Thoughts on today’s updates

It’s 11:47 p.m. as I type this, so perhaps by the time it’s finished, “today” will be “yesterday.”

For all the updated cases today, except Jahi Turner and Donna Mezo, you can thank Mion, who kindly gathered together a bunch of old newspaper articles about cases I had and emailed them to me.

Regarding my Donna Mezo update, I hope it clarifies the situation with her boyfriend’s death. Earlier I had said there was a suicide note and his death was ruled a suicide in spite of the fact that the gun used was found in “a nearby lake.” Well, I have since learned that “nearby” was more like “a few feet away.” I think what probably happened is that Jeffrie either threw or dropped his weapon into the water during or after firing it.

I found quite a lot on Newspapers.com for Marcell Byers‘s case. His NamUs profile includes a clipping about how the people charged with kidnapping him disappeared and their lawyer had been threatened and maybe it was foul play.

Well, the two suspects did disappear, leaving a van shot full of holes, but I guess it was all just an attempt to evade prosecution because they were alive, back in custody and well enough to cop a plea less than a year later.

It’s disturbing that Marcell was never found. All this over a gold chain. The Zuppos pleaded no contest to kidnapping, meaning they didn’t even admit they were guilty. They’d be out of prison by now and I’m not sure what they’re up to these days. I think Gerald Sr. may be dead; someone with the same name and birth year died in North Carolina in 2003.

Tejin‘s case is just sad. (Also, NamUs has him listed as a girl? I admit you can’t really tell from the pictures. If I hadn’t found some articles on his disappearance I’d have been none the wiser.) I found his Facebook page and one picture was of him holding a little turtle, whom Tejin called “my son.” This was just a few months before his presumed death.

Julie Davis‘s case is sad too. Judging from the Facebook page created for her, she was lost for awhile before she disappeared. They only have the one not very good quality and out-of-date photo of her, and from the Facebook page her family apparently wasn’t really clear on when they’d last heard from her. They mentioned getting a letter from her “around 1985 or 1986.” (I’m not sure where NamUs’s date of disappearance comes from.)

She was just sixteen years old and already out on her own, almost four hours from her hometown.  I know things were a bit different back in the eighties, but that’s still pretty unusual. I wonder if she was in foster care. Obviously her family cares about her or they wouldn’t be trying to find her. I hope she’s alive out there and doesn’t even know anyone is looking, and isn’t a Jane Doe somewhere, or worse, dead and never found.

For this case, normally I’d have listed her as just regular “Missing” but then I saw the detail about the track marks and thought “drugs” and upgraded her case to “Endangered Missing.” Question: do track marks ALWAYS mean drugs? There are some medical conditions that require a person to get frequent injections; do those people get similar scars?

Ashley Lynn Thomas has such striking eyes, so big and dark against her pale skin and hair. I hope she’s okay. I hope she and the baby are both healthy and being looked after.

Stuart Owen Collins got a big update today. (Thanks again, Mion!) It does sound like something bad happened to him, and one inevitably wonders about the woman he was with, and even more so about her husband.

With Paul Egan (another big update there) the whole rendering theory is just awful to contemplate. The police seemed to suspect Paul’s friend. They said his friend was not a suspect, but they also made a point of saying they couldn’t confirm the friend’s story.

It could have happened something like this: Paul and his friend got into some kind of argument at the plant after hours — his friend was a foreman, Paul a technician — and things got out of hand something went horribly wrong, and his friend is panicking and thinks “well, there’s this rendering machine, if I just chuck him in and keep my mouth shut, no one will ever know.” I doubt such places had security cameras in 1975. The rendering machine was designed to grind up horses; a human corpse would be easy.

Of course that’s all supposition. I did look up the friend in the Florida DOC database and on Facebook and couldn’t find anyone by that name. I did find a Newspapers.com mention of a person by that name (and a photo of that person) from 1970, five years before Paul disappeared. Nothing since then. I wonder if I’ve got the spelling of his surname right.

