I hate having to use mug shots

On the Charley Project’s Twitter account I tweet two cases a day, one male missing person, one female. These tweets are pre-scheduled and go up automatically, and for the past few years they’ve always been accompanied by a photo of the MP.

If there’s a choice of photos, and the photos are all of basically equal quality, I choose the one that I think makes the MP look best. If the photos are of varying qualities, I pick the best quality photo: a clear image taken close up and in good lighting, making it easy to tell what the MP looked like.

Sometimes, too many times, the literal only photos I can find, or the only ones of decent quality, are obvious mug shots. They are obviously better than no photos or really poor quality photos when it comes to identifying someone, and I even once made a blog post defending my use of mug shots and even arguing that they were more useful than candid photos or portraits. But all the same I hate having to use them.

I mean, to me, a photo is a photo. But it seems like the general public, they see something about a missing person and they see a mug shot of that missing person and immediately their empathy switches off. They stop caring about the case and assume the MP must have been a bad person or something. When the general public is just going off a mug shot, they don’t even know why the MP got arrested or what really happened. When even if the MP was not a perfect person they don’t deserve to be kidnapped or murdered and their families don’t deserve the torment and grief.

I especially hate it when the MP whose mug shots I have to use is a person of color. The reason it bothers me is I know it’s a common complaint in the black community that whenever the mainstream news media talks about an ordinary black person, they will use unflattering photos, including mug shots if those are available, and that the mainstream news media does not do this when talking about white people. (For example, it was some time before the news media started using blonde, blue-eyed rapist Brock Turner‘s mug shots after his arrest and eventual conviction for rape. They initially used other photos of him.) I do not wish to be accused of racism.

I do know that at least some police departments have become aware of the issue of using mug shots in their missing persons press releases. At least, they’re aware they are being criticized for it.

I know this because recently I saw a police department post about a missing (white) person and the woman looked a bit rough in the pic, with dark circles under her eyes like she hadn’t slept in many days. I don’t know 100% if the photo was a mug shot but I think it was. In the text of their post about this missing woman, the police department said this was the most recent photo of her and the family had approved of its use. Like they knew they were going to be called out.

This all came up today in my head when I was updating a case where there are a decent number of photos but none are good quality and some have filters. Except for one photo. And it’s a mug shot. And she’s a black woman. It was also used in the investigating police department’s post on Facebook about the missing woman, and people in the comments were complaining about its use, for the reasons I mentioned above. But all the other photos I’ve ever seen of this person are all either heavily filtered or poor quality, and aren’t very good for identification.

Unless I find a decent candid photo or portrait, the mug shot will have to be the photo I select, if I ever tweet about this case.

MP of the week: Mayra Sandoval

This week’s featured missing person (so sorry it’s late, been failing at life lately) is Mayra Erisuria Sandoval, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Sarasota, Florida on January 10, 2006. She was seeing getting off the school bus, but didn’t attend school that afternoon and never returned home. A week later she called home and said she was okay and still in the US, but didn’t say where she was or who was with her.

This may be a case where the missing person has actually gotten in touch with family but the police have not been notified of this. It happens sometimes that families of missing people sometimes lose contact with law enforcement. It seems more likely in this instance because after Mayra went missing, it came out that her family was living in the US illegally and they were asked to leave go back to Mexico. If they did go back, perhaps Mayra (who is also believed to be in Mexico) contacted them.

Her case is classified as a runaway by all agencies including the Charley Project, but when it comes to a preteen child and a “male acquaintance who is in his twenties” it seems like abduction would be more appropriate. I don’t think anyone who convinces as twelve-year-old to run away from home has their best interest at heart. If she was in fact lured from her home by this “male acquaintance”, they may no longer be together. Sixteen years is a long time.

If still alive, Mayra would be 29 years old today. She’s Hispanic, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was 5’1 and 130 pounds in 2006 but she’s probably grown since then. She was last seen wearing a light blue and beige sweatshirt with the word “Micky” on the front, blue jeans, white sneakers and a light blue backpack.

MP of the week: Sasha Bishop

This week’s featured missing person is Sasha Marrie Bishop, a 37-year-old Hispanic woman who disappeared from Bakersfield, California on May 9, 2015, leaving three children.

Sasha is described as 5’2 and 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She has a couple tattoors, including stars on the side of her face and a full sleeve on her right arm.

The house where Sasha was last seen was “frequented by transients”, whatever that means. One neighbor believed the residents were squatting. Joe Ray McBath was shot to death in that house less than a month after Sasha was last seen. His murder remains unsolved. The police have said they don’t think Sasha’s disappearance and the murder are connected, but did say they were seeking Sasha to interview as a possible witness.

If still alive, Sasha would be 44 today.

