MP of the week: Kimberly Blackburn

This week’s featured missing person case is Kimberly Marie Blackburn, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from in 1983. The last time anyone actually saw her was when she left her parents’ Indianapolis, Indiana home on May 29. On July 17 she called a friend and said she was at a truck stop in Arkansas and was coming home to Indiana. No one ever saw her or heard from her again.

Her life was very high risk, a wreck frankly: drug and alcohol abuse, and a lot of arrests for substance related offenses, prostitution, theft and disorderly conduct. She would often drop out of sight for extended time periods and travel with truckers, but she did keep in at least occasional touch with her family. She had warned her parents that if they hadn’t heard from her by her father’s birthday in October 1983, something was probably wrong.

I don’t think it’s likely she lived long after her disappearance, but it seems like wherever she is, it could be virtually anywhere in the US, or maybe even outside the US. There are some distinguishing characteristics: a coloboma in her right eye, a rose tattoo on her hip and chemical burn scars on her buttocks.

In the unlikely event that Kimberly is still alive, she’d be 62 today.

A bunch of “they’re still looking for…” and other stories

Lee and Anthony Redgrave are working with the the DNA Doe Project to identify transgender and nonbinary murder victims. They’ve started the Trans Doe Task Force, which helps police and medical examiners with cold cases involving transgender people.

Alaska: An unusually high number of people have gone missing from Fairbanks in the past ten months. Fairbanks averages five missing persons a year, but since May 2020, eleven people have disappeared and have not been found. (I wonder if the political, economic and emotional turmoil caused by the pandemic has anything to do with it.) Five of the missing eleven are Native. The community is concerned and held a vigil about it.

Colorado: Wendy Stephens, a Denver teenager who disappeared in 1983, has been identified as a victim of Gary Leon Ridgeway, the Green River Killer. He pleaded guilty to 49 murders but is believed to have killed more than 71. Not all of his presumed victims have been found, and three that have been are still unidentified.

Indiana: This article details the uncertainty about the veracity of a suspect’s confession in the Denise Diane Pflum case. Denise was 18 when she disappeared from Connersville in 1986. Her body has never been found. In 2020, her ex-boyfriend, Shawn McClung, confessed to her killing after being offered immunity for her death and also the dismissal of two charges he was in jail for. At the time he was dying. Before he passed away a few months later, McClung retracted his confession, saying he’d only made the statement because he didn’t want to die in jail.

Louisiana: They’re still looking for Cory Marie Rubio, a 24-year-old mother of two who disappeared from Shreveport in 1999. The most logical person to look at is her ex-husband; they were in the middle of a custody battle, and he had a history of violent behavior.

New Hampshire: Authorities have determined that the remaining unidentified body in the Bear Brook murders case has maternal relatives in the Pearl River, Mississippi area. DNA testing indicates the child and her mother were descendants of Thomas “Deadhorse” Mitchell, who was born in 1836, or William Livings, who was born in 1826. The dead child also may have suffered from anemia.

New Mexico: They’re still looking for Robert Marcos Romero, an eight-year-old boy who disappeared from Santa Fe in 2000. The most plausible theory is that his brother Ronnie killed him accidentally while under the influence of drugs, but nothing has been proven and Ronnie died over a decade ago.

New York: They believe the car found in the Muscoot Reservoir, which I wrote about earlier, is that of Brenda Kerber, a 40-year-old woman who disappeared from White Plains in 1989. I’d never heard of this case before.

Also New York: They’re still trying to identify a Jane Doe found in Chautauqua County. She now has her own Facebook page.

Oklahoma: They’re still looking for Darian Michelle Hudson, age 23, who went missing from Stillwater in 2017. She was going through a lot of personal problems and may have had a mental breakdown. Her family thinks foul play was involved in her disappearance, but the police say they aren’t sure.

Also Oklahoma: A proposed missing persons bill, House Bill 1790, is being called the Aubrey Alert, after missing transgender Native woman Aubrey Dameron. Aubrey was 25 when she disappeared from Grove in 2019. The Aubrey Alert bill, if passed, would require “critically missing” adult cases to be investigated immediately. The text of the bill can be read here.

Oregon: They’re still looking for Jodie Marie Anderson, a 29-year-old woman who disappeared from Crescent City in 2017. She may be in the Linn County area.

