This week’s featured missing person is a very old case, over 60 years old in fact: Thomas Eldon Bowman, an eight-year-old boy who disappeared during a hike with his family in Arroyo Cinco Canyon in Altadena, California on March 23, 1957.
Investigators believe he was abducted and murdered by serial killer Mack Ray Edwards, who was active in the fifties and sixties. He pleaded guilty to the murders of three children and has been linked to the disappearance of six missing kids besides Thomas. His known and presumed victims’ ages ranged from seven to sixteen.
Edwards suicided on death row in 1971. He was a heavy equipment operator who worked on high construction in California. A good job for a serial killer; police think he buried the missing children’s remains under the highways.
A Charley Project Irregular let me know about how the San Francisco Examiner had been added to the Newspapers.com archives, so I went and ran all my old San Francisco cases through to see if they had articles in that paper. Then when that was done, I decided to do with the same with Santa Cruz cases, because I knew the Santa Cruz Sentinel was in the archives. And presto, 29 cases updated.
Some thoughts/info on individual ones:
- I wonder if Erwin Ernest Bunge‘s car was ever recovered. I also wonder if his disappearance had anything to do with him being a high profile trainer. Henry Martinez was only seventeen years old in 1988 and it seems unlikely that he could have been involved. I wasn’t able to find out much about him; he retired from boxing in 1994 and drifted into obscurity.
- Not really a thought, but a piece of trivia: Harry Weldon Kees is not the only person presumed to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge on July 18, 1955. The police found TWO cars abandoned there that day, leading to speculation as to which person went first. At the time, they were keeping a record of how many people died. I don’t think they’re keeping track anymore though. (Oh, and here’s a 2011 rant of mine about Golden Gate Bridge suicide victims.)
- I looked up Walter Christopher Kuchanny‘s wife, and she has remarried and seems to be doing well. She returned to England after his disappearance. I do believe he was a suicide victim and didn’t just leave. Her description of his behavior, being all anxious and depressed and then suddenly happy and relaxed, is pretty typical of people who take their lives.
- Is anyone else wondering if Michael Omas Masaoay‘s disappearance was just an accident? I wonder if it went something like this: he sets off for the day, realizes school is actually closed, and then decides to chill out at his favorite fishing spot, and then gets dragged out to sea by surf, just like Noel Annette Marcotte and countless others have been. That would explain why Michael’s bag was found where it was. Will anyone who’s familiar with the geography of that location care to voice an opinion in the comments?
- The SF Examiner article I found about John Dolan Phillips‘s disappearance was mainly about the sale of his car and how it was very sketchy. His family was never notified the car had been found in the parking garage. The mint-condition rare classic car was sold to an employee of the garage for just $200, a tiny fraction of both its actual worth AND the amount of accrued parking fees owed. Apparently when objects worth over $500 are put for sale in these circumstances, the public is supposed to be notified and given a chance to buy them, but the car was sold for an a lower amount, so the garage didn’t have to notify anyone. And then the new owner refused to even let the car get inspected for clues. Whether any of this has something to do with Phillips’s disappearance is anyone’s guess.
- Given the circumstances of Carlos Benjamin Urruela‘s disappearance, it’s likely he died by suicide. The article I read said his addiction was very bad — he’d gone from snorting to freebasing to shooting cocaine — and was ruining his life and his appearance.
This week’s featured missing person is a very old one: Inez Garcia, who disappeared from Santa Fe, New Mexico on November 2, 1952. Sixty-six years ago this year. If still alive, she’d be something like 92 years old. I’m not 100% sure cause I don’t know her date of birth. In fact, I don’t know very much at all about her, and it’s hard to tell what she looked like from the only available photo.
Inez’s husband, Juan Andres Jose Garcia, is the prime suspect in her disappearance, and as recently as 2014 the police dug up the floor of his garage and found some charred bone fragments which were sent away for testing. I’ve heard nothing more about this.
