Make-a-List Monday: Older children where a parent is suspected

This list is for kids over the age of ten where one or both of the child’s parents (or step-parents, or guardians) is a suspect or possible suspect in their disappearance, or the circumstances indicate they could be involved. I’m not talking about family abduction cases, I mean cases where they think the parent killed the child. I’m including murder-without-a-body cases.

Child abuse and neglect occurs at all ages, of course, but it’s my understanding that child abuse deaths in older kids are relatively rare. I don’t know much about this sort of thing but my guess would be it’s because older kids are both less fragile and more capable of defending themselves than infants and toddlers.

I’m grouping these kids in alphabetical order by age, and the suspect is in parentheses. In a lot of these cases, other family members — siblings or a parent — are also missing.

  1. Sheketah Michele Brown, 10 (father)
  2. Shakeima Ann Cabbagestalk, 10 (stepfather)
  3. Kristopher Charles Loesch, 10 (mother and mother’s girlfriend)
  4. Reagan Cordell Uden, 10 (stepfather)
  5. Karen Zhou, 10 (stepfather)
  6. Haleigh Breann Culwell, 11 (stepfather)
  7. Richard Lee Haynes Jr., 11 (father and stepmother)
  8. Adam Joseph Herrman, 11 or 12 (adoptive parents)
  9. Barry James Kephart II, 11 (father)
  10. Billy Sena, 11 (mother’s live-in boyfriend)
  11. Richard Loren Uden, 11 (stepfather)
  12. Terry Lee Westerfield, 11 (stepfather)
  13. Debra Jean Cole, 12 (mother’s live-in boyfriend)
  14. Crystal Gayle Dittmeyer, 12 (stepfather)
  15. Ivy Matory, 12 (stepfather)
  16. Jaliek L. Rainwalker, 12 (adoptive father)
  17. Doreen Jane Vincent, 12 (father)
  18. Melinda Karen Creech, 13 (mother)
  19. Kelly Jean Harris, 13 (stepfather)
  20. Rachel Marie Mellon, 13 (stepfather)
  21. Rachanda Lea Pickle, 13 (stepfather)
  22. Ricky Lane Thomas Jr., 13 (stepfather)
  23. Aundria Michelle Bowman, 14 (adoptive father)
  24. Toni Lynn McNatt-Chiappetta, 14 (father)
  25. Christina Marchell Richart, 14 (foster mother; her biological uncle’s wife)
  26. Monique Christine Daniels, 15 (stepfather)
  27. Tammy Sue Rothganger, 15 (stepfather)
  28. Jason Sims Jr., 15 (parents)
  29. Bethany Anne Sinclair, 15 (mother’s live-in boyfriend)
  30. Joyce Irene Cogburn, 15 (male temporary guardian)
  31. William Dale Gunn, 15 (stepfather)
  32. Josephine Yvette Cogburn, 16 (male temporary guardian)
  33. Margarette Ann Cuauhtli, 16 (adoptive father)
  34. Mindi Chambers, 17 (father)
  35. Alissa Marie Turney, 17 (stepfather; legally adopted her)

Honorable mention: Richard Gorham, 11. His mother’s live-in boyfriend is a suspect in his disappearance. However, Richard was living with his grandfather, Roland Himebrook, when he went missing. Himebrook disappeared too.

Let’s talk about it: Stephanie and Edward Hunsberger

This was a case suggested by a reader: the 1978 disappearances of Stephanie Hunsberger (nee Smith) and her husband, Edward Hale Hunsberger, who were 24 and 30 respectively when they vanished from Northwales, Pennsylvania on February 25 of that year.

The Hunsbergers were drug addicts and in pretty deep; Stephanie even occasionally worked as a prostitute to support her heroin habit. Both of them were in a methadone program at the time they went missing. After Stephanie missed one of her methadone clinic appointments, the staff contacted her father, Jay Smith, and asked if he knew where she was. He said he was trying to detox her himself with Placidyl (a prescription sedative with recreational uses; it’s no longer on the market) and “really good pot.” Neither of the Hunsbergers ever went back to the methadone clinic, and it was assumed they had relapsed.

After that, things get murky.

Read the couple’s casefiles for details on what a weirdo Stephanie’s father was. Suffice it to say that, although he had a doctorate and a respectable job as principal of Upper Merion High School, on his downtime he committed a series of armed robberies, and after his arrest in August 1978, the police found a TON of drugs at his house. He bonded out awaiting trial. He was later sentenced to five years.

Smith was later convicted of three counts of murder in the deaths of Susan Reinert, an employee at the school where he was principal, and her two children, Karen and Michael. Susan was murdered in June 1979, in a fairly unusual way — she was beaten severely, but she survived for about 24 to 36 hours afterwards, and the actual cause of death was a morphine overdose. Karen and Michael disappeared with their mom and the bodies were never found.

