Pride Month: Martha “Clyde” Dicks

In honor of Pride Month I’m featuring a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer missing person every day for the month of June. Today’s case is Martha Ann Dicks, aka Clyde, who disappeared from Sumter, South Carolina on March 29, 1972.

Said to be a lesbian who sometimes dated men, I wonder if Martha wasn’t actually transgender. She had a man’s name for her nickname and she liked to wear men’s clothes.

Martha/Clyde is thought to have been a victim of the serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins. She was 19 and possibly pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

Flashback Friday: Dermot Kelly

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Dermot Faulkner Kelly, who disappeared from Oglesby, Illinois on January 30, 1972, at the age of sixteen. The circumstances of his case make it unclear whether he died in a drowning accident/suicide or, perhaps, left of his own accord to make a new life elsewhere. If he did run away he didn’t take anything with him, and there hasn’t been any sign of him since 1972.

Carlene Tengelsen’s mom dies

I’ve been informed of this article that went out yesterday: Carlene Sessions Tengelsen‘s mother died on December 21, at the age of 83. This is her obituary, which says Carlene preceded her in death, along with another daughter. Carlene still has two living siblings though.

I wish the NCMEC would make a poster for her. I wish we could find out what happened. It’s been almost 45 years, and Carlene would be sixty years old in the unlikely event that she’s still alive.

Flashback Friday: Martha Ann Dicks

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Martha Ann Dicks, a 19-year-old who disappeared from Sumter, South Carolina on March 29, 1972. I’ve only got one photo of her and it’s of very poor quality. Martha’s sister said she was a lesbian, but she dated men sometimes; perhaps she was bisexual. I wonder if she was transgender; she liked to wear men’s clothing and used the name “Clyde.” She may have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

Serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins knew Martha and confessed to her murder sometime before his execution in 1991. Several of his ten confirmed victims were people known to him, which is unusual; serial killers usually murder strangers. The murder is also unusual in that it was an interracial crime; most murders, including serial murders, are intra-racial — that is, both killer and victim are of the same race. Pee Wee Gaskins was white and Martha Dicks was black.

In any case, Martha “Clyde” Dicks was never found. If she were alive today she would be 63. Her baby, if she actually was pregnant, would be about 44.

Make-a-List Monday: Lost files

Missing persons cases, particularly adult MPs, are not often treated all that seriously by the police. It used to be a lot worse, though. For example, it used to be that teens were automatically classified as runaways and the cops didn’t even bother to search for them. See this example (courtesy of Peter Henderson) regarding the 1972 disappearance of Carlene Sessions Tengelsen from Macon, Georgia:

The Macon Police would not take a formal missing person’s report for 24 hours and when they did they said Carlene was not missing, she was just a teen runaway who would be home soon. But Carlene never came home.

Finally at the Tengelsens’ request the car was dusted for fingerprints but none were found.

The family quickly realized they would have to head up the search for their daughter themselves. For weeks teens from Carlene’s high school would fan out looking for her, at the end of the day they would come home in tears.

Carlene’s case was treated like most missing teen’s in the seventies, “toe-tag-cold from the get-go,” her sister Joanette said.

Two years later the Macon police wrote her mother a note asking if she had come home yet, they wanted to close her file. They said it was sill an “active investigation.” Her family laughed. If that was the case why did they not know she was still missing, they wondered.

[The above quote in italics is courtesy of Peter Henderson and used with permission.]

I’ve got several cases on the Charley Project where the MP’s investigation file just up and disappeared — thrown away, “borrowed” and never returned, accidentally or intentionally destroyed, or simply misplaced. And as the years pass and the original police officers move on or retire, the police department just might forget about the MP entirely. Somebody, usually a concerned relative, has to file a second report, and then the investigation has to start all over again and this time perhaps it’s been decades.

This doesn’t happen as often as it used to, because of computers and the internet and digitizing everything, but I’m sure it still happens on rare occasions.

Anyway, this list is of cases where all the records, or a significant part of the records, got lost.

  1. Teresa Armanda Alfonso
  2. Susan Diane Wolf Cappel
  3. Judith Ann Elwell
  4. Lian Fang Feng
  5. Cynthia Robin Gooding
  6. Karen Beth Kamsch
  7. Delvacchio Lanier
  8. Lorraine Migl Light
  9. Isley McCullough
  10. Juanita Ritchie
  11. Leigh Frances Savoie
  12. Sallie Belle Maxi Signani
  13. Alice Mae Van Alstine

Flashback Friday: Carlene Tengelsen

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Carlene Sessions Tengelsen, a 16-year-old (who for some reason has never been on the NCMEC that I know of) who disappeared from Macon, Georgia on June 21, 1972. That day Carlene took the family car to a shopping center, and left a note at her boyfriend’s workplace there. She had only just gotten her driver’s license and this was the very first time she’d driven anywhere alone. She was supposed to pick up her sister from summer camp, but never did. She never returned home. The car turned up abandoned in a donut shop parking lot, unlocked, with the windows rolled down.

In a heart-wrenching detail, when Carlene’s family moved out of town a year later, they left a note behind for her and a special telephone hooked up to a missing person’s hotline. The new owners of the house kept the phone in service for two years but Carlene never did show up. Her family later returned to Macon. Last I knew, Carlene’s mother and sister were still alive, still waiting for answers.

The method to my madness

Many people, including myself, have noted that I often enclose information in my casefiles that isn’t terribly relevant. Like where an MP went to high school or something.

I was thinking about that today while I was adding a bit of info to James McNeely‘s casefile. As to his disappearance there isn’t a whole lot to say: he drowned and was never found. But, when someone told me that in 2014 they had a memorial service for him and named a highway after him (or a section of a highway anyhow) I looked into the case again and found some more information. Mainly that there was another person in the boat at the time, and he was found drowned. I even found out where that other person was located — and the river had taken him well over 100 miles.

I think that’s super helpful. If the other man’s body was found all the way over near Tell City, Indiana, it stands to reason that McNeely’s might have traveled as far as that, or more. This would possibly encourage people to start looking at unidentified remains in Indiana and along the Ohio River instead of just focusing on the Kentucky River where McNeely went missing.

I doubt that McNeely will be found at this late date, close to 46 years later; it’s possible there’s nothing left of him to find. But it’s still a shot, even if it’s a shot in the dark.