Shaking my head…

Remember my entry of June 6? Yeah, it just happened again.

The NCMEC says yet another young girl has been missing for over two years and it turns out she got found quite a long time ago, something the NCMEC itself is aware of, so…

It makes me wonder how many OTHER kids on their site were actually recovered a long time ago.

Ima have to write them a letter or something because this is just stupid.

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Sigh. This is really inexcusable.

So I added a runaway case from the NCMEC to Charley today and then had to pull it down within about five minutes.

The girl was missing from Cleveland, Ohio. Curiously, however, she wasn’t listed on either the Cleveland missing persons page or the Cuyahoga County missing persons page.

I began to smell a rat, checked Facebook, and found what I’m pretty sure is the girl’s Facebook page — an active one. Last posting was two days ago. If it is her, she’s going by a nickname for her legal name, and she’s put on a lot of weight and changed her hair significantly. But the Facebook girl’s nose looked exactly the same, the page said she lives in Cleveland, and the NCMEC poster noted that she may use the same nickname the Facebook page was under.

I called up the NCMEC hotline number (which I call often enough to have it in my cell phone contacts), to tell them about the active Facebook page. They told me she had been recovered already.

SO WHY IS SHE STILL LISTED AS A MISSING CHILD ON THEIR SITE?

I understand that no database is perfect — certainly mine isn’t — but this kind of thing really should not happen. It wasn’t even that the NCMEC didn’t realize she wasn’t missing anymore; they did know. But they forgot to pull her poster.

Their right hand doesn’t know what their left is doing. If I hadn’t seen that girl’s Facebook page — and, being as it’s under her nickname, it’s not super obvious — and decided to call it in, who knows how much longer she would have been erroneously listed as missing.

This kind of stuff is more than just annoying to people like me, it can cause a lot of trouble for the person in question. Suppose this young lady decides to apply for colleges or jobs or something, and gets rejected because people Google her name and think she’s a missing child?

The NCMEC is a private organization, but it is funded largely by grants from the U.S. Department of Justice, and it has a budget in the millions. It is also the most famous missing children’s nonprofit in the country. This kind of carelessness from them is unacceptable.

Muttergrumble.

A cluster of resolves

Sometimes it seems like I don’t get a resolved case for a month and then suddenly get hit with a dozen at once. This next update will have five. So far. I’m linking to their casefiles but they won’t be up for much longer.

  • Runaway Sualee Jeseenia Gonzalez Castro has been found alive, per NCMEC. She had been missing for two years and almost two months and is now 19 years old.
  • Runaway Alondra Hernandez-Trujillo has also been found alive, per NCMEC. She had been missing for almost three years. She is now 18.
  • Convicted murderer Thomas Riffenburg has confessed to the killings of his girlfriend, Jennifer Anne Walsh, and their son, Alexander Mitchell Riffenburg, who had been missing from Palmdale, California since January 9, 2009. Jennifer was 23 and Alexander was only a year old. This article provides a lot of background info about their cases, more than I have on Charley. Thomas provided hand-drawn maps to where he’d buried their bodies, and the cops found remains and are awaiting DNA confirmation of their identities. I think I’ll resolve their cases now; it’s highly unlikely they’re anyone but Jennifer and Alexander.
  • A skull found in the woods 2001 has been identified as Ella Mae Williams, an 80-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease who wandered from her Gainesville, Florida home on March 25, 1990. (The article incorrectly gives her age as 78.)

There’s been a social media storm these last 24 hours

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a woman who claims she is Jennifer Klein who disappeared in 1974. This story has been floating around the internet for about a month, but yesterday there was a YouTube video published where the woman claimed she had DNA testing done and it proved her identity.

This woman also claims her abductors were members of a Satanic cult and that they kidnapped Kurt Newton and Etan Patz (who both disappeared in the 1970s, across the country from Jennifer) as well. She says she was brainwashed and didn’t start remembering what happened until after she was injured in a car accident.

As for what I think, well, I didn’t write this editorial but it pretty much sums up my own position on the matter.

Hopefully the truth will come out over the next few days or so. Until then, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Well, that was fun

Yeah, so I’m back from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where they held an event today to honor the missing children of Ohio. Although I showed up in an unofficial capacity only, I had a blast.

I mainly came cause Gina DeJesus, one of the Cleveland kidnap survivors, was speaking. The event was at the Messiah Lutheran Church. I showed up slightly late and had to sit in the back. There were several speakers before Gina, and I spent some time trying to figure out which one of the people sitting in the audience was her. It was fairly easy because half or more of the attendees were black, and most of the rest were white. I zeroed in on two brown-skinned women in the front but couldn’t figure out which one was Gina. They turned out to be Gina and her older sister Myra.

My view from the back of the church; Gina is on the right and Myra is on the left.
My view from the back of the church during the sisters’ speeches; Gina is on the right and Myra is on the left.

