Sorry for the recent silence

Yeah, I haven’t updated in a bit and I’m sorry. The last week has been super busy, mainly with wedding stuff. Michael and I are getting married Saturday.

I picked up my dress at the alterations place yesterday and it fits me perfectly. In my completely unbiased opinion I’m going to be the most beautiful bride in the world. There’s not going to be any honeymoon because of Covid. Michael will go back to work on Monday and so will I.

So, in lieu of Charley Project updates, here’s a sample of the more interesting recent missing and unidentified persons news:

  1. A woman whose body was found off Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California in 1981 has been identified as 26-year-old Lily Prendergast, who was last seen when she left her family’s Texas home in late 1980.
  2. John Michael Carroll disappeared from Victor, Idaho in 2005. His skeletal remains were found “in the general area” where he lived in 2013, and were identified this month.
  3. Hollis Willingham has been arrested in the murder of Jim Craig Martin, who disappeared from Normangee, Texas on August 6, 2007. It doesn’t look like Martin’s body has been found, however.
  4. Thomas Drew disappeared from Salisbury, Connecticut in 2007. He used to be on Charley but then his daughter asked me to remove the case. She didn’t like what I’d written, I guess. Anyway, he is still missing, and his daughter has recently published a memoir, Searching for My Missing Father: An American Noir. It sounds very interesting and I added it to my wishlist.
  5. Blackfeet Community College, in corroboration with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, has launched a website to help streamline missing persons reports of Native American people: “The website [linked here] allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement.”
  6. A woman’s torso found washed ashore in the seaside community of Benicia, California in 1979 has been identified as Dolores Wulff, who disappeared from Woodland, California that year. Dolores’s husband Carl Wulff Sr. had actually been charged with her murder in 1985, but the charge was dismissed later that year and he died in 2005.
  7. A skull found on Mount Hood in Oregon in 1986 has been identified as that of Wanda Ann Herr, who had left a Gresham, Oregon group home a decade earlier at the age of nineteen. No missing persons report was filed at the time and the most recent photo available showed her at age twelve. The police are asking anyone who knew Wanda or has any info on her 1976 disappearance to contact them.
  8. The police have identified a new suspect in the 1973 disappearance of Barbara Jean Aleksivich from Bath, New York. The suspect, Richard W. Davis, is now dead, but he was recently identified through DNA as the killer of Siobhan McGuinness, a Missoula, Montana six-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1974. Barbara, who was 24, was way out of Richard Davis’s preferred age range for victims, but he did live in Bath at the time Barbara disappeared. A previous suspect in her case, who still lived in the Bath area last I knew, has been cleared.
  9. The body of Ethan Bert Kazmerzak, who disappeared from Hampton, Iowa in 2013, has probably been found. At least they found his car submerged in a local pond, with human remains inside. The remains have been sent to the state medical examiner to be identified, but it’s highly unlikely it’s anyone but Ethan.

Thought I’d give a shout-out to this article

The other day Vox came out with a fascinating article called “The Man Without a Name“, subheading reading: “Robert Ivan Nichols simply disappeared from his average, 1960s Midwestern life — until, using DNA, sleuths uncovered the truth. But were they digging where they shouldn’t have been?”

It is quite fascinating, and I think you guys would enjoy it. Though contrary to what the URL would have you believe, Robert Ivan Nichols was not the Zodiac Killer.

I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly sheepish I feel right now

So forget everything I said a little bit ago. Turns out the “device for detecting DNA in soil” is a lot of hooey.

Had it NOT been a lot of hooey, it WOULD have been a game-changer, and I’m afraid I got so excited about the possibility that I didn’t actually bother to investigate what this thing consisted of.

This is me right now:

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Gina Hall’s sister clearly believes in it, and posted a comment (at the bottom of this page that I linked to before) defending Dr. Vass and saying he found Gina. But now I wonder if that scrap of bone that they found and said was Gina’s was ever actually scientifically confirmed to be hers. Based on what I’ve read about this device, it probably was not.

And I’d already resolved her case and everything.

