Flashback Friday: Joyce Brewer

Gah, I have been neglecting my weekly features as of late and haven’t done a FF case since March. This one is Joyce Creola Brewer, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Grand Prairie, Texas on September 6, 1970.

The circumstances of Joyce’s disappearance — last seen stomping out of the house after a fight with her parents — might indicate she ran away. If so she’s been gone for a VERY long time, obviously — 46 years, almost 47 — but it’s by no means impossible that she’s still alive.

If she is not, or for that matter if she is, a good way to identify her would be the extensive burn scars on her torso and left arm.

If she’s still alive, Joyce would be 62 today, and maybe a grandmother or something.

Oh-kay, this is a bit weird

One of my Charley Project irregulars has been sending me a load of useful stuff lately I haven’t even gotten to yet (I’m not ignoring you, I promise!) and a few days ago I got a strange one: proof that Hilary Harmon Stagg Jr., currently listed on both Charley and Doe as having disappeared at age 16 on some unspecified date in the spring of 1970, was alive and well as late as 1972. She sent me his senior yearbook picture as proof. Websleuths says Hilary disappeared in November 1977, a full seven years after the date I have listed as of this writing. He would have been 23 then.

What…? How on earth did the wires get crossed that badly?

Anyway, I thought I’d let y’all know.

Flashback Friday: Ilonka Cann

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Ilonka Cann, missing from Huntington Mills, Pennsylvania since May 26, 1970. She was 22 years old, married with a baby son. Her Charley Project file doesn’t have much on her but I did find this Official Cold Case Investigations thread which has a little more information, and Pennsylvania Missing Persons appears to have updated her case since I last checked.

Anyway, the story is that her husband left in the morning and when he came back in the afternoon, Ilonka was gone and the baby was in the house alone.

Offhand I would say she’s of Hungarian descent or possibly Slavic — Ilonka is a Hungarian name, a nickname for Ilona. Ilona is used in several Slavic nations; it’s a form of the name Helen. I wonder if she was born here or was an immigrant to this country.

I don’t have enough information to theorize what happened to her. It’s possible that she left on her own. She would be in her sixties now. It’s possible she was harmed, and if that’s the case it’s possible that whoever did it is now deceased. We may never know what happened to this young woman on that spring day 45 years ago.

Flashback Friday: Cynthia Coon

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Cynthia Coon, who disappeared from Washtenaw County in southern Michigan at the age of thirteen, on January 19, 1970. So she’s been missing 43 years and counting. If she’s still alive, she’s 57 years old and quite possibly a grandmother by now.

Cynthia’s case vexes me. It’s one of those where there are juuuust enough details to intrigue you, but not enough for you to figure out what probably happened. Two and a half months after her disappearance, she called home twice — and claimed she didn’t know where she was. Then a month later her family got an “extortion type” call. And that’s all, folks. That’s all there is.

I’m not even going to hazard a guess here; I can think of several possibilities, all of them unlikely. I just figure that whatever happened to Cynthia Coon, it probably wasn’t good.

Three teens missing over 40 years have maybe been located

Someone alerted me to this on the Charley Project’s Facebook page: the cops in Custer County, Oklahoma have pulled two cars containing five bodies out of Foss Lake. One of those vehicles, which had three bodies inside, is believed to be Jimmy Allen Williams‘s Camaro. Jimmy and his friends, Thomas Rios and Leah Johnson, disappeared from Sayre, Oklahoma on November 29, 1970.

The investigation is still ongoing, and I’m not going to resolve these cases until they’ve officially identified the remains. But it sounds like these three high-schoolers have finally come home.

Article about David Miera…and my own public record digging

The Albuquerque Journal has profiled David Miera in this article. Until now I hadn’t known whether “Zerfas” was the mom’s boyfriend’s first name or his last name. Turns out the man’s full name was Leon Zerfas but he went by his initials, LG. The article includes a great deal of information, including pictures of both Zerfas and David’s mother Genevieve.

The article says Leon was “the estranged son of an Indiana physician who apparently chose a darker, wilder course.” I found this obituary on Find a Grave for a Dr. Leon G. Zerfas from Indiana, who died in 1978. He had a PhD as well as an MD, AND he studied law, AND he donated a million bucks to Indiana University, his alma mater. (That was in 1972. The modern equivalent would be something on the order of $3.4 million. Way to go, Dr. Z.) Dr. Zerfas, in addition to being an Indiana physician like the article said, would be the right age to be LG Zerfas’s father, and if they had the same name that would explain why LG went by his initials…but the obituary lists only one child, a Dr. Charles Zerfas, who it says also lived in Indiana.

Looking further, I found a picture of Dr. Leon Zerfas and he resembles the photo of LG Zerfas from the Albuquerque Journal article. I’m almost certain that’s his father, in spite of what the obituary said. Maybe the obit doesn’t list Dr. Zerfas’s other son because of the estrangement?

(UPDATE 8/10/2013: A person who wishes to remain anonymous has informed me that LG Zerfas was NOT Dr. Leon Zerfas’s son or even a close relative, and all those things I mentioned that match are merely coincidental. I’ll be darned.)

In any case, the Leon Zerfas that was Genevieve’s mother’s boyfriend died in 2005, taking whatever he knew to the grave. I can’t find anything about the circumstances of his death. All the articles I can find when I search for that name are about a Utah teen who was murdered twenty years earlier.

I also looked up “Zerfas” the surname because I’d never heard it before. Turns out it’s German, a respelling of “Serfass.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Serf Ass. And on that note, I’m sorry, I can’t resist: