A New Year’s miracle

As several people have already told me, Kamiyah Mobley has resurfaced alive and well in the small town of Waltersboro, South Carolina. After EIGHTEEN YEARS. She is, I believe, the youngest person profiled on the Charley Project; she was abducted from the hospital in Jacksonville, Florida only hours after birth, on July 10, 1998.

It’s much like the story of Carlina White: Kamiyah was raised under the name Alexis Manigo, and thought her abductor was her mother. A couple of months ago, “Alexis” started to suspect there was more to the story, and DNA testing has just verified her true identity.

The abductor, 51-year-old Gloria Williams, has been arrested and will be extradited to Florida to face kidnapping charges. Her prior criminal offenses include welfare fraud and writing bad checks. If convicted of kidnapping, she could get a life sentence. (Carlina’s kidnapper got twelve years.) If you ask me, in cases like this, the abductor ought to have to serve AT LEAST one day for every day the child was missing.

From what little has come out so far, Kamiyah/Alexis grew up in poverty and moved around a lot across several different states. She was able to graduate high school, though. It says Williams is married, but I don’t know whether she was married to this man when Kamiyah was taken or whether he was complicit in the abduction.

I am delighted for Kamiyah’s family, though I feel very sorry for Kamiyah herself; she must feel absolutely torn to bits right now. The sheriff was quoted as saying Kamiyah/Alexis “appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman” who is “taking it as well as you can imagine.” A neighbor said, “She wasn’t an abused child or a child who got in trouble. But she grew up with a lie for 18 years.”

Maybe Carlina can offer some advice to Kamiyah. I know Elizabeth Smart reached out to Jaycee Dugard after the latter was found alive.

A few articles:

Awesome article on the Benjamin Kyle case

I thought I would share with you a comprehensive retelling of the famous unidentified man “Benjamin Kyle”, who is unidentified no longer, and the twelve-year search to give him back his name. Given my line of work, I’ve known about the case since the outset, but never followed it closely. This is a really good article about it. It’s really long, but it kind of has to be, as the case is so mysterious and took so long to come to a conclusion.

An evolution of thinking

I wanted to share with you guys a conversation I had on the Charley Project’s Facebook page, about a mother who disappeared almost a decade ago and has turned up alive:

fbdiscuss

After getting that final response I realized I’ve become much less judgmental than I used to be about MPs who left of their own accord. I know that around ten years ago I was interviewed by a newspaper about such a case and I said it was “abominably selfish” for a person to do that. Whenever I heard about an MP who turned out to have simply walked out of their lives, leaving their family wondering what happened and if they were still alive, I used to get angry — like the other person in this conversation here. Now my response is much more tempered. I’m not sure when it changed.

I think back to my own early- to mid-adolescence, when I was suffering from horrific, untreated, mental illness. I had very intense thoughts about running away from home, traveling to a distant city, taking my own life there without any ID or anything on me, and getting buried as a Jane Doe. I do not know why this seemed like a great idea at the time. My brain was basically broken.

Mind you, I still think it’s selfish to desert your loved ones without a word, and I still tend to feel much more sorry for the left-behind family and friends than the MP who left them. But now I also tend to wonder “what was going in that person’s life that was so bad that they felt they had to take such steps?” I don’t get mad anymore, I don’t judge them. I just feel glad their family has learned their fate, and hope they all can reconcile or at least reach some level of acceptance.

I was talking about it with Michael today and I asked him if he thought my change in attitude about MPs like this woman was due to an additional decade of learning about these cases and what motivates these people to walk out, or was it just that I was once 21 and am now 31 and I’ve simply grown up. Michael said the one cannot be separated from the other, that learning new things through reading and stuff is one more part of growing up.

Much muttergrumbling

So I was going through Charley’s runaway cases today, making another Make-a-List Monday for them (coming next week!) and purging cases at the same time, and I came across a certain missing girl. She was still on the NCMEC database but she’d been missing an awfully long time, so I decided to run her name through Google and see what came up. A lot of times when a runaway’s been missing for years and years like she was, they write an article about it.

I didn’t find anything about her disappearance, but lo! Someone with the right age, the right first, middle and last name (except for a spelling difference of one letter) and a striking resemblance to the runaway girl got arrested for credit card fraud just a few months ago! This was in a small town a five-hour drive from the major city where she disappeared.

I immediately called up the NCMEC. And they were like, “Um…thank you, but she’s, erm, not missing. She got recovered.”

And I was like, “So why is she still listed as missing on your website?”

So I told them about how you can find her listed on missingkids.com, and they had me read her case number off the poster, and promised to “pass it on” to the appropriate people.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, either.

[EDIT: Wow, that was quick. I just got a recovery notice for her.]

Let’s talk about it: Juanita Oxenrider

Charley Project Irregular Katherine B. suggested I do a “let’s talk” feature where I post some of the most bizarre Charley Project cases there are to offer, and let people have free rein speculating about them in the comments. I don’t think I have enough super-bizarre cases to make a regular weekly go of this, but here’s the first one anyway:

Juanita Marie Oxenrider, a pregnant 29-year-old who disappeared after she, her husband Donald, and a friend, Thomas Maynard, took a ride out on the Oxenriders’ boat on the Patapsco River in central Maryland in 1976. The boat mysteriously exploded and sank in broad daylight in only fifteen feet of water, but no bodies were immediately recoverable.