I cannot emphasize how much of a game-changer this is

So, I found out today that Dr. Arpad Vass, a forensic archaeologist I’d heard of, has invented a nifty little widget that detects buried human DNA.

I have no idea how much it works, but it’s already proven its effectiveness: they found Gina Renee Hall‘s DNA in EIGHT PLACES along a river valley FORTY YEARS after her disappearance, as well as a piece of Gina’s bone (making her Charley Project case resolvable, which I have done), as well as DNA from someone else entirely: Angela Mae Rader, a girl who disappeared with her friend Tammy Lynn Akers in 1977. The girls (who were fourteen at the time) have been missing even longer than Gina.

Rather than thinking this means the guy who killed Gina (whose identity is known; he’s Stephen Epperly and he’s serving life in prison for her murder) must have also killed Angela, I think it’s more likely that both girls’ bodies coincidentally ended up somewhere in the same river valley and probably the same body of water. (DNA from Tammy was not found, but it seems likely that she’s somewhere in the same river valley.)

I haven’t resolved Angela’s case, since they only found DNA, not an actual body or even a piece of bone like with Gina. But I’m hopeful that her and Tammy’s cases can still be resolved, even after 43 years.

Dr. Vass’s invention could wind up leading to answers in a LOT of missing persons cases. This is really exciting.

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.

Hanging in there, and I hope everyone else is too

I hope everyone is doing all right. Michael and I are doing fine; however, one person at his place of work has tested positive for COVID-19, and another is believed to have it, which is scary. Michael thinks it’s unlikely he was exposed to either individual because they work different shifts, and in different parts of the facility, than he does.

One of the things I’ve been doing is contributing to a subreddit set up in memorial of COVID-19 victims, basically posting links to obituaries and such. It’s scary how many stories I’ve come across of young healthy people getting very sick or even dying of this. One of my online friends has it, a young woman, and she’s in the hospital. A five-year-old girl with no preexisting conditions died of COVID-19 last week.

I mean, I know what the statistics are. I know that the overwhelming majority of people who get it survive. But it’s hard to focus on those numbers when you’re looking at a photo of a dead kindergartner.

On another note, a few missing persons have been found:

  • Eric Randolph Pracht, a 25-year-old Lakewood, Colorado paramedic who disappeared in July 2016, His skeletal remains were found on Green Mountain, but a cause of death hasn’t been determined.
  • Martin Hugh Sackler, whose family last heard from him in October 2004 when he was 41. He has been arrested in Mobile, Alabama, where he was apparently living under a false identity.
  • Michael Alexander Rickard, a 24-year-old man who disappeared from Bethel Park, Pennsylvania in March 2018. His remains were found along some railroad tracks in Bethel Park. There isn’t much information out there as to when or how he died, but the police are saying foul play is not suspected.
  • Cheryl L. Coker, a 46-year-old woman who disappeared from Riverside, Ohio in October 2018. Her skeletal remains were found by a mushroom hunter in Caeserscreek Township, Ohio; the coroner said it looked like they were just dumped there, not even buried. I know her husband has been a suspect in her case for some time, but they’re still trying to figure out the cause of death and whatnot.

RIP, Arthur

So I was going through missing persons Facebook groups this afternoon and to my shock spotted an old poster for a guy I used to know. He went missing in 2018.

We had “met” online in the late 1990s, when we connected randomly on AOL Instant Messenger, a chat program. I met a lot of people on there, including some I’m still friends with today. Both of us were in our teens, him a few years older than me. We were never super close but did talk regularly on AOL Instant Messenger for years. He was a good guy.

Over the years we drifted out of touch, talking less and less often. I think we last spoke sometime around 2006 or so. He seemed pretty content with his life the last time we spoke.

I had had no idea he had gone missing. He’s not missing anymore though. I looked him up and discovered he had only been missing for three months before they found his body. Suicide.

I felt pretty sad about it, though over a decade had passed since we had talked last and I don’t know what he was dealing with when he took his life. I really wish it hadn’t come to this.

This is kind of horrifying to me

I read many of articles from different publications about the drowning deaths of brothers Ayden Leroy Cecil and Anthony Joseph Tullius, and I really can’t understand why their parents were charged with anything.

