Facebook is a broken system and I hate it, part II

Hi all. As I mentioned earlier, I was in Facebook jail for a month due to a meme I posted that their AI moderator thought violated Facebook’s TOS, when in fact it didn’t.

The restriction was supposed to end this morning. I wake up to discover that Facebook has extended it till February.

This is, as far as I can tell, not even an actual decision on Facebook’s part but an error. They’d given me another strike, then like literally two seconds later they told me they’d made a mistake and removed it… supposedly. Except apparently they forgot to remove it. They only say they did.

Facebook’s mistake is making it impossible for me to run my Charley Project page on there (they won’t let me add stuff or make changes to my page), which is a pretty big problem for me. I tried to add another account as an editor to the Charley Project page, so someone could still post stuff. But it won’t let me cause it won’t let me run the page. So as far as the followers of that page are concerned, I’ve vanished without a word. Some of them have started to contact me on their own to ask if I’m all right. Many of them don’t even realize the Charley Project is also a separate entity outside Facebook.

No, there’s nothing I can do about this. I can’t talk to customer service. Facebook, as far as I can tell, literally has no customer service employees. And it has only 15,000 human moderators for a company that serves over a billion people. Almost all moderation is done by AI technology and it makes a lot of mistakes, which is why I’m in Facebook jail in the first place.

This is actually starting to cut into my income as well since I think a lot of donors were Facebook followers. Oh, well.

I’m not in the best of moods.

Twelve-year-old missing for four months is classified as a runaway, and other stories

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was pretty good. Very quiet of course, cause of covid.

In California: the body of Barbara Thomas, a 69-year-old woman who disappeared hiking in the Mojave Desert in 2019, has been found in the desert near Essex.

In Louisiana: they’re still looking for David Claude Yeager, a seventeen-year-old boy who disappeared from Shreveport in 1971, and there’s little indication as to what happened to him. His cousin has created a Facebook page for him.

In Missouri: they’re still looking for Cheryl Anne Scherer, a 19-year-old girl who disappeared from Scott City in 1979. The article doesn’t have a lot in terms of information, just focuses on her family’s pain and grief.

In New York: they’re still looking for Jaylen Griffin, a 12-year-old boy who disappeared under unclear circumstances from Buffalo in August. The police have this preteen listed as a runaway.

In Ohio: they’re still looking for Mary Jane Vangilder, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared from Willard in 1945. They’re going to check some Jane Does and see if any of them are her.

In Pennsylvania: Justo Smoker, who had previously been charged with Linda Stoltzfoos’s kidnapping, has been charged with her murder as well. Linda, an 18-year-old Amish girl, disappeared while walking home from church in Lancaster County back in June. She has never been found. Smoker was arrested on the kidnapping charges in July.

In Texas: they’re still looking for Patty Inez Brightwell Vaughan, a 32-year-old woman who disappeared from La Vernia on Christmas Day, 1996. She went missing after an argument with her estranged husband, who is the prime suspect in her case, but he has never been charged.

In Virginia: they’re still looking for two people missing from the Richmond area: Stephanie Collette Wallace, a 45-year-old woman who went missing from Richmond in 2005, and Robert Lee Hourihan, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Palmyra in 2011. They also are hoping to identify a white or Hispanic man whose skeletal remains were found near a vacant apartment in Highland Springs in 2014.

In Australia: they’re still looking for Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who disappeared while on a camping trip in the Wonnangatta Valley in eastern Victoria back in May. They are believed to have been murdered.

In Canada: they’re still looking for Melanie Ethier, a 15-year-old girl who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in her small Ontario town in 1996. Melanie’s birthday is on Christmas Day.

Books of 2020

So far I’ve read 115 books this year. Eight days to go. This is the first time in several years that I’ve kept track of how many books I’ve read, and it’s far less than I used to read. Back in I think 2011, in the full swing of the Great Headache Crisis, I read over 400 books in a single year. Now I have other hobbies and so don’t read as much as I used to, something I feel vaguely guilty about, though I know I still read far more than most people do.

Some of the best books I read in 2020, in no particular order:

  • The Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin. Started reading this in the spring, as the coronavirus pandemic was getting itself comfortable for a long stay. It was a fascinating story about the perfect storm of events that created the AIDS pandemic. I wrote a little about it on this blog in May.
  • Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography–The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane. Before I read this I had no idea how awful life for black people was under Apartheid; I didn’t know much about it at all. I learned a lot.
  • A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres. A comprehensive look on the events leading to the massacre at Jonestown, the killings themselves, and the aftermath. Very sad. I could identify with the people at Jonestown, who seem to have been very good folks, idealistic, hoping to make a better world. They trusted the wrong person and most of them came to realize it after arriving in Guyana, but they were unable to leave–Jonestown was basically a concentration camp.
  • A Book of the Blockade, by Ales Adamovich and Daniil Granin. This book took a long time to read; I actually started it in 2019 but didn’t finish till 2020. It was about the Siege of Leningrad in World War II, and includes numerous accounts from people who were there, including a detailed diary by a teenage Leningrader who probably starved to death (although they’re not 100% sure on that; the evidence is inconclusive).
  • 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam. The transport consisted of young, unmarried Slovak girls, in their teens and twenties I believe, who were under the impression they were going to a labor camp and would return home in a few months. Of course very few of those women survived. It was a fascinating story.
  • “Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself”: The Mass Suicide of Ordinary Germans in 1945 by Florian Huber. The book explores not only the mass suicides themselves (these were mostly people who were rightly terrified of being raped and tortured by the invading Soviet soldiers) but also what led the German public at large to make Adolf Hitler their leader and do, well, all the stuff they did. I actually found myself more interested in the backstory part than I was in the suicides.
  • Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. A detailed biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and of her daughter Rose Wilder Lane.
  • Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton. This was a detailed memoir by an ordinary woman who’d started out life in I think Arkansas in the mid-nineteenth century and lived in various places in the Mississippi Delta area. It was a pretty hard life, but pretty typical for someone of that time and place. The Kindle version of this book is only $2.99 right now, if you want it.
  • The Wilkomirski Affair: A Study in Biographical Truth by Stefan Maechler. Bruno Grosjean aka Binyomin Wilkomirski is a Swiss man who wrote a book which he said was his memoir of surviving the Holocaust in early childhood. (He was adopted by his Swiss parents at age four.) The book won some awards and much critical acclaim, then was proved to be fictional. However, Grosjean is not your typical fraudster, and seems to genuinely believe he was a Holocaust survivor. In this book, Maechler examines Grosjean’s life, and the available evidence, and tries to determine what on earth happened in this case. It reads like a great mystery story, and in a sense it is.

The police wouldn’t accept a report for a missing mentally disabled woman for over a year, and other stories

From Alabama: ‘I want my momma’: Family of Montgomery woman missing since 2018 wants answers. Donna Michelle Calloway disappeared in 2018, per the article, though her “few details” Charley Project casefile has it as 2019 — probably because the police wouldn’t take the report till then. I’ll have to update her case.

From Florida: Jupiter police say missing woman’s remains found after husband takes second-degree murder plea. Gretchen Anthony disappeared in March. Her estranged husband, David, was charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder in her case. He’s pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping, and told police where to find her body, which was left three miles from Gretchen’s home.

From Kentucky: COLD CASE: Family of William Scott Crain searches for answers 26 years after disappearance. I don’t have William on Charley yet but he was added to NamUs in August. He was 22 when he disappeared from Bowling Green on November 21, 1994.

From New York: Family pleads for safe return of New York woman who’s been missing since October. Lynette Hernandez, a 27-year-old Nassau County resident, said she was moving to Brooklyn to be with a boyfriend. After not hearing from her, her family contacted the boyfriend, who said he hadn’t seen her in almost a week. Two different police departments each claims the other has jurisdiction over the case.

From Washington DC: Unique Harris disappearance: Man charged with murder a decade after woman goes missing and Arrest made in cold case murder 10 years after DC mother vanished. Unique RaQuel-Leona Harris, a 24-year-old mother of two, was last seen in 2010. Her body has never been found. The suspect is someone I’ve never heard of before, but he was an acquaintance of Unique’s and had been on the police radar for years, not the least cause he left his DNA at the crime scene.

From New Zealand: Cold Case murder mystery: What happened to Marion Granville? A mother of three young children, she disappeared in 1980, at the age of 29. Her partner at the time is asking for anyone with information to come forward. He believes she’s dead and just wants to be able to properly bury her.

From Singapore: Choa Chu Kang girl disappears in 2002, allegedly calls 1 year later: ‘Someone won’t let me come back’. Tina Lim Xin Ying was 14 when she disappeared while en route to visit her sick grandfather. She hasn’t been seen since, and the police are still not sure whether the phone call was from her.

MP of the week: Eileen Hynson

This week’s featured missing person is Eileen Francis Hynson. The 19-year-old disappeared from Napa, California on June 1, 1976, when she left home to go to a bridal party dress fitting in Benicia, 30 miles away. She never arrived there.

I don’t have much info on Eileen’s case but I think she’s probably deceased. Her father apparently thought so; when he died in 1997, his obituary noted he was “the beloved father of the late Eileen Hynson.”

If still alive, she would be 63 today.

