Well, that was fun

Yeah, so I’m back from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where they held an event today to honor the missing children of Ohio. Although I showed up in an unofficial capacity only, I had a blast.

I mainly came cause Gina DeJesus, one of the Cleveland kidnap survivors, was speaking. The event was at the Messiah Lutheran Church. I showed up slightly late and had to sit in the back. There were several speakers before Gina, and I spent some time trying to figure out which one of the people sitting in the audience was her. It was fairly easy because half or more of the attendees were black, and most of the rest were white. I zeroed in on two brown-skinned women in the front but couldn’t figure out which one was Gina. They turned out to be Gina and her older sister Myra.

My view from the back of the church; Gina is on the right and Myra is on the left.
My view from the back of the church during the sisters’ speeches; Gina is on the right and Myra is on the left.

Anyway, Gina read a speech off several sheets of paper about how it was important to pay attention to missing persons bulletins, and it was important to pay attention to your surroundings and the people in your neighborhood and so on because you never knew who might be hiding something. I mean, people went inside Ariel Castro’s house and had no clue about the women held captive there. I think a lot of that is because the idea that your friend, neighbor or relative might have three kidnapped women locked in his basement is just something that would not occur to most people.

Myra spoke also, and talked about what life was like having a missing family member. One of the things she mentioned was how a man known to the family told her parents, reassuringly, something like “Don’t worry, they won’t find her dead.

That man was named Ariel Castro.

There was an intermission before a middle school choir showed up to sing a song. I went around talking to people — not Gina, I was not sure whether to approach her or not at that point — and handing out business cards. There were booths about various topics set up in the lobby and an adorable remote-controlled talking boat that went around telling people about boat safety. I told the boat about the time I nearly drowned in Lake Michigan at age five, failing to mention the fact that this near-tragedy did not involve a boat, just some poorly supervised beach time.

Me and the talking robot boat.
Me and the talking robot boat.
Gina (far right) with members of the anti human trafficking group Break Every Chain.
Gina (far right) with members of the anti human trafficking group Break Every Chain.

So after all that was over we had a balloon release in the parking lot. Fortunately the wind cooperated.

Just before the balloon release.
Just before the balloon release.
Post balloon release. Each one has a missing child's name attached.
Post balloon release. Each one has a missing child’s name attached.

Just before we all left, I decided to approach Gina after seeing some other people do so. We didn’t really talk but she consented to have her photo taken with me before we parted ways. I wish I had remembered to smile in the picture. It was one of those days where it was cloudy out (it rained later) but the light hurt your eyes anyway, and I was squinting so hard I forgot about smiling.

Gina DeJesus (right) and me.
Gina DeJesus (right) and me.

And then I went home.

Altogether it was a most profitable visit. I made some contacts and hope to return next  year.

Muttergrumble, etc.

Yeah, so I was writing up the Runaway Of The Day and discovered that she is quite active on social media; her Facebook page, for example, says she was at a KFC in Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side) yesterday, and she was complaining about the wait there. So I called the NCMEC hotline to tell them this (they’re actually in my cell phone contacts), only to be told that the girl had been recovered ages ago.

Well, she’s still on their database, and I wasted some time writing up a casefile for a girl who’s not missing. At least I caught the error before POSTING said casefile.

And speaking of the NCMEC, what the heck’s up with Shimeaka Gibson? Her NCMEC poster mentions that she wears wigs but inexplicably fails to bring up the fact that she wears them because she’s completely bald, having lost her hair because of lupus. They don’t even have a “may be in need of medical attention” thing on her poster. I had to find out the baldness and lupus things from NamUs. But they’re awfully important details if you ask me. Baldness in a teenage girl is a major distinguishing characteristic, and lupus is a serious disease that can kill you.

Sigh.

The latest MWAB news

I thought I’d do a run-down in the latest news in murder-without-a-body cases:

  • Per everybody, Antolin Garcia-Torres has been found guilty of the murder of Sierra Mae Lamar, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Morgan Hill, California five years ago. Her abduction and killing is of the most terrifying kind: she was just snatched off the street in a random act of violence.
  • In Iowa, Tait Purk has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Cora Ann Okonski, who disappeared from the town of Tama on April 16, 2000. Unlike in Sierra Lamar’s murder, there wasn’t anything in the way of physical evidence here. However, Purk supposedly confessed to at least two other people that he had killed Cora and buried her body.
  • No charges have been filed as of yet, but Dale LaFleur‘s grand-nephew, Philip, has confessed to murdering him and the police are looking for the body. Philip is currently in jail for the 2015 murder of another man. He’s only 23 now, and Dale disappeared in 2011, so chances are Philip was a minor when he (allegedly) killed his great-uncle. (Not that it’ll matter.) He says he put Dale’s body inside his (Dale’s) car and dumped it in the Atchafalaya River. Police have said they’ve found an “object” in the river that might be the car. Fingers crossed.
  • And as for Peter Kema, alas, I don’t know anything more than I did three weeks ago: namely that Peter Sr. has led police to the alleged disposal spot. I seem to recall some article that claimed the remains were cremated and dumped at sea. If that is so, they’re almost certainly unrecoverable. But I don’t know if that information is correct. There’s a big difference between outright cremating a body and merely setting it on fire. I think if the cops had found something, they would have said so by now, but who knows?

MP of the week squeaked in: Nigel Jay

This week’s featured MP (added at 11:26 p.m., whew!) is Nigel Shervanti Jay, a 33-year-old African-American man who disappeared from Oakland, California on April 7, 2013. I don’t have a whole lot on his disappearance, other than that it’s considered suspicious. Nigel has two tattoos, one of which is of a spatula — perhaps related to his job as a cook.

Select It Sunday: Myra Lewis

It’s been a bit since I did a Select It Sunday. Sorry. This one was chosen by one I. Can’t-Remember, someone who contacted me on the Charley Project’s Facebook page (which hit 10,000 likes this week! Wee!) This person asked me to write about Myra Lewis, a Camden, Mississippi who disappeared on March 1, 2014, at the age of two.

There’s very little information about Myra, although the Clarion-Ledger did do an anniversary article about her disappearance last month. She just disappeared from her front yard on Mount Pilgrim Road in Camden, a rural unincorporated community. Myra’s mom was going to the grocery store and told Myra and her sisters to go inside, where their father was. This was between 10:30 and 11:00 in the morning.

Myra apparently never made it inside, or if she did, her father never saw her. Because each parent thought she was with the other one, she wasn’t missed for hours.

Me, I have to wonder if she didn’t just wander off. I was trying to get a better idea of what the Camden area was like — the Wikipedia entry doesn’t say much — so I looked at Zillow, a real estate website. Their listings for Camden have a lot of “lots” for sale, with trees and ponds and such. It would be easy for a two-year-old to disappear in such an environment.

For what it’s worth, the police are saying there’s no reason to believe Myra isn’t alive. I hope she is. She wasn’t even two and a half when she disappeared and would probably have no memories of her home and parents.