Six months later, in the river about a mile downstream from where the boat sank, Donald Oxenrider’s body turned up. They were too severely decomposed to determine the cause of death. In an even more crazy detail of this case, the other passenger, Thomas Maynard, turned up a decade after that, alive and well — the guy was facing serious criminal charges at the time of his disappearance, and he’d jumped the country and had been in Canada all that time.

But what happened to Juanita? You decide. It’s worth noting that she has been declared legally dead. But if she’s still alive she’d be about 69 today, and her baby would be 41 39.

Let’s hear it from the comment crowd. All theories are welcomed.

Latest MP news

(I know I’ve been a lazy-butt and not updated for like a week. I hit my head last Friday and my head was killing me for days afterwards in spite of the application of ice packs etc. On Saturday I went to ER because I thought I might have a concussion. They did tests, and said no, and prescribed some completely ineffective painkillers. I actually went back a few days later because my head was still hurting horribly and they did the same tests and said I was fine. Well, the headache finally stopped. Maybe it was the weather — we’ve had horrible storms and humidity all week, and things finally cleared up today.)

  • As various commenters and emailers have noted: Francine Frost (missing from Oklahoma, 1981) and Joseph Spears (missing from Mississippi, 1973) have both been identified.
  • Joseph was 17 when he escaped from a juvenile detention center. Less than a month later, he’d made it to Texas and was crossing a freeway when he was hit by a vehicle and killed. He was finally identified this month. Per this article:
    Mary Raskin, mother of missing teen Joseph “Joey” Norman Spears, ended up looking at pictures of her son’s body to positively identify him, Harrison County Sheriff’s Investigator Kristi Johnson said Monday.
    Officials with the Galveston medical examiner’s office were unable to get a proper DNA sample from Spears’ body to confirm the identity, Johnson said. Instead, they called on Harrison County cold case investigators to provide all the facts they had on the case for comparison to the evidence Texas officials had on hand.
    Mary Raskin, Spears’ mother, identified her son.
    “I have mixed emotions,” Johnson said after learning the news. “I am relieved the case is solved but I know it’s not the outcome Mrs. Raskin was hoping for. I’m sad for her but I’m glad she is getting the answers she was searching for for 43 years. The family has shared their appreciation for us working on this.”
  • As for Francine, her body was found in Muskogee County, Oklahoma two years after her disappearance. She was 43 years old. Per this article: a year ago Francine’s family heard about the Muskogee remains and got a court order to exhume and test for DNA:
    Vernon Martin, the superintendent of Green Hill Cemetery, helped make it happen.
    He said there are about 1,400 unidentified bodies buried there – many of them dating back before statehood.
    He took us back to the plot where Frost’s remains stayed for more than 30 years before they were finally identified.
    “This is actually greater than the pay that you receive in this job, the people that we come across on a daily basis and able to help them through their loss, whether it’s last week, or, in this case, 1981,” Martin said.
    Unlike with Joey Spears, this case is obviously still not over yet. Joey died in an accident; Francine appears to have been abducted and murdered. Her family has half the answer now — that is, they have her back and they can bury her — but I’m sure they’d also like to know who killed her.
    (An Oklahoma TV show actually wanted to interview me about Francine and in particular about identifying long-buried John and Jane Does, but I had spent the day in bed nursing that headache. I didn’t even check my email until 10:00 p.m. and thus missed the interview opportunity. Oh well.)
  • The case of long-missing Quebecois child Yohanna Cyr is back in the news, because a woman in the United States has come forward and thinks she’s Yohanna. Usually I don’t pay too close attention to claims like this, because it’s hardly ever the missing person. But this one has me wondering, because, as this article says, both Yohanna and the American woman have a Y-shaped birthmark on their index finger. I blogged about Yohanna twice, once in 2014 and once in 2011. In the 2011 entry, Yohanna’s mom posted a comment in French.
  • You guys may have heard about the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania twins who disappeared at some indeterminate time years ago — some articles say 10 years, some say 13-14 years. Mom claimed she sold them, but retracted her story after she was informed this was a crime. The first time authorities realized the kids were missing was when CPS sent the cops to the house to remove all the kids, and the cops duly removed the four they found, and CPS was like, “Um, she actually has six.”
    NamUs has profiles for the kids: Inisha Fowler and Ivon Fowler. The only picture that I’ve been able to find is a photo of them as babies, side by side, and I have no idea which twin is which. (See this article for that photo, and a pic of Mom, and of the twins’ not-missing brother as well.) I suppose I’ll post the case on Charley anyway. A baby photo is still a photo, and this is certainly an outrageous story that the world needs to know. Even if, by some miracle, Ivon and Inisha are still alive, the fact that no one noticed they were gone for so long is truly terrible. Heads should roll here — a lot of people dropped the ball.
  • The kidnapper of Zephany Nurse, a South African girl who was abducted as an infant and not found for seventeen years, has been sentenced to ten years in prison. (You might recall that Ann Pettway, Carlina White‘s abductor, got twelve.) Zephany grew up just a mile away from her real family’s home and attended the same school as her biological sister. The identity of the woman who kidnapped her has been withheld from the media to protect Zephany’s privacy.
    Outrageously, the kidnapper has refused to admit she did anything wrong. And sadly for the Nurse family, Zephany has chosen to remain with her kidnapper’s husband. I don’t blame her. I mean, for 17 years she thought this guy was her dad, and it’s a terrible situation she’s in. I just think it sucks for her real parents and I hope that Zephany does eventually choose to form a relationship with them.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Some MP news highlights while I was gone:

