Flashback Friday: Belinda VanLith

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Belinda VanLith, a 17-year-old girl who disappeared from the Little Eagle Lake area of Wright County, Minnesota on June 15, 1974. (I wrote an Executed Today entry set in Wright County.) She disappeared from a neighbor’s residence where she was house-sitting.

I looked up the name of the suspect,¬†Timothy Joseph Crosby, in Newspapers.com and found several articles that mentioned him. He was very young when Belinda disappeared, only seventeen or eighteen, but according to court documents he’d already started abducting and sexually assaulting young women. This article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press talks about Belinda’s disappearance. As of 2013, anyway, Crosby was off the streets as a civilly committed “violent sexual recidivist.”

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Flashback Friday: Charles Francis

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Charles Christopher “Christy” Francis, a seven-year-old boy who disappeared from Santa Ana, California on April 9, 1979.¬† He’d gone to work with his dad that day. (I’m not sure why, cause it looks like it was a school day.) Dad delivered water tanks. Charles disappeared while waiting for his dad to pick him up.

There hasn’t been a lot of press about this, either back then or now, alas. The police had some suspicion that it might have been a custody matter, but they seem to have ruled that theory out.

Flashback Friday: Donald Ewalt

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Donald Cary Ewalt, missing from El Centro, California on October 4, 1979 — 38 years ago this past Sunday. He was last seen in the company of three males and foul play is suspected in his disappearance. Ewalt was 22 at the time and would be 60 today.

For some reason the Texas Department of Public Safety is assisting. Shrug.

I checked for him in the Newspapers.com archives and found an article from 1972 in the Opelousas Daily World, a Louisiana paper, about a 15-year-old by that name. My Donald would have been that age in 1972. The Louisiana Donald had run away from home and gotten a job at Grand Canyon National Park, but after several weeks the park authorities got suspicious and called the cops, who called his parents, who sent him the bus fare to come back home.

Sweeeeeet….

I have stumbled across a new collection of MP cases, put together by the National Park Service. This list is by no means exhaustive, I’m sure, but it’s a start, and I see several names I don’t recognize, as well as nuggets of information I didn’t have for cases already on Charley.

For example, it turns out that Trenny Lynn Gibson‘s real name is Teresa. Who knew? Even the NCMEC lists her as Trenny.

Anyway: woo! I hope they keep it current.

Flashback Friday: Steven Kirchhoff

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Steven Dick Kirchhoff, who disappeared from Waterloo, Iowa on January 24, 1978. He was 22 years old. Foul play is strongly suspected in his case: Kirchhoff was a known drug dealer, he was allegedly carrying $8k in cash on the day of his disappearance, and a neighbor heard bumping noises and someone crying out “Oh God, don’t do this to me!”

He may have been killed by Richard Forsyth, who himself disappeared from Waterloo in October 1979. It’s possible that Forsyth met with foul play also, or he may have hopped the border into Canada.

Flashback Friday: Willie Ann Rucker

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Willie Ann Rucker, who went by her middle name. She was 27 and recently divorced when she disappeared from Waterloo, Iowa on April 8, 1979. Her family believes her boyfriend may have been involved; they were having problems.

I don’t have much on this case. Rucker’s son David Barrett, who was just a baby when she disappeared, became a professional football player, so there’s that.

Flashback Friday: David Sampson

This week’s Flashback Friday case is David Robert Sampson, a 21-year-old student at the University of Washington who disappeared from Seattle on March 1, 1977. I don’t know his major, but he was interested in “botany, hiking and environmental issues,” so perhaps it was something like biology.

Indications are Sampson left of his own accord; he took several possessions, including survival gear, a Bible and other religious materials, but no ID or cash. He may have joined some kind of cult; his case reminds me a bit of Robert Spurlock‘s. (I ought to do a Make-a-List Monday of cases where the MP is thought to have joined a cult.) It’s worth noting that Sampson disappeared at the tail end of the hippie era, and it sounds like he might have found that lifestyle agreeable.

But if he did join a cult, where has he been since 1977? Canada maybe? But if he left the country, how’d he cross the border without any identification?

I was able to get Sampson’s date of birth today from the Washington State Missing Person Search database. The anonymous author of the excellent Whereabouts Still Unknown blog has an entry for him as well. I couldn’t find anything about his disappearance in the newspaper archives, though, which isn’t surprising giving it was 1977 and he was a college student and a man at that. That profile of missing person is rarely covered in the news even today.

If he is still alive, and he may very well be, David Sampson would be 62 today. There’s a good chance his parents would be dead by now, but perhaps he has siblings or cousins who are still hoping for resolution in his case.