Black History Month: Cherie Barnes

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Cherie Nicole Barnes, a two-year-old girl who disappeared from Missouri in 1986/1987ish.

Cherie’s NCMEC poster notes that she “is biracial and is considered to be black and white.” This would match her appearance. I thought the “considered to be” thing meant her paternity was unknown, but a source I found said Cherie’s biological father is known and lives in Los Angeles.

I put Cherie’s height and weight on Charley as “unknown” because, regardless of what the NCMEC says, she was definitely not four feet tall and eighty pounds at the age of two and a half.

So Cherie’s story is a bit complicated. Her stepfather, Larry Vasser, and mom, Elizabeth Ann Turek Vasser, had custody of her, and in 1986 they moved from Nashville, Tennessee to St. Louis, Missouri. Larry was, I guess, a pimp, and Elizabeth was working for him.

Elizabeth disappeared on December 1, 1986, and wasn’t reported missing at the time. Cherie was reportedly seen with her stepfather in Kansas City, Missouri (a three-and-a-half-hour drive west of St. Louis) on January 7, 1987. But I don’t know how solid that sighting is, because the NCMEC has Cherie’s listed date and place of disappearance the same as her mom’s: December 1, 1986, from St. Louis. In any case, no one has seen Cherie since.

Elizabeth’s nude body was found two months later, washed up on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis. It wasn’t identified for seven years, because the police didn’t know she was missing. They made the connection after Elizabeth’s family reported her and Cherie as missing persons.

Larry, who is in prison on unrelated convictions until at least 2028, said Cherie was being cared for by his relatives and is living under an alias in the Kansas City area. Who knows if that’s true, though. If it is, a publicity campaign in Kansas City might lead to her location.

Elizabeth’s murder, and her daughter’s disappearance, are still unsolved. If Cherie is alive today, as Larry Vasser claims, she’d be 34.

MP of the week: Deklon Ford

This week’s featured missing person (sorry about last week, it wasn’t a good week) is Deklon Ford, who disappeared on May 6, 2015. He was only six months old at the time, and would be four years old now.

He and his mom, 28-year-old Brittany Anne Ford, disappeared together, and although the place of disappearance is given as Columbus, Ohio, they were “last known to be” in Hardin, Montana. Brittany’s car (which had Georgia plates, incidentally) was found abandoned on Highway 87 between Billings, Montana and Sheridan, Wyoming, but I’m a bit hazy as to which state it was in.

I’m not sure under what circumstances they’re missing, but they have a Facebook page set up for them, and Deklon’s dad set up a GoFundMe for search funds.

Native American Heritage Month: Shrie Rowland

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Shrie Marie Rowland, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Saratoga Springs, Utah on July 2, 2004. She is classified as a runaway.

I found some obituaries for members of Shrie’s family and deduced that she is of Native American (Sioux) and Puerto Rican descent. I wonder if she really did run away; it’s very uncommon for a runaway to be missing for as long as that.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Ira Josytewa

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Ira Jack Josytewa, a biracial Native American and Hispanic 21-year-old who disappeared from Phoenix, Arizona on August 28, 2001.

Frankly, I don’t think whatever happened to Ira was anything good. His car turned up abandoned with all the doors open and his stuff inside. He never picked up his last paycheck. His family, which includes two children, haven’t heard from him in seventeen years.

If he’s still alive, he’d be 39 today.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Keyla Contreras

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Keyla Contreras, a biracial Hispanic and African-American eighteen-year-old who disappeared from Manhattan on January 13, 2012.

Keyla’s case is concerning because she’s deaf and mute — meaning she can’t speak intelligibly and only communicates with sign language. Obviously that makes her extremely vulnerable. She left her home in the Spanish Harlem area at 7:00 a.m., perhaps to go to work or school, and vanished.

Unfortunately I know very little about her disappearance. Even the Whereabouts Still Unknown blog, known for its wonderful research, couldn’t find much on her.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Gebar Byrd Jr.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Gebar Byrd Jr., a biracial Hispanic and African-American toddler who was last seen in University City, Missouri on March 22, 2010, a few weeks before his second birthday.

Gebar’s father, Gebar Byrd Sr., confessed to the murder of both little Gebar and his mother, Yasmin Rodriguez. He said he intentionally shoved her into the Mississippi River while she was holding the boy in her arms. Yasmin’s body was found in the river on April 9; Gebar Jr.’s never turned up. Gebar Sr. was convicted of second-degree murder in the mother’s death and involuntary manslaughter in the child’s, and sentenced to life in prison.

In spite of the confession and the convictions, there’s some hope among some of Gebar Jr.’s family members that he’s still alive, because his birth certificate and other papers disappeared. Me, I’m pretty skeptical of that theory.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Mariah Carter

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Mariah Chavez Carter, a biracial Hispanic and Caucasian girl who disappeared from Biscoe, North Carolina on October 8, 2001. She was almost two months old.

Mariah was the victim of a family abduction; her non-custodial mother, Porfria Salmeron Chavez, took her, possibly to Mexico. There’s a warrant out for Chavez’s arrest, although for some reason it wasn’t issued until six years later.

Mariah would be seventeen today. She may not even realize she is a missing child.