Pride Month: Naum Mendez

In honor of Pride Month I’m featuring a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer missing person every day for the month of June. Today’s case is Naum Rafael Mendez, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Boca Raton, Florida on February 1, 2008.

Naum was, I think, bisexual — the casefile notes he had a wife and kids in Mexico but had a job dancing at a nightclub in drag and had a relationship with at least one man, Juan Carlos Atenco Camacho.

Atenco Camacho pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Naum’s case in 2012. His body was never found.

Advertisements

Thinking aloud with May 14 updates

Yeah, I was up all night working on these. Go me.

  • Suzen Cooper: The cops have GOT to know who this unidentified third party is. After all, Rachael took a plea deal and one of the conditions of the plea was to be honest with the authorities about what happened (though she claims she doesn’t know where Suzen’s body is). So where is this Mystery Man and why hasn’t he been charged?
  • Tamara Lynn Elbertson: Does anyone know what sort of medical conditions can cause that droopy eye? Maybe a stroke? My mom’s first husband (before she met my dad) has something similar and I was told he was dropped on his head when he was a baby, but I’m not sure that was meant entirely seriously.
  • Kito Royal Felton: Not mentioned in the casefile, but Kito may be one of those people where the line between “missing” and “on the run” is pretty thin. Right around the time he disappeared, a woman and her teenage son, Susan and Laurier Myrick, were shot to death in north Tampa and the articles said Kito was sought for questioning. I don’t think the murder has been solved.
    However, he’s listed as missing both on NamUs and FDLE, he doesn’t have any active warrants that I’m aware of, and he was simply wanted for questioning in the murders, not named as a suspect, so…I dunno.
  • Jared Baptista Germano: I studied his Facebook page pretty carefully. I don’t know what happened to him, but I hope he is missing because he wants to be. Jared had a troubled past and an extensive arrest record in Florida and North Carolina.
    His Facebook is public and is pretty open about his background; it says he studied criminal justice in the educational institution called “prison”. Per Jared’s posts, he had a meth problem, which would explain the arrests. But his Facebook says he had gone through rehab, got clean, was working and was generally trying to make a decent go of it.
    Wherever he is, he’s managed to avoid getting arrested again, which is a significant departure from his prior lifestyle. That could mean he’s leading a law-abiding life somewhere or it could mean he’s dead.
    Incidentally, Jared has a brother who looks JUST LIKE him. The brother also has an arrest record and I thought one of his mug shots was of Jared till I realized one person had neck tattoos and the other didn’t. Then I saw a photo on Jared’s Facebook of him and his brother side my by side and was like, “Ah, okay, here’s your double.”
  • Teresa Gossage and Alfred Hoffman Marshal: I’m very proud of getting these two up because their case is notorious in local history and they’re not listed on ANY database. They’re not even on the Missouri Highway Patrol’s list of missing persons, perhaps because they vanished on federal land. I found their names by accident while looking for something else.
    Fort Leonard Wood, by the way, is some 61,000 thousand acres spread over the Missouri Ozarks. My bet is TC and Al are still somewhere on the base. And I’m pretty sure Mr. Thornton is responsible. It would be a very strange coincidence if he wasn’t.
  • Sarah Necaise: She appears to have an active Facebook page — at least, there’s a page under that name, with a young woman who lives in Mississippi and resembles the missing girl. Hmm. An active page doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been found.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Jackie Koja

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 Bongak “Jackie” Koja, who disappeared from Oahu, Hawaii on June 9, 1997, her 59th birthday. She was born in South Korea and moved to the U.S. in 1962, thirty-five years before her disappearance.

It’s no mystery what happened to Jackie: she was the victim of a horrific crime, the stuff of nightmares.

She went on her usual early morning walk at 3:00 a.m., probably looking forward to spending her birthday with her husband and their four dogs. She never returned from the walk, and people heard screams in the area around four.

Later, a janitor at the local high school found blood all over the sidewalk. He thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t a joke. Jackie had been brutally beaten to death in a completely random attack by a career criminal who was under the influence of cocaine and crystal meth.

Who knows whether anyone would have ever figured out what happened if the murderer, Frank Janto, hadn’t gone to the police himself a few days later. He confessed to everything and there was evidence to support his statement — the blood for one thing — but Jackie’s body was gone. He’d thrown it in a dumpster after he killed her, and it had already been hauled away.

Janto was sentenced to 75 years in prison for Jackie’s murder, and he was later convicted of the 1987 murder of another woman who was killed under similar circumstances as Jackie.

Reader discretion advised

So here’s a copy of the court filing in the Ashley Freeman/Lauria Bible case. It is horrific. I haven’t even read it yet myself and I know it’s going to be horrific.

I did glance at the first few pages and it looks like the sole living suspect, Ronnie Busick, was the lookout and two men who are beyond earthly justice actually killed Danny and Kathy Freeman. And of course, if Busick and his lawyer have any brains at all they’re going to dump as much blame as possible on the dead guys and paint him as an innocent bystander or something.

