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.

MP of the week: Anna Leatherwood

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.

Ruth Egnoski ponderings

Ruth Egnoski is one of those cases where I have VERY little info, and now it seems what little I had is being thrown into doubt. NamUs’s profile for her, recently added, says she disappeared sometime in the fall of 1964. I’ve got the date as sometime in 1966.

I had a look at Newspapers.com and what I find there hasn’t helped at all. The archived issues of the Janesville Daily Gazette have ten mentions of a Ruth Egnoski between 1955 and 1964. Janesville, Wisconsin is just twenty miles from Delavan, Wisconsin, the town Ruth disappeared from; it’s quite likely this is the same Ruth. (Unless it’s her mother.)

The newspaper’s August 21, 1964 issue has her name on the list of hospital admittances and calls her “Mrs. Ruth Egnoski.” Ruth would have been sixteen at the time, but in the 1960s it was common for girls that age to be married. Per the newspaper, on August 28, Ruth was released from the hospital. This is the last time she was mentioned in that newspaper. At least, it’s the last time she was mentioned in Newspapers.com’s archived issues of that newspaper, which isn’t exactly the same thing, yeah?

I know the people who write NamUs profiles utilize the same resources I do, and I have to wonder if the Newspapers.com mentions are the reason they list Ruth’s date of disappearance as sometime in the autumn of 1964. Yet this 2002 article gives the date of disappearance as 1966, and that’s what I had until now.

It’s possible nobody really remembers when she disappeared. It didn’t really attract any notice at the time — it was reported but the police didn’t investigate. Records get lost. People die. Memories fade.

I’ll update her casefile to reflect the uncertainty regarding the year. And I’ll add her middle name — Muriel. That’s all I was able to get from NamUs.

Flashback Friday: Patricia Chesher

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Patricia Joan Chesher, aka Patty, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared while selling raffle tickets door-to-door in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 17, 1969.

There’s a lot to unpack here. The NCMEC classifies her as a runaway, but given her age and the passage of time, foul play seems more likely. There are a few persons of interest: a neighbor who bought one of the raffle tickets, her older sister’s boyfriend who had mental problems, a creepy uncle.

In any case, after 47 years I doubt this case can be solved.

Let’s talk about it: Ann Marie Burr

This week’s “let’s talk about it” case is the abduction of eight-year-old Ann Marie Burr from her home in Tacoma, Washington on August 31, 1961.

WHAT happened is clear enough. This is an “every parent’s nightmare” scenario: a child taken from her own home in the middle of the night, never to be seen or heard from again. The mystery here is WHO DID IT. Because there are a lot of people who believe, with very good reason, that little Ann Marie was a then-teenage Ted Bundy’s first victim.

Ted knew Ann and her family and lived just blocks from their home. He was only fourteen years old at the time of her abduction, but it’s not unheard of for a serial killer to begin at that age, and Ted was extraordinary even by serial killer standards. Independent evidence — the size of the footprint outside the Burr family’s living room window — suggests whoever took Ann was young.

Ann Rule herself, Bundy’s biographer and onetime friend, believed Ted was involved. In her book — if I recall correctly, I read it several years ago and no longer have a copy — she said someone had contacted her once claiming they had been a high school classmate of Ted’s and at one point Ted invited to take this person “to see a body.”

The whole “did he or didn’t he?” question has occupied the minds of Bundy hobbyists since his serial murder career exploded onto the national news in the 1970s and 1980s. I don’t really have a strong opinion on the subject and I don’t pretend to be an expert on Bundy.

Rebecca Morris published a book about it, Ted and Ann, in 2013. I read it and thought it was excellent, and it’s got 4 of 5 stars on Amazon with 251 reviews. I highly recommend the book; if you’ve got a Kindle it costs just $4.99.

So do you guys think Ted Bundy took Ann, or do you believe it was someone else entirely? Let’s talk about it.

Witness

Michael and I were hanging out last night like we do. Because he’d come home right at the beginning of an episode of Say Yes to the Dress (my worst vice) and was forced to sit there watching silly girls try on overpriced wedding gowns for half an hour, I told him to pick whatever he wanted for the next show. He went on Netflix and selected something called Witness, because it “looks cool.”

Witness was FASCINATING and I highly recommend it to the type of crowd that reads the Charley Project and this blog. It’s a documentary where Bill Genovese, the younger brother of Kitty Genovese, who was the victim of an infamous murder in 1964, tries to figure out the truth behind his sister’s death and the story about how 38 people witnessed her murder and none of them lifted a finger, or a phone, to help save her.

I originally heard the murder story in a freshman psychology course at Ohio State. It’s become kind of part of American culture over the years. I think most people in the country have heard this story in one form or another. It got mentioned in the film Boondock Saints and served as part of the McManus brothers’ motivation to go on their vigilante spree.

(Spoiler alerts follow.)

The business about 38 apathetic witnesses is pretty much a myth. Their number probably did not equal 38, most of them did not realize that a murder was taking place, and some of them DID call the cops or otherwise tried to intervene. But the myth shredded Kitty’s family, lead to the early deaths of her parents, and cost Bill Genovese his legs.

I really had to admire Bill; he seems like a very tough person and also a very level-headed, good-hearted man. He tried to meet with Kitty’s killer Winston Moseley — who by any standard was a monster — and when Moseley refused to meet with him, he met with his son and stressed that he was trying to understand what had happened and hopefully find forgiveness in his heart. (Moseley died early this year, after the documentary came out. Good riddance.)

At the end of the film, Bill actually hired an actress to stand outside the same apartment building where Kitty died and sort of reenact the crime while he sat in his wheelchair nearby and listened in the dark. At the end of the scene the actress broke down sobbing; Bill was very calm and took her into his arms.

It was a very interesting and emotional film. Michael and I were still talking about it at lunch today.