This week’s featured missing person is Darren Conway Rogers, a 13-year-old boy who disappeared from Modesto, California on February 27, 1973. He was last seen walking to school that day. He never arrived there.
It always depresses me when I’ve got a long-ago case of a missing child or teenager and no real details. My guess is that, given the time period and Darren’s age, the police probably assumed he was a runaway and didn’t really investigate. Even now, there’s very little information and Darren isn’t even listed on the NCMEC site.
If still alive, Darren would be turning 63 in two weeks. He was tall for his age in 1973, six feet, and had plenty of growing years left, so if he’s still alive he might be more like 6’3 or 6’4. He has blond hair and he’s partially blind in his left eye.
Darren Rogers has been missing for almost fifty years.
I hope everyone is doing well. My husband is now covid-free and I never tested positive myself. Score one for the vaccines! I have stopped sleeping on the floor of my office and returned to the marital bed.
So what’s going on with Carole Louise Rodriguez‘s dress? This photo is said to have been taken just hours before her disappearance, but…
NamUs, which is the source of the photo, claims it’s a “purple mini dress with a print of Chinese pagodas and other Chinese decorations.” But I’ve had a good close-up look (and you can too, click on the photo above to make it larger) and the images on the dress look nothing like pagodas except for their shape. They appear, to me, to be images of snow-covered evergreen trees, snowflakes, reindeer and an all-around winter/Christmas theme, nothing Chinese.
But she disappeared in August. Why was she wearing a Christmas dress (assuming I’m correct and it was a Christmas dress)? And why, if it was indeed a Christmas dress, was it purple? It’s not a scandalous color choice but it is strange, given that most Christmas-themed clothes are red or green.
I think this has got to be either the wrong description or the wrong photo or both. But the dress is long since gone now, like Carol herself. I suppose no one really cares that much what the print on it was. No one except me.
Even modern day photos can be so difficult to figure out when you get into the small details. I put up a guy today who’s been missing only a year, and I found photos of him showing his tattoos, but they are all blurs to me except one.
So Anna Young died a few days ago at the age of 79, having served just 33 days of a life sentence for second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Anna pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Emon Harper, aka Moses Young, a toddler who was beaten and starved to death in 1988 or 1989. His body was never found. The manslaughter conviction was for the death of Katonya Jackson, a two-year-old who died after being beaten, tortured and denied her epilepsy medication. (For some reason her death had initially been ruled as natural.)
Anna is also connected to two unsolved disappearances: that of two-year-old Marcos Antonio Cruz, whom she allegedly had abandoned at a church in Puerto Rico in 1992, and that of her six-year-old stepdaughter Catherine Barbara Davidson, who was last seen in 1973. Per one of Catherine’s siblings, she didn’t actually vanish while on a family outing to a state park in Michigan but had in fact been bound, gagged and placed in a closet where she died.
Pretty awful stuff.
I wonder if Marcos is still alive out there, or if he was ever abandoned in the first place and didn’t meet with the same awful death as Emon and Catherine and Katonya did.
We may never know.
Yesterday a child’s body was found in a camper near Garryowen on the Crow Reservation in Montana; it has been identified as Mildred Alexis “Millie” Old Crow, who disappeared sometime in 2019 or 2020. She was living with her guardians, her aunt Roseen Lincoln Old Crow and Roseen’s wife Veronica Dust, and was last seen with them in April 2019. No one’s exactly sure when she disappeared and nothing much has been released yet about her death. It seems likely she was murdered; little girls don’t just die for no reason.
Meanwhile in Florida, former cult leader Anna Young was sentenced to 30 years in prison for second-degree murder in the beating/starvation death of Emon David Harper, a toddler who disappeared sometime in 1988 and whose body was never found, and manslaughter in the death by neglect of Katonya Jackson, a two-year-old girl with epilepsy who died because Young withheld her medication. Both children and their families were members of Young’s cult.
