Sorry for the recent silence

Yeah, I haven’t updated in a bit and I’m sorry. The last week has been super busy, mainly with wedding stuff. Michael and I are getting married Saturday.

I picked up my dress at the alterations place yesterday and it fits me perfectly. In my completely unbiased opinion I’m going to be the most beautiful bride in the world. There’s not going to be any honeymoon because of Covid. Michael will go back to work on Monday and so will I.

So, in lieu of Charley Project updates, here’s a sample of the more interesting recent missing and unidentified persons news:

  1. A woman whose body was found off Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California in 1981 has been identified as 26-year-old Lily Prendergast, who was last seen when she left her family’s Texas home in late 1980.
  2. John Michael Carroll disappeared from Victor, Idaho in 2005. His skeletal remains were found “in the general area” where he lived in 2013, and were identified this month.
  3. Hollis Willingham has been arrested in the murder of Jim Craig Martin, who disappeared from Normangee, Texas on August 6, 2007. It doesn’t look like Martin’s body has been found, however.
  4. Thomas Drew disappeared from Salisbury, Connecticut in 2007. He used to be on Charley but then his daughter asked me to remove the case. She didn’t like what I’d written, I guess. Anyway, he is still missing, and his daughter has recently published a memoir, Searching for My Missing Father: An American Noir. It sounds very interesting and I added it to my wishlist.
  5. Blackfeet Community College, in corroboration with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, has launched a website to help streamline missing persons reports of Native American people: “The website [linked here] allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement.”
  6. A woman’s torso found washed ashore in the seaside community of Benicia, California in 1979 has been identified as Dolores Wulff, who disappeared from Woodland, California that year. Dolores’s husband Carl Wulff Sr. had actually been charged with her murder in 1985, but the charge was dismissed later that year and he died in 2005.
  7. A skull found on Mount Hood in Oregon in 1986 has been identified as that of Wanda Ann Herr, who had left a Gresham, Oregon group home a decade earlier at the age of nineteen. No missing persons report was filed at the time and the most recent photo available showed her at age twelve. The police are asking anyone who knew Wanda or has any info on her 1976 disappearance to contact them.
  8. The police have identified a new suspect in the 1973 disappearance of Barbara Jean Aleksivich from Bath, New York. The suspect, Richard W. Davis, is now dead, but he was recently identified through DNA as the killer of Siobhan McGuinness, a Missoula, Montana six-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1974. Barbara, who was 24, was way out of Richard Davis’s preferred age range for victims, but he did live in Bath at the time Barbara disappeared. A previous suspect in her case, who still lived in the Bath area last I knew, has been cleared.
  9. The body of Ethan Bert Kazmerzak, who disappeared from Hampton, Iowa in 2013, has probably been found. At least they found his car submerged in a local pond, with human remains inside. The remains have been sent to the state medical examiner to be identified, but it’s highly unlikely it’s anyone but Ethan.

Really good longread about Taalibah Islam and Typhenie Johnson

I regularly check the ididitforjodie website for links to articles about missing persons and other cold cases. I wanted to mention it here cause it’s awesome. Today I found a link to this article about the 2006 disappearance of Taalibah Fatin Bint Islam and the 2016 disappearance of Typhenie Kae Johnson. Both women had been dating the same man, he was the last person known to have seen them, and he told the same story as to what happened to each of them. The suspect, Christopher Revill, was convicted of kidnapping in Typhenie’s case but has never been charged in Taalibah’s.

It’s a really sad story, and so typical of domestic violence cases. The article is very detailed and well worth a read.

And then this happened the other day

So yesterday I got a call from a very confused man who worked in the Internal Affairs Bureau at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas.

You see, the HCSO has a section on their website devoted to missing persons. It has eleven pages of people listed, but due to some apparent errors in the code, you could only see the first page. There’s buttons at the bottom to click to page two, three etc, but they didn’t work. When you clicked, nothing happened.

I found a drop-down menu on the HCSO site labeled “contact us” and underneath that, a link to “online complaints.” So I filled in the complaint form explaining the problem and sent it in. And then the next day IAB called.

It turns out the complaint form is meant for filing complaints of police misconduct.

The poor guy didn’t understand at first what I was complaining about, and was asking if I’d like an officer to come to my house to discuss the problem. I was like “It’s probably just a typo, and also I live in Indiana.” But I was able to get my point across. He said he’d sent a note to IT asking them to correct the issue.

And lo, it has been fixed! You can now view eleven pages of missing people from Harris County, cases dating back to 2003.

Thought I’d recommend these articles I found yesterday

There should be a trigger warning, I suppose, for child sexual abuse. The headline of the first I found is “7 things I learned about being a man, from talking to child abusers: How we can fix the boom in downloading of child abuse material.” By “child abuse material” they mean sexual abuse.

