Latest MP stuff in the news

So I wrote a blog entry on the WordPress app on my phone last night about latest missing persons news. But then the entry refused to upload, no matter how many times I tried to get it to. It wasn’t online at all, only on my phone, so I couldn’t even use my computer to upload it. Grr. Lot of time wasted. Now I will try my best to recreate it.

Some cold case missing persons have been resolved:

  • Edward “Ashton” Stubbs disappeared from Dickinson, North Dakota on June 17, 2013, a few days before his sixteenth birthday. He was from Texas and had gone up to North Dakota to stay with a cousin and work a summer job. He disappeared from his job site. Ashton’s skull was found on private property in Dickinson in December. It has just been identified. His death is under investigation.
  • Sheila Sherrell Franks, age 37, disappeared from Eureka, California on February 2, 2014. A woman of similar appearance, Danielle Bertolini, had disappeared a few days earlier, and people thought their cases might be connected. In 2015, Danielle’s skull was found in the Eel River. Now Sheila’s remains have been identified; her femur, or part of it, turned up in June, near the mouth of the Eel River. Unlike Danielle’s death, Sheila’s death has not (yet) been labeled a homicide, but it is considered “suspicious.”
  • Jo Anne Dolly Burmer has been identified, forty-six years after the 25-year-old disappeared in 1973. A fragment of her skull was found in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it was entered into the DNA database, and it wasn’t until now that there was a match. As nothing else has been found or is likely to be, probably we will never know what caused her death, but I wonder about exposure. This article is very detailed and talks about Jo Anne’s background and her son, who was put in foster care after her disappearance and later adopted by another family.

Some other news:

  • The police have a new lead on the possible identity of “Beth Doe”, a young pregnant woman who was raped and brutally murdered in 1976. Her body was dismembered, stuffed in three suitcases and thrown off a bridge into the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. They think it’s possible that Beth Doe may be Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz, a sixteen-year-old foster child who ran away. They’re trying to find relatives of this Maggie Cruz to get DNA from them to test. I think it’s a long shot.
  • Georgia “Nadine” Kirk‘s son Ted has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for stealing his mom’s Social Security benefits after her disappearance and presumed death. Nadine was 98 years old and in poor health in 2010, the last time anyone saw her. She was reported missing in 2015, and Ted was unable to explain her absence. It seems likely that she simply died of age-related natural causes and Ted, who hadn’t worked since 1980, disposed of her body and kept cashing her checks. Fifteen months in prison, and $30k restitution, seems light, given the circumstances, and the fact that $80k in total was taken from taxpayers. Nadine’s body has never been found.
  • Bernard Brown, the ex-boyfriend of Moreira “Mo” Monsalve, has been charged with her murder. Moreira disappeared from Hawaii in 2014. Her body hasn’t been found and they haven’t said much about the case against Brown, but it seems likely it’ll be circumstantial and possibly include cell phone ping evidence. Murder-without-a-body cases aren’t that common in Hawaii (or anywhere) but other examples include Bongak “Jackie” Koja in 1997, Masumi Watanabe in 2007, and of course Peter Kema in 2017.
  • Nancy Beaumont has died at age 92, 53 years after her children Jane, Arnna and Grant disappeared at the respective ages of nine, seven and four. The Beaumont children have never been found and their disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in Australia’s history. Their father, Grant “Jim” Beaumont, is alive, but is also in his nineties and I think it’s unlikely he will find answers on this side of the mortal plane.
  • The police have released a new sketch of one of Christine Eastin‘s abductors, based off of a recent witness description. I think that’s a reeaaaallly long shot. It’s a rough drawing, this witness’s memory is by now almost fifty years old, and at the time they apparently didn’t realize the significance of what they saw and so they probably took little notice of it. Christine disappeared in 1971 at the age of 19.

MP of the week: Carol Norton

This week’s featured missing person is a very old one, 54 years old in fact: Carol Frances Norton, missing from El Cerrito, California since June 2, 1965. Unfortunately the only photos I have of her are from the mid-fifties, about ten years earlier.

What happened to Carol is pretty much established, and I think if it had happened today, her husband Harvey would probably have been charged with her murder. The mystery is where is her body is. It looks like it could be anywhere between Oregon (where Harvey said they parted ways) and Corpus Christi, Texas (where his bloodstained car was found abandoned).

MP of the week: Reed Jeppson

This week’s featured missing person is Reed Taylor Jeppson, who disappeared from Salt Lake City, Utah on October 12, 1964, at the age of fifteen. After church, he went out to walk his dogs and never came back. Neither did the dogs.