When I saw the headlines that said things like “Toddlers drowned while parents slept”, I thought perhaps maybe the parents were passed out under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or didn’t begin to look for the kids for hours, or something like that. I mean, there HAD to be more to the story, right?

I can only go by what’s been reported and I can’t find any more to the story.

On that tragic night they set up camp at a designated campsite near the river, and everyone went to bed. Dad zipped the tent and tightened the top zipper. Mom took one Xanax before bed, as her prescription said she should. Dad was exhausted after a long week of work. They went to sleep. And sometime during the night the boys unzipped the bottom zipper of the tent (which Dad had forgotten to tighten) and wandered into the river.

This is all terrible and I’m sure any parent in that situation would be full of what-ifs and should-haves and blaming themselves for a very long time, if not the rest of their days on earth, but I don’t see how this rises to the level of a crime.

At their first trial the children’s mother, Kasey, would insinuate her husband, their stepfather Richard, may have killed them on purpose. This is because, although Kasey thought she’d removed Ayden’s shoes before bed and he couldn’t put them on by himself, when his body was found he was wearing the shoes. I think it’s more likely that Kasey simply forgot to remove the shoes (she’d put them on over his sleeper so he could run around and play during the evening). If Richard were planning on tossing the boys in the river it doesn’t make any sense for him to have put their shoes on.

I myself nearly drowned as a five-year-old and a police officer had to pound life back into my chest after they pulled me out of Lake Michigan. This is because my mom, who was on lifeguard duty, decided to help the other adults pull a boat ashore and was distracted for a few minutes. Obviously she should not have done that, but the idea that a parent would be charged with a crime in such a situation is appalling to me.

As this story was reported I can’t understand why the Kleins were even charged, never mind convicted, in their children’s drowning deaths. Was something left out or was this the overzealous prosecution is appears to have been?

Aundria Bowman has probably been located

So they’re pretty sure they’ve found Aundria Bowman, a fourteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Michigan in 1989. Aundria was listed as a runaway for years, but her biological mother was adamant that her adoptive father, Dennis Bowman, had killed her. Aundria disappeared shortly after accusing Dennis of sexual abuse.

Dennis is a seriously sketchy character. In 1980, he attempted to kidnap a nineteen-year-old girl at gunpoint. She got away from him and he served six years in prison. In late 2019, he was charged with the 1980 murder of a 25-year-old Virginia woman, Kathleen Doyle. In January, still in jail awaiting trial for Doyle’s murder, he finally confessed to killing Aundria.

The police didn’t take long to find a body when they searched Dennis’s former property in Monterey Township, Michigan. I’m not sure if Dennis led them to it, or if the police just decided that the concrete slab was a good place to start digging. It could take weeks to identify the skeletal remains, and I’m not resolving Aundria’s case quite yet.

Happy New Year, everybody!

I hope you guys have a happy last night of 2019 and a good upcoming year. I never thought I’d still be running the Charley Project, fifteen years down the line, but here I am.

I’ve been doing pretty well, pretty stable. My bipolar disorder etc. has been kept well under control with my current medication regimen, and I haven’t needed a medicine adjustment in over a year. And I’ve got the mysterious nausea and vomiting under control again.

I’ve made some new real-life friends this year as well as new online friends. My dog Kinsey, whom I adopted in 2018, is still with us, happy and healthy, at the ripe age of fifteen.

Michael has gotten much better since his health scare in June. He has been fat all his life, but at the urging of his doctors he went on a diet and stuck to it, and he’s lost over 100 pounds! He’s still fat, but he’s still losing weight. I’m proud of him and we are very happy together.

A few times I’ve mentioned a long term “project” I’m working on for the Charley Project, that I’m afraid I can’t be more specific about at this time, only to say it should be done in the coming year.

A lot of John and Jane Does have been identified this year, including three of the four Bear Brook victims, Malyse Honeychurch, Marie Vaughn and Sarah McWaters; Debra Jackson aka “Orange Socks”; Myoung Hwa Cho and her son Bobby Whitt aka “the Boy Under the Billboard”; and Peggy Johnson aka Racine Jane Doe.

Happy New Year.