This week’s featured missing person is Samiya Haqiqi, a 24-year-old Afghan immigrant and law student at Quinnipiac University who disappeared from Queens, New York on November 12, 1999. She is described as Asian, with black hair and brown or hazel eyes, 5’5 to 5’6 tall and 128 pounds. She went by the nickname Sammy. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans, black platform boots, a baseball cap and a gold and diamond ring.
Authorities believe Samiya was killed by her boyfriend, Fahid “John” Popal, after she rejected his marriage proposal. In 2006, Fahid was sentenced to 26 years in prison for murder. His brother Farhad “Frank” Popal pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution.
Samiya’s body has never been found.
This week’s featured missing person is Barbara Ann Johnson-Willard, a 29-year-old woman who disappeared from Jay, Oklahoma on June 17, 1996. She is white, 5’5 and 105 pounds, with pierced ears and scars on her nose, forearm and abdomen. Her nickname is Bobbie.
This is a murder-without-a-body case; authorities believe Barbara was killed by a coworker, John Lee Weeks. He was charged with her murder in 2011, but the charges were later dropped. Weeks is currently serving time in Kansas for sex crimes and isn’t due to be released until 2037. So he’s not going anywhere and perhaps could be brought up on charges again in Barbara’s case.
Whether or not he was involved in this case, somebody definitely hurt Barbara. As the casefile explains:
Shreds of clothing were inside the car’s trunk and gasoline tank. Blood and skin tissue samples discovered inside the trunk were matched to Johnson-Willard’s DNA; the body fluids found corresponded to a deceased person. Transmission fluid had been poured over the vehicle, but the car was not ignited.
I hope everyone is doing well. Unfortunately I’m still not feeling very well; I’m very tired and find myself struggling to stay awake at my desk when I try to work.
The verdicts in the Kristin Denise Smart murder-without-a-body case are back, and have been announced. Although father and suspected accomplice Ruben Flores has been acquitted, son Paul Flores was convicted of Kristin’s murder and faces 25 years in prison.
I bet he wishes he’d taken that plea deal they offered him, where he’d show them where he put Kristin’s remains and would only get six years. He’d be out by now, with that unpleasantness all behind him, young enough to start over.
Now he’s middle-aged–45 years old–and the 25-year prison sentence he’s facing might amount to the rest of his life.
It’s a sentence Paul thoroughly deserves, after he spent that same amount of time torturing the Smart family and accumulating drunk driving arrests and (allegedly) drugging and raping other women.
This week’s featured missing person is Anita Mary Luchessa, an 18-year-old college student who disappeared from Berkeley, California on May 7, 1972.
What happened to her is not a mystery: she was a victim of the serial killer Ed Kemper. Anita and a friend, Mary Anne Pesce, were hitchhiking when he picked them up. He later said he strangled and stabbed both of them to death, dismembered their bodies and dumped them near Loma Prieta Mountain. Mary Anne’s skull was found on the mountain in August 1972, but Anita has never been located.
Sometimes people ask me why I have cases on the Charley Project of people who are obviously deceased. Two reasons:
- To help identify them, if their remains are found.
- In memory of them.
If Anita Luchessa had not been murdered fifty years ago, she would be 68 today.
Kyon Jones. Yeah.
Some days, reading about these people, these cases, it makes me feel like I eat darkness and breathe ashes.
Nothing more than a deep pit of everything wrong.
Wrote up the James Hutchinson case today and boy am I angry on his behalf. And on behalf of his siblings. James’s suffering is over. But his older siblings (I do not know their names or sex, only ages, seven and nine when this occurred) will have to deal with the consequences of their childhoods for the rest of their lives.
I was just sitting there imagining what it must have been like. To sit there in that nature preserve, in the dark and in the cold, with their dead brother’s body wondering if their mom was ever going to come back.
Which she did, after thirty or forty minutes. But that time must have taken an eternity for those children. They were old enough to know they had been abandoned. Old enough to know there was something very wrong with their brother, maybe even old enough to know he was dead.
And poor James. Clinging to that car door handle. He just wanted to be with his mom and couldn’t understand why she was doing this to him.
Frankly, I don’t understand why she did this to him. She even admitted that it had occurred to her to just drop the kids off at a fire station. As elementary schoolers they wouldn’t have been protected under Ohio’s safe haven law (which only applies to newborns under 72 hours old) but the firefighters definitely wouldn’t have hog-tied the kids, or abandoned them in a nature preserve in the middle of the night, or run over and killed any of them.