MP of the week: Bernadino Olivares-Cruz

This week’s featured missing person is Bernadino Olivares-Cruz, an 81-year-old man who disappeared from Robstown, Texas on August 13, 2015. He wasn’t from Robstown but was there visiting relatives. He was last seen when his son dropped him off at the cemetery. Bernadino planned to visit his other son’s grave.

Bernadino is Hispanic, 5’5 and 130 pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair. He was last seen wearing a plaid shirt, blue jeans, a black belt, black shoes and an orange baseball cap.

Little information is available in this case, but my guess is he’s deceased, if for no other reason than his advanced age. If still alive he’d be 88 next month.

News outlets, please do better than this

So this article came out yesterday and I wanted to bring it to attention because it’s useless.

The article says Bula Mae Robertson disappeared “back in 1993” from Warner Robins, Georgia. And that’s pretty much all it says. No exact date of disappearance, no information about the missing woman, how old she was, her physical appearance information, etc. The accompanying video isn’t much better, it only adds that Robertson disappeared during the month of October. Which is still a 31-day window.

I mean, they were able to go to her old house and show that on the screen, and interviewed a neighbor who remembered the disappearance, but they didn’t put out the most basic, crucial information. What’s the point?

Fortunately, the press release the police put out (I think it was flashed on the screen in the news video, but you weren’t able to actually read it) has the necessary information. But it would have been nice if the article had had it too.

MP of the week: Derrick Tenorio

This week’s featured missing person (I am sorry it’s late, and sorry that I missed last week entirely with updates cause I was failing at life or something) is Derrick James Tenorio, a 21-year-old Native American (Navajo) man who disappeared from Steamboat, Arizona on August 5, 2011.

He is described as 5’7 and between 170 and 190 pounds, with dark brown hair and the word “KAOS” spelled across his left-hand knuckles. I’m assuming his eyes are dark too though the description didn’t say. He was last seen wearing pretty standard young man apparel: a red long-sleeved shirt, black pants, and tan steel-toed work boots.

Derrick was at Steamboat Standing Rock at close to midnight. (No, not the Steamboat Rock that’s in Washington State. I got those two mixed up at first.) He was walking to visit his girlfriend but never arrived. He left behind two toddler-age kids and his girlfriend was pregnant with a third.

It’s hard to tell from the limited info what might have happened, but looking at the images of the Steamboat Standing Rock area, it doesn’t look all that safe to walk in after dark. I wonder if there was an accident of some kind, perhaps a fall.

The #MMIW (missing and murdered indigenous women) hashtag has resulted in some decent traction as far as press/searches/laws passed regarding missing and murdered Native women, but Native men also disappear at higher rates than average and they too need attention. Because of Derrick’s disappearance, three kids are growing up without their father.

MP of the week: Sean Seebarran

This week’s featured missing person is Sean Yougeshwer Seebarran, who disappeared from West Palm Beach, Florida on New Years’ Eve, 2017. He lived in New York but was visiting family in Florida when he disappeared after arguing with one of the aforementioned family members. He didn’t know anyone else in the area besides his relatives, and he didn’t have a car with him.

It’s not clear what happened to him, but he had bought a seat on a plane back to New York for January 8 and never made his flight.

Sean was 33 when he was last seen, and he had an unspecified injury to his left arm and shoulder. He was born in Guyana and is of Asian descent (a lot of Guyanese people are descended from Indian immigrants), with black hair, brown eyes, and scars on his abdomen and chest. He is 5’8 tall and weighed 140 pounds. If still alive, Sean would be 38 today.

From his Facebook page, he seems like a normal and happy young man, though well I know that social media posts can be deceiving.

His last public post is dated Christmas Day, a week before his disappearance: he posted some selfies he’d taken with one of the kid actors from Stranger Things. Earlier that month he posted pics and a video clip from the Christmas Parade in Queens, New York City. (By the way, the “Queens College” he mentions is not Queens College, New York, but rather a school in Guyana that happened to have the same name.)

I hope he’s still alive and that he’ll be located soon.

As for me — I’m working on the very last letter of the website overhaul. As I mentioned in my last entry, after completion I plan to take a day or so off to chill out and have a drink or five. Then resume updates.

MP of the week: Stanley Chandler

So yesterday although I changed the missing person of the week on the actual Charley Project I was basically too tired to write an entry for this blog, still recovering from the stomach bug thing. Here it is now:

This week’s featured missing person is Stanley Gene Chandler, last seen leaving his mom’s home for his own. This was in Seattle, Washington on May 18, 1990 and Chandler was 23 at the time. He’s described as black, with black hair, brown eyes and scars on his left hand, right leg and above his left eyebrow. For a man he’s on the small side, 5’4 and 150 pounds.

As Chandler was involved in the drug trade, foul play is possible in this case. If still alive he’d be 55 today.