If you haven’t already heard, last week the police announced they’d finally identified the Boy in the Box, a young boy aged approximately three or seven years old whose naked, malnourished, beaten body was found in a cardboard box in the woods in Philadelphia back in 1957.
I didn’t think they’d ever be able to put a name to him, frankly, though I know they have tried very hard over the years. But genetic genealogy has been a game-changer for so many cold cases and apparently this was one of them.
They will be announcing the child’s name at a press conference scheduled for 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.
I’m not sure why they’re waiting to announce his name. Maybe there’s a suspect who’s still alive and they’re trying to track that person down before they make the announcement? Or maybe they’re trying to locate and notify next of kin? Word is he came from a “prominent” family, whatever that means.
I’m so happy that they’ve been able to find out his name. I know many people from law enforcement and from the wider community have worked so hard on this case over the past 65 years.
According to everybody, Melissa Suzanne Highsmith, a toddler who was abducted by a phony babysitter from her family’s Fort Worth, Texas home in 1971, has been found alive and well and has reunited with the Highsmith family. She had been living under the name Melanie Warren.
This is obviously terrific news. She had been missing for 50 years, 51 years in August!
I am going to wait on official police confirmation on this because past hoax “finds” have made me wary. But it is really awesome news. Her family will have her home for Christmas.
So, the now-resolved case of Desiree Thompson on the Charley Project used to start off like this:
Thompson was last seen in the 20900 block of 83rd Street in California City, California on January 7, 2012. In the early morning hours she had had a domestic violence incident with her estranged husband, Edward “Face” Gibson III, where he showed up at her door and pointed a shotgun at her.
At 10:00 a.m., Thompson’s mother tried to call her but was unable to reach her, and so came to her apartment. She found Thompson at home but very frightened, with furniture stacked against the apartment door. Thompson’s mother offered to take care of her children until Thompson could get the situation sorted.
Then later that day she disappeared, and so did her husband. It was sort of assumed, under the circumstances, that he must have kidnapped or murdered her. Certainly he sounds like a dangerous individual.
Well, the assumption was wrong. Edward Gibson may not be the nicest person, but he didn’t kill his wife. Desiree, it turns out, was the victim of a random predator who got mad at someone else and decided to take it out on her, a complete stranger whom he happened to see walking down the street minding her own business. Quite a disturbing story.
Researchers in Australia claim they have identified the Somerton Man, a very mysterious case of a John Doe who died of unknown causes on Somerton Beach south of Adelaide in 1948. It’s also known as the Tamam Shud case cause those words (Persian for something like “it is finished”) were written on a scrap of paper in his pocket.
They’re saying his name is Charles Webb, who went by Carl. He was an electrical engineer from Melbourne. Honestly I was expecting the Somerton Man to be have had a more interesting occupation than this.
Why Webb was sitting against the seawall on Somerton Beach, with a scrap of paper bearing Persian words in his pocket and all the labels on his clothes removed, and what he died of, remains a mystery.
The police have yet to confirm the ID, hence my question mark in the title of this blog post. It makes me nervous that they haven’t commented yet. I’ve been burned so many times.
Some articles from a variety of sources, both paywalled and not, pick your poison:
“Princess Doe”, an unidentified teenage girl whose remains were found in Blairstown, New Jersey in 1982, was at one time thought to be Diane Genice Dye. She wasn’t Diane, but after forty years she finally has her name back: Dawn Olanick, age seventeen. And they’ve arrested her killer, a fellow by the name of Arthur Kinlaw, who is already serving twenty years to life in another murder.
The story is laid out in this article from the New Jersey Herald. Seventeen-year-old Dawn was “told to leave her mother’s residence” after her junior year in high school and was not reported missing after she did. She met up with Kinlaw, a pimp, who attempted to force her into prostitution. When Dawn resisted, Kinlaw killed her. He confessed to the homicide in 2005, but the authorities chose not to prosecute until they had identified the victim.
