MP of the week: Javier Rivera

This week’s featured missing person is Javier Florenzio Rivera, a 22-year-old man who disappeared from Los Angeles, California on October 12, 1988.

He was last seen at his workplace, wearing a light gray t-shirt, black stonewashed jeans and white sneakers. He’s Hispanic, with brown eyes and brown curly, frizzy hair. I’d say his hair is probably his most distinguishing characteristic, though he also has a half-inch scar on his left arm just below the elbow.

His is one of the “few details are available” cases. If still alive, Javier would be 55 today.

MP of the week: Tyriq Pope

This week’s featured missing person is Tyriq Jaquan Marlon Pope, a 21-year-old man who disappeared from his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 28, 2014. He traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas after he went missing and was sighted there on May 4, then vanished again. He may have been seen at the Mexican border area in Texas sometime after that. It doesn’t look like there’s been any indication of his whereabouts since that spring, however.

Tyriq’s family said he was using drugs and they were afraid he might harm himself. It is odd that this young man hasn’t resurfaced in seven years. I wonder if he was at all equipped for life in Mexico; did he speak any Spanish, for example? I also wonder about the possibility of a drug overdose.

Tyriq is described as black, 5’5 and 130 pounds. He would be 28 years old today. Both Wisconsin and Arkansas police are investigating the case.

MP of the week: Ira Yallup

This week’s featured missing person is Ira Kennedy Yallup Sr., who disappeared from the Lone Pine fishing site on the Columbia River near The Dalles, Oregon on May 20, 2010. He was 47 years old at the time and would be 57 or 58 today, if still alive.

Because Yallup was last seen at a “fishing site” I initially assumed he probably drowned and listed him in the Lost/Injured Missing person category. However, when I decided to make him MP of the week I thought I’d look up more info on the site and discovered more than just fishing happens there: people actually live there, some year-round, some just during the fishing season, which lasts from spring to fall.

Although one resident described Lone Pine as a “close-knit community” in this article, the residents of the site live in some pretty bad conditions as this 2021 article makes clear:

At Lone Pine, blankets and boards cover broken windows on trailers and campers, some of which don’t even have doors. There is only one bathroom and two outdoor water spigots. One picnic shelter has been walled off and is being lived in, but two other picnic shelters have burned down. There is no fire hydrant at this encampment, and only one rutted lane, in and out.

It’s an extremely sad story involving the Columbia River dam and a bunch of broken promises to the Native Americans whose original villages and fishing sites were drowned when the dam was built.

Ira Yallup’s case is one of those “few details are available” ones and I don’t know if he was a year-round inhabitant of Lone Pine, was just there for the fishing season, or was visiting or what. Perhaps he drowned, or perhaps something else happened to him. I really can’t say.

MP of the week: Benjamin Gray

This week’s featured missing person (sorry, I forgot to do it yesterday and earlier today) is Benjamin Franklin Gray, a 50-year-old man who disappeared from Montrose, Colorado on May 30, 1978. He was a rancher and he and a friend went out to lease some cattle that night. His friend said he dropped Gray off at a Montrose bar in the early hours of May 31. He has never been heard from again. After his disappearance, his checkbook was found on a mesa near his family’s ranch.

I find it strange that Gray’s friend lawyered up and wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation after the initial interview with police. But no one has been named as a suspect and authorities have found no hard evidence of foul play… and no evidence supporting any other theory either. Gray was just gone.

He’d be 93 years old today.

MP of the week: Ayyub Pugh

This week’s featured missing person is Ayyub N. Pugh, a 45-year-old black man who disappeared from Layton, Utah on August 14, 2010. There isn’t much information about his disappearance, but there apparently aren’t any indications of foul play and he could still be alive somewhere.

Pugh suffers from mental illness and could be in a mental hospital/treatment program. He has used several different alias names in the past. He has previously lived in Florida and New York. If still alive he’d be 55.

EastPark John Doe, missing persons events, and other stories

Colorado: There will be two events to honor the May 10, 2020 disappearance of Suzanne Morphew from Chaffee County. (I haven’t added her yet cause it hasn’t yet been a year.) The first will be held at the Poncha Springs Visitor Center at 7010 U.S. Highway 285 in Poncha Springs, Colorado at 7:00 p.m. on April 30. This day would be/have been Suzanne’s fiftieth birthday. The second event is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on May 2, at the Community Garden at 202 East Church Street in Alexandria, Indiana; Suzanne grew up there and many family and friends still live there. I might attend that event as it’s only an hour and ten minutes from where I live.

Kentucky: In EastPark, on the edge of Boyd County, last July, hunters found the badly decomposed remains of a murdered man partially buried. He had been dead for between approximately two weeks and a month. The man was wearing only boxer shorts and there were no personal effects. The man was between 20 and 40 years old and about 5’8 and 140 to 160 pounds, with brown hair between earlobe length and shoulder length. He had been shot, but also had drugs in his system when he died. The place where he was buried, although somewhat secluded, had easy access to the interstate; the dead man “literally could have come from anywhere.” The man has yet to be identified.

Also in Kentucky: Skeletal remains found in Hardyville in February 2020 have been identified as Jacob Lewis Tipton, a 24-year-old man who disappeared from Berea on April 23, 2016. Unfortunately there wasn’t much left of him and they couldn’t establish a cause of death.

Also in Kentucky: They’re still looking for Andrea Michelle Knabel, a 37-year-old woman who disappeared from Louisville on August 13, 2019. A retired homicide detective has taken an interest in the case and believes he’s found a three-hour discrepancy in the timeline of the night of Andrea’s disappearance.