I had bad dreams last night about the girls being held captive by those men. Some real Silence of the Lambs type stuff.

Not gonna update today. I’ve been out all day and now I’ve got some things to do. I’ve got to deal with an email sent in with about a zillion corrections on one of my cases. And possibly take Michael to the hospital when he gets home, depending on how awful he feels. He’s been sick for awhile.

Holy crap!

They’ve arrested a suspect in Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible‘s cases. The man, Ronnie Dean Busick, was charged with four counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of arson.

The police gave a press conference and said Busick and two other people, David Pennington and Warren “Phil” Welch, killed Ashley’s parents, set the fire and took the girls. They then held Ashley and Lauria captive for some time — the cops don’t know exactly how long, but days at least — and took Polaroid photos of them, which they showed to other people, and bragged about what they were doing.

Pennington and Welch are dead now. The cops have recovered the Polaroid photos and hope to locate the girls’ bodies. I hope they do, and quickly. It’s been eighteen years.

Thoughts on updates of 3/18

Done 26 updates for today — so far. It’s only ten a.m. I’ve been working since around midnight and enjoying every minute of it.

I found a decent amount of information on baby Matthew Crocker‘s 1983 abduction. If there had been an Amber Alert back then, perhaps he would have been found.

The abductor claimed she had two children who died shortly after birth, which could go a long way towards explaining why she took Matthew. I’m not sure if the car was ever located. Anyway, the night there was a party at the house, and the adults all got drunk — except, perhaps, this “Kathy Johnson” person — and after everyone passed out she made off with the baby.

Chances are he’s alive and doesn’t know he’s missing. That concave chest is a good identifier. I wonder if there’s a guy out there, 35 out there, who isn’t sure who he is, who’s got a bit of a dent in his chest.

Keith Fleming‘s disappearance strikes me as so sad. That silky hair and those dark earnest eyes. Just a good-looking boy growing up into a young man. Having fun surfing, riding his bike, his first hit of weed, his first girlfriend — he gave her her first kiss the very night he disappeared.

I wonder if McRae really was involved, though. I mean, that would make the most sense, yes. But he knew Charles Collingwood and Kipling Hess; police were never able to prove he knew Keith, except perhaps by sight. And McRae’s wife said he told her he’d killed Charles and Kipling, but she didn’t say anything about Keith.

So, monster though McRae may have been, I’m not 100% sure he was the monster responsible for Keith’s disappearance. Though whatever happened to Keith must have been bad.

So was is whatever it was that happened to Andrew Dudley. NO ONE is going to literally run away while their Thanksgiving dinner is literally cooking in the kitchen.

Lloyd Gilsdorf‘s mom believed he was set up to be murdered. I think if that was the case it had to have been someone he knew. This was a pretty elaborate scheme if the aim was just to lure him to New Orleans so someone could kill him. Robbery couldn’t have been a motive; he was divorced, unemployed and broke.

I tried to be all professional-like when describing the circumstances of Rebecca Powell‘s death, but…wow. It filled me with some pretty unpleasant mental images, and that’s just reading the sanitized newspaper version. No wonder the trial testimony made a juror throw up.

I can’t say I think highly of any of the three men in that story. They all sounded like absolute scum, including the roommate who didn’t find out what happened till the next day but kept his mouth shut and pitched in to destroy evidence.

It doesn’t really seem fair that Fleming could have gotten a death sentence when his friend (who, by his own admission, witnessed the crime, didn’t report it, and helped clean up the scene and hide the body) got off scot-free, but of course without that friend’s testimony there would have been no case.

And that contractor in the Dock Thompson case sounds totally shady. I was surprised when I looked him up in the Florida DOC database and didn’t find him anywhere — I would have figured he’d have ended up in prison for SOMETHING after 1989, but he didn’t, at least not in Florida.

Well, spit and slime

Yeah, so a mistrial has been declared in the Jahi Turner case. The jury could not reach a verdict — they deadlocked at ten (for acquittal) to two (for conviction of second-degree murder).

This irks me to no end. I cannot understand how this happened. Of course, I wasn’t there, I didn’t see the trial, so there’s no way for me to know. Circumstantial cases are always difficult, as are murder-without-a-body cases, and this was both.

A mistrial is never a good thing for anyone involved in a murder case. For the state, it means having to spend money and manpower and resources to do the whole thing over again. For the defendant, it’s more time — often years — stuck in limbo, and often in jail, as the case awaits its conclusion. For the family of the victim, it’s more time without closure, without justice, in another kind of limbo.

If he was still alive, Jahi would now be eighteen years old. A young man, in his final term of high school, about to graduate and go out into the world. But I’m quite sure his life ended at two.

I hope they try the case again and do a better job of it this time.