A few questions that popped into my head about the Whatley case

The presumed abductions of Faye and John Whatley in 1976 is pretty bizarre and I thought I’d blog about it cause I’ve never had a case before where the only thing that seemed to be missing from the house besides the people was a part of the house itself. The cops seem to have given up on solving the case, which is going on 45 years old.

Some questions that occurred to me as I was researching the case, and for which I found no answers in the news articles at the time.

  1. Did the Whatleys lock their doors? They seem to have lived out in the country, so perhaps they didn’t bother.
  2. Did the couple own any guns, or know how to use them? If so, was one of those guns a .22?
  3. Where was the barn in which the door was located? If it had been searched multiple times before, it was probably pretty close to their home. Was it on the Whatleys’ property? Is it possible the door could have been missed in previous searches?
  4. When the door was found, was there any blood or fingerprints or other physical evidence on it? Had it been wiped off? While 1976 forensics were quite primitive compared to today, they should have been able to detect blood and type it.
  5. Are they 100% sure it was the Whatleys’ door that turned up in that barn? I don’t know much about doors but they all pretty much look alike, and unless it was a custom-made one or something, wouldn’t it be hard to tell the Whatley’s door from a similar-looking mahogany door?
  6. This was a second marriage for John and I think for Faye also. Were there any issues within the two sides of the family? Any personal grudges, any ne’er-do-well children or grandchildren or in-laws or anything like that?
  7. Who was expected to inherit the couple’s estate once they passed? Did they have life insurance? Have they ever been declared dead, and if so, when?
  8. Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing them, but Lucas seems to have confessed to virtually every crime that was put in front him and most of his confessions turned out to be false. Is there any actual evidence to back up his statement? Is he still considered a possible suspect?

The whole thing makes no sense. How does it happen that people (and there had to be more than one person involved in this) somehow get into the house without leaving signs of a break-in, subdue or kill the Whatleys without leaving any evidence of a struggle (save the single gunshot fired from inside the house; what happened there?), remove a door from its hinges and take that too, take the Whatleys and the door away without bothering to steal anything else, and then go and put the door up in a barn loft and do god-knows-what with the Whatleys, then never make a ransom demand or anything, and keep their mouths shut about it during the ensuing years? What does anyone gain by that?

I’m not discounting Lucas entirely. He was a legit serial killer and seemed to like going around the country with his buddy Ottis Toole murdering people for no reason whatsoever. But as I said, he confessed to a lot of things he didn’t do, and this operation seems to be a bit too organized for him.

MP of the week: Clinton Prater

This week’s featured missing person is Clinton Javon Prater, a 28-year-old man who disappeared from Natchez, Mississippi in early January 2008. The date of disappearance is given as January 10, which is the date it was reported; however, by then no one had seen him in “more than a week.”

He lived in a boarding house. When he went missing he took nothing with him, except for the medication he took for his mental illness. What the drugs were, and what his mental illness was, I don’t know.

Prater’s loved ones described him as a very quiet person with few friends, and said he would be easy to take advantage of. There’s been no sign of him in over twelve years.

MP of the week: Adrian Poleahla

This week’s featured missing person is Adrian Curtis Poleahla, a Native American man who disappeared from Keams Canyon, Arizona on January 25, 2011. He was supposedly en route to Phoenix. His family, who hadn’t heard from him since August 2010, reported him missing in April 2012.

Poleahla is a talented wood carver and his kachina carvings fetched pretty good prices at galleries. The circumstances of his disappearance are unclear, but I hope he’s still out there. He’d be about 53 today.

AP dump

Last night and today I did a bunch of updated age-progressions and some added pictures. If the only update I make on a page is more photos of the missing person or an updated (as opposed to new) age-progression, I don’t list it on the site updates page. But I put up a list here. So here goes. Unless otherwise noted, these just have an updated age-progression; if they have new pictures instead, I say so.

  1. Teresa Armanda Alfonso
  2. Yareli Marlem Barajas
  3. Tonita Michelle Brooks (two pictures added)
  4. Lee Sterling Cutler
  5. Evelyn Louise Davis
  6. Eva Gerline DeBruhl
  7. Jason Wayne Dennis
  8. Melissa Lynn Eck
  9. Ryan Jacob Esparza
  10. Christian Glen Hall
  11. Justin Phillip Harris
  12. Joseph David Helt
  13. Charles Arlin Leon Henderson
  14. Timothy Johnson III
  15. Christina Lynn Lewis
  16. Benjamin Lund (four pictures added)
  17. Suzanne Gloria Lyall
  18. Angela Christine Mack (one picture added)
  19. Gabriela Medina
  20. Caleb Joseph Powell (four pictures added)
  21. Sandy Pathresa Rea (three pictures added)
  22. Marcia Estelle Remick
  23. Alejandra Rivera-Romero
  24. Monserrat Rivera-Romero
  25. Wesley Rivera-Romero
  26. Adele Marie Wells

MP of the week: Isaac Robin

Hi, all. This week’s featured missing person is from the U.S. Virgin Islands; I think he might be the first Virgin Islands case I’ve ever made missing person of the week. Isaac Robin Jr., a twenty-year-old black man, disappeared on January 29, 2010.