Mississippi: They’re still trying to identify a Jane Doe who were found under a bridge over the Pearl River in Rankin County in 1978. She was nude and wrapped in an old blanket. She had died of multiple blows to the head and may have been killed by serial killer Samuel Little, who died late last year. They’re looking into the possibility that the Jane Doe may be Wendy Susan Byron, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Glendora, California just two days before Jane Doe was found in Mississippi.

New York: They’re still looking for Flossie A. Wilbur, a 75-year-old woman who disappeared from Angelica on August 24, 1985. David Sherk, one of her then-neighbors, confessed to her murder in 2020 and told authorities he had buried her body near the Almond Dam, but the body has never been found. Doesn’t mean the man was lying; the dam has flooded multiple times since 1985. Sherk had terminal brain cancer when he made his confession and I’m not sure he’s still alive now, but he was never charged.

South Dakota: In Rapid City, groups and leaders both from town and from Native American reservations across the state united yesterday to raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous people. Here are some photos of the event.

Virginia: It’s been ten years now since Robert Lee Hourihan disappeared, leaving behind a wife and six-year-old daughter her adored. Foul play is suspected in his case. His wife has never remarried and still hopes every day that he will be found.

Also Virginia: Human remains found in the woods on the campus of Hollins University back in February have been identified as Jessica Darling Dickson, a 30-year-old woman who disappeared from Roanoke on June 1, 2019. Jessica’s death is under investigation, but the police said there doesn’t seem to be any connection to the university and they don’t think the students (it’s a women’s college) are in danger.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada: There’s an interesting article/podcast episode on the systemic failures of Toronto Police and missing persons cases.

New Waterford, Nova Scotia, Canada: They’re still looking for Debbie Hutchinson, 59-year-old woman who disappeared on April 15, 2017 and wasn’t reported missing for twelve days. Her niece found groceries lying on the floor of Debbie’s home, and her car later turned up abandoned and burned.

MP of the week: Timothy Keays

This week’s featured missing person is Timothy Lee Keays, a 32-year-old man who was last seen on the campus of Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University) in Ashland on June 27, 1989. At the time of his disappearance, he lived with his mom in Talent, Oregon.

I don’t have much info on his case, but foul play is possible. He’s a Vietnam veteran and was taking medicine for “respiratory problems” at the time of his disappearance.

MP of the week: David Bellah

This week’s featured missing person is David Wayne Bellah, a 38-year-old man who was last seen by his family when he came to visit them in Roseville, California for Easter in March 1991. I don’t have an exact date of his disappearance, and in such cases my policy is to select the earliest possible one—that is, March 1. However, I should note that Easter was March 31 that year.

Bellah didn’t see or contact his family often but would come to visit them for things like holidays. After Easter 1991, they never heard from him again. The most recent photo I have for him is from 1980.

Little information is available in Bellah’s disappearance, but he’s had a hair transplant, which might stand out if he’s a John Doe somewhere.

I wanted to drop a recommendation for y’all

So this podcast series, “Through the Cracks: The Untold Story of Mbuyisa Makhubo” came out in 2016, but I didn’t discover it until a few days ago. I really wanted to tell everyone because it’s an awesome series, four episodes, great journalism, very thorough, telling a fascinating story about a missing person.

Mbuyisa Makhubo was a very ordinary teenage boy living in Soweto, South Africa in the 1970s when he became world-famous by accident. Basically, what happened was that a 1976 youth protest against the brutal apartheid regime got out of hand and the police opened fire on the crowd, killing a twelve-year-old boy named Hector Pieterson (and a lot of other people). Mbuyisa was the one who picked up Hector after he was shot and carried him to a nearby car — a photojournalist’s — to take him to the hospital. The journalist’s photos of Mbuyisa, running with a dying Hector in his arms and Hector’s screaming, hysterical sister running next to him, were displayed in newspapers across the world. You might have seen the images yourself; they’re still famous.

The result was that Mbuyisa (who hadn’t even been attending the protest, he just happened to live on that street) became a target of South African security forces. Afraid for his life, he had to flee the country. He got a scholarship to attend a school in Nigeria, but couldn’t adjust, began deteriorating physically and mentally, and ended up on drugs and living on the streets of Lagos. Sometime in 1978, he disappeared, and his family in South Africa never heard from him again.

Then he may have resurfaced, thirty years later, alive and well in a Canadian jail. Or maybe he didn’t.

From there the story just keeps getting stranger and stranger and more and more complicated. I don’t want to say anything more for fear of spoiling things, but I wound up listening to the whole podcast in one streak, ruminating on it for hours and puzzling it over with my friends afterwards.

So yeah, listen to it.

This is pretty odd…

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like the cases of Nicole Shante Moore and Bobby Lee Johns would be related. She was a black woman in her twenties; he was a white man in his sixties. They disappeared a year and a half apart. And while they both are listed as missing from Amarillo, Texas, that city has a population of almost 200,000 people. So, not much in common on the surface.

However, I wonder.

Nicole is believed to have gone to the Adrian, Texas area, fifty miles down Interstate 40, on the day of her disappearance. Her cellular phone last pinged near there. Bobby was also possibly en route to Adrian. When police were searching the vicinity of the cell phone ping for evidence in Nicole’s case, they found Bobby’s abandoned car on the interstate.

So, both disappeared from Amarillo. Nicole was thought to have been headed for Adrian, and so was Bobby. His car was found near where her phone had last pinged.

It’s entirely possible, within the law of averages, that the cases had nothing to do with each other. After all, a lot of missing people’s cars are found abandoned on interstates, and a lot of missing people’s phones ping along interstates, simply because of the fact that those are major travel routes.

But it is a bit odd.

We have a pretty good idea what happened to Nicole. But what happened to Bobby? And where are they?