Charges filed in Michaela Garecht case

A suspect named David Misch has been charged with murder in the 1988 kidnapping of nine-year-old Michaela Joy Garecht. I’ve never heard of Misch before, but he’s apparently a serial killer: he has been imprisoned for one murder since 1989, and in 2018 he was charged with the 1986 double murder of Michelle Xavier and Jennifer Duey. He’s still awaiting trial in that case.

Misch is now 59, which means that in 1988 he was only about 17 years old. The fact that he was already committing such serious crimes before he was even out of his teens is pretty horrifying. 27 years old. I can’t math.

He left a partial palm print on Michaela’s scooter, which is what led to the charges. Apparently there’s DNA evidence too.

Obviously her Charley Project page will need updating.

Links:

  1. Man charged with murdering Michaela Garecht 3 decades after Hayward girl’s disappearance
  2. Michaela Garecht’s mother reads heartbreaking letter after man charged in daughter’s 1988 murder
  3. Suspect arrested in 1988 Michaela Garecht kidnapping case, Hayward police announce
  4. Suspect in kidnapping, murder of Michaela Garecht due in court today
  5. 1st court appearance for man accused of 1988 murder of Michaela Garecht
  6. DNA leads to arrest of possible serial killer in Michaela Garecht cold case

Interview with me on Crimes of the Centuries podcast

I was interviewed awhile back for the biweekly Crimes of the Centuries podcast, and my interview appears in the most recent episode, which is called “Charley Ross: America’s First Kidnapping for Ransom.” I have not listened to the podcast before but the Charley Ross episode was a good one, covering Charley’s kidnapping and the frustration and agony that followed in detail. Give it a listen if you like.

Navajo-language missing persons posters and more stories

From the border states: the the Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act has been approved by Congress and awaits the President’s signature to be signed into law. The Act is designed to enhance the recording and reporting of missing persons and unidentified persons along the U.S./Mexico border and includes several measures towards that end.

From Arizona/New Mexico: the FBI has released some Navajo-language posters about unsolved missing persons and murder cases that occurred on or near the Navajo Nation. The missing persons include Anthonette Christine Cayedito, missing from Gallup, New Mexico since 1986; Laverda Sorrell, missing from Fort Defiance, Arizona since 2002; and Jamie Lynnette Yazzie, missing from Pinon, Arizona since 2019. Serious question, and I mean no disrespect to the Navajo Nation: is there actually anyone who can read Navajo who cannot also read English, or are these posters more of a public relations exercise than anything?

From Arkansas: this article details the murder-without-a-body case of Christopher Todd Armstrong, who went missing from Magnolia on March 7, 1998. Although Kenny Wayne Whiddon Jr. pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case, served his prison term and was released in 2008, Armstrong’s body has never been found.

From California/Oregon: they’re still searching for Danielle Bisnell, who disappeared on December 10 last year, while traveling from Lebanon, Oregon to Redding, California.

From California: they’re still searching for Angela Marie Fullmer, a 34-year-old mother of three who disappeared from Mount Shasta, California on December 15, 2002.

Also from California: they’re still searching for Manuel Calderon, who disappeared from Hacienda Heights on September 8 this year.

Also from California: they’re released more info on a “few details” case I had, the disappearance of Amber Aiaz and her twelve-year-old daughter Melissa Fu from Irvine on November 22, 2019. According to Aiaz’s husband, a Chinese man and woman rendered him unconscious with an unknown substance and when he woke up his wife and daughter were gone. Very strange. If the police think this is a kidnapping, I don’t understand why this information didn’t appear in the news for over a year.

From Illinois: Angela Renee Siebke has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a newborn girl whose body was found floating inside a trash bag in the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois on April 11, 1992. Siebke lives in Ohio now, but in 1992 she was a resident of Orion, Illinois. DNA proved she was the unidentified baby’s mother.

Also from Illinois: they’re still looking for Requita “Aaliyah” Goff, who disappeared from Chicago on November 28, 2019.

Also from Illinois: they’re found remains believed to be of Kimberly Stewart-Whittington, who went missing from Harrisburg in September 2019.

From Montana: the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are creating a tribal community response plan for missing Native American people.

From New Mexico: This article states the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, which was formed a year ago to address the problem of violence against Native American women, has made a “dogged but incomplete effort” in the face of the pandemic and incomplete data. The entire 64-page report is here.

From Texas: there’s an article about Rusty Arnold’s search for his sister Mary Rachel Trlica and her friends, Lisa “Renee” Wilson and Julie Ann Moseley, who all disappeared under strange circumstances from Fort Worth in 1974.

From British Columbia, Canada: They’re still looking for Randolph Quilt, a Xeni Gwet’in First Nation man who disappeared from Williams Lake on September 26. He wasn’t reported missing till November 29.

From Germany/the UK: two-year-old Emmanuel Biendarra, who was abducted from the UK by his mother in 2019, has been found safe in Germany and returned to Britain, where his searching father lives.

