I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly sheepish I feel right now

So forget everything I said a little bit ago. Turns out the “device for detecting DNA in soil” is a lot of hooey.

Had it NOT been a lot of hooey, it WOULD have been a game-changer, and I’m afraid I got so excited about the possibility that I didn’t actually bother to investigate what this thing consisted of.

This is me right now:

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Gina Hall’s sister clearly believes in it, and posted a comment (at the bottom of this page that I linked to before) defending Dr. Vass and saying he found Gina. But now I wonder if that scrap of bone that they found and said was Gina’s was ever actually scientifically confirmed to be hers. Based on what I’ve read about this device, it probably was not.

And I’d already resolved her case and everything.

I cannot emphasize how much of a game-changer this is

So, I found out today that Dr. Arpad Vass, a forensic archaeologist I’d heard of, has invented a nifty little widget that detects buried human DNA.

I have no idea how much it works, but it’s already proven its effectiveness: they found Gina Renee Hall‘s DNA in EIGHT PLACES along a river valley FORTY YEARS after her disappearance, as well as a piece of Gina’s bone (making her Charley Project case resolvable, which I have done), as well as DNA from someone else entirely: Angela Mae Rader, a girl who disappeared with her friend Tammy Lynn Akers in 1977. The girls (who were fourteen at the time) have been missing even longer than Gina.

Rather than thinking this means the guy who killed Gina (whose identity is known; he’s Stephen Epperly and he’s serving life in prison for her murder) must have also killed Angela, I think it’s more likely that both girls’ bodies coincidentally ended up somewhere in the same river valley and probably the same body of water. (DNA from Tammy was not found, but it seems likely that she’s somewhere in the same river valley.)

I haven’t resolved Angela’s case, since they only found DNA, not an actual body or even a piece of bone like with Gina. But I’m hopeful that her and Tammy’s cases can still be resolved, even after 43 years.

Dr. Vass’s invention could wind up leading to answers in a LOT of missing persons cases. This is really exciting.

MP of the week: Charles Lawson

This week’s featured missing person (which I didn’t change yesterday because I’ve been lazy and depressed) is Charles Jonathan Lawson, a 32-year-old man who disappeared from Tampa, Florida on February 12, 1988. He may spell his middle name “Johnathan” or just use the middle name John.

Unfortunately I don’t have any other details on this case, other than that he was last seen at his residence.

I hope everyone is in good health. Fortunately the number of positive coronavirus cases in my area and in the areas where my parents live have been pretty low, but I don’t expect it to stay that way, especially as Indiana has one of the lowest rates of public mask-wearing in the entire country.

Oh, and check out this article about Sean Wayne Evans‘s May 1984 disappearance, because it has some quotes from me. I was interviewed for it, like, months ago and didn’t even remember the interview until the article popped up in the news.

Significant advances made in Corey Edkin’s case

Corey James Edkin was two years old when he disappeared from New Columbia, Pennsylvania on October 12, 1986. If still alive, he’d be 36 today.

His mom, Debbie S. Derr aka Debbie Mowrey, said she went to a nearby store shortly after midnight, leaving her roommate, her roommate’s two kids, Corey, and his sister asleep in the house. When she returned half an hour later, Corey was gone and the door was open. No one else in the house recalled having heard or seen anything unusual.

The case is still unsolved, but the police have said they’ve made “significant progress” in the case:

Tpr. Brian Watkins, the lead investigator in the Edkin case, said that investigators have made “significant advances in the Corey Edkin missing persons case” and “the individuals who caused this tragedy will be brought to justice.” […]

Troopers said they do not believe that the child walked away from the home, nor that he was abducted by any other person, according to a press release.

Watkins said that criminal investigators were recently able to make significant advances. Watkins said individuals with information on the case and advances in forensic technology have helped investigators piece together what may have happened to the child.

So the police aren’t saying much, but it’s easy to read between the lines here, isn’t it?

MP of the week: Virgil Tackett

This week’s featured missing person is Virgil Wade Tackett, a 17-year-old boy from Ohio who was spending the summer up in Alaska when he disappeared while out on his skiff near Chichagof Island in the Alaskan Panhandle area on June 11, 1986.

His family seems to think he’s still alive and possibly suffering from amnesia; they have pointed to unconfirmed sightings in Alaska and Canada. I think it’s unlikely. But if still alive, Virgil would be 51 years old today.

I hope everyone is well and staying safe and healthy. Michael started work again today.

MP of the week: Stephanie Griffin

This week’s featured missing person is Stephanie Regina Griffin, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Tampa, Florida on September 28, 1989. She might have been seen at a local bus stop at Christmas that year, but that was never confirmed and there’s been no sign of her since.

I don’t have very much on this case and unfortunately the only two available photos of her are somewhat out of date; they’re from the early eighties, when Stephanie was in high school.

If still alive, she would be 55 today.

Aundria Bowman has probably been located

So they’re pretty sure they’ve found Aundria Bowman, a fourteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Michigan in 1989. Aundria was listed as a runaway for years, but her biological mother was adamant that her adoptive father, Dennis Bowman, had killed her. Aundria disappeared shortly after accusing Dennis of sexual abuse.

Dennis is a seriously sketchy character. In 1980, he attempted to kidnap a nineteen-year-old girl at gunpoint. She got away from him and he served six years in prison. In late 2019, he was charged with the 1980 murder of a 25-year-old Virginia woman, Kathleen Doyle. In January, still in jail awaiting trial for Doyle’s murder, he finally confessed to killing Aundria.

The police didn’t take long to find a body when they searched Dennis’s former property in Monterey Township, Michigan. I’m not sure if Dennis led them to it, or if the police just decided that the concrete slab was a good place to start digging. It could take weeks to identify the skeletal remains, and I’m not resolving Aundria’s case quite yet.

MP of the week: Darleta Hurt

This week’s featured missing person is Darleta Kay Hurt, a 48-year-old woman who disappeared from St. Albans, West Virginia on December 10, 1986, 33 years ago. She left her son’s home that day and drove her own apartment building, and has never been heard from again. Her glasses and shoes were found outside the building on the lawn.

It looks like a case of what a friend calls “suspected spousal snuffage”: Darleta was separated from her husband, Robert, and he is a suspect in her disappearance. He had threatened her, and she disappeared five days before a court hearing about their pending divorce.

Unfortunately, Robert suicided in 1987, taking whatever secrets he had to his grave.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Meredith Medina

(I had pre-written cases for September 30 and October 1, using the app on my phone. I didn’t realize until very late on October 1 that neither of them went up, and in fact they seem to have vanished. I need to stop using that app to try to write entries; it never seems to work well. I am trying to reconstruct the entries from memory.)

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 Meredith Ann Medina, a sixteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Midwest City, Oklahoma on February 14, 1989. She may go by the nickname Mere or her middle name, Ann.

She’s classified as a runaway, and I don’t know anything else about her disappearance. However, it’s worth noting that Meredith’s stepmother, Nancy Jean Medina, also disappeared without a trace in the 1980s, four and a half years before Meredith did.

It could be just a coincidence that there are two women missing from the same family. Certainly I’ve seen numerous cases of multiple people in a family disappearing in completely unrelated instances. It is odd, though.

If still alive, Meredith is now 46 years old, 47 late this month.