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: 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.

MP of the week: Catrina Jackson

This week’s featured missing person is thirteen-year-old Catrina Renee Jackson, who disappeared while walking to school in Sylvania, Georgia on May 30, 1986.

An article I found from just a few days after she went missing suggested she was a runaway, but the NCMEC has her case classified as a non-family abduction. In any case, I don’t have much on it. Catrina, who may be addressed by her middle name, would be 46 years old now, and, in two weeks, will have been gone for 33 years.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Cristian Sedeno

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 Cristian Arlyn Sedeno, a 15-year-old girl who disappeared from Honolulu, Hawaii on October 13, 2003. Cristian is of Caucasian, Filipino and Pacific Islander ancestry.

She is classified as a runaway but I’m kind of skeptical. For three reasons:

  1. It’s been over FIFTEEN YEARS. Sixteen, come October.
  2. Hawaii is a set of islands. I’m pretty sure you need to fly between the islands, and you definitely need to fly to get to the mainland, and for that you need identification. It seems like if Cristian had traveled anywhere they’d have traced her because she needs ID to travel, and if she’d stayed in the Honolulu area they’d have traced her because it’s not that big a place.
  3. Cristian’s mom was in an abusive relationship and preparing to leave that person. Did the abuser realize this, and do something to Cristian for revenge or to make her mom stay?

Regardless, Cristian is still missing, and still classified as a runaway with the NCMEC. If still alive she’d be 30 years old today.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Maureen Kelly

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 Maureen Leianuhea Kelly, a 19-year-old Pacific Islander woman who disappeared from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington on June 9, 2013.

Maureen told her friends she was going on a “spiritual quest” and to that end she removed all her clothes and walked off into the woods wearing only a fanny pack carrying some very basic wilderness supplies. She never returned. Her friends waited ten or twelve hours to report her missing.

My guess is she’s still in the forest, perhaps very near to the spot where she went missing. Temperatures that night dipped into the low forties; without any clothes on, she could easily have died of exposure.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Rachel Mellon

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 Rachel Marie Mellon, also known as Rachel Mellon Skemp, a thirteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Bolingbrook, Illinois on January 31, 1996. She is listed as Asian, but I think she may have some Caucasian ancestry as well.

Rachel had stayed home sick from school on the day of her disappearance. Her stepfather, Vince Mellon, said she was lying on the couch when he went to take the dog for a walk, and when he came back, she was gone.

Vince himself has been a suspect in Rachel’s case for years, though. Rachel had written in her diary that he kissed her and touched her inappropriately, and he had scratches on him after her disappearance. There just isn’t enough evidence at present to charge anyone, however.