Darron Glass revisited

So I just finished reading this book about the unsolved 1980 disappearance of Darron Glass, the only presumed Atlanta Child Killer victim who is still missing. I’ve written about Darron on this blog twice before.

The book is self-published and more of a booklet than a book, only 28 pages long in large type. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered with it, but it was written by Thomas Bailey, who was Darron’s foster care caseworker at the time of his disappearance, so I thought it might have some insights. It did.

Bailey says much of what has been reported about Darron is wrong. His foster mother, Fannie Mae Smith, was interviewed by the media and described him as “immature but streetwise.” However, Bailey says Darron was in fact mentally disabled, and that his IQ had tested at 65, and he “was in no way streetwise.” Smith claimed Darron, or someone claiming to be him, called her on the day of his disappearance, but Bailey doesn’t believe Darron called or even knew his foster home’s phone number.

I’m not sure what to make of this information. Certainly I’m going to put the info about Darron’s mental disability on his Charley Project profile, but I don’t think his low IQ necessarily means Smith didn’t know what she was talking about.

An IQ in the 60s indicates a mild mental disability. According to some research I did, most people with IQs in that range function relatively normally. They can take care of themselves in terms of stuff like bathing and dressing and keeping their living area clean and so on. They can conform socially and they can acquire reading and math skills up until around the sixth-grade level. With some support, they can usually work a job and live independently as adults.

With this in mind, and given that Darron grew up in inner city Atlanta and had a rough life (per Bailey, Darron’s father murdered his mother in front of him), I can totally see him presenting as “immature but streetwise” to most people. If anyone is in a position to speak about children with mild mental disabilities, I’d be happy to hear it.

Bailey has more to say. Fannie Mae Smith’s foster home, he says, was very unsuitable, both for a mentally disabled child and for kids in general; in fact, he says, “How this home became certified is a mystery to me.” He says there were often “people of questionable character” in the home, and suspicion of drug use and even drug selling. Bailey says he had raised concerns about the placement with his supervisor but was ignored.

Per Bailey, he was informed of Darron’s disappearance on September 15, the day after it happened. That same day, he got a call from a woman who identified herself as Darron’s sister. Darron did have a sister whom he wasn’t in contact with, and Bailey wasn’t sure how she would have gotten his number.

The caller said she lived out of state and wanted to adopt Darron. Bailey told her Darron was missing, and she ended the conversation without leaving any contact info, and did not call back.

Bailey started getting anonymous calls saying if he would give the caller money, the caller would disclose Darron’s whereabouts. He says it was always a child’s voice, “maybe a young boy with adult voices in the background.” He told the police about the calls and they put a tap on his phone. Nothing seems to have come of it.

Bailey does not believe Wayne Williams was the Atlanta Child Killer, or at least that if he was a killer, he did not kill all the victims lumped under the Atlanta Child Killer case. (I agree.) He also thinks Darron was probably not murdered at all.

Bailey’s theory is that Darron’s sister was in contact with Fannie Mae Smith and that there was some kind of plan for the sister to take Darron, and that she did so on the day Darron disappeared, and that Darron is alive and well today.

He has a lot of criticism for both the Department of Family and Children Services, and the Atlanta Police Department, and thinks the police were too quick to dump Darron in the pile of serial killer victims instead of actually looking for him.

Black History Month: Emmetta Dumas

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 Emmetta Jean Dumas, a 32-year-old woman who disappeared from Fairfield, Alabama on August 1, 1980.

That day she had plans to meet with her estranged husband so they could go shoe shopping for their daughter. Emmetta’s husband said they did go out, bought the shoes, grabbed a hamburger and went back to Emmetta’s apartment, and she was alive and well when he last saw her. She had plans to have dinner with her ex-husband, who said she never showed up.

As my casefile explains,

When Emmetta’s sister drove to her home the next day, Emmetta’s car was in the driveway and her infant daughter was naked and crying, alone, on the floor inside. Nearby was an empty bottle and a dirty diaper.

Emmetta’s keys and a bedspread were missing from the home, and Emmetta’s sister smelled a chemical odor which she thought might be ether. The carpet had fresh stains, but police said the stains weren’t blood. The house was locked; the front door had to be locked with a key both inside and out.

That sounds…ominous. It sounds very much like the young mother was murdered that day, possibly in a domestic violence incident, but it’s been almost forty years and I don’t know if there will ever enough evidence to bring charges or if the person who did it is even still alive. I feel sorry for the little girl who had to grow up with no mother.