As far as the note Elsie Elsinga left behind — and her daughter’s poo-pooing the significance of that note — I don’t know. Her daughter said something like “How could someone of that age have done anything to mess up their life?” But perhaps Elsie’s “possible mild depression” was more significant than her daughter thought.

For Helen Robinson, I wonder if she decided to take a plane to visit one of those CB radio friends she had, and maybe something happened that prevented her from coming back. It was two solid years before her van turned up; by then, the weeds might have grown over the flight records. Robinson is definitely dead now; I don’t think she would have lived long in any case, because of her emphysema.

I added 27 updates and I’m very pleased with my work output today. I hope y’all have noticed how much more productive I’ve been ever since the site got redesigned. It takes less time to add/update stuff, since I don’t have to write all the code by hand, or hand-add case names to the lists.

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Black History Month: Angela Darcel Cephas

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Angela Darcel Cephas, who disappeared from Port Norris, New Jersey on May 4, 1984.

She was tiny — only a little over four feet tall. And she was seven months pregnant.

Angela left to go on a bike ride through her neighborhood and never came back. The bike never turned up either, which is unusual. She left all her belongings behind at home.

Sadly, the most common non-natural cause of death in pregnant women is homicide, and the most common killer is the father of the baby. In Angela’s case, she had identified a former boyfriend as the father of her unborn child, but he said he was not the father and had never even dated her. This man also refused to cooperate with the police in her disappearance.

If Angela is still alive, she’d be 52 or 53 and her baby would be 33. But I’m pretty sure Angela is dead and her baby was never born.

Select It Sunday: Ashley Eiffert

This week’s Select It Sunday is Ashley Marie Eiffert, chosen by Ashley’s mom. This tiny (under five feet tall) nineteen-year-old disappeared from New Orleans on January 9, 2003. She was last seen arguing with someone on her cell phone. She left her vehicle behind, but it was reportedly broken anyway. Ashley has two tattoos and she was seven months pregnant.

Ashley’s mother told me she’s got a Facebook page, but I can’t find it. I wish I could find out more about her case. Hopefully her mother can provide me more info. I wonder how much attention the New Orleans police have given it; I’ve heard terrible things about that police department, and then of course Hurricane Katrina trashing the city two years later can’t have helped matters.

If Ashley is still alive, she’d be 34 now. Her child would be 14 this month.

Flashback Friday: Martha Ann Dicks

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Martha Ann Dicks, a 19-year-old who disappeared from Sumter, South Carolina on March 29, 1972. I’ve only got one photo of her and it’s of very poor quality. Martha’s sister said she was a lesbian, but she dated men sometimes; perhaps she was bisexual. I wonder if she was transgender; she liked to wear men’s clothing and used the name “Clyde.” She may have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

Serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins knew Martha and confessed to her murder sometime before his execution in 1991. Several of his ten confirmed victims were people known to him, which is unusual; serial killers usually murder strangers. The murder is also unusual in that it was an interracial crime; most murders, including serial murders, are intra-racial — that is, both killer and victim are of the same race. Pee Wee Gaskins was white and Martha Dicks was black.

In any case, Martha “Clyde” Dicks was never found. If she were alive today she would be 63. Her baby, if she actually was pregnant, would be about 44.

Let’s talk about it: Ashok Narain

NamUs gives the year 1987 for when Ashok Kumar Narain disappeared from Eugene, Oregon. Other sources say it was in April 1988. Regardless, Ashok’s disappearance is a very mysterious case — was he a murderer, a victim, or both?

The story begins in 1983 when Ashok, a native of Fiji, married Raj, a fellow Fijian from his village. It was an arranged ceremony. The couple moved to Oregon and subsequently had a little girl, Kamnee Koushal Narain.

The Narains regularly wrote letters to their families back in Fiji. Nobody back home detected anything amiss from the letters; it looked like a normal marriage and Raj seemed happy enough. The letters eventually stopped, but the couple’s Fijian relatives weren’t worried.

