National Hispanic Heritage Month: Diana Gonzalez

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Diana Isabel Gonzalez, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Raeford, North Carolina on October 15, 2005.

Her case is classified as a non-family abduction; she left, apparently voluntarily, with a 29-year-old man, Jose Barrera-Pacheco, who was a friend of her family. Barrera-Pacheco called her parents to say he was in love with her and they would never see her again. Barrera-Pacheco has a warrant out for kidnapping. They may be in Mexico or California.

If still alive, Diana would be 28 years old by now. She’s probably got a couple of kids. It’s strange that in all these years she’s NEVER reached out to her family. I think social media may be a good way to solve this case; Diana may have social media profiles, even if they’re not under her real name.

MP of the week: Maria Martinez

This week’s featured missing person is 17-year-old Maria De Los Angeles Martinez, who disappeared from Phoenix, Arizona on October 13, 1990. Her disappearance is similar to the 1974 disappearance of Margaret Fox: Maria advertised her babysitting services on the radio, a guy hired her for a job, and she went with him and was never seen again.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to learn much more about Maria’s disappearance. I’ve heard that her family was undocumented, which may explain why there was little news about her case. Of course, looking in the news for a particular person named “Maria Martinez”, particularly in Arizona, is like the proverbial needle in a haystack.

She would be 46 if she was still alive today. But I think she’s still 17.

MP of the week: Moesha Pierce

This week’s featured missing person is Moesha Pierce. She was 17 years old when she disappeared from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania on November 20, 2015. She’s classified as a runaway. I’ll note that the NCMEC has her as missing since 2015, her Facebook page shows activity until February 2016.

Interesting evidence released in Margaret Fox case

Today the police released an interesting phone recording related to the unsolved 1974 disappearance of Margaret Ellen Fox, a fourteen-year-old girl who disappeared 45 years and one day ago from Burlington, New Jersey, after going to meet with a man who said he wanted to hire her to babysit.

After her disappearance was reported, the police tapped Margaret’s parents’ phone in hopes that someone would call with information or a ransom demand or whatever. Someone did, a man who said, “Ten thousand dollars might be a lot of bread, but your daughter’s life is the buttered topping.”

That caller has never been identified, and the police held back all that info — the fact that they recorded calls, the call itself, all of it — until today, forty-five years later.

You can listen to the clip here. It’s very short: that sentence, followed by someone else saying “Who is this?” I am not sure — and perhaps the police are being deliberately vague here — whether that’s the entire call and the caller then hung up, or whether that’s not the whole call but it’s all they were able to catch on tape, or whether there’s more to the call that they decided not to release.

I posted articles about this on the Charley Project Facebook page, and a few commenters groused about the cops waiting 45 years to release the recording.

However, to that I have to say two things:

  1. The internet barely existed at all in 1974 and social media was not a thing yet, so it would have been harder for the police to disseminate the recording to the public even if they had wanted to.
  2. The phrasing used by caller is unique, and the police would have been able to use it to screen out false confessors — but ONLY if the exact words in the call were kept a secret from everyone except the investigating officers and, perhaps, Margaret’s parents. If the police had released this recording at the time they got it, they would have lost that critical advantage.

Now, about the call itself.

For those who are unaware, The word “bread” is or was occasionally used as slang for “money”. (The Oxford English Dictionary finds the first usage in 1935 and notes it may be criminal slang.)

The call sounds a little rehearsed to me. It sounds like something a character in an action movie might say, not someone in real life, and when you actually analyze the statement, it doesn’t even really make sense. (Obviously the guy meant “$10,000 is a lot of money but your daughter’s life should be worth more to you” but buttered topping is no good without any bread to put it on, so his analogy just falls apart.)

I think whoever made that call thought up that phrase ahead of time, trying to sound impressive.

Which doesn’t, of course, mean that the call WASN’T from someone with knowledge of the case. The police obviously think there’s a good chance that it was, or they wouldn’t have made a big deal of releasing this recording.

I hope this leads to something, anyway. The abductor could very well be deceased, but if at the time of Margaret’s abduction he was under, say, forty years old, he could also still be alive. And even if the abductor is dead, perhaps he told someone Margaret’s fate before his passing. When people get old they often start to fear eternal judgment.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Troy Le

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 Troy Le, a 19-year-old student at San Diego Mesa College who disappeared on March 20, 2010 and is presumed dead.

Troy and his girlfriend were at the beach and after she ran into some trouble in the water, he tried to save her but wound up in trouble himself. The girlfriend was rescued, but Troy disappeared and he’s presumed drowned and pulled out to sea by the riptide.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Rhonda Yocom

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 Rhonda Lynn Yocom, a 19-year-old woman of Filipino descent who disappeared from Oroville, California in February 1985.

Rhonda left Oroville on February 7 with a man, Odis Garrett, who said he was going to drive her to Oregon so she wouldn’t have to make a court appearance. It’s possible he took her to Vallejo, California instead. She called her boyfriend on February 11, but no one has seen or heard from her since then.

Both Rhonda’s boyfriend and Garrett she was last seen with were Hells Angels, and Garrett’s doing multiple life sentences right now for crimes unrelated to her disappearance.

Curiously, although Rhonda’s boyfriend isn’t a suspect in her disappearance, another woman he dated, 29-year-old Paget Renee Barr, disappeared from Oroville a year later and was never found, and he was the last person seen with her.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Aaron Tapasoa

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 Aaron Tapasoa, a seventeen-year-old boy who disappeared from Miami, Florida on October 17, 2008.

Most agencies classify Aaron as Caucasian, but I made a judgement call and I believe he’s much more likely to be of Pacific Islander descent, for the following reasons:

  1. His appearance
  2. The fact that he “may have traveled to Samoa”
  3. Most importantly, the surname Tapasoa is almost entirely unique to Aaron himself, but the surname Tapusoa (a slight respelling) comes from the Pacific Islands.

If I’m wrong I’ll eat my words.

Getting back to Aaron, it says he associated with the homeless population and spent a lot of time on the beach. He’s classified as a runaway. Wherever he is, I hope he’s alive and well.