This article talks about the plea deal and sentence Young accepted, but fails to mention that Young is tied to two other missing children: the 1973 (pre-cult) disappearance of Catherine Barbara Davidson, Young’s six-year-old stepdaughter, and the 1984 disappearance of two-year-old Marcos Antonio Cruz, another child whose family was involved in the cult. Marcos may have been abandoned in Puerto Rico by a cult member at Young’s orders. Catherine, however, was almost certainly murdered; one of Young’s other children reportedly saw her body in a closet before her disappearance was reported. It seems unlikely that Young will confess to her involvement in her stepdaughter’s case or help authorities recover the body; she’s got nothing to gain by it.
Madeleine McCann investigators to keep searching for missing girl until ‘all possibilities have been exhausted’
Authorities end search in river for missing Columbia woman (Mengqi Ji Elledge, who disappeared from Missouri in October 2019)
Three suspects charged with murder after remains found of missing woman (Melanie Steele, who disappeared from Savannah, Georgia in September 2019)
FBI asks for information on missing Iowa girl’s birthday (Breasia Terrell, who disappeared from Davenport, Iowa in July this year)
Missing man last seen at Orlando bus station months ago, police say, (Stanford Knight, who disappeared in August)
HLN Special Examines Case of Timmothy Pitzen, Missing Boy Whose Mom Wrote Taunting Suicide Note (Timmothy’s case on Charley is here, he went missing from Wisconsin in 2011)
Final Sentencing Set For Ohio Man Who Claimed To Be Long-Missing Child From Illinois (he pretended to be Timmothy Pitzen, see above)
Cops seek help finding woman missing for nearly 2 years (Robin Best-Bey, who disappeared from Buena Borough, New Jersey in February 2019)
Police search for Houston woman who went missing nearly 4 months ago (Micaela Helene Roberson, last seen August 15)
Friend says woman found dead at Fort Myers apartments disappeared 2 years ago (Cassandra Clermont)
Missing kids campaign: “I used to talk to her picture on the mantelpiece” (Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon, missing from Adelaide, Australia since 1973
B.C. couple in final bid to bring children of their missing daughter back to Canada (kids are not named, but their mother is Kimberlee Kasatkin, missing since since 2016; this is a murder-without-a-body case in Peru)
Daughters still desperate for answers 20 years after mother disappeared from Florida home under suspicious circumstances (Geanna Jones, missing from Jacksonville since 2000)
Officials identify Baby Jane Doe found dead in 1982; suspect is deceased (the baby was also called Delta Dawn, her body was found in Mississippi; her real name is Alisha Ann Heinrich, she’s from Missouri, and her mother, Gwendolyn Mae Clemons, has not been seen since Alisha’s body was found)
WC toddler identified in MS cold case (same case as above)
Delta Dawn and her mother identified as Missouri woman, child missing since 1982 (same case as above)
Reminder: DPS Seeking Information in Refugio County Cold Case Homicide (unidentified woman whose remains were found in Texas in 1992)
Outstanding Indigenous Woman: Meet Cheryl Horn, advocate for families of MMIW victims
Brother of man missing for 73 years still ‘bewildered’ (James “Jimmy” O’Neill, who disappeared from County Waterford, Ireland in 1947)
National Missing Persons Day: ‘You don’t ever give up hope’ (more about missing people from Ireland)
Searching for the disappeared: the challenges facing Mexico’s search commissioner
Spalding authorities excavating wells in missing persons case (Spalding County, Georgia, but they haven’t said which case)
Son Determined To Find What Happened To Mother Who’s Been Missing For 34 Years (Rogene “Jeannie” Annette Helm, missing from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma since October 1986)
Family, missing persons group offers $5,000 reward in missing Florence man case (Tracy Herion, missing from Florence, South Carolina since January 2020)
Yeah, I haven’t updated in a bit and I’m sorry. The last week has been super busy, mainly with wedding stuff. Michael and I are getting married Saturday.
I picked up my dress at the alterations place yesterday and it fits me perfectly. In my completely unbiased opinion I’m going to be the most beautiful bride in the world. There’s not going to be any honeymoon because of Covid. Michael will go back to work on Monday and so will I.