As for Diane Dye, she’s still missing. If still alive, she’d be 56 today.
The weather is terrible and everything going on in the world right now is terrible and the dashboard of my website (that’s my end) is experiencing technical difficulties that are extremely annoying to me, so I thought I’d share one good thing that’s happened recently.
Thanks in part due to the Charley Project and viewers like you, and in part due to a bunch of other people in law enforcement and such, and mainly cause of DNA Solves, this lady has been identified. Four years after they found her remains and six years after she was last seen alive at the age of eighteen, Juanita Diane Roxy Coleman is going home.
Now, I’m too tired and too annoyed with WordPress and the world to think straight right now. But I am happy that Juanita has her name back. And maybe, now they can figure out who killed her.
To the surprise of no one, the remains of missing teens Erin Leigh Foster, 18, and Jeremy Lee Bechtel, 17, have been identified inside the wreckage of Erin’s car, which was found in 13 feet of water in a local river near Sparta, Tennessee. Per the article, the car was “almost completely intact” and it looks like they just ran off the road, poor kids.
It’s been 22 years in April, and I’m sure their families are relieved that they’ve found answers. May Erin and Jeremy rest in peace.
I’m feeling a lot better today.
Now, in my time I’ve read many, many horrifying stories as part of my Charley Project research. I’ve pored over detailed descriptions of dismemberment and decomposition. It takes a lot to shock me.
But this article has got to be one of the grossest and saddest stories I’ve read in awhile.
Also, regarding the vehicle information change, I’ve now done the following letters: A, E, I, O, Q, U, V, X, Y, and Z. And I’m halfway through B.
It is extremely boring.
That is all.
PS if you want a palate cleanser try this cute baby aardvark.
Due in part to the activites of Adventures with a Purpose (and they are awesome, check them out and give them money or something), it seems like there have been quite a few missing persons are turning up inside their cars inside lakes and rivers lately. I have many cases to resolve.
Most recently we’ve got, in no particular order:
- Miriam Ruth Hemphill, 84, missing from Oak Ridge, Tennessee since July 22, 2005. Her vehicle was found in Melton Hill Lake with human remains inside.
- Samantha Jean Hopper, 19, and her unborn baby, and her 1-year-old daughter, Courtney Esther Danielle Holt., missing from Russellville, Arkansas since September 11, 1998. Their car was found in eight feet of water in Pope County, Arkansas, although the news articles I’ve found haven’t said which specific body of water.
- Judith Ann Chartier, 17, missing from Chelmsford, Massachusetts since June 5, 1982. This was a surprise, as everyone had suspected foul play in her case. But it turned out she’d (probably accidentally) driven her car into the Concord River in Billerica, Massachusetts. The remains inside have already been identified as hers.
- Van Thay “Stephanie” Nguyen, 26, and her two children, 4-year-old Kristina Thay Nguyen and 3-year-old John Thai Nguyen, missing from Cincinnati, Ohio since April 18, 2002. Their vehicle was found in the Ohio River in October, something which isn’t terribly shocking since Stephanie had threatened to drive into the river and they were last seen near a boat ramp.
- Brian E. Goff, 64, and his 55-year-old girlfriend Joni E. Davis, missing from St. Clairsville, Ohio since June 10, 2018. Their car was found in the Ohio River with two bodies inside, still seat-belted in.
In these cases where multiple people were involved, I am not sure what to do at this point. Like, we can safely assume that the human remains inside Miriam Hemphill’s car are Miriam’s. But when people disappear like this and years or decades later it turns out they drove into water, sometimes not every person can be recovered. Like, it’s entirely possible that the remains found in the Nguyen’s car belong to just one or two of them, and the river took the other person.
Of course in such a case the individuals not found in or near the vehicle would be presumed dead as well, but the Charley Project usually keeps the case up until remains are found, regardless of what the circumstances indicate.
I’ll start sorting it out tomorrow I guess.