South Carolina: They’re still looking for Shelton John Sanders, a 25-year-old man who disappeared from Columbia in 2001. He now has a Facebook page.

Tennessee: They’re still looking for married couple Kristie Wilson, 39, and Henry Wilson, 45, who disappeared from Monterey in 2018. Their car was found at the bottom of a ravine months after they went missing; it had been there so long there were plants growing in it. No sign of either of them. There have been multiple tips that the Wilsons were murdered, but no solid leads.

Texas: They’re still looking for Fredrick Joseph “Little Joe” Boehm, age 23, who disappeared from Marshall on this day twenty years ago. He was temporarily staying with a friend when late one night he got a mysterious phone call, changed from his pajamas into street clothes and left, saying he’d be back later. He never returned.

Also Texas: They’re still looking for Andrea Leigh Cotten, a seventeen-year-old girl who disappeared from Corsicana in 2004. She left her cousin’s house in the night and never returned. She disappeared the day before she was supposed to visit her child, who was in foster care, and her family doesn’t think she would have missed that on purpose. Since she went missing there’s been no activity on her Social Security number, which is ominous.

Canada: The four-month-old disappearance of 30-year-old Megan Michelle Gallagher from Saskatoon is now being investigated as a homicide.

England: The brother of Suzy Lamplugh, a 35-year-old woman who disappeared from London in 1986, has issued an appeal for answers in her case.

A one-woman crime wave

Having noticed that Newspapers.com had loads of back issues of the Austin American-Statesman, I decided to start researching Austin, Texas cases. I have updated several on Charley, and learned a great deal more about the disappearance of Gracie Nell Nash and the one-woman crime wave that is Naomi Easley Moore.

Our story begins in May 1983, when Melvin Davis broke up with his girlfriend Naomi Easley. Almost immediately, the trouble started. Let’s have a list, shall we.

  1. Easley writes letters to Melvin’s boss trying to get him fired.
  2. Melvin and John Davis’s shared house is burglarized, and someone slashes the tires of John’s car and trailer.
  3. Melvin catches Easley pouring sugar and syrup into his gas tank.
  4. Easley and Melvin get in a physical confrontation inside his house, she pulls a gun on him, and he takes it away from her. She runs out of the house, then returns to ask for the gun back. He refuses to give it to her, and calls the police. Easley is put on a bond to keep the peace.
  5. Someone breaks into the Davises’ house, slashes all of John’s clothes and tries to start a fire in the bedroom.
  6. Someone sets the Davis brothers’ garage on fire, destroying one of John’s race cars.
  7. A third brother, Ronnie, is shot at by an intruder in Melvin and John’s house. He is uninjured.
  8. Easley shoots Melvin in the wrist. She is arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and bails out.
  9. Three days later, someone fires several shots at John and misses.
  10. Gracie Nash, the Davises’ sister, disappears, apparently abducted from the parking lot of her workplace, the day after Christmas.
  11. The next day, the Davis parents get a call from someone who tells them if they ever want to see Gracie alive again, Melvin has to drop the charges against Easley.
  12. Gracie’s car turns up abandoned with Nash’s coat and evidence of a shooting, including a large amount of blood. Her body is never found.
  13. John is shot to death outside his house.
  14. Easley goes to trial for shooting Melvin, but the jury deadlocks, and she takes a plea and gets probation.
  15. Four and a half years later, Easley (now married and using the last name Moore) shoots her husband to death and is FINALLY sent to prison.

I have several questions about this:

  1. Is the Austin Police Department really so incompetent that they can’t put a case together against Naomi for any of the other burglaries, arsons, attempted murders, and two murders she obviously committed?
  2. Did Naomi stop her campaign of terror against Melvin Davis and his family after she was put on probation, or did it just drop out of the news at that point?
  3. Is anyone in the Austin PD still bothering to investigate John Davis and Gracie Nash’s murders? I looked her up, and Naomi Easley Moore is very much alive in prison right now. In fact, she became eligible for parole in 2004. And, um, Texas is a death penalty state.
  4. Did Naomi Easley have a pre-1983 history of launching into psychotic crime sprees against other ex-boyfriends?
  5. If it’s ever legally verified that Naomi Easley murdered Gracie Nash and John Davis, along with the third murder of her husband in 1989, would that qualify her as a serial killer?

