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.

Happy New Year, everybody!

I hope you guys have a happy last night of 2019 and a good upcoming year. I never thought I’d still be running the Charley Project, fifteen years down the line, but here I am.

I’ve been doing pretty well, pretty stable. My bipolar disorder etc. has been kept well under control with my current medication regimen, and I haven’t needed a medicine adjustment in over a year. And I’ve got the mysterious nausea and vomiting under control again.

I’ve made some new real-life friends this year as well as new online friends. My dog Kinsey, whom I adopted in 2018, is still with us, happy and healthy, at the ripe age of fifteen.

Michael has gotten much better since his health scare in June. He has been fat all his life, but at the urging of his doctors he went on a diet and stuck to it, and he’s lost over 100 pounds! He’s still fat, but he’s still losing weight. I’m proud of him and we are very happy together.

A few times I’ve mentioned a long term “project” I’m working on for the Charley Project, that I’m afraid I can’t be more specific about at this time, only to say it should be done in the coming year.

A lot of John and Jane Does have been identified this year, including three of the four Bear Brook victims, Malyse Honeychurch, Marie Vaughn and Sarah McWaters; Debra Jackson aka “Orange Socks”; Myoung Hwa Cho and her son Bobby Whitt aka “the Boy Under the Billboard”; and Peggy Johnson aka Racine Jane Doe.

Happy New Year.

Day after surgery, feeling good

So I had the tube tying laparoscopic surgery yesterday and it went just fine. I left the hospital a few hours later and spent some time resting at Michael’s parents’ house, then drove home.

Yesterday there was some pain, like a bad period, but today there is almost no pain. I’m not even taking the pain meds they sent me home with.

Thanks for all your good wishes!