Though all the downloaders the journalist identified and interviewed were Norwegian (as is the reporter), I would assume that his conclusions, if correct, would apply to men from other countries as well. The reporter spent five years researching and writing about child abuse, and the article links to two much longer articles with accompanying documentaries.

And I have to say, those two longer articles are just… horrifying. So I’m warning you again: prepare to feel pretty sick.

One is Breaking the Dark Net: Why police share abuse pics to save children and the other is The Downloaders: Norwegian men pay to download videos showing children being subjected to extreme sexual abuse. They are the end users in an industry that uses children as sexual commodities. They think they are invisible. But we found them.

Yeah, it’s pretty awful. But I think people need to know this stuff.

Thought I’d give a shout-out to this article

The other day Vox came out with a fascinating article called “The Man Without a Name“, subheading reading: “Robert Ivan Nichols simply disappeared from his average, 1960s Midwestern life — until, using DNA, sleuths uncovered the truth. But were they digging where they shouldn’t have been?”

It is quite fascinating, and I think you guys would enjoy it. Though contrary to what the URL would have you believe, Robert Ivan Nichols was not the Zodiac Killer.

NCMEC search becomes slightly less terrible, and more news

I first complained about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s search engine back in 2013, and things got even worse with later versions of it. However, when I checked today, they’d made yet another version, which is slightly better than the last. Like, you can now search based on how old the child was when they disappeared. That’s kind of nice, I guess.

You still don’t have the ability to search by category, which they axed in 2013. As far as I can tell it’s because the NCMEC decided to phase out categories. They did this because when people saw “Family Abduction” or “Runaway” they just automatically tuned it out. I can understand the logic of the NCMEC’s thinking there.

I added Duke Flores‘s case today. It’s pretty awful. Probably not as bad as Noah McIntosh‘s (I blogged about his case in March), but it’s still pretty bad.

The whole story about Duke’s murder being prompted by his attempt he was trying to kill his infant cousin looks a little sketchy at first glance. However, both women gave the police the same account of the alleged attempted murder, and I wonder if Duke, who had autism, was just unable to deal with the baby’s crying. Most people with autism (including me) are very sensitive to noises.

They tried to cover up his disappearance by saying they’d taken Duke to a psychiatric hospital. If he was indeed trying to kill his cousin, this would have been a perfectly appropriate action to take. Certainly much more appropriate than strangling him.

We’ll never know if he really tried to smother the baby or not; the only two people alive to tell the story aren’t exactly credible witnesses. But no matter what he did there’s no excuse for murdering a six-year-old child with a disability.

The thing about his mom and aunt taking the other kids along while they disposed of his body is horrifying. Though the alternative would have been leaving them alone at home, and they were both really little. Hopefully too little to remember this later.

I hope these women get what’s coming to them. They are probably not very popular in jail; most of the women prisoners are mothers too.

Apparently someone had the same thought I did

I hope all of you are safe and are taking appropriate social distancing measures. Michael’s classes are now canceled till May at least. Our friend Leslie, an aide at the residential center, still has to work and says there’s a lot of board games and coloring going on, now that the kids aren’t in class. Anything to keep them busy.

Everyone I know is well.

Not much else to say here, except that Rachel Snyder, author of an awesome book I’ve read called No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, has done an editorial about how social distancing is going to be quite perilous for people currently in a violent relationship. From the editorial:

National and community crises historically have led to increased reports of domestic abuse. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Domestic Violence Hotline saw a 13% increase in calls from the Gulf area from April to June 2010. New Orleans and Lafayette, two of the largest communities affected by the spill, saw increases to their hotlines of 81% and 116%, respectively, during that same period. Hurricane Katrina too saw domestic assaults against women nearly double, and both men and women reported increases of psychological abuse.

This all sounds grim, but many of these situations involve couples who were not in healthy relationships to begin with. On a call from her Baltimore home, Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the country’s foremost researcher in domestic violence, was careful to point out that someone who is not psychologically or physically abusive before a crisis like coronavirus is not going to suddenly become violent. “This is not like anything I’ve lived through,” she said, “and my hypothesis is that any kind of horrific anything externally can exacerbate domestic violence.”

Campbell created a danger assessment decades ago that many programs now use to try to predict a domestic homicide before it happens. The stressors identified that make a situation lethal are the same whether we are in a pandemic or not: guns in the home, forced sex, unemployment and, most notably, prior incidents of domestic violence.

But the research on how domestic violence might be affected by our current situation simply does not exist. When an entire society shuts down, when children are home all day from school, when sports and gyms and social activities are all canceled, when friends can’t leave their own families to help, when places of worship are shuttered, when everything that ever tempered a violent situation is suddenly, terrifyingly, no longer available. What happens then?

She doesn’t know.