I haven’t updated in a minute and I’m sorry

It’s been five days since I updated last. I feel incredibly guilty at about that.

The pandemic and the ongoing collapse of society has really got me down. Every day I add obituaries for COVID-19 victims to online memorial forums, and it seems like way too many of them are young people. Every day I see people posting moronic stuff online calling it all a hoax or saying the survival rate is 99.5% or saying it’s no worse than the flu or saying masks are unsafe to wear, and I get extremely angry.

Last night we had two friends over for our weekly Social Distancing Circle Dinner (they both work with Michael so we figure whatever they’re exposed to, so are we). I was feeling so hopeless about the state of the world that I started crying and saying everything sucks and there is no way out of it for us. Michael and our friends applied immediate treatment to my despair, in the form of a series of funny animal clips on YouTube. I did feel a little better, for awhile anyway.

My friends have politely suggested I take a mental health break from obsessively following all the COVID-19 news and obsessively adding names of the dead to the memorial forums. I suppose they’re right.

I’ll try to get myself together tomorrow and put something up on Charley. And remind myself of how fortunate I am to have what I have.

Happy belated Independence Day (and griping, and missing persons news)

I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend. Mine was kind of terrible. We had a tiny party, four guests (Michael’s parents and two of his coworkers), and I wound up spending a lot of time hiding in the bedroom because I was so stressed by it all. And I was feeling like a failure in general, and wondering how I was going to pull off an entire wedding in October if I was freaking out from anxiety over four guests in my own house.

Of course, who knows if there will even BE a proper wedding in October the way COVID-19 is blazing through this country. I might wind up having to have a Zoom wedding ceremony because of the stupid government not listening to experts and not doing its job to contain the pandemic, and stupid people refusing to wear masks in public because mah rights and mah freedum. We could have been on par with Europe right now as far as flattening the curve goes, but nooooo, people have to be idiots.

(Of course I realize that my wedding is a very small thing in the grand scheme of things, and there are a lot of people out there who are suffering more than me as a result of COVID-19. That doesn’t make me any less angry.)

So some news from the missing persons world:

  1. Later this year, once Americans are allowed to travel to the EU again (assuming that ever happens), a private investigator, a former FBI agent and Annie McCarrick‘s uncle are going to Ireland to make another stab at solving Annie’s 1993 disappearance. (She is on the Charley Project because she was an American, though she disappeared on Irish soil.) They have a new theory about what happened, and have a suspect in mind. I don’t think it’s the same suspect the gardai (Irish police) have had their eye on. Neither person has been publicly identified.
    The gardai think a former IRA member may have killed Annie. He sounds like a nasty character and allegedly raped a twelve-year-old girl, and possibly other victims, and the IRA sent him out of the country so he wouldn’t get prosecuted. He went to the US; I’m not sure where he is now.
    I have wondered before why on earth the IRA would have assisted this man. To begin with, the twelve-year-old he allegedly raped was the daughter of another IRA member. And, though I don’t know much about the IRA, I know they had broad support among the ordinary people of Ireland, and it seems like that wouldn’t be the case if they routinely did things like try to help their child-rapist members escape prosecution. If any of you guys can provide some enlightenment on this, I’d appreciate it if you posted in the comments.
  2. They’ve created a park in Albuquerque, New Mexico in memory of the twelve victims of the still-unsolved West Mesa murders. I’ll say their names again: Jamie Caterina Barela, age 15; her 25-year-old cousin Evelyn JesusMaria Salazar; Monica Diana Candelaria, 21; Victoria Ann Chavez, 24; Virginia Cloven, 22; Syllannia, Terene Edwards, 15; Cinnamon Elks, 31; Doreen Marquez, 27; Julie Nieto, 23; Veronica Romero, 28; Michelle Valdez, 22; and Michelle’s unborn baby. All of the women, except Veronica, were on the Charley Project.
    There are quite a few young women still missing from Albuquerque, and some of them fit the same profile as the women whose bodies were found on the Mesa. I’ve got Nina Brenda Herron, Vanessa Reed, Christine Julian, Leah Rachelle Peebles, Anna Love Vigil and Shawntell Monique Waites, and possibly others.
  3. According to a private investigator, the authorities have a suspect in the 2001 disappearances of of ten-year-old Tionda Z. Bradley and her three-year-old sister, Diamond Yvette Bradley. (The girls disappeared 19 years ago today.) The article says there’s a solid circumstantial case against the suspect (who hasn’t been publicly identified) but prosecutors want some physical evidence, preferably a body, to bolster their case before they file charges against the person.

Oh, and although this isn’t strictly missing persons related, I highly recommend y’all check out this article about the woman who invented the rape kit. Hers was a fascinating and tragic story.

There are a lot of people to remember this Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time to remember the dead, officially the war dead but in practice for everyone. Certainly there are a lot of dead to remember this year: almost 100,000 have been lost to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, and they can’t even have proper funerals due to the public health recommendations.

I don’t even know what to say about it. This is a war, albeit not against a traditional enemy. This virus has no pity for anyone.

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of Teresa Lynn Lawyer Wisner, a 24-year-old woman from Anderson, Indiana, the mother of a toddler-age son. She was a responsible person who had just started a new job and had no history of instability, and foul play is suspected in her case.

Teresa had planned to seek a divorce from her husband, James, who didn’t want it. He is the prime suspect in her disappearance, but he has never been charged in her case and I don’t know if that is ever going to change.

Hope everyone is doing okay out there

Hi all. Hope y’all are doing okay and are in good health. Michael and I are doing well, though it’s getting hard to stave off depression. I never went to many places, but the fact that now I basically never leave the house at all is getting to me. On top of worrying about Michael possibly getting infected at his job. But I know a lot of other people are worse off.

