then the Detective Abused Her, Too.”

I’m sure he had other victims as well.

Some things

  1. Michael was released from the hospital today, having dumped 25 pounds of fluid that was backed up around his heart. (No wonder he was having trouble breathing.) He will have to make some dietary and lifestyle changes and take some medications and maybe ease up on working so many hours, but he is expected to make a full recovery.
  2. June 16 was the tenth anniversary of the rape. And I… forgot about this entirely. It wasn’t until like two days later that suddenly that fact popped into my head. For me, that’s recovery.
  3. I’m thinking of making a new category of missing persons listed on the Charley Project: migrants who disappeared while trying to cross the border illegally through the desert. Most of them are kind of assumed to have died out there, but a lot of times there’s no hard evidence of that.
    I would like some feedback from Charley Project users: should I make this new category for the migrants, or should I just keep putting them in “endangered missing” or “lost/injured missing” like I’ve been doing? (Part of the reason I was thinking of making a category just for them is because I’ve never made up my mind whether they should be in endangered missing or lost/injured missing.)
    I’d like it if you put your about this opinion in the comments.