Is anyone else seeing shades of Mitrice Richardson in the Ebonee Spears case I posted today? Obviously Mitrice’s disappearance and death is a much more egregious example of neglect, but Ebonee made me think of her.
Out of curiosity I Googled Mitrice, and I discovered her case was in the news as recently as this past November and is still under investigation. Sigh.
Unfortunately, when it comes to mental illness, the laws are such that unless the person agrees to get medical attention, the police and medical professionals usually can’t help. Almost two years ago I had a bad reaction to some medication and started hallucinating and having delusions and babbling nonsense and what have you. Michael took me to the hospital; they shrugged their shoulders and sent me home again. That night I kept trying to walk right through his glass deck door out into the winter cold, wearing only a turtleneck and underpants. Michael called the police and they came and assessed the situation, and they said there was nothing they could do. I wasn’t suicidal, and as long as I was indoors, I didn’t qualify as a danger to myself. They told him to just make sure I didn’t leave the house. Michael had to call his parents to come and stay up all night with me and physically prevent me from leaving. If it weren’t for the three of them, I almost certainly would have wandered off and frozen to death.
The situation totally sucks. How do you toe the line between respecting people’s civil rights, and making sure that they can get help when they really need it?
I really, really hope Ebonee doesn’t turn out to have shared Mitrice’s fate. But I’m not optimistic. It’s been a year.
A Charley Project Irregular who is also a Facebook friend messaged me within fifteen minutes of the news breaking: they’ve found the body of Erica Parsons. As of this writing, very little information has been made public, but we know that Sandy Parsons, Erica’s sorry excuse for an adoptive father, lead the police to her remains. Erica’s parents never reported her missing; her older brother did, twenty months after the last time he saw her.
I’ve blogged about Erica’s case several times, the last time in 2014. You can read the details of her dreadful home life and “morally bankrupt” parents on her Charley Project casefile. She was tiny: at thirteen years old she was less than four and a half feet tall. There’s reason to believe her growth was stunted due to malnutrition.
Both Sandy Parsons and Casey Parsons, Erica’s mother, are in prison right now for fraud, because they collected benefits from the government for Erica after she was no longer in their care.
When the cops identify whoever is responsible for Erica’s disappearance and death — and I think we all have a pretty good idea who did this — I can only hope they get the book thrown at them.
Jeffrey Scott Walkenford, aged 41, disappeared from Juneau, Alaska on May 15, 2010. Per this Alaska Dispatch News article, they’ve probably found him. Or, at least, they found human remains with some of Walkenford’s things nearby, including his clothes and his cell phone with selfies of Walkenford in it.
“The human remains have not been positively identified as being Walkenford. Positive identification is estimated to take approximately 6 months,” [Juneau Police Department] said in a Wednesday release.
The police department sent the remains to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for analysis, but identification requires DNA testing outside of Alaska.
I’m not sure whether to pull him yet or not, then. I probably should. I mean, what are the chances that some guy who was dressed like Walkenford would die next to a pile of Walkenford’s stuff and NOT be Walkenford?
I’ve still got her on Charley but not for much longer: Cynthia Louise Day, a 37-year-old mother of two who disappeared from National City, Illinois on August 10, 1990, has finally been identified.
Her remains were actually recovered in Pike County, Missouri (about an hour and a half away from National City), just sixteen days after she disappeared. Due to some error, an official missing persons report wasn’t filed for Cynthia for 14 years, which certainly didn’t help when it came to finding her.
All that was left of Cynthia was “a box of bones”, they were able to get one usable fingerprint and that was enough. It’s a good thing they were able to get that print, because lab technicians had BOILED the bones and that ruined chance of recovering DNA evidence. Apparently this boiling thing was common practice before DNA technology came onto the scene.