In the meantime, in September 1987, the dismembered remains of a pregnant woman were found in two different rivers in Washington and Oregon. A few days later, a toddler’s body was found in yet a third river in the vicinity. Although the police suspected the woman and child were related, they couldn’t prove it, and there were no missing persons that matched either of them.

Ashok’s brother reported the Narains missing in 2006. He’d heard about the dead woman and baby in Washington, and Raj’s family couldn’t find any trace of her online. In 2007, DNA testing confirmed the bodies were Raj and Kamnee. Mother and daughter were taken back Fiji for burial. Raj was 24 years old at the time of her death; Kamnee was only fourteen months.

I haven’t seen anything about a cause of death. It’s possible the police don’t know due to the condition of the remains. It’s equally possible that police do know and are withholding this information from the public.

So… where’s Ashok, the last surviving member in the family? Nobody knows.

When a woman, particularly a pregnant woman, is murdered, the police always start their investigation by looking at the husband or boyfriend. Yet, there’s no warrant for Ashok’s arrest and he isn’t even being called suspect; he’s only wanted for questioning as a witness. He certainly seems to have dropped off the map entirely since his wife and daughter’s killings — although I must admit, he had a really good head start.

Yet the dates here are pretty significant, because if the 1988 date is correct, that means Ashok was last seen over six months AFTER Kamnee and Raj’s killings. And that’s kind of hard to explain away.

I have no idea whether or not Ashok committed the murders. I do, however, think whoever did it was someone close to the victims. I believe this because the killer(s) went to a great deal of trouble disposing of the bodies and concealing their identities. I mean: dismemberment, hiding Raj’s head where it would never be found, and dumping the pieces in three different rivers in two different states. I think if the person was a stranger or only a slight acquaintance, they wouldn’t bother with all that.

R.I.P. Raj, and the baby you were carrying. R.I.P. Kamnee. I hope they find out who committed such a terrible crime.

And… let’s talk about it.

Another AP dump

  1. Douglas Charles Chapman
  2. Allyson Corrales
  3. Amber Nicole Crum
  4. Carlos Alberto Reyes
  5. Sarah Rachel Tokier
  6. Jacqueline Vasquez

Also, Norma Houghland has a new picture, courtesy of Peter Henderson’s Facebook page.

[EDIT: And the number of photos of Lucero Sarabia has doubled from six to twelve, thanks to this recent TV bit on her and this Facebook page set up in her memory. Seven years ago I blogged about Lucero. Not about her case exactly but about the awful judgy things people said about her, about how she had DARED to go to a party to celebrate Thanksgiving and SHE DYED HER HAIR OMG I MUST CLUTCH MY PEARLS and so on.]

I had hoped to add some new cases today, but I’ve only been working five hours and my upper back is starting to go. I do, however, have a fine set of updated cases warming in the oven.

Let’s talk about it: Juanita Oxenrider

Charley Project Irregular Katherine B. suggested I do a “let’s talk” feature where I post some of the most bizarre Charley Project cases there are to offer, and let people have free rein speculating about them in the comments. I don’t think I have enough super-bizarre cases to make a regular weekly go of this, but here’s the first one anyway:

Juanita Marie Oxenrider, a pregnant 29-year-old who disappeared after she, her husband Donald, and a friend, Thomas Maynard, took a ride out on the Oxenriders’ boat on the Patapsco River in central Maryland in 1976. The boat mysteriously exploded and sank in broad daylight in only fifteen feet of water, but no bodies were immediately recoverable.

Six months later, in the river about a mile downstream from where the boat sank, Donald Oxenrider’s body turned up. They were too severely decomposed to determine the cause of death. In an even more crazy detail of this case, the other passenger, Thomas Maynard, turned up a decade after that, alive and well — the guy was facing serious criminal charges at the time of his disappearance, and he’d jumped the country and had been in Canada all that time.

But what happened to Juanita? You decide. It’s worth noting that she has been declared legally dead. But if she’s still alive she’d be about 69 today, and her baby would be 41 39.

Let’s hear it from the comment crowd. All theories are welcomed.