And all this, just to keep the love of a man who was married to someone else and pretty much an all-around turd. Really?
I really hope the surviving children are being looked after by someone who actually cares about them. And that they’re getting a lot of therapy. They’re going to need it. I just worry that the kids might grow up bouncing around in foster care and become adults of the same caliber as their mother.
A year and a half ago I wrote on this blog about a Supreme Court decision that I was pretty sure was going to wind up affecting some of the Charley Project missing persons cases. And, lo and behold, it has.
I just started writing up Faith Lindsey‘s a murder-without-a-body case. Charges were filed against her boyfriend, then dismissed because of this Supreme Court decision that meant the state of Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction, then charges were refiled in federal court and the murder case is pending there.
Now, I might have a slight interest in reading about legal rulings of this kind, but I am not sure the average Charley Project reader has the same interest. It seems to me that a paragraph about the McGirt ruling and its significance would probably just clog up Faith’s casefile.
My husband suggested I say “dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and then refiled in federal court”, and then add the McGirt info in a footnote or something. Hmm.
I’ve been pretty sure Olisa Williams‘s dad killed her for a decade and a half now. Like, since before the Charley Project was ever even a thing. I never expected the case to actually get solved, though.
Well, 39 years after the fact, Isiah Williams has finally been charged with one count of open murder. “Open murder” doesn’t mean he committed the crime in public or anything. It just means they aren’t picking a specific degree of murder, like first- or second-degree murder.
The Michigan Attorney General did a press conference about the case and another, unrelated case, an hour ago, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot that’s publicly available about the case against Isiah. It does say Olisa’s body has not been recovered. I’m not sure there’d be anything left of the poor baby by this point. (The comments at the bottom of the press conference link aren’t about Olisa’s case but about the other one being discussed. Plus some bonus homophobia thrown in.)
I hope the case processes through the system quickly. Isiah is not getting any younger.
Three-year-old Francillon Pierre was reported missing from North Las Vegas, Nevada on August 2, 1986. His mom and stepmother, Amy Luster and Mahaleel “Lee” Luster, said he disappeared that day from a swap meet.
Thing is, most of the others who were at the swap meet don’t remember seeing him there, and in fact no one outside the family had seen him in a week at least, maybe two weeks. Furthermore, Amy and Lee had already been charged with felony child abuse for severely beating Francillon the previous year. (Why he was returned to their custody I don’t know.)
The case stagnated until 2017, when the police decided to re-examine the evidence they had. In 2019, Amy was charged with her son’s murder. And yesterday the case was settled with a plea bargain, although not a very satisfactory one in my opinion.
Amy (who now goes by Amy Fleming) pleaded no contest to manslaughter. What that means is that she is acknowledging she would probably get convicted if she took the case to trial, but she is still refusing to admit guilt.
And the maximum term she’s facing? Two years. Not even the length of little Francillon’s short life. And Lee? He’s free as far as I know. He hasn’t been charged in this case at all.
I think it’s unlikely the child’s body will ever be recovered. Certainly Amy has no reason to say where she put it. Per this article, Lee said Francillon was in Lake Mead. Which doesn’t help much; Lake Mead is a massive reservoir over 500 feet deep, with 247 square miles of surface water.
I had written in May about how a suspected serial killer had “links” to Ashley Marie Parlier, who disappeared from Battle Creek, Michigan in 2005. Well, I guess these were more than just links, because the suspect, Harold Haulman, will be charged with Ashley’s murder. He was earlier charged with murder in the 2018 disappearance of Tianna Ann Phillips and the 2020 death of Erica Shultz.
I’m glad that happened. Murder-without-a-body cases are becoming increasingly common, and I hope this continues.
One case I’d love to see charges filed in would be the disappearance of Amiah Robertson. I really don’t understand why that hasn’t happened. I mean, a man left with a baby — not even HIS baby — and came back without her and without any credibly explanation as to her whereabouts, and nobody has been charged in that case. It’s been over two years. The baby was eight months old; it’s not taking care of itself. It was a frustrating case to write up because so much of the available info was contradictory. The only thing I’m sure of is that no one in that child’s life did right by her.