The police believed the murders were orchestrated by Susan’s boyfriend Bill Bradfield, an Upper Merion High School teacher, for money, but that Jay Smith actually committed the killings. Bradfield died while serving life in prison for the crimes. Smith (who was sentenced to death) had his conviction overturned because the prosecution had exculpatory evidence they’d unethically concealed from his defense (who claimed Bradfield had deliberately framed him). Smith died in 2009.

What of Stephanie and Edward? Well, the last confirmed sighting of them was on the aforementioned date of February 25, 1978, but there were several reported sightings of them after that, by Smith — not a credible witness perhaps — and by Stephanie’s younger sister, a neighbor, and others.

Now, Smith claimed the Hunsbergers went on the run because they owed money to drug dealers. But they left all their stuff behind at his house, including an uncashed tax return, and all those drugs which he claimed were theirs. Smith’s relationship with his daughter was understandably troubled, and he was demonstrably violent. Even if you don’t buy the story that he was a murderer, he was definitely a robber who, at the time of his arrest, was carrying multiple loaded guns and a syringe of “sedative drugs” (Placidyl?). The police consider him a suspect in Stephanie and Edward’s cases.

They definitely dropped out out sight sometime in 1978 or 1979; there were no sightings of them after that, and no one heard from them. Given the high-risk lifestyle they lead, and the lack of contact for nearly 40 years, I highly doubt they’re alive now. But who got them? Jay Smith? Drug dealers? Or just drugs? Or something else? Are their bodies perhaps listed as John Does somewhere else in the country, or do they lie undiscovered in a landfill or a shallow grave in Pennsylvania?

Let’s talk about it.

Make-a-List Monday: Teachers

This list is of MPs who were schoolteachers or college professors. I decided to include retired teachers, substitute teachers and student teachers, but not people who were just education majors in college, and not ones who had quit their education jobs to pursue other careers.

My dad is a professor of biology at Ohio State. Michael’s dad is a teacher; he taught high school Spanish and history, and since his retirement he’s taught Spanish at a local college off and on. Michael has held teaching jobs too; right now he’s a full-time tutor. One of my nephews is also a teacher, high school science I think.

Education is essential in any society and a good teacher can make an enormous difference in the life of a young person, but teaching is a very difficult job, and in the U.S. — not sure about other countries — teachers are underpaid and underappreciated.

  1. Carolyn Denise Brown
  2. Sharon Eugenia Davis
  3. Thomas Lee Duesterhaus
  4. Dorothy Geneva Freeman
  5. Jesus Maria Galindez
  6. Stephanie Marie Gant-Brady
  7. Tara Faye Grinstead
  8. Alice Kristina Wehr Hummel
  9. Elizabeth Ann Kenyon
  10. Sandra Lynn Kerby
  11. Alyos Jakob Krost
  12. Vicky L. Lynn
  13. Shelley Mook
  14. Oliver Wendell Munson
  15. Jennie M. Rehbinder
  16. Paige Marie Renkoski
  17. Randy R. Sitter
  18. Charles Southern Jr.
  19. Katherine Lynn Stobaugh
  20. Deborah Jean Swanson
  21. Leonard Taku
  22. Jane Ellen Wakefield
  23. John E. Warren

Flashback Friday: Timothy Willoughby

This week’s FF case is Timothy Lee Willoughby, a 24-year-old who disappeared with his girlfriend, Mary Ann Higginbotham, from the tiny town of Clayton in central Indiana on June 6, 1978. A year later, Mary Ann’s body was found stuffed inside a drum in Mooresville, Indiana, twelve miles from Clayton. She’d been shot in the head. She was 22 years old.

At first the police thought Timothy had killed her, but now they think both of them met with foul play. Two men were arrested for the murders but were later released.

Arrest in Aliayah Lunsford’s disappearance

Breaking news today: the mother of little Aliayah Paige Lunsford (whose name is pronounced ah-LEE-ah, btw), who disappeared in 2011 at the age of three, has been charged with child abuse causing death in her daughter’s disappearance. Lena Lunsford was arrested in Florida and will not fight extradition back to West Virginia.

That this has turned into a murder-without-a-body case is not surprising; Lena had been the prime suspect in Aliayah’s disappearance all along and the police had said they didn’t believe she had been abducted. Lena was pregnant with twins at the time of Aliayah’s disappearance and had four other children; she permanently lost custody of all six kids in the aftermath of Aliayah’s disappearance.

If you look at the photos of Aliayah — I’ve got six of them — she always looks unhappy. One of them, in some versions, had been Photoshopped to remove the large bruise on her cheek; I posted the original.

I can only hope that Aliayah’s siblings are leading happy lives now and that the family will get some answers out of Lena at last.

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Think before you email, people

Got an email from somebody I don’t know saying she had been a witness at the trial and a lot of stuff I said was “very wrong” and I need to get my facts straight. She was pretty ticked off about it.

She failed to mention which case, however. I’ve got 9,500 of them, approximately. If there was a trial, it’s probably a MWAB case, which narrows it down to 575 cases. *headdesk*

“It would help,” I wrote back, “if you told me which case you’re talking about.”