Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Kianna and Gunnar Berg

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is actually two cases, the missing siblings Kianna Joanna Berg and Gunnar David Berg.

The children, who are half white, half Japanese, were abducted by their mother, Naoko Numakami, from their Fairfax, Virginia home and taken to her native Japan. They were eight and nine years old at the time.

Naoko told Kianna and Gunnar’s father that she was just taking the kids to Japan for a vacation, but once in that country she refused to return them. He hasn’t seen them since.

Unfortunately for the kids’ father, it’s probably going to stay that way. I don’t know if there are ANY cases where the Japanese government actually agreed to return an internationally abducted child. I don’t think family courts, as such, really exist there.

Both kids are now over eighteen and could choose to go back to the US on their own if they like, but my guess is that like many family abduction victims, they’ve been alienated against their left-behind father.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Jenna Robbins

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Jenna Ray Robbins, a nine-year-old girl who disappeared from Killeen, Texas on May 14, 1989, thirty years ago yesterday. She is biracial, and of Korean descent on her mother’s side.

Jenna was playing with a six-year-old friend outside her family’s home when a young man driving a late model Dodge or Plymouth sedan stopped and tried to entice the two girls into his car. Jenna got in, but the other child ran away. Jenna has never been seen again and her abductor has not been identified.

She disappeared on Mother’s Day. I doubt she’s still alive, but with stories like Elizabeth Smart, Shawn Hornbeck, Jayme Closs, etc., I suppose there is always hope.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Neal Boware

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Neal Louis Boware, a 21-year-old man of African-American and Korean descent. He disappeared from Akron, Ohio on July 24, 2006.

Neal has schizophrenia and is supposed to take medication, but I don’t know whether he was on his meds at the time of his disappearance.

He ran away from his mom and jumped off a bridge; there were railroad tracks below the bridge, and a train was passing on them at the time. Presumably he landed on top of the train, though that’s not really clear. I’m not sure anyone actually saw this happen. No one has seen Neal since.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Rachel Mellon

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Rachel Marie Mellon, also known as Rachel Mellon Skemp, a thirteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Bolingbrook, Illinois on January 31, 1996. She is listed as Asian, but I think she may have some Caucasian ancestry as well.

Rachel had stayed home sick from school on the day of her disappearance. Her stepfather, Vince Mellon, said she was lying on the couch when he went to take the dog for a walk, and when he came back, she was gone.

Vince himself has been a suspect in Rachel’s case for years, though. Rachel had written in her diary that he kissed her and touched her inappropriately, and he had scratches on him after her disappearance. There just isn’t enough evidence at present to charge anyone, however.

Black History Month: Irwin Stewart

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 Irwin Yafeth Stewart, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy who was abducted by his non-custodial mother, Elvia Bravo Ibarra, from Houston, Texas on November 30, 2002. Irwin is biracial; his mother is Hispanic and his father is black.

Elvia and Irwin may still be in the Houston area, or they may have gone to Mexico. Iwin would be 17 years old today.

Black History Month: Tristan Rivera

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 Tristan Markey Rivera, a 21-year-old man who disappeared from Irving, Texas on August 5, 2007. He is biracial (black/white) and mentally disabled.

He was last seen in the Trinity River floodwaters and is presumed drowned.

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.