Honestly, I obviously don’t have all the information, but I’m getting the impression that the police just didn’t care about what was happening. I don’t know if it was a race/class thing or what; the Davises were black children of sharecroppers and there were 17 kids in the family. They seem to have been respectable people but no doubt they were poor.

At her trial in the shooting of Melvin, the jury wasn’t allowed to hear about the murders of John and Gracie, and I’m not sure how much they heard about all the other stuff that happened. Three of the jurors wanted to convict her of attempted murder. Six opted for aggravated assault, and three wanted to acquit her.

One of the ones who voted for acquittal said he wasn’t sure Melvin could see Easley clearly as it was getting dark at the time of the shooting. Another said he thought Melvin was “going out on” Easley, which seems very improper to me — whether Melvin was being unfaithful or how he treated her was not at issue, the issue was whether or not she shot him.

But even if the jury couldn’t hear about the murders, the court knew about it. And she somehow managed to get PROBATION, after all of that. And the story ended in another man’s death.

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.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Susan Cerritelli

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Susan Maria Ann Cerritelli, a 26-year-old woman who disappeared from Long Pond, Pennsylvania on May 11, 1983.

She’s listed as Asian and her nickname is Chinese Sue, but I don’t know if she’s actually of Chinese descent. I think the photo of her is a high school yearbook picture, so it’s probably like ten years out of date.

Authorities believe Susan was murdered by her husband, Andrew, a violent criminal and generally a bad dude. According to one story, he dumped her remains in Centralia, Pennsylvania, an uninhabited hellscape that’s been on fire since the 1960s with no end in sight. If you can avoid getting poisoned by the coal gas fumes, it’s a very good place to put a body; the police say it’s too unsafe to search.

Andrew Cerritelli died in 2007 and took whatever secrets he had to his grave. While poor Susan remains among the missing.

MP of the week: Christine Civille

This week’s featured missing person is Christine Ann Civille, who disappeared from Conway, Washington on Christmas Eve, 1983. She had a houseboat in the Skagit River there. She was 31 years old and would now be 65 — she’ll be 66 this month.

Unfortunately that’s all I have on this case. Even the photo is pretty poor quality.

Thoughts on updates of 3/18

Done 26 updates for today — so far. It’s only ten a.m. I’ve been working since around midnight and enjoying every minute of it.

I found a decent amount of information on baby Matthew Crocker‘s 1983 abduction. If there had been an Amber Alert back then, perhaps he would have been found.

The abductor claimed she had two children who died shortly after birth, which could go a long way towards explaining why she took Matthew. I’m not sure if the car was ever located. Anyway, the night there was a party at the house, and the adults all got drunk — except, perhaps, this “Kathy Johnson” person — and after everyone passed out she made off with the baby.

Chances are he’s alive and doesn’t know he’s missing. That concave chest is a good identifier. I wonder if there’s a guy out there, 35 out there, who isn’t sure who he is, who’s got a bit of a dent in his chest.

Keith Fleming‘s disappearance strikes me as so sad. That silky hair and those dark earnest eyes. Just a good-looking boy growing up into a young man. Having fun surfing, riding his bike, his first hit of weed, his first girlfriend — he gave her her first kiss the very night he disappeared.

I wonder if McRae really was involved, though. I mean, that would make the most sense, yes. But he knew Charles Collingwood and Kipling Hess; police were never able to prove he knew Keith, except perhaps by sight. And McRae’s wife said he told her he’d killed Charles and Kipling, but she didn’t say anything about Keith.

So, monster though McRae may have been, I’m not 100% sure he was the monster responsible for Keith’s disappearance. Though whatever happened to Keith must have been bad.

So was is whatever it was that happened to Andrew Dudley. NO ONE is going to literally run away while their Thanksgiving dinner is literally cooking in the kitchen.

Lloyd Gilsdorf‘s mom believed he was set up to be murdered. I think if that was the case it had to have been someone he knew. This was a pretty elaborate scheme if the aim was just to lure him to New Orleans so someone could kill him. Robbery couldn’t have been a motive; he was divorced, unemployed and broke.

I tried to be all professional-like when describing the circumstances of Rebecca Powell‘s death, but…wow. It filled me with some pretty unpleasant mental images, and that’s just reading the sanitized newspaper version. No wonder the trial testimony made a juror throw up.

I can’t say I think highly of any of the three men in that story. They all sounded like absolute scum, including the roommate who didn’t find out what happened till