A short geography lesson: the Virgin Islands are an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea; some British overseas territorial possessions, some are considered a part of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and the rest comprise another U.S. territory, formally called the Virgin Islands of the United States. There are three main U.S. Virgin Islands and fifty or so tiny ones. Not many people live on the island of St. John; the main population is split roughly equally between St. Thomas (where the capital city, Charlotte Amalie, is located) and St. Croix (from where Isaac Robin disappeared).

Unfortunately I don’t really have any details about Isaac’s disappearance. He was last seen near his home and was reported missing by his family four days later. For what it’s worth, he didn’t disappear during hurricane season, which runs between June and November.

A year or two ago I spoke with a journalist from the Virgin Islands; I think it was the same woman who wrote this article about Virgin Islands missing persons. I asked her, given how tiny the land area is and how many tourists go tromping through islands, if it would be possible for a body to go undiscovered on land. She said the islands have a lot of thick tangles of tropical jungle where a person could be walking just a few feet from a corpse and have no idea. I am not going to speculate what happened to Isaac Robin, but I thought it was worth including that information.

If still alive, he would be 31 today. He’s been missing for ten, going on eleven years.

Thank you all for my birthday and wedding good wishes. I appreciate it.

MP of the week: Byron Freeman

This week’s featured missing person is Byron Augustus Freeman, a 70-year-old man who disappeared on June 24, 2006. He is from the Los Angeles area, but disappeared while attending a class reunion in Palestine, Texas. That’s about 1500 miles away, or around 23 hours.

Freeman, who was possibly in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, may have gotten a bit confused after his car ran out of gas and thought he was still in Los Angeles. I think it’s unlikely that he made it far, or lasted long, after he went missing. But if he is still alive he’d be 84 today.

I haven’t updated in a week and I’m sorry. Things have not been going well for me lately; everything sucks basically and I don’t see much hope of improvement.

MP of the week: Jeremy Ashley

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend. Mine wasn’t the best; I’m anxious about the political situation and the pandemic situation and my coming wedding. At this point, planning this ceremony is basically trying to make the best of a bad situation: we can’t have the party we want because we don’t want to kill anybody, and it’s a matter of trying to salvage what we can. Which is awful, but there’s nothing to be done.

This week’s featured missing person is Jeremy Dewayne Ashley, a 29-year-old man who disappeared from the seaside town of Trinidad in Humboldt County, California on November 11, 2017. He was hiking with a friend when he slipped and fell into the ocean, and got pulled out to sea.

Ashley’s case isn’t exactly a mystery, but his body has never been found, and if it washes up somewhere it would be nice if it could be identified.

MP of the week: Miller Harlow

This week’s featured missing person (which I forgot to add yesterday, sorry) is Miller Smith Harlow, a 62-year-old man who disappeared from Gordonsville, Virginia on August 28, 1991. He was last seen standing in front of a funeral home in town, possibly on his way to a local restaurant where his cousin was supposed to pick him up.

He was retired, lived alone, had never driven a car and would get around on foot, on his bike or by getting rides from people. He had very regular habits and because of this the police thinks something bad happened to him.

If still alive he’d now be in his nineties.

Just helped find a missing person alive

So I need to be vague about the details to protect the guy’s privacy, but the Charley Project helped find a live missing person the other day. It’s the first time that I know of that this has happened. The website has been used before to match missing persons to unidentified ones, who were returned to their families, but all those people were deceased.

A flight attendant wrote to me to say there had been a passenger on her plane who (she didn’t say why but I assume he was acting strangely) caused the entire crew to be worried about him. They took care of him as best they could during the flight and, when the plane landed, delivered him to the custody of an airline employee who promised to look after him.

Once the cabin crew and the passenger parted ways, the crew was still concerned about him and decided to Google him and see if they could find out more about him. And when they did, his name and face popped up on the Charley Project: he’s been missing for years.

They chased down the airline employee they’d left him with. The employee was still with him, so the crew explained the situation and the airline employee and the man agreed to go to the local police department and get the situation sorted. He’s over a thousand miles from home but presumably that police department will make contact with the ones in his hometown.

The situation the man left sounds awful and he may be better off now, but he also clearly needs help. I’m hoping the authorities can reunite him with his family and get him the services he needs.

MP of the week: Jerome Robinson

This week’s featured missing person is Jerome David Robinson, a 21-year-old black man who disappeared from Tunis, Texas three days after Christmas in 2001. He’d won a lot of money gambling at a bar, the Team Club, and had some of his winnings already, and that night he went there to collect the rest.

It looks like he never emerged from the bar alive, but his body has never been found and no charges have been filed against anyone in his case.