MP of the week: Martha Lambert

This week’s featured missing person is Martha Jean Lambert, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Elkton, Florida on November 27, 1985.

In 2009, Martha’s brother, David, confessed to the police that she had died in an accident the day of her disappearance and he had buried her body. David would have been fourteen at the time. Although the police never found Martha’s body and David later retracted his statement, investigators believed his story.

Martha’s mother believes her daughter was abducted by someone outside the family and hopes she is still alive. A friend of mine also believes David is innocent, and put up a Facebook page to draw attention to Martha’s case.

Got quite a big update dump yesterday

A Charley Project Irregular let me know about how the San Francisco Examiner had been added to the Newspapers.com archives, so I went and ran all my old San Francisco cases through to see if they had articles in that paper. Then when that was done, I decided to do with the same with Santa Cruz cases, because I knew the Santa Cruz Sentinel was in the archives. And presto, 29 cases updated.

Some thoughts/info on individual ones:

  • I wonder if Erwin Ernest Bunge‘s car was ever recovered. I also wonder if his disappearance had anything to do with him being a high profile trainer. Henry Martinez was only seventeen years old in 1988 and it seems unlikely that he could have been involved. I wasn’t able to find out much about him; he retired from boxing in 1994 and drifted into obscurity.
  • Not really a thought, but a piece of trivia: Harry Weldon Kees is not the only person presumed to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge on July 18, 1955. The police found TWO cars abandoned there that day, leading to speculation as to which person went first. At the time, they were keeping a record of how many people died. I don’t think they’re keeping track anymore though. (Oh, and here’s a 2011 rant of mine about Golden Gate Bridge suicide victims.)
  • I looked up Walter Christopher Kuchanny‘s wife, and she has remarried and seems to be doing well. She returned to England after his disappearance. I do believe he was a suicide victim and didn’t just leave. Her description of his behavior, being all anxious and depressed and then suddenly happy and relaxed, is pretty typical of people who take their lives.
  • Is anyone else wondering if Michael Omas Masaoay‘s disappearance was just an accident? I wonder if it went something like this: he sets off for the day, realizes school is actually closed, and then decides to chill out at his favorite fishing spot, and then gets dragged out to sea by surf, just like Noel Annette Marcotte and countless others have been. That would explain why Michael’s bag was found where it was. Will anyone who’s familiar with the geography of that location care to voice an opinion in the comments?
  • The SF Examiner article I found about John Dolan Phillips‘s disappearance was mainly about the sale of his car and how it was very sketchy. His family was never notified the car had been found in the parking garage. The mint-condition rare classic car was sold to an employee of the garage for just $200, a tiny fraction of both its actual worth AND the amount of accrued parking fees owed. Apparently when objects worth over $500 are put for sale in these circumstances, the public is supposed to be notified and given a chance to buy them, but the car was sold for an a lower amount, so the garage didn’t have to notify anyone. And then the new owner refused to even let the car get inspected for clues. Whether any of this has something to do with Phillips’s disappearance is anyone’s guess.
  • Given the circumstances of Carlos Benjamin Urruela‘s disappearance, it’s likely he died by suicide. The article I read said his addiction was very bad — he’d gone from snorting to freebasing to shooting cocaine — and was ruining his life and his appearance.

MP of the week: Debra Cole

This week’s featured missing person is Debra Jean Cole, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Lebanon, Indiana on August 29, 1981.

They’re pretty sure Debra was killed by her mother’s live-in boyfriend, who definitely killed Debra’s sister Frances in 1983. Unfortunately, the boyfriend was never prosecuted in either case. He died in 1989, and Debra’s body has never been found.

Black History Month: Mary Harrison

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 Mary Everette Harrison, a 31-year-old mother of four who disappeared from Hampton, Virginia on October 6, 1982. She vanished from her home during the night, while her children were asleep, leaving all her belongings behind.

It looks like she ever left with the intention of returning shortly, or left with the intentions of never coming back. Harrison was a single mom, had a drug problem and sometimes dropped out of sight for days at a time. Her sister thinks she might have just walked out because of the stresses in her life, but her daughters think she’s dead. Those two theories are not, of course, mutually exclusive.

I think she’s probably deceased, as there’s been no paper trail since 1982. If she is a Jane Doe somewhere, one distinctive thing about her is how tiny she is — well under five feet tall.

Black History Month: Cherie Barnes

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 Cherie Nicole Barnes, a two-year-old girl who disappeared from Missouri in 1986/1987ish.

Cherie’s NCMEC poster notes that she “is biracial and is considered to be black and white.” This would match her appearance. I thought the “considered to be” thing meant her paternity was unknown, but a source I found said Cherie’s biological father is known and lives in Los Angeles.

I put Cherie’s height and weight on Charley as “unknown” because, regardless of what the NCMEC says, she was definitely not four feet tall and eighty pounds at the age of two and a half.

So Cherie’s story is a bit complicated. Her stepfather, Larry Vasser, and mom, Elizabeth Ann Turek Vasser, had custody of her, and in 1986 they moved from Nashville, Tennessee to St. Louis, Missouri. Larry was, I guess, a pimp, and Elizabeth was working for him.

Elizabeth disappeared on December 1, 1986, and wasn’t reported missing at the time. Cherie was reportedly seen with her stepfather in Kansas City, Missouri (a three-and-a-half-hour drive west of St. Louis) on January 7, 1987. But I don’t know how solid that sighting is, because the NCMEC has Cherie’s listed date and place of disappearance the same as her mom’s: December 1, 1986, from St. Louis. In any case, no one has seen Cherie since.

Elizabeth’s nude body was found two months later, washed up on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis. It wasn’t identified for seven years, because the police didn’t know she was missing. They made the connection after Elizabeth’s family reported her and Cherie as missing persons.

Larry, who is in prison on unrelated convictions until at least 2028, said Cherie was being cared for by his relatives and is living under an alias in the Kansas City area. Who knows if that’s true, though. If it is, a publicity campaign in Kansas City might lead to her location.

Elizabeth’s murder, and her daughter’s disappearance, are still unsolved. If Cherie is alive today, as Larry Vasser claims, she’d be 34.

Black History Month: Olynthia Harper

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 Olynthia Ann Harper, a 25-year-old woman who disappeared from Syracuse, New York on September 20, 1985.

That evening, she left her two kids with a babysitter. I’m assuming the kids were supposed to spend the night there, since it was eleven p.m. when she dropped them off. She never returned for them and there’s been no indication of her whereabouts since.

I haven’t been able to find any articles on the case and don’t know much about it, alas.

Black History Month: Kimberly and Sarah Boyd and Linda McCord

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 actually three disappearances: 32-year-old Sarah W. Boyd, her friend, 31-year-old Linda McCord, and Sarah’s daughter, two-year-old Kimberly Janis Boyd, who disappeared somewhere between Dorchester County and Orangeburg County, South Carolina on April 3, 1987.

They had gone to a gospel concert and were last seen driving back home. They never arrived and their car was found abandoned in Dorchester County on April 5.

I haven’t been able to find a whole lot on this case. It seems like it should have gotten SOME media attention; I mean, three people gone missing at once, and Kimberly was just adorable, a little doll. It’s entirely possible there was significant attention and I just haven’t found the news yet; this was thirty years ago, after all.

It sounds like the three of them may have been harmed by someone they stopped to help. If evidence was properly preserved and could be analyzed with modern forensic techniques, the case could be very solvable.