Unfortunately Emmetta is not, as of this writing, in NamUs or any other database that I know of, save my own.

MP of the week: Wilfred King

This week’s featured MP (had to skip last week due to webhost non-cooperation, sorry) is Wilfred F. King III, a 37-year-old man who disappeared from Essex, Vermont on October 24, 1980.

Wilfred was in the middle of a divorce at the time of his disappearance, and one of his sons, Joey, later sued his mother, Wilfred’s wife, for his wrongful death. However, no one was ever charged in Wilfred’s death, and Joey later reconciled with his mother.

Black History Month: Debra Townsel

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 Vanessa Townsel, missing from Deerfield, Florida since July 1, 1980.

She was 21 years old and left behind one son. Deerfield is in Broward County on Florida’s southeastern coast. Unfortunately I don’t have any details on Debra’s disappearance.

Let’s Talk About It: Tiffany Papesh

This week’s “Let’s Talk About It” is Tiffany Jennifer Papesh, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from Maple Heights, Ohio, in the Cleveland metro area, on June 13, 1980. She’d be 46 today if she is still alive, which is unlikely.

Tiffany’s case is one of the few murder-without-a-body cases where I believe the suspect, Brandon Flagner, may very well be innocent. He was convicted of murder but I really can’t see why. The only thing I can think of is his defense must have been very inadequate.

Flagner confessed to Tiffany’s kidnapping and murder something like 30 times, and he is definitely a serial child molester who had a history of threatening his victims — all young girls — with violence if they didn’t do what he said. Those confessions and his criminal history were, as far as I can tell, pretty much the entire case against him.

However…

Flagner also had an excellent alibi for the time of Tiffany’s abduction: he claims he was at work up until half an hour before Tiffany disappeared. Tiffany’s Charley Project casefile says Flagner’s workplace was 40 miles from where she disappeared; this source says 58 miles. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other: at either distance he wouldn’t have had the time to race over to Maple Heights and abduct the little girl.

Now, it’s true that by the time the police got around to asking, no one specifically remembered seeing Flagner at work that day. But his time card WAS stamped, and furthermore, he worked in a factory production line that needed a certain number of people — him included — to function properly. Since the factory was functioning just fine that day, that seems like a pretty strong indication that Flagner was exactly where he said he was.

The police investigating Tiffany’s disappearance, as well as Tiffany’s own family, think the way that I do, that Flagner is innocent (of this crime anyway) and someone else abducted her. The case is still open. You can see a lot of articles and stuff about Tiffany’s disappearance and Flagner’s conviction here. He made headlines again about ten years ago when he claimed the Ohio Department of Corrections violated his religious rights by forcibly cutting off his beard (he had converted to Orthodox Judaism while in prison).

Flagner comes up for parole in 2019. Given his background as a serial child molester and his insistence that he’s innocent of Tiffany’s murder, I highly doubt he’ll get released then.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the man himself. I think he’s a danger to the community and belongs behind bars, but not for this reason. And as long as he sits in prison convicted of abducting and killing Tiffany Papesh, that means whoever DID abduct Tiffany is still out there.

So what happened here? Does anyone think Flagner is guilty? How did he get convicted in the first place, and how can this problem be fixed? If Flagner didn’t do this, who did? Let’s talk about it.

Flashback Friday: Lilli Dunn

Flashback Friday’s case (first time in awhile, I know) is Lilli Marlene Dunn, a 29-year-old Southgate, Michigan woman who was abducted from her own garage in the early morning hours of July 31, 1980. Two witnesses saw a man dragging Lilli, kicking and screaming, into his car, but they thought it was just a domestic quarrel and didn’t intervene.

It’s possible Lilli was a victim of the serial killer Coral Eugene Watts, but he was never charged in her case and he died in 2007.

Flashback Friday: Randall Dean Leach

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Randall Dean Leach, a twenty-year-old who disappeared from Idaho Falls, Idaho on November 6, 1980. He was planning to hitchhike from Sheboygan, Wisconsin to Bend, Oregon, his first-ever really long hitchhike odyssey. He stopped at a farm in Idaho Falls, stayed for a couple of days and did some work there, then left. He apparently never arrived in Bend.

It’s possible he changed his mind and decided not to go to Bend — Leach’s family described him as a bit of a wanderer and a free-thinker — but I highly doubt that he’s still alive. It seems like if he was able to contact his family, he would have at some point in the past 36 and a half years.

Given the hitchhiking element, he could be anywhere in the country. I wonder if he’s a John Doe somewhere.