Navajo-language missing persons posters and more stories

From the border states: the the Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act has been approved by Congress and awaits the President’s signature to be signed into law. The Act is designed to enhance the recording and reporting of missing persons and unidentified persons along the U.S./Mexico border and includes several measures towards that end.

From Arizona/New Mexico: the FBI has released some Navajo-language posters about unsolved missing persons and murder cases that occurred on or near the Navajo Nation. The missing persons include Anthonette Christine Cayedito, missing from Gallup, New Mexico since 1986; Laverda Sorrell, missing from Fort Defiance, Arizona since 2002; and Jamie Lynnette Yazzie, missing from Pinon, Arizona since 2019. Serious question, and I mean no disrespect to the Navajo Nation: is there actually anyone who can read Navajo who cannot also read English, or are these posters more of a public relations exercise than anything?

From Arkansas: this article details the murder-without-a-body case of Christopher Todd Armstrong, who went missing from Magnolia on March 7, 1998. Although Kenny Wayne Whiddon Jr. pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case, served his prison term and was released in 2008, Armstrong’s body has never been found.

From California/Oregon: they’re still searching for Danielle Bisnell, who disappeared on December 10 last year, while traveling from Lebanon, Oregon to Redding, California.

From California: they’re still searching for Angela Marie Fullmer, a 34-year-old mother of three who disappeared from Mount Shasta, California on December 15, 2002.

Also from California: they’re still searching for Manuel Calderon, who disappeared from Hacienda Heights on September 8 this year.

Also from California: they’re released more info on a “few details” case I had, the disappearance of Amber Aiaz and her twelve-year-old daughter Melissa Fu from Irvine on November 22, 2019. According to Aiaz’s husband, a Chinese man and woman rendered him unconscious with an unknown substance and when he woke up his wife and daughter were gone. Very strange. If the police think this is a kidnapping, I don’t understand why this information didn’t appear in the news for over a year.

From Illinois: Angela Renee Siebke has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a newborn girl whose body was found floating inside a trash bag in the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois on April 11, 1992. Siebke lives in Ohio now, but in 1992 she was a resident of Orion, Illinois. DNA proved she was the unidentified baby’s mother.

Also from Illinois: they’re still looking for Requita “Aaliyah” Goff, who disappeared from Chicago on November 28, 2019.

Also from Illinois: they’re found remains believed to be of Kimberly Stewart-Whittington, who went missing from Harrisburg in September 2019.

From Montana: the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are creating a tribal community response plan for missing Native American people.

From New Mexico: This article states the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, which was formed a year ago to address the problem of violence against Native American women, has made a “dogged but incomplete effort” in the face of the pandemic and incomplete data. The entire 64-page report is here.

From Texas: there’s an article about Rusty Arnold’s search for his sister Mary Rachel Trlica and her friends, Lisa “Renee” Wilson and Julie Ann Moseley, who all disappeared under strange circumstances from Fort Worth in 1974.

From British Columbia, Canada: They’re still looking for Randolph Quilt, a Xeni Gwet’in First Nation man who disappeared from Williams Lake on September 26. He wasn’t reported missing till November 29.

From Germany/the UK: two-year-old Emmanuel Biendarra, who was abducted from the UK by his mother in 2019, has been found safe in Germany and returned to Britain, where his searching father lives.

From Nigeria: the 344 abducted Nigerian boys mentioned in the last article dump have been freed. It turns out they were taken not by Boko Haram, but by bandits pretending to be Boko Haram.

From Singapore: A suspect, Ahmad Danial Mohamed Rafa’ee, has been charged with murder in the disappeared of Felicia Teo, a fine arts student who went missing in 2007. Teo’s body has never been found. A suspected accomplice in the murder, Ragil Putra Setia Sukmarahjana, has been named also, but the police haven’t located him yet; he is no longer in Singapore. This article has more info on the case.

From Taiwan: they’ve found a woman, identified only as Hsieh, who went missing from Changhua County twelve years ago when she was only eleven years old. She was apparently abducted by her non-custodial mother and turned up in Kaohsiung in an “undernourished state” weighing only 36 kilograms, or 79 pounds. To keep Hsieh from being found, her mom had confined her to their apartment and not let her go to school or to the hospital. When she was reunited with her father and brother, she no longer recognized them, and she “appeared to be suffering from social behavioral disorders.” No wonder, after being imprisoned in an apartment for over half her life. Such an awful story.

Sorry for the recent silence

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Native American Heritage Month: Delema Sits Poor

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Delema Lou Sits Poor, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared in 1974 from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She’s of Oglala Sioux heritage and her nickname in 1974 was Babe.

Pine Ridge is one of the poorest places in the entire U.S. and has numerous other socioeconomic problems. To quote from Wikipedia:

The population of Pine Ridge suffer health conditions, including high mortality rates, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, malnutrition and diabetes, among others. Reservation access to health care is limited compared to urban areas, and it is not sufficient. Unemployment on the reservation hovers between 80% and 85%, and 49% of the population live below the federal poverty level. Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewage systems; and many use wood stoves to heat their homes, depleting limited wood resources.

The exact date of Delema’s disappearance is no longer known with just uncertainty, just sometime in February that year. She reportedly disappeared while walking “on a back road Oglala to Manderson” in subzero temperatures. You might wonder how they know the temperature at the time she disappeared but not the date, but my guess that just about EVERY day in February in Pine Ridge, North Dakota is subzero.

According to Google Maps, there are two routes you can drive between Manderson and Oglala; one is shorter in distance, 23.5 miles, but takes an hour, and the 40.2 mile roundabout way is shorter to drive. Either one is a VERY significant distance for a child to walk in subzero temperatures. Why was she out that day? Was she running away from something, or to something?

It’s extremely sad that a twelve-year-old girl’s disappearance seems to have been forgotten about by the authorities, but it doesn’t surprise me all that much. The situation of missing and murdered indigenous women has only recently become a topic attracting national attention.

Interesting evidence released in Margaret Fox case

Today the police released an interesting phone recording related to the unsolved 1974 disappearance of Margaret Ellen Fox, a fourteen-year-old girl who disappeared 45 years and one day ago from Burlington, New Jersey, after going to meet with a man who said he wanted to hire her to babysit.

After her disappearance was reported, the police tapped Margaret’s parents’ phone in hopes that someone would call with information or a ransom demand or whatever. Someone did, a man who said, “Ten thousand dollars might be a lot of bread, but your daughter’s life is the buttered topping.”

That caller has never been identified, and the police held back all that info — the fact that they recorded calls, the call itself, all of it — until today, forty-five years later.

You can listen to the clip here. It’s very short: that sentence, followed by someone else saying “Who is this?” I am not sure — and perhaps the police are being deliberately vague here — whether that’s the entire call and the caller then hung up, or whether that’s not the whole call but it’s all they were able to catch on tape, or whether there’s more to the call that they decided not to release.

I posted articles about this on the Charley Project Facebook page, and a few commenters groused about the cops waiting 45 years to release the recording.

However, to that I have to say two things:

  1. The internet barely existed at all in 1974 and social media was not a thing yet, so it would have been harder for the police to disseminate the recording to the public even if they had wanted to.
  2. The phrasing used by caller is unique, and the police would have been able to use it to screen out false confessors — but ONLY if the exact words in the call were kept a secret from everyone except the investigating officers and, perhaps, Margaret’s parents. If the police had released this recording at the time they got it, they would have lost that critical advantage.

Now, about the call itself.

For those who are unaware, The word “bread” is or was occasionally used as slang for “money”. (The Oxford English Dictionary finds the first usage in 1935 and notes it may be criminal slang.)

The call sounds a little rehearsed to me. It sounds like something a character in an action movie might say, not someone in real life, and when you actually analyze the statement, it doesn’t even really make sense. (Obviously the guy meant “$10,000 is a lot of money but your daughter’s life should be worth more to you” but buttered topping is no good without any bread to put it on, so his analogy just falls apart.)

I think whoever made that call thought up that phrase ahead of time, trying to sound impressive.

Which doesn’t, of course, mean that the call WASN’T from someone with knowledge of the case. The police obviously think there’s a good chance that it was, or they wouldn’t have made a big deal of releasing this recording.

I hope this leads to something, anyway. The abductor could very well be deceased, but if at the time of Margaret’s abduction he was under, say, forty years old, he could also still be alive. And even if the abductor is dead, perhaps he told someone Margaret’s fate before his passing. When people get old they often start to fear eternal judgment.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Ana Guevara Valdez

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Ana Daisy Guevara Valdez, missing from Los Angeles, California. Very little is known about the case, even the exact date she was last seen. Only the year is known: 1974. She was about twenty.

I think Ana might have been an immigrant. She was working in Los Angeles and kept in regular touch with her family, until suddenly she didn’t anymore. I’m not sure how much time passed before they reported her missing.

Ana would be about 64 if she is still alive. But no one has heard from her in over four decades.

Thinking out loud today

  • Uh, where are Tarasha Benjamin‘s ears on the 2013 AP I found?
  • So it seems pretty obvious that “Larry Wilson” killed William Joseph Davis at that house that day, but I wonder what the motive would be? I’ve seen female real estates disappear under these circumstances, and usually the motive is a sexual attack, but this is less likely here. Robbery maybe?
  • Per articles at the time, several other adults disappeared from Hillsborough County in the same time period as Brian Lee Jones did. There was no indication the cases were related, though, and all the others, except Jones and one other, seem to have turned up. As for Jones… I can’t figure out what was going on there. How far away was that “secluded wooded area” from the ABC Lounge? Were the “possible bloodstains” on the pillow ever tested? Obviously DNA testing would have been impossible in 1981, but they could have at least determined whether it the stains were human blood or not.
  • I found frustratingly contradictory information about Tai Yung Lau‘s disappearance. One news account said he had no car and couldn’t drive, and other that his car disappeared at the same time he did. The new page for Hillsborough County missing persons, however, says Lau sold his car and said something about returning to China. But the thing is, if the story about him escaping from a forced labor camp during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and eventually getting working papers in the U.S. is true, there’s no way in hell he would have returned to China; they’d have killed him.
  • I originally read about Jack Donald Lewis‘s disappearance in this book; the author interviewed Carole Lewis (now Carole Baskin) and she mentioned that her husband just walked out of the house one day and never came back. As for Jack’s disappearance, I know there has been talk online that Carole killed him, but I am not going to venture a guess as to what caused his disappearance. The articles I found called Wildlife on Easy Street a “sanctuary,” but it didn’t have a very good reputation back in the nineties. I don’t know if things have improved now or what. On a side note, earlier this month Joe Exotic, who runs a horrible traveling petting zoo, was charged with trying to hire someone to kill Carole.
  • Despite Carlos Melgar-Perez‘s case being local to me, I never heard squat about it until I saw him on the Fort Wayne Police Department and began looking up info on his own. Apparently the police only interviewed his friend one time. The circumstances of his disappearance seem strange, to say the least. There aren’t any nearby bodies of water sufficiently large/deep/fast enough to have concealed his body for this long.
  • I found Eva Marie Ridall‘s dad’s obituary and noted that he was divorced from his kids’ mother and lived in Ohio when he died. I have to wonder if maybe she was going to Ohio to see her father, but I’ve got no proof that he lived in Ohio in 1977. I found some stuff about her disappearance online from her sister, and all indications seem to be that she did run away, but it’s been over 40 years; what happened?
  • About that extortion attempt in Cynthia Lynn Sumpter‘s case: was the man charged with molesting her in jail when she disappeared? If he wasn’t, have the police verified his alibi 100%?

And finally, I found the following article about something Peter Joseph Bonick did a full five years prior to his disappearance. I’m guessing the reason he was living in a children’s home when he went missing is because he continued on the delinquent path.

bonick

Much ado about nothing?

So I wrote earlier about how they were digging up a suspected mass grave in Michigan, and thought as many as five missing girls might be there. I’ll list them again:

  1. Cynthia Coon, 13, missing from Washtenaw County since January 19, 1970
  2. Nadine Jean O’Dell, 16, missing from Inkster since August 16, 1974
  3. Kimberly Alice King, 12, missing from Warren since September 16, 1979
  4. Kim Marie Larrow, 13, missing from Canton since June 8, 1981
  5. Kellie Marie Brownlee, 17, missing from Novi since May 20, 1982

Well, after a solid week out there with shovels and relatives pitching in (!), the dig is finished and they found…nothing. No human remains.

Obviously this is a profound disappointment for everybody and I have to wonder if there’s anyone out there at all. The police haven’t given up, at least not officially; they stated they quit in part because of weather and in part because they were “evaluating today what our next step is.”

The start of an interesting “Unsolved” series

Starting yesterday, First Coast News has begun an “Unsolved” series about the disappearances and murders of five girls in a three-month period in 1974 in the Jacksonville, Florida area.

Two of the girls, twelve-year-olds Virginia Suzanne Helm (missing on September 27) and twelve-year-old Rebecca Ann Greene (missing October 12) were found murdered. Nine-year-old Jean Marie Schoen (missing July 21) and the sisters eleven-year-old Annette Anderson and six-year-old Mylette Anderson (missing August 1) were never located.

Of course, one inevitably wonders about a serial killer, and Paul John Knowles confessed to the murders of the Anderson girls. The other cases remain a mystery, however.

Cleveland Hill is maybe dead

So someone sent a message to the Charley Project’s Facebook page to say that Cleveland Hill, who is the prime suspect in the disappearances of Margaret DashRetha Hiers and Donyelle Johnson, has died. He was never charged in any of the women’s cases.

I found an obituary for a Cleveland Hill Jr. who died last month, but I don’t think it’s the right one, as the state is wrong and so is the date. My informant (who might be a relative of Hill’s; they have the same surname) says he died earlier this week in Virginia.

So consider this info unconfirmed, but I don’t have any particular reason to doubt it.

Hill was totally a serial killer. NO ONE is so unlucky that not one, not two, but three of their girlfriends disappear without a trace and under suspicious circumstances over a fifteen-year period. And Hill had a documented history of violence; he did time for assault after he shot his wife and mother-in-law.

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.”