Like a month ago I was interviewed about the Connie Smith case, and the articles about it are finally coming out. This one came out on August 13; now the second one has been released, and it contains a quote from me:
Meaghan Good, 32, of Ohio, has been administrator for The Charley Project website since 2004. The site profiles approximately 10,000 “cold case” missing people, mainly from the U.S., from the 1800s up until now, with 10, 671 cases currently open.
Good posits that Connie likely met with foul play: “You see this a lot, especially in the 10-to-13 age group,” she said. “They start becoming more independent but they are still pretty naïve.”
“It is very, very sad,” she said. “The father lived to be a Biblical age and never found out about her. The suspect would likely be dead now. But it is possible for the case to be solved. Technology makes it resolvable.”
Middle-aged married couple William Durrell Patterson, 52, and Margaret M. Patterson, 42, vanished from El Paso, Texas on March 5, 1957. They were last seen by a neighbor who dropped by with some Girl Scout cookies. Margaret looked upset at the time and William didn’t seem to want company. That night there was unspecified “unusual activity” observed at the Patterson home. The next day they were gone, and it looked like they had left in a hurry.
William in particular seems to have been involved in some kind of sketchy things. His own father said he “made his living doing sleight-of-hand tricks” and he had always expected the Pattersons to disappear eventually.
There are some indications that they left of their own accord, the appearance of the house nonwithstanding. Let’s break it down:
- On March 15, the Pattersons’ accountant got a telegram with instructions on how to manage their business in their absence. HOWEVER, the telegram was signed “W.H. Patterson” and not “W.D. Patterson.” The obvious explanations I can think of are (1) William did not really send that telegram or (2) William did send the telegram but messed up his initials on purpose as a duress signal.
- William’s mistress, who lived in Juarez, said she saw him in the early morning hours of March 6 (the day after he and Margaret were seen in El Paso) and he told her he had important things to tell her and “when they come for me, I’ll have to go in a hurry.” HOWEVER, she later recanted this statement. What I’m wondering is: if William had important things to tell her, why not just tell her right then, since they were together and all?
- The couple’s business associates went around telling everyone they were on an extended vacation. No word as to where they were getting this information, but as a result they weren’t reported missing for five months.
- The Pattersons’ lawyer eventually got a letter, supposedly from William, postmarked May 29. It said they were getting out of dodge and would not be returning, and instructing that their property should be divided up. HOWEVER, the selection of heirs was…curious, to say the least, and handwriting experts were not sure that William had actually signed the letter, and for several legal reasons (starting with the fact that Margaret co-owned the couple’s photography business), it had no actual value as a will.
In 1984, a witness went to the police and said he had been hired to clean the Pattersons’ home after they disappeared and he saw blood in the garage, a piece of human scalp stuck to William’s boat propeller, and someone carrying away bloodstained sheets. The witness was an illegal immigrant and he said he didn’t go to the police at the time because he was afraid he’d be deported. I’ve got no idea if there’s any evidence to back up his statement. I’ve watched Forensic Files; I know they have all sorts of gizmos and experts in all kinds of obscure fields of crime scene analysis and it seems like if the house had still been there, they might have found something.
For what it’s worth, Margaret was completely estranged from her family. They hadn’t heard from her in 20 years and they assumed she was dead, which is an odd assumption if you ask me. She was a young healthy woman and she doesn’t appear to have vanished out of their lives into thin air; she became estranged from them because they disapproved of her marriage to William. So why would they assume she was dead?
Now, it’s been 60 years, and both of the Pattersons would be over 100 years old by now, so it’s a safe bet to assume they’re not alive anymore. What I would like to know is: do y’all think they were alive after 1957?
Let’s talk about it.
I got an email from a reporter today about Joan Risch, asking if he could use one of my photos with attribution. It was only then that I realized this was the anniversary of her disappearance. I sort of forgot about it quickly, but I was just on Wikipedia and she’s on the front page today, in the “did you know” section:
(I realize these last few days I’ve posted a lot of images on my blog entries. I think this is just an anomaly and not the start of a trend though.)
It’s a most mysterious case, one that will probably never be solved.
I’ve spent much of today combing through Newspapers.com looking up stuff on specific old MP cases when I came across a column in the March 27, 1983 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, written by someone named Elinor Klein. It was about how her brother disappeared when he was 17 years old, and the devastation it caused in her family.
I’m pretty sure I have never heard of this case. But I’m not 100% sure because Elinor Klein never said what his name was, or the town he disappeared from. Just that he was 17, a freshman at an unspecified, possibly Ivy League college, and that he was born on February 22, 1937 and disappeared on November 8, 1954. She even includes his picture with the column. But not his name!
I checked NamUs; there’s only two 1954 disappearances in there, and both are of females. I would love to be able to put this young man on Charley if I can. If he was still missing in 1983 — nearly thirty years after he was last seen — he’s probably still missing now.
I looked up more information about Elinor Klein hoping that would lead me to her brother’s identity. Turns out Elinor was still alive as of 2008 and her maiden name was Friedman. I also learned she had a son named Willy at age 40; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch column says, “When my child was born a few years ago… I named my son after my brother and my father.”
Still not enough to go on. Darn it.
See the below images screenshot from Newspapers.com’s PDFs, the column about the missing boy (Willy Friedman?):
On the bright side, Ms. Klein’s column did yield at least one nugget of information that’s of use to me: there were pictures of random missing children scattered across the bottoms of the first two pages, including one of Holly Hughes that’d I’d never seen before. It even shows her teeth! I added it.
I’ve decided to add a bunch of super-old cases to Charley today, beginning with Ida Mae Lee, who disappeared in 1956. She was working at a hotel at Grand Canyon National Park at the time.
Anyway, I went to Newspapers.com and searched for the phrase “Ida Mae Lee” Arizona and found some interesting results:
The Arizona Republic, December 1, 1953:
(There were several other mentions of Ida Mae Lee attending Arizona State; an October 1953 article says she lived in Nutrioso, which has a current population of 26. There’s also articles from January and March name Ida Mae Lee among the honor roll students at Round Valley High School, which is in Eager, Arizona, a 21-minute drive from Nutrioso. And in 1952, Ida Mae Lee and some of her fellow Round Valley HS students staged a fashion show.)
And then there’s this, from the Arizona Republic, September 21, 1955:
I’m pretty sure the Ida Mae Lee who married Mr. Jones is the same one that attended Round Valley High School and Arizona State; note the reference to Nutrioso in the marriage announcement. And I think that photo looks an awful lot like NamUs’s picture of the Ida Mae Lee who vanished in 1956 — though I’m not prepared to swear to that, I am not good at all at identifying faces.
So, the 64k question then, assuming all these Ida Lees are in fact the same person: what happened to Mr. Jones during the 14 months before Ida vanished? The fact that she’s listed as missing under her maiden name suggests they were separated or divorced by then.
I did find this obit for a Niles Lee Jones who died in Mesa, Arizona in 2011, age 76. No mention of any survivors, but a search of addresses for Mr. Jones mentions Nutrioso, Arizona as well as other cities.
This week’s featured missing person (a day late, sorry) is 29-year-old Thomas Clyde O’Daniel and he went missing a very long time ago: May 15, 1958. It’s been nearly sixty years.
Thomas called his family from Phoenix and said he was going to hitchhike to Yuma, Arizona. Google Maps says Yuma is about a three-hour drive from Phoenix, but back in 1958 it may have taken longer. He never got in touch with his family again and I don’t know whether he arrived in Yuma. In fact, I don’t really know anything.
This case is pretty much a complete blank. The only thing I could find online was a post on Ancestry from what is probably his daughter. Other than that I’ve got nothing.
Anything could have happened to this guy. It’s even possible, though only just, that he’s still alive somewhere, perhaps chilling in a nursing home — he’d be in his late eighties by now.
On April 2nd I had another Executed Today entry run that I forgot to post: Henry Frank Decaillet. He was a middle-aged married father of five who fell in love with, and had a sexual relationship with, a girl named Phoebe who was either 12 or 13 at the time. (Ew.) After a year or so she got tired of him and wanted to date boys her own age and he shot her because she was “living an immoral life” and he wanted to stop her from “becoming a prostitute.” He never attempted to hide what he’d done and was gassed in California in 1954.