I promise I will TRY very hard to get my “weekly features” obligations actually met this weekend. (Any suggestions for Sunday?) This week’s Flashback Friday case is actually three cases: Norma Louise Houghland, a 27-year-old mother, and her two sons, 8-year-old Richard Allen Houghland and 6-year-old Thomas James Houghland. They vanished from Sacramento, California on July 15, 1978, but because Norma was divorced and her ex-husband, the boys’ father, lived out of state, no one realized they were missing for a week.
Given the condition of the family’s apartment — uncashed welfare check left behind, nothing missing, dishes in the sink — it seems unlikely they left on their own. Given the fact that Norma’s car has never been found, I think the most probable explanation for this triple disappearance is an automobile accident. Norma and the boys may be in a ravine or at the bottom of a cliff somewhere, or more likely in a lake or river.
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Beatrice Susan Calderon, last seen in San Jose, California on August 17, 1971. She was 33 years old at the time of her disappearance and would be 79 today if she’s still alive.
Unfortunately, I know doodly squat about the circumstances of her case.
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Randall Dean Leach, a twenty-year-old who disappeared from Idaho Falls, Idaho on November 6, 1980. He was planning to hitchhike from Sheboygan, Wisconsin to Bend, Oregon, his first-ever really long hitchhike odyssey. He stopped at a farm in Idaho Falls, stayed for a couple of days and did some work there, then left. He apparently never arrived in Bend.
It’s possible he changed his mind and decided not to go to Bend — Leach’s family described him as a bit of a wanderer and a free-thinker — but I highly doubt that he’s still alive. It seems like if he was able to contact his family, he would have at some point in the past 36 and a half years.
Given the hitchhiking element, he could be anywhere in the country. I wonder if he’s a John Doe somewhere.
This week’s FF case is Colleen Vanita Simpson, a fourteen-year-old who disappeared from her Clearfield, Iowa home on October 5, 1975, exactly ten years before I was born. She’s classified as a non-family abduction but I’m not sure why — it doesn’t appear there were any witnesses or other evidence of foul play, and most teen girls who disappeared during that time period were written off as runaways.
I really don’t have any details on Colleen’s disappearance, alas. One thing not written in her casefile is that her father was a police officer; in fact I think he might have been the chief of police. Clearfield is a VERY small town, btw. Wikipedia says the 2010 census gave its population as 363.
Flashback Friday today is Lorraine Judith Chance, or Barrie-Chance according to this Facebook page someone set up for her. Her nickname was Lee. Lorraine’s been missing nearly seventy years: since 1948. On January 3 of that year, she left her only child at a babysitter’s and never came back to get it. This was in Santa Cruz, California.
Lorraine would be about 95 now so it’s very unlikely she’s still alive, but there’s also no evidence of foul play in her disappearance. They know she was alive nearly three months after she left her daughter at the babysitter’s, because on March 28 she applied for VA benefits; her deceased husband had been in the Navy. Her application got approved in August, but by then she was nowhere to be found.
There’s every chance in the world that Lorraine, a recently widowed single mother only 25 or 26 years old (I don’t know her exact date of birth, just the year), simply got overwhelmed and decided to walk away, only to resurface elsewhere and lead a long life. Maybe she remarried and had more kids, and her daughter has half-siblings out there.
I mean, it’s happened before many times. Think of Esther Gavin. Lucy Johnson.
Lorraine’s family would like to know her fate. I wonder if her daughter or any other relatives has tried submitting their DNA to Ancestry?
Gah, I have been neglecting my weekly features as of late and haven’t done a FF case since March. This one is Joyce Creola Brewer, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Grand Prairie, Texas on September 6, 1970.
The circumstances of Joyce’s disappearance — last seen stomping out of the house after a fight with her parents — might indicate she ran away. If so she’s been gone for a VERY long time, obviously — 46 years, almost 47 — but it’s by no means impossible that she’s still alive.
If she is not, or for that matter if she is, a good way to identify her would be the extensive burn scars on her torso and left arm.
If she’s still alive, Joyce would be 62 today, and maybe a grandmother or something.
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Frank Lamont Fox, who disappeared after a New Year’s party in Manchester, New York in 1983. He was walking home and never made it. It’s a “few details are available” case, but “drunk guy walking home late at night in the middle of winter” makes me wonder if he wandered off into the woods or fell into a river or something and froze to death or drowned.
(Okay, I don’t know 100% that he was drunk, but it seems likely.)
This week’s FF case is Essie Margarette “Marge” Hiett, who disappeared from Oroville, California on February 13, 1978. A bartender and waitress, she finished up her shift in the wee hours of the morning and started driving home, but never made it. Her car was found wrecked in a ditch, with her belongings scattered, and no sign of her.
Essie’s case actually got some attention two years ago when Marvin Owens was charged with the murder of his still-missing wife Deborah Diane Owens. Because Deborah also disappeared in 1978, from the same area as Essie, and they had mutual friends, the cops looked into the idea that Marvin had killed Essie too. They decided no. He eventually pleaded out in Deborah’s case and got four years.
As for Essie, the police have another person of interest in her disappearance now — someone whom Marvin Owens knew also. I wonder if they believe someone forced her off the road and abducted her, or if their theory is that first she crashed and then afterwards someone took advantage of the situation.
This Flashback Friday MP, Kenneth Dewayne Stott, disappeared from Porter, Texas on September 17, 1983. He was 21 years old and left the Porter Lounge, a still-extant bar, with two men in a Ford Maverick. He was carrying $240 to use for a down payment on a truck, which makes me wonder if perhaps his two friends robbed and killed him. $240 was worth more 34 years ago than now.
Kenneth’s body, it says, may be buried in Montgomery County, Texas — which gives people 1,077 square miles to search in.
This week’s Flashback Friday is Nahida Ahmed Khatib, who’s been missing from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a Milwaukee suburb, since October 1, 1976.
Born in British Mandate Palestine, raised in Lebanon, Nahida had married at sixteen and moved to the US with her husband Fahmi “Sam” Khatib. They were in the middle of a nasty divorce in 1976, but Nahida mysteriously disappeared midway through. Sam told their son his mother had walked out and abandoned him (wearing nothing but a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers), an opinion the police didn’t share.
It’s fairly obvious what happened here, but Fahmi is dead and presumably he took his secrets to the grave. I doubt we’ll ever find Nahida.