Anyway, Gina read a speech off several sheets of paper about how it was important to pay attention to missing persons bulletins, and it was important to pay attention to your surroundings and the people in your neighborhood and so on because you never knew who might be hiding something. I mean, people went inside Ariel Castro’s house and had no clue about the women held captive there. I think a lot of that is because the idea that your friend, neighbor or relative might have three kidnapped women locked in his basement is just something that would not occur to most people.

Myra spoke also, and talked about what life was like having a missing family member. One of the things she mentioned was how a man known to the family told her parents, reassuringly, something like “Don’t worry, they won’t find her dead.”

That man was named Ariel Castro.

There was an intermission before a middle school choir showed up to sing a song. I went around talking to people — not Gina, I was not sure whether to approach her or not at that point — and handing out business cards. There were booths about various topics set up in the lobby and an adorable remote-controlled talking boat that went around telling people about boat safety. I told the boat about the time I nearly drowned in Lake Michigan at age five, failing to mention the fact that this near-tragedy did not involve a boat, just some poorly supervised beach time.

Me and the talking robot boat.
Me and the talking robot boat.
Gina (far right) with members of the anti human trafficking group Break Every Chain.
Gina (far right) with members of the anti human trafficking group Break Every Chain.

So after all that was over we had a balloon release in the parking lot. Fortunately the wind cooperated.

Just before the balloon release.
Just before the balloon release.
Post balloon release. Each one has a missing child's name attached.
Post balloon release. Each one has a missing child’s name attached.

Just before we all left, I decided to approach Gina after seeing some other people do so. We didn’t really talk but she consented to have her photo taken with me before we parted ways. I wish I had remembered to smile in the picture. It was one of those days where it was cloudy out (it rained later) but the light hurt your eyes anyway, and I was squinting so hard I forgot about smiling.

Gina DeJesus (right) and me.
Gina DeJesus (right) and me.

And then I went home.

Altogether it was a most profitable visit. I made some contacts and hope to return next  year.

This is a bit peculiar

I just added today’s flotilla of case updates, including one Craig Mason. I couldn’t find any articles or anything for his 2016 disappearance, but I found one for his 2015 disappearance.

Yeah, he went missing for (I think) the first time a little over a year before he went missing in 2016. Something about how he was going to a job interview and doesn’t come back, they find his motorcycle “abandoned,” and then a week later he gets found in the San Bernardino National Forest and says he got lost hiking.

I wish I knew more about both disappearances. I’ve had plenty of people, adults among them, who voluntarily went missing on multiple occasions, but this is a new one. Was this hiking trip planned, for example? And I have NOTHING on the second disappearance other than the date and place. I doubt I’ll ever know.

Kayannette Gabrielle found after 11 years

Kayannette Eleaya Gabrielle is one of my “few details are available” cases on Charley. That link won’t be working for much longer, though, because I just learned that Kayannette, who disappeared in 2006, has been found alive and was reunited with her children.

She was apparently suffering from severe memory loss and couldn’t recall her identity — mental illness maybe? — and ended up living on the streets of Santa Barbara, 100 or so miles north of where she was last seen. This article explains how she was found:

Around four years ago, Gabrielle ended up in Santa Barbara and often slept outside the main library. She was known in the community as Mary Roberts.

During a stay at the Rescue Mission, Gabrielle befriended Jill Wallerstedt, the director of homeless guest services.

Wallerstedt said Gabrielle suffered from severe memory loss, possibly from a head injury and couldn’t remember her name or Social Security number. Gabrielle often talked about three children, but never mentioned that they belonged to her.

[…]

Gabrielle was cited for sleeping in public and trespassing, but those tickets brought her to the attention of the Restorative Court Program, which also seeks to rehabilitate area homeless and get them off of the streets.

Mureen Brown is a restorative police court liason for the police department and works closely with Hove.

Gabrielle’s complex case was flagged again and the woman was routed through the restorative court system, and connected with a shelter and other services. Brown continued to work tirelessly to help Gabrielle recall her past and solve her identity.

“We work with a lot of vulnerable people out on the streets. Many of them have sad stories and sad situations. We know they all come from a mom, a dad, a brother,” Brown said. “They have somebody they were once tethered to.”

On March 4, 2016, Brown secured a bed for Gabrielle at the homeless shelter PATH Santa Barbara where she stayed and received services for a year.

Two weeks ago, Gabrielle told a staff member that she remembered her name and some personal information. Brown and Hove pulled up Gabrielle’s old drivers license on the computer and searched the missing person database.

“Sure enough, she showed up immediately,” Brown said. “In the six years I’ve been doing this, this is the highlight of my entire time working with the police department. “This is a story about an entire community keeping this woman safe, taking care of her, not giving up hope and at the end of it we have a miracle. It doesn’t happen that often.

This is awesome. And it goes to show that just because a person has been missing a long time, doesn’t mean they’re dead. As my friend Annie likes to say, if you look for a body you might miss a person.