  • Mark Duane Woodard has been found. Or rather, he was found in 1977, 23 months after his disappearance, but not identified till now. The aforementioned news link uses his Charley Project pic, and asked me permission first. (Thanks!) This link has another photo of him, a much better quality one, as well as more details about his disappearance. He was murdered, shot to death. His sister is the only surviving member of the immediate family.
  • In the state of Thuringia in central Germany they have found a missing girl, Peggy No-Last-Name-Released [edit: per a UK article supplied by a commenter, it’s Knobloch], who disappeared mysteriously fifteen years ago, at the age of nine. A mushroom picker found her bones in the forest nine miles from Peggy’s hometown of Lichtenberg. According to this article and one other I found about the case, this had been a murder-without-a-body (MWAB) case: In 2004, a mentally disabled man was convicted of Peggy’s murder. He was later acquitted in a retrial due to lack of evidence after a key witness retracted his statement.
  • Corry Ehlers, a guy who disappeared while hiking in Utah in 2012, has also been found deceased. His skeletal remains, found “in a steep, rocky spot near Alta Ski Resort” last summer, were identified in late June. They think Corry fell off a cliff.
  • Three days ago it was fifteen years since sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley vanished mysteriously from Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has done an anniversary article about it, with quotes from Diamond and Tionda’s two other sisters, Rita and Victoria: The girls disappeared just a day before Victoria Bradley’s ninth birthday. Until recent years, Bradley, who turns 24 on Thursday, said she was unable to celebrate her birthday because of her depression over the anniversary of their disappearance. I have not updated the girls’ casefiles in over a decade, and last time was just to add some more pics. I will give a look and see if I can find any developments that have taken place in the intervening years.
  • Two more recent anniversaries: eleven years since Stacy Ann Aragon and her boyfriend Steven Bishop disappeared from Arizona (see article; Stacy has been reported missing but it appears Steven has not been), and ten years since Roxanne Paltauf disappeared (article) from Texas.
  • The NCMEC reports that two of my oldest family abduction cases have been resolved, with the children located alive. One was Jacquelina Ann Gomez, who was abducted from Illinois by her father in 1992 at the age of 3. She would be 27 now, 28 in September.
  • The other case involves two brothers who disappeared with their mother and stepfather from Blairsville, Georgia in 1996, when the boys were 2 and 3. A day or so before I left for Minneapolis I got contacted by a very excited reporter who ran a story on Rick Tyler, a man who’s running for Congress under the odious slogan “Make America White Again.” She said after she ran the story she was deluged with emails from people who believed Rick Tyler was probably the same Rick Tyler who was listed as the missing Blairsville kids’ stepfather. She also said the police were now claiming that the boys’ mom DID have custody of them when they disappeared, after all. Well, then the day I left Minneapolis I got an NCMEC notice saying the boys were recovered. I’m not going to say their names on here or put them on the resolved page because I’m not sure about the custody issue, but it should be easy enough to determine who they are from the info I just provided.
  • The state of Arkansas has a brand shiny new MP database with 510 people on it, many whose names I don’t recognize. I am very happy about this. I believe every state should have their own publicly searchable online database, as large and comprehensive as possible. Many of the people listed in this new database have no pics though. I hope this situation improves.
  • Morgan Keyanna Martin, a pregnant teenager who disappeared in 2012, is now considered a MWAB case. Jacobee Flowers, the father of the unborn child, has been charged with her murder. Homicide is the most common non-natural cause of death for pregnant women in the US and from what I have read, all around the world, the murder of pregnant women — usually by their baby’s father — is a universal problem.
  • HuffPo has published a photo essay about the 1998 disappearance of SUNY-Albany student Suzanne Lyall. It’s a mysterious case; no obvious suspects, no answers. 19 years old, promising future, and then gone.
  • Kidnap survivor Jaycee Dugard has been in the news again, going on TV and talking about how her life’s going and how she’s raising the two daughters she had with her kidnapper Philip Garrido. The link I just gave provides lots of news articles to read, more than I can summarize here. But here’s one quote from this article to show what a resilient woman and amazing mother Jaycee was and still is: As she and her daughters grew older, Dugard said she planted a flower in front of the shed and set up a little school to teach them as much as she could with only her fifth-grade education. “They’re so resilient, and they’re beautiful and loving, and I’m really lucky,” she said. Dugard has protected her daughters’ privacy and said some of their friends don’t even know of their past. She said the three of them are able to talk about what happened with each other.