(Reading about that kind of thing reminds me of a historical TV medical drama I saw once, set in 1905, where the hospital was showing off their brand new X-ray machine, the latest thing in medical technology. The TV characters were like, “You have to hold your hand in front of the machine for about ninety seconds, and then you can see all the bones inside it. Isn’t it neat? Want to try it again?” And I was wincing and thinking “Nooooo! Don’t do it!” By the end of the show, the X-ray technician had died of radiation poisoning.)
Anyway… now begins the murder investigation. Cynthia was allegedly involved with prostitution and drugs, and she had a rocky relationship with her boyfriend, who disappeared shortly after she did and later ended up in prison. That’s a lot to be getting on with.
But at least Cynthia’s daughters can bury her.
Well, it’s hit the news like lightning today: it’s not officially confirmed yet with DNA, but yeah, Jacob Erwin Wetterling is coming home at last. The prime suspect in his case has lead the cops to human remains in an unspecified location.
I never had much hope that Jacob was alive, especially after all the crap about Daniel Heinrich came out, but this announcement still makes me feel pretty sick. Thinking about what that poor little boy went through before his death. And his family, what they’ve been through in the nearly 30 years since.
You just know that Jacob’s brother and the other boy that was with them must have blamed themselves for years, and maybe still do. Even though there was nothing they could have done, even though this was a grown man with a gun and they were terrified children. People always blame themselves in situation like this. It’s easier to say “This has to be my fault somehow” than face up to the cold hard truth that the world is a cold, ruthless, capricious place and everything you know and love can be taken from you forever in a random instant.
Jacob’s mom, Patty, texted the media this simple statement: “All I can confirm is that Jacob has been found and our hearts are broken. I am not responding to any media yet as have no words.”
Per the same article as Patty’s statement, Daniel Heinrich’s brother has said he feels so sorry for the Wetterlings and is glad they found their son at last. The family members of such people are usually-forgotten-about secondary victims in cases like this. Plenty of perfectly decent people have relatives who are monsters — believe me, I know — and I always try to remember the families of those monsters in my thoughts.
And I remember Jacob. The little boy who loved sports and video games and making models from kits. R.I.P.
(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.
Earlier this year I added the new/old case of Teala Thompson, a light-skinned, gray-eyed biracial thirteen-year-old who disappeared from Pittsburgh nearly fifty years ago on September 5, 1967. Well, she’s been found: a body that turned up in a Salem Township, Pennsylvania landfill just two weeks after Teala disappeared has been identified as the missing girl.
This case should have been solved a long time ago. I mean, she was found not too long after she disappeared and less than 40 miles away, and they got her fingerprints and were able to chart her teeth. They were off on the age, but only slightly — they thought the dead girl was between fourteen and sixteen, when Teala was thirteen years and ten months.
I don’t really know what happened here and neither, according to the article I linked to, does anyone else:
[Teala’s younger sister] Mary Thompson said some family members believe that police had contacted [their mother] Shirley Thompson once early on in the investigation and had asked her to view a photo of the unidentified remains but that Shirley Thompson had declined. “I think it was just too hard for her. I don’t think she wanted to admit that Teala wasn’t coming home,” Mary Thompson said.
There’s no evidence in the police record that indicates the Thompson family was contacted by police nor that the Thompson family had reported Teala missing.
Perhaps Shirley really did turn down a chance to identify the body. She’s dead now so we can’t ask her. It would explain why she told Mary that Teala had been murdered in Greensburg (which is, I believe, where the landfill was). It’s also entirely on the cards that the police either wouldn’t take a missing persons report for a teen girl — a child of that age would have been written off as a runaway, and probably the fact that she was non-white wouldn’t have helped matters — or that they did take a report but the records were lost later on.
In any case, I’m afraid there may be no more answers to be found. Whoever killed Teala could be dead now, and even if he/she isn’t, building a case after all this time is well nigh impossible.
“I can’t say I remember much about what happened,” her sister Mary says. She was four when Teala disappeared. She adds: “What I remember was that Teala was beautiful and she was loved.”