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.
Chosen by Hennylee, this Select It Sunday case is Landon Lee DeRiggi, a 13-year-old who’s been missing for 43 years next month. A very sad case, simply because he was so young and he’s been missing for that long. He disappeared from Miami Shores, Florida.
Landon has an unusual physical characteristic: he’s got a deviated septum, which makes his nose look slanted, as if it had been broken some time in his life. The Mayo Clinic says a deviated septum can only be corrected by surgery. He’s also legally blind, something that was corrected by (presumably very thick) glasses, but he refused to wear them.
Authorities believed, at the time, that Landon had run away. They had reason to think this: he had a history of running away, he had behavioral problems including being hyperactive, and they found his stuff hidden behind a hedge as if he was going to pick it up later. Even his mom figured he’d run away.
But now the police believe he’s dead, and again, with good reason: it’s VERY unlikely that a runaway, especially one as young as Landon, could have vanished off the face of the earth like that for four and a half decades. And his home life doesn’t appear to have been troubled; it seems like he would have gotten in touch with his family if he could have.
The most recent press I could find on this case was a really good article from 2008. The original link is lost but you can read the entire text on Websleuths — it’s towards the middle of the page.
As I have said, I’m plugging Charley Project names into the Newspapers.com database, looking for info. I’m doing it in reverse chronological order. I don’t have a lot of time — I only have a seven-day free trial and a paid subscription is pretty expensive.
Reading all those older papers gives you a really good idea as to how much America has changed just in these past several decades. Like, I keep getting weirded out by all these married women being introduced as “Mrs. Husband’s Name.” Another example — a shocker, from the current post-HIPAA perspective — is something I just discovered: in the now-defunct Franklin News-Herald, a Pennsylvania paper, their edition for February 10, 1972 included a list of recent hospital admits with the admitted person’s name and the name of the street they lived on and, in some cases, their full street address. Any American newspaper that somehow obtained and published such information nowadays would be sued into oblivion.
One of those admits was Patricia Jane Seelbaugh. This would have been just two weeks prior to her 16th birthday. Patricia disappeared without a trace in October 1973, one year and eight months after her admission to Bashline Hospital (now the Grove City Medical Center). She had been admitted to Bashline at least once before, in late July of 1969. No idea on what for. Nothing about her actual disappearance, alas. “Few details are available.”
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Mary Oliva, a 79-year-old woman who disappeared from Wilber, Nebraska in July of 1973. Her husband Frank, 76, disappeared with her. They were never found, and neither was their vehicle. Obviously we’re not going to find either of them alive.
The prevailing theory seems to be that this was a case of murder-suicide, that Frank chose to drive their car into a lake because he couldn’t handle Mary’s health problems. This theory seems to be mostly supposition with little hard evidence to support it, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
R.I.P. Frank and Mary Oliva, wherever you are.