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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
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.
This week’s featured MP is Anna Francis Leatherwood, one of my older cases. She’s been missing for over 50 years. Anna disappeared from Sevierville in eastern Tennessee on May 20, 1966, at the age of 45. For reasons that should be obvious from the casefile, her husband is the prime suspect in her disappearance and presumed murder.