Recently I read an interesting book called The Origins of AIDS. It was extremely interesting and all the little connections, the butterfly-effect stuff of what happened, was astounding to me. At around 1910 a hunter in sub-Saharan Africa cut himself while killing or butchering a chimp, some of the chimp’s blood got in the cut, and a century later 30 million people are dead. And there were a lot of events that happened in the intervening years, and if even one of them hadn’t happened as it did, the history of AIDS would be much different now.

Stay safe, everyone. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. No one should consider themselves immune from COVID-19. Something like 15-20% of the people who have died were under 65, and around 10% had no underlying illnesses at all. That doesn’t even count the people who only survived by the skin of their teeth after a stint in ICU. Coronavirus is insanely unpredictable; a 108-year-old woman survived while a healthy five-year-old did not.

On the bright side, a Chinese man who was abducted in 1988 has been reunited with his parents after 32 years.

I hope everyone is keeping safe these days

I don’t have much to report during this uncertain time other than to say Michael and I are doing well and I hope everyone else been doing well also and taking as many precautions as they can.

My dog Kinsey is keeping a close eye on us. This picture is from the other night when she was trying to get Michael and me to go to bed. She doesn’t want to go to bed unless we’ve at least gone into the bedroom (she sleeps on a dog bed in the walk-in closet) and gets most upset if we stay up past our bedtime watching TV in the living room or whatever. She doesn’t jump around and snort at us like she used to, but still paws at us insistently and comes right up close to me and stares at me like this:

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She is a good girl. Now 15 and a half! Taking her out for walks is one of the only legit ways I can escape the house. We can’t go further than around the block because she gets tired after that. But it’s enough.

There hasn’t been much crime news to report but I’m sure all sorts of things are going to come out of the woodwork once the shut-down period ends. Already, one guy did his wife in and tried to cover it up by claiming she’d died of COVID-19. She has not been located yet, but he’s been charged with murder.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay home if you can.

MP of the week: Aubrina Mack

This week’s featured missing person is Aubrina Nicole Mack, a 21-year-old African-American woman who disappeared from Montgomery, Alabama on August 15, 2006. She went out for a walk to a nearby street and never came back. She would be 35 today if still alive.

I was never able to find much about the circumstances of her case, but she had kids she left behind, and her family doesn’t think she would have done that on purpose. I tried to find out more about her disappearance on social media but didn’t turn up much, other than this 2011 Facebook page from Aubrina’s sister. It looks like her nickname was Nikki.

I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe, and staying home if possible. I don’t personally know anyone who has died but have read about so many, and a friend’s cousin passed away last week from suspected COVID-19.

Michael and I are dutifully obeying the stay-at-home order and I’ve ordered some masks for when we have to be around other people. They say Kleenex and paper towels make good filters.

Michael has found out he has to resume teaching next week. The state governor closed all the schools for the rest of the academic year, but the place Michael teaches at is classified as a residential treatment center, not a school. It’s for kids with severe emotional/behavioral problems, and due to safety issues (mainly that the children are prime targets for sex traffickers) the students are not allowed internet access. So online schooling isn’t an option, but they still have a right to an education, and they’re not doing very well right now with their routine disrupted. And so the teachers must return and resume lessons.

I am very apprehensive about this development and can only hope the place handles this as safely as is possible.

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.

Social distancing

I hope everybody stays safe during the Coronavirus epidemic, washes their hands frequently, and avoids unnecessary contact with others.

Ohio State University, where my dad still teaches, has canceled in-person classes, and he’s struggling to adapt to online instruction; he’s never done it before. The school Michael teaches at has also canceled classes for at least a month.

His school is in a residential facility for children with severe emotional/behavioral problems. They can’t live at home because it’s not safe for them or others. No internet access either, as these kids are prime targets for traffickers; so no online education for them. The poor kids will be stuck on their residential units for the duration; I suppose it’ll be a job to keep them from rioting.

I find myself wondering if people will be more likely to disappear, or less, during the social distancing. Cabin fever can result in severe friction even for healthy families, and people who live with abusive relatives are going to be at exceptional risk during this time period. The quarantine may also give some unhappy individuals the opportunity to walk out of their lives, since they’re unlikely to be missed for awhile.

RIP, Arthur

So I was going through missing persons Facebook groups this afternoon and to my shock spotted an old poster for a guy I used to know. He went missing in 2018.

We had “met” online in the late 1990s, when we connected randomly on AOL Instant Messenger, a chat program. I met a lot of people on there, including some I’m still friends with today. Both of us were in our teens, him a few years older than me. We were never super close but did talk regularly on AOL Instant Messenger for years. He was a good guy.

Over the years we drifted out of touch, talking less and less often. I think we last spoke sometime around 2006 or so. He seemed pretty content with his life the last time we spoke.

I had had no idea he had gone missing. He’s not missing anymore though. I looked him up and discovered he had only been missing for three months before they found his body. Suicide.

I felt pretty sad about it, though over a decade had passed since we had talked last and I don’t know what he was dealing with when he took his life. I really wish it hadn’t come to this.

Happy announcement

Michael and I have gotten engaged.

We love each other very much and would have married long ago, except if we had, I’d have lost my medical insurance, and his job didn’t provide insurance for spouses and families of employees. #Merica

Well, last week his job announced they were getting better insurance: it covers more, costs less, and covers spouses (including domestic partners) and children (including adult children) of employees.

So now we will marry. Michael got down on bended knee in front of hundreds of people at the Egyptian Room at the Old National Centre in Indianapolis, just after the awesome guys from the Small Town Murder podcast finished their event for the night, because that’s what we’re like. We have set a tentative date for October.

I know nothing much will change (we have been together for 18 years, and lived together for around 10) but this has made us both so happy. I’ve been walking around smiling all the time and humming love songs.