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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The other day, Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries episode on the possibly linked abductions of Shane Anthony Walker and Christopher Milton Dansby dropped, and I watched it on my browser this morning. Unfortunately Netflix won’t let me screenshot them so I wasn’t able to get the previously unavailable pics of Shane and Christopher that were on the show. Sigh. I did find a few on other sources.
There wasn’t a whole lot I didn’t already know, but a few things stood out to me.
Christopher’s mom mentioned he had a figure-eight birthmark on his right leg. All the other sources I’ve seen say it was on his back, and those sources also mention a scar on his thigh. I wonder if the info on those got switched around somehow over the years, that the birthmark is on his thigh and the scar is on his back. But that’s just supposition. On Chris’s casefile I did change the birthmark info to say it was on his leg.
Also, Shane’s mom, Rosa Glover, said he wasn’t yet talking at the time of his disappearance. I don’t know whether Ms. Glover meant he wasn’t talking AT ALL, or just that he wasn’t talking MUCH. He nineteen months old at the time. I looked it up and most children can say at least ten words by eighteen months and start acquiring language rapidly after that. If Shane truly couldn’t talk at all, that suggests he might have been developmentally delayed. But I don’t have enough info to say one way or another.
I wonder if it would be possible for the police to track down the kids the boys had been playing with, and ask them again what happened. Maybe there’s something they remember, which didn’t seem significant at the time but stands out in hindsight.
This week’s featured missing person is Dena Viola McHan, a 19-year-old college student who disappeared from Stockton, California on December 6, 1981. She was on her way home when she stopped to get gas.
While she was there an attendant noticed some men “harassing” her, but Dena said she didn’t need any help. She has never been seen again and her car was never found either.
Foul play is suspected in her case, and obviously the first suspects that come to mind are the two men who were bothering her. I wonder if these men have ever been identified and if they were known to Dena. I wonder if maybe they followed her and ran her off the road, or perhaps abducted her at the station itself, though this is less likely.
I also wonder whether Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog were ever investigated in this case. They are known or suspected in several murders and disappearances in that same area in the 1980s and 1990s. It seems reasonable to at least ask Shermantine about this; he’s still alive, though Herzog suicided in 2012.
Hi all. This article came out a few days ago that has a lot more info on the 1985 disappearance of Jody Lee Ledkins. It’s very interesting and it’s hard to decide whether or not she ran away, though I don’t think she’s alive now.
The article puzzles me though. It’s mentioned that Jody’s probation officer got a letter, supposedly from her, after her disappearance, and that Jody’s mom compared the writing to a previous letter Jody wrote to her PO before she went missing. The article includes photos of both letters.
But, um, the post-disappearance letter is addressed to “Mom” and includes the phrase “I am writing to tell you I love you” which doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’d write to your PO. I wonder if the reporter mis-wrote and she meant to say Jody’s mom got the letter. I do think it’s odd that the letter references Jody’s sister just as “sister” rather than by her name.
I can’t really say whether the handwriting looks the same to me; the pre-disappearance letter is printed (sort of) and the post-disappearance one is in cursive, which doesn’t really help comparison.
There’s also part of a transcript from a threatening call Jody’s mom got. The caller said if her mom didn’t pay them money, “your daughter will be sent to you in pieces.” The caller also asks about someone named “Lori”; maybe that’s Jody’s sister? I dunno.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.