Come October, it’ll have been 55 years since anyone saw this young man. I doubt his case can be solved at this late date and I have no idea what happened to him. It is strange and interesting that the dogs disappeared as well.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Henrietta Cruz Avila

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Henrietta Geck Cruz Avila, a seventeen-year-old missing from Santa Ana, California. This is a very old case, from 1960. 58 years ago.

Henrietta married a few months before her disappearance; it wasn’t at all unusual at that time for teenagers to marry. She had only known her husband, Merle Avila, for a month or so, and he was 24.

The circumstances of her disappearance are unclear, but I think it’s quite likely that Henrietta met with foul play around the time of her disappearance or shortly thereafter, and that her killer or someone acting on the killer’s behalf made attempts to make her family believe she was alive and well.

I cannot imagine why a girl who had run away would come back and leave some of her clothes — and underclothes at that — sitting in her parents’ driveway. But I can well imagine that a killer, trying to confuse the investigation, would do so. In fact, I know of a documented case where something similar happened: a woman whose daughter was supposedly abducted got mailed one of the little girl’s mittens. Nothing else was in the envelope. It turned out the mother had killed her daughter and mailed the mitten to herself.

Sadly, after so many years I doubt Henrietta’s disappearance can be solved. I wonder if the police have talked to Merle Avila at all over the years, or know where he is now or if he’s still alive.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Usbaldo Hernandez

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Usbaldo Arvizu Hernandez, who disappeared from El Dorado County, California all the way back on July 1, 1969, at the age of 44.

Usbaldo, aka Waldo, wandered quite a bit: a military man and then a migrant farm worker, he often rode trains (not the passenger kind) between Arizona and California. I don’t know if he was just a free spirit or if he had to take what he could get; my boyfriend’s grandfather, who was the same age and was also Hispanic, had done the same sort of thing back in the day.

I don’t know anything about the actual circumstances of Usbaldo’s disappearance, and as he’d be 94 today, chances are that whatever did happen to him, he’s no longer alive.

A long-ago disappearance and a repressed memory

I wrote up the case of Maxine Beatrice Green last night. The details, if true, are pretty horrifying. According to Maxine’s daughter Norma, her ex-husband, Hobart, raped Maxine and beat and strangled her to death and buried her body in a river bottom.

The problem with Norma’s story is that she says she repressed the memory and it only came back to her 25 years after the fact, and she has exactly zero hard evidence to support it.

That Norma herself believes the murder happened is evident in the fact that, after the police wouldn’t listen to her, she used her own money to have the alleged burial site excavated. That Hobart murdered his wife I can also well believe; he was a demonstrably violent man who later beat his baby son to death and buried the body on his farm.

But nothing turned up at Norma’s excavation site except a few buttons and some animal bones. They should have found at least Maxine’s purse, or part of it, or some of the contents of it, as Norma remembers the purse being buried with her mother.

It’s possible, I suppose, that every part of Norma’s story is correct EXCEPT the burial site. But I have some other questions:

  1. What about Norma’s sister, who was also alleged to be present at the murder and burial? What is she saying? How old was she at the time; was she old enough to remember any of this?
  2. What about Hobart’s girlfriend, who was also said to have been there? She is unnamed in the news articles. Does Norma know her identity, and was she ever interviewed?
  3. Maxine and Hobart had four other children. Where were they on the night in question, and do they remember anything?

I think Hobart must be dead by now. I can find no record of his death, but he’d be nearly 90 today and I can’t find him listed as an inmate in the Missouri Department of Corrections database.

Given how old the case is, and how Hobart was already in prison for life, I can understand that the police were reluctant to invest a lot of resources in this. But six children grew up with their mother, and it would be nice to know why, and where she is now.

Black History Month: Joseph Edwards

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 Joseph “JoeEd” Edwards, who disappeared from Vidalia, Louisiana on July 12, 1964, at the age of 25. (In the circumstances section of his NamUs page it says he was 21, but all other sources I can find list his age as 25.)

After his disappearance, they found his car abandoned behind a bowling alley, with bloodstains inside and a necktie, tied in the shape of a noose, draped over the steering wheel.

Because of the noose thing, and because JoeEd had dated white women, the prevailing theory is that he was killed by the Ku Klux Klan. The FBI have gotten tips to that end; some stories say he was covered in concrete and thrown in the Mississippi, others that he was skinned alive.

In any case, over 50 years after JoeEd’s disappearance, it’s likely that anyone who was involved in his case is dead now.