There’s been a social media storm these last 24 hours

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a woman who claims she is Jennifer Klein who disappeared in 1974. This story has been floating around the internet for about a month, but yesterday there was a YouTube video published where the woman claimed she had DNA testing done and it proved her identity.

This woman also claims her abductors were members of a Satanic cult and that they kidnapped Kurt Newton and Etan Patz (who both disappeared in the 1970s, across the country from Jennifer) as well. She says she was brainwashed and didn’t start remembering what happened until after she was injured in a car accident.

As for what I think, well, I didn’t write this editorial but it pretty much sums up my own position on the matter.

Hopefully the truth will come out over the next few days or so. Until then, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Flashback Friday: Colleen Simpson

This week’s FF case is Colleen Vanita Simpson, a fourteen-year-old who disappeared from her Clearfield, Iowa home on October 5, 1975, exactly ten years before I was born. She’s classified as a non-family abduction but I’m not sure why — it doesn’t appear there were any witnesses or other evidence of foul play, and most teen girls who disappeared during that time period were written off as runaways.

I really don’t have any details on Colleen’s disappearance, alas. One thing not written in her casefile is that her father was a police officer; in fact I think he might have been the chief of police. Clearfield is a VERY small town, btw. Wikipedia says the 2010 census gave its population as 363.

Strike that, reverse it

Remember my happy announcement that Linda Pagnano was identified with help from Carl Koppelman’s forensic art and Websleuther Ice190’s research? Well, erm, it turns out the announcement was a bit premature. Carl got the news from Linda’s family that dental records proved it was her, but it seems the medical examiner wants to wait for DNA results to make it official.

Sorry about that, y’all.

That said, I’d be VERY surprised if this body turned out to be someone other than Linda. See for yourself at the above link; all the stats match and she very closely resembles Carl’s drawing of the UID.

Linda Pagano identified

Per Carl Koppelman, Linda Marie Pagano has been identified. (That link’s not gonna work much longer; I intend to remove her today.) The seventeen-year-old had been missing from Akron, Ohio since September 1, 1974, but I think she wasn’t added to NamUs till last year, and I just added her case last month. She was beautiful, doe-eyed. Her body was found in Strongsville, Ohio, less than an hour from Akron, in February 1975, only a few months after Linda disappeared, but no one made the connection until now. In fact the UID wasn’t even listed on NamUs until June of last year. Carl says,

An online sleuth discovered this forgotten case while researching cemeteries for graves of John and Jane Doe’s. Websleuths member Ice190 [whom I know, she’s a Facebook friend] obtained the casefile via a FOIA request.

(Muttergrumble. Just how many more of these forgotten UIDs are out there?)

Just to show what an amazing, talented forensic artist Carl is, I’m going to show his drawing of the UID. He calls it a “rough reconstruction” because he had only the side view to work with, and no lower jaw. Yet it looks amazingly like Linda. Here’s Carl’s drawing on the left, and a photo of Linda on the right (I cropped Carl’s drawing and made it smaller because I don’t have a bigger picture of Linda).

lindapaganopagano_linda

Linda had been shot in the head, and her hands and feet were deliberately removed. Her mandible was missing also, though I’m not sure whether this was done by the killer or by nature.

Since the killer made a considerable effort to make sure Linda wouldn’t be identified, my guess is he or she was someone Linda knew. Given how long ago she died, there’s a good chance her killer is also deceased. But at least her family will get the opportunity to bury her decently.

MP of the week: Alice Jefferson

This week’s featured missing person is Alice Fay Jefferson. Considering that we don’t know when she disappeared, not even the precise year, there’s a fair amount of info available: she was living on an Army base in Kentucky with her husband, a soldier, and her two children. She vanished mysteriously while the kids were at school; no one came to pick them up that day and eventually they walked home alone. Alice’s husband behaved oddly after her disappearance and with a few days he’d dumped the kids at their grandparents’ house.

Alice wasn’t reported missing until 2013. There are articles saying she disappeared “in the summer of 1975” and this article names July as the month. However, Alice is also featured on the NCMEC website, and they’re not supposed to have cases of missing adults 21 and over, and if Alice disappeared in the summer of 1975 she would have been 21. So I put down that it’s possible she disappeared in 1974.

As to the month… the kids say they were in school, which seems unlikely in July.

Flashback Friday: Loralee Lhotka

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Loralee Sue Lhotka — another one of those cases where I have precious little information and doubts about what I do have.

NamUs gives Loralee’s date of disappearance as January 1, 1975, but they also say she disappeared en route to a doctor’s appointment. Nobody makes medical appointments on New Year’s Day, although hospitals and perhaps a few urgent care clinics would be open. I think it’s more likely that the actual date of disappearance isn’t known and whoever entered the case into NamUs put down January 1 to encompass the entire year of 1975. I put in the Charley Project casefile that she disappeared on some unknown date that year. She would have been 19 or 20 at the time; she was born in June.

NamUs also gives Loralee’s race as “unsure.” The Washington State Missing Persons database entry for her lists her as white. She looks like she could have some Native American blood, but it’s very hard to judge by the photograph. For what it’s worth, the name Lhotka is of Czech origin. It is said that Loralee may use the last name Spamola, a VERY rare surname that’s almost unknown in the United States.

As for what caused her disappearance… I would have to guess foul play. Loralee may have decided to hitchhike to her doctor’s appointment and it’s possible she picked the wrong ride. Her wallet turned up in the Wenatchee National Forest in 1978. I wish I knew where exactly; the forest covers 2,700+ square miles over three counties.

Select It Sunday: Charles Ulrich

This case was suggested by Justin almost two years ago: Charles Albert Ulrich, missing from Uhrichsville, Ohio since January 29, 1975. Uhrichsville is in northeast Ohio, more than a three-hour drive from the village where I grew up.

The day he vanished, Ulrich didn’t follow his morning routine, which involved making coffee and waking up his wife so she could watch her favorite TV show. Instead he apparently walked out of the house into stormy weather (a thunderstorm, not a snowstorm), without shutting the door behind him, and leaving everything behind including the family car.

Although Ulrich is said to have been a physically and mentally healthy man and at 62 he wasn’t exactly old, I wonder if he had some kind of mini-stroke or other episode that caused him to become confused and wander from home. But in that case, why wasn’t he located?

Whatever happened to Charles Ulrich in 1975, he’s definitely dead now — if still alive he’d be 104 at the end of this month.

I did a search and the Newspapers.com archive has a few articles I’ll have to check out.