From Nigeria: the 344 abducted Nigerian boys mentioned in the last article dump have been freed. It turns out they were taken not by Boko Haram, but by bandits pretending to be Boko Haram.

From Singapore: A suspect, Ahmad Danial Mohamed Rafa’ee, has been charged with murder in the disappeared of Felicia Teo, a fine arts student who went missing in 2007. Teo’s body has never been found. A suspected accomplice in the murder, Ragil Putra Setia Sukmarahjana, has been named also, but the police haven’t located him yet; he is no longer in Singapore. This article has more info on the case.

From Taiwan: they’ve found a woman, identified only as Hsieh, who went missing from Changhua County twelve years ago when she was only eleven years old. She was apparently abducted by her non-custodial mother and turned up in Kaohsiung in an “undernourished state” weighing only 36 kilograms, or 79 pounds. To keep Hsieh from being found, her mom had confined her to their apartment and not let her go to school or to the hospital. When she was reunited with her father and brother, she no longer recognized them, and she “appeared to be suffering from social behavioral disorders.” No wonder, after being imprisoned in an apartment for over half her life. Such an awful story.

“An Uncertain Future for a Key Missing Persons Program” and other stories

Another article dump (I’ve decided to make a regular thing of this, even after I’m out of Facebook Jail):

This article about the near-defunding of NamUs. Key highlight: “Meanwhile, according to a statement from NIJ, the program could be facing staffing and service cuts, at least in the short-term — and it remains unclear what exactly the longer-term future of NamUs may be.”

From Alaska: four Native people disappeared this fall after visiting the city of Fairbanks, and they are all still missing. Their names are Willis Derendorf, Frank Minano, Debbie Nictune and Doren Sanford. Police don’t think the cases are related.

From Florida: Ashley Lucas disappeared in September, a few months after traveling from her home in Texas to the Florida Panhandle for work. She was hospitalized and has not been seen since her release at the end of the month.

From Massachusetts: it’s coming up on the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Sabrina Lee Hatheway from Worcester.

From Mississippi: they’ve installed Crime Stoppers kiosks in Walmarts in Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula to help find missing people from the area.

From Nevada: A body found in 2004 has been identified as Aldo Araiza, who disappeared in 2000 at the age of 20.

From North Carolina: the police are still looking for two people missing from Shelby: Kenneth Jamison, missing since 2017, and Walter Vernon McCraw, missing since 2018.

From Ohio: Brian Rini, who surfaced in Cincinnati in April 2019 and falsely claimed he was Timmothy James Pitzen, who disappeared from Wisconsin in 2011, has been sentenced to two years in prison for identity theft as a result. But because he gets credit for 20 months of time served, he’ll be out in four months. A year of probation follows his release.

Also from Ohio: the police are still looking for Jeffrey Hayes Pottinger, who disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2009 from Warren County.

From Texas: the police are still looking for Orville Seaton, who disappeared from Navasota two days before Christmas in 1997. He was 71 at the time and would be 94 today.

From Virginia: Ronald Roldan, recently charged with the kidnapping of Bethany Anne Decker, has now been charged with her murder as well. Bethany has been missing since 2011.

From Wyoming: Angela Laderlich disappeared from Casper on September 25 and is still missing.

From England: they found some human bones in Solihull, which were thought to possibly be those of thirteen-year-old David Spencer and eleven-year-old Patrick Warren, who disappeared the day after Christmas in 1996. However, it turns out the bones are over a century old.

From Nigeria: in an all-too-familiar story, the terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 330 boys from a government-run boarding school in Kankara.

From Pakistan: despite promises to end the practice, security forces are still regularly abducting, torturing and murdering people. Thousands of victims are still missing.

From Scotland: A review of missing people from Glasgow.

MP of the week: Edward Bryant

This week’s featured missing persons case is Edward Dylan Bryant, an boy who was about eight when he was last seen sometime in 2001. He and his biological brother, Austin Eugene Bryant, had been adopted out of foster care by Edward Eugene Bryant and Linda Kay Bryant in 2000. The couple adopted nine children in all, including Austin and Edward’s younger brother. They lived in Monument, Colorado.

Austin disappeared sometime between 2003 and 2005, but his disappearance was not discovered until 2011. Only after then did the authorities realize Edward was missing also. Neither of them has ever been found.

It’s an extremely sad story and it’s likely both children met with foul play at the hands of their “parents.” The Bryant parents have never been charged in either child’s disappearance, but they were each sentenced to decades in prison for theft, since they accepted public assistance payments for Edward and Austin after the boys had disappeared.

I haven’t seen any updates on the case since 2012, when Linda was sentenced to 42 years in prison. (Her husband got 30 years.) I hope the police haven’t given up on finding out what happened to those poor boys.