So, in lieu of Charley Project updates, here’s a sample of the more interesting recent missing and unidentified persons news:
- A woman whose body was found off Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California in 1981 has been identified as 26-year-old Lily Prendergast, who was last seen when she left her family’s Texas home in late 1980.
- John Michael Carroll disappeared from Victor, Idaho in 2005. His skeletal remains were found “in the general area” where he lived in 2013, and were identified this month.
- Hollis Willingham has been arrested in the murder of Jim Craig Martin, who disappeared from Normangee, Texas on August 6, 2007. It doesn’t look like Martin’s body has been found, however.
- Thomas Drew disappeared from Salisbury, Connecticut in 2007. He used to be on Charley but then his daughter asked me to remove the case. She didn’t like what I’d written, I guess. Anyway, he is still missing, and his daughter has recently published a memoir, Searching for My Missing Father: An American Noir. It sounds very interesting and I added it to my wishlist.
- Blackfeet Community College, in corroboration with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, has launched a website to help streamline missing persons reports of Native American people: “The website [linked here] allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement.”
- A woman’s torso found washed ashore in the seaside community of Benicia, California in 1979 has been identified as Dolores Wulff, who disappeared from Woodland, California that year. Dolores’s husband Carl Wulff Sr. had actually been charged with her murder in 1985, but the charge was dismissed later that year and he died in 2005.
- A skull found on Mount Hood in Oregon in 1986 has been identified as that of Wanda Ann Herr, who had left a Gresham, Oregon group home a decade earlier at the age of nineteen. No missing persons report was filed at the time and the most recent photo available showed her at age twelve. The police are asking anyone who knew Wanda or has any info on her 1976 disappearance to contact them.
- The police have identified a new suspect in the 1973 disappearance of Barbara Jean Aleksivich from Bath, New York. The suspect, Richard W. Davis, is now dead, but he was recently identified through DNA as the killer of Siobhan McGuinness, a Missoula, Montana six-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1974. Barbara, who was 24, was way out of Richard Davis’s preferred age range for victims, but he did live in Bath at the time Barbara disappeared. A previous suspect in her case, who still lived in the Bath area last I knew, has been cleared.
- The body of Ethan Bert Kazmerzak, who disappeared from Hampton, Iowa in 2013, has probably been found. At least they found his car submerged in a local pond, with human remains inside. The remains have been sent to the state medical examiner to be identified, but it’s highly unlikely it’s anyone but Ethan.
So I wrote a blog entry on the WordPress app on my phone last night about latest missing persons news. But then the entry refused to upload, no matter how many times I tried to get it to. It wasn’t online at all, only on my phone, so I couldn’t even use my computer to upload it. Grr. Lot of time wasted. Now I will try my best to recreate it.
Some cold case missing persons have been resolved:
- Edward “Ashton” Stubbs disappeared from Dickinson, North Dakota on June 17, 2013, a few days before his sixteenth birthday. He was from Texas and had gone up to North Dakota to stay with a cousin and work a summer job. He disappeared from his job site. Ashton’s skull was found on private property in Dickinson in December. It has just been identified. His death is under investigation.
- Sheila Sherrell Franks, age 37, disappeared from Eureka, California on February 2, 2014. A woman of similar appearance, Danielle Bertolini, had disappeared a few days earlier, and people thought their cases might be connected. In 2015, Danielle’s skull was found in the Eel River. Now Sheila’s remains have been identified; her femur, or part of it, turned up in June, near the mouth of the Eel River. Unlike Danielle’s death, Sheila’s death has not (yet) been labeled a homicide, but it is considered “suspicious.”
- Jo Anne Dolly Burmer has been identified, forty-six years after the 25-year-old disappeared in 1973. A fragment of her skull was found in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it was entered into the DNA database, and it wasn’t until now that there was a match. As nothing else has been found or is likely to be, probably we will never know what caused her death, but I wonder about exposure. This article is very detailed and talks about Jo Anne’s background and her son, who was put in foster care after her disappearance and later adopted by another family.
Some other news:
- The police have a new lead on the possible identity of “Beth Doe”, a young pregnant woman who was raped and brutally murdered in 1976. Her body was dismembered, stuffed in three suitcases and thrown off a bridge into the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. They think it’s possible that Beth Doe may be Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz, a sixteen-year-old foster child who ran away. They’re trying to find relatives of this Maggie Cruz to get DNA from them to test. I think it’s a long shot.
- Georgia “Nadine” Kirk‘s son Ted has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for stealing his mom’s Social Security benefits after her disappearance and presumed death. Nadine was 98 years old and in poor health in 2010, the last time anyone saw her. She was reported missing in 2015, and Ted was unable to explain her absence. It seems likely that she simply died of age-related natural causes and Ted, who hadn’t worked since 1980, disposed of her body and kept cashing her checks. Fifteen months in prison, and $30k restitution, seems light, given the circumstances, and the fact that $80k in total was taken from taxpayers. Nadine’s body has never been found.
- Bernard Brown, the ex-boyfriend of Moreira “Mo” Monsalve, has been charged with her murder. Moreira disappeared from Hawaii in 2014. Her body hasn’t been found and they haven’t said much about the case against Brown, but it seems likely it’ll be circumstantial and possibly include cell phone ping evidence. Murder-without-a-body cases aren’t that common in Hawaii (or anywhere) but other examples include Bongak “Jackie” Koja in 1997, Masumi Watanabe in 2007, and of course Peter Kema in 2017.
- Nancy Beaumont has died at age 92, 53 years after her children Jane, Arnna and Grant disappeared at the respective ages of nine, seven and four. The Beaumont children have never been found and their disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in Australia’s history. Their father, Grant “Jim” Beaumont, is alive, but is also in his nineties and I think it’s unlikely he will find answers on this side of the mortal plane.
- The police have released a new sketch of one of Christine Eastin‘s abductors, based off of a recent witness description. I think that’s a reeaaaallly long shot. It’s a rough drawing, this witness’s memory is by now almost fifty years old, and at the time they apparently didn’t realize the significance of what they saw and so they probably took little notice of it. Christine disappeared in 1971 at the age of 19.
This week’s featured missing person is Darren Bruce Hills, a 14-year-old boy who disappeared while walking to school in Norfolk, Virginia in 1973. If still alive, he’d be 59 today.
I don’t know anything much about the case, unfortunately. He has a Facebook page but it doesn’t really say much. This article suggests he was a victim of the serial killer Dean Corll, but I don’t know if anything came of that suggestion.
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Hazel Alice Cross, a 26-year-old mother of five who disappeared from Toledo, Ohio on May 1, 1973. Hazel’s husband was out of the state at the time and she had sole charge of the kids. She went to the grocery store and apparently arrived there, since her vehicle turned up in the parking lot, but she was never seen again.
Other than that I don’t have much on her.
As per this 2013 article, Hazel’s family hasn’t forgotten about her and they still hope for some kind of resolution.
(I know I’ve been a lazy-butt and not updated for like a week. I hit my head last Friday and my head was killing me for days afterwards in spite of the application of ice packs etc. On Saturday I went to ER because I thought I might have a concussion. They did tests, and said no, and prescribed some completely ineffective painkillers. I actually went back a few days later because my head was still hurting horribly and they did the same tests and said I was fine. Well, the headache finally stopped. Maybe it was the weather — we’ve had horrible storms and humidity all week, and things finally cleared up today.)
- As various commenters and emailers have noted: Francine Frost (missing from Oklahoma, 1981) and Joseph Spears (missing from Mississippi, 1973) have both been identified.
- Joseph was 17 when he escaped from a juvenile detention center. Less than a month later, he’d made it to Texas and was crossing a freeway when he was hit by a vehicle and killed. He was finally identified this month. Per this article:
Mary Raskin, mother of missing teen Joseph “Joey” Norman Spears, ended up looking at pictures of her son’s body to positively identify him, Harrison County Sheriff’s Investigator Kristi Johnson said Monday.
Officials with the Galveston medical examiner’s office were unable to get a proper DNA sample from Spears’ body to confirm the identity, Johnson said. Instead, they called on Harrison County cold case investigators to provide all the facts they had on the case for comparison to the evidence Texas officials had on hand.
Mary Raskin, Spears’ mother, identified her son.
“I have mixed emotions,” Johnson said after learning the news. “I am relieved the case is solved but I know it’s not the outcome Mrs. Raskin was hoping for. I’m sad for her but I’m glad she is getting the answers she was searching for for 43 years. The family has shared their appreciation for us working on this.”
- As for Francine, her body was found in Muskogee County, Oklahoma two years after her disappearance. She was 43 years old. Per this article: a year ago Francine’s family heard about the Muskogee remains and got a court order to exhume and test for DNA:
Vernon Martin, the superintendent of Green Hill Cemetery, helped make it happen.
He said there are about 1,400 unidentified bodies buried there – many of them dating back before statehood.
He took us back to the plot where Frost’s remains stayed for more than 30 years before they were finally identified.
“This is actually greater than the pay that you receive in this job, the people that we come across on a daily basis and able to help them through their loss, whether it’s last week, or, in this case, 1981,” Martin said.
Unlike with Joey Spears, this case is obviously still not over yet. Joey died in an accident; Francine appears to have been abducted and murdered. Her family has half the answer now — that is, they have her back and they can bury her — but I’m sure they’d also like to know who killed her.
(An Oklahoma TV show actually wanted to interview me about Francine and in particular about identifying long-buried John and Jane Does, but I had spent the day in bed nursing that headache. I didn’t even check my email until 10:00 p.m. and thus missed the interview opportunity. Oh well.)
- The case of long-missing Quebecois child Yohanna Cyr is back in the news, because a woman in the United States has come forward and thinks she’s Yohanna. Usually I don’t pay too close attention to claims like this, because it’s hardly ever the missing person. But this one has me wondering, because, as this article says, both Yohanna and the American woman have a Y-shaped birthmark on their index finger. I blogged about Yohanna twice, once in 2014 and once in 2011. In the 2011 entry, Yohanna’s mom posted a comment in French.
- You guys may have heard about the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania twins who disappeared at some indeterminate time years ago — some articles say 10 years, some say 13-14 years. Mom claimed she sold them, but retracted her story after she was informed this was a crime. The first time authorities realized the kids were missing was when CPS sent the cops to the house to remove all the kids, and the cops duly removed the four they found, and CPS was like, “Um, she actually has six.”
NamUs has profiles for the kids: Inisha Fowler and Ivon Fowler. The only picture that I’ve been able to find is a photo of them as babies, side by side, and I have no idea which twin is which. (See this article for that photo, and a pic of Mom, and of the twins’ not-missing brother as well.) I suppose I’ll post the case on Charley anyway. A baby photo is still a photo, and this is certainly an outrageous story that the world needs to know. Even if, by some miracle, Ivon and Inisha are still alive, the fact that no one noticed they were gone for so long is truly terrible. Heads should roll here — a lot of people dropped the ball.
- The kidnapper of Zephany Nurse, a South African girl who was abducted as an infant and not found for seventeen years, has been sentenced to ten years in prison. (You might recall that Ann Pettway, Carlina White‘s abductor, got twelve.) Zephany grew up just a mile away from her real family’s home and attended the same school as her biological sister. The identity of the woman who kidnapped her has been withheld from the media to protect Zephany’s privacy.
Outrageously, the kidnapper has refused to admit she did anything wrong. And sadly for the Nurse family, Zephany has chosen to remain with her kidnapper’s husband. I don’t blame her. I mean, for 17 years she thought this guy was her dad, and it’s a terrible situation she’s in. I just think it sucks for her real parents and I hope that Zephany does eventually choose to form a relationship with them.