MP of the week: Jacqueline Cooper

This week’s featured missing person is Jacqueline Cooper, a 27-year-old woman who disappeared from Modesto, California on November 12, 1976. If still alive, she’d be 71. But she’s not still alive.

Jacqueline’s case is one of those where we basically have the gist of what happened to her, we just don’t know where she is. She and at least three other women, Mary Louise Watkins, Hester Lee Chandler and Patty Gay Toliver, are presumed victims of serial killer James Carlin Toliver. (Patty was James’s wife. She and Hester aren’t on Charley for want of photos.)

Toliver died of a heart attack in 1980, just after shooting his last victim to death and lugging $98,000 in looted money back to his car. (Out of curiosity I looked up how much $98k in $100 bills weighed, wondering if Toliver had keeled over from the effort of carrying it. Nope: just 2.161 pounds.) He was never convicted of any of his crimes and his many secrets, including the location of his other victims’ bodies, to his grave.

As to other matters: I am well, and staying at home with Michael. Today was the first day I had left the house in over a week (other than to get the mail and walk the dog); I went to the pharmacy to pick up my medication refills. My family is well and so are my friends.

Sitting there all day staring at my phone doing nothing but reading COVID-19 news (which is all bad) is not doing wonders for my mood. Although crime news is quite minimal at the moment, I am going to try and do some extensive Charley updating tomorrow.

Stay safe people, wash your hands, and unless you are on an essential errand or work in an essential job, practice social distancing and STAY HOME.

Maggie Cruz found alive and well

Yesterday I wrote about how the police were looking into the possibility that “Beth Doe”, a young pregnant woman who was murdered, dismembered and dumped in a Pennsylvania river in 1976, might be runaway foster child Maggie Cruz.

Well, that possibility has been ruled out, as Madeline “Maggie” Cruz has been found alive and well and has spoken to the police.

I’m glad she’s all right, but that leaves the cops back to square one where Beth Doe is concerned. I wonder if she was killed by her husband — murder of pregnant women by the father of the baby is heartbreakingly common — and that’s why she was never reported missing.

Latest MP stuff in the news

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.

MP of the week: Raymond Arruebarrena

This week’s featured missing person is Raymond Louis Arruebarrena Jr., who disappeared from New Orleans, Louisiana on July 3, 1976, at the age of nineteen. If still alive, he’d be sixty-two in a little over a week.

I couldn’t find any news articles about his disappearance, only a personal ad in the Times-Picayune from 1981, asking that anyone who knows his whereabouts should call a certain phone number.

I’d never heard of the surname Arruebarrena before, so I looked it up. It’s Spanish Basque. I found a few New Orleans area Arruebarrenas on Facebook; they’re probably Raymond’s relatives.

If someone were trying to match Raymond to an unidentified body, look for one that had serious injuries to the spine, ribs and left leg during life. Those would probably be the most distinguishing characteristics.

Black History Month: Debra Stewart

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Debra Kay Stewart, a 19-year-old UT-Austin communications major who disappeared on May 21, 1976. She felt sick and left work early to go to a doctor’s appointment, but never arrived.

Her car turned up abandoned with the keys locked inside. Witnesses saw a black man getting out of the car.

There’s some speculation that Debra’s case is related to the disappearances of Jennifer Barton and Brenda Moore. They’re all young black women who disappeared from the same city in the same time period and were never found.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Cesilia Pena

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 Cesilia Pena, a fourteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Manhattan on October 6, 1976, while on her way home from St. Alphonsus Commercial High School.

Cesilia lived in the Bronx and took the subway to and from school; this article talks about the route she might have used. She was tiny, less than five feet tall, and she looks very young in her pictures.

She may have been accosted by Anthony “Rudy” Flores while on her way home that day; a witness reported seeing them together, with Flores holding her by the arm. Flores is also a suspect in the disappearance of Nelida Del Valle from Boston later that year.

This gave me a double take

I’m updating the cases of Peggy Parmenter and Bernard Rusness, a couple who disappeared in 1976 after a house fire that claimed the life of their son, and found the following quote in an article:

“Also discovered amidst the debris were the remains of the two family dogs and a skull (which had been given to [Peggy] by her mother and was used as a planter).”

Two thoughts:

  1. WHAT? Who uses a SKULL as a planter? That’s morbid and weird even by my standards.
  2. Are they 100% sure the skull was the one used as a planter? I hope they didn’t just assume that and fail to check to see if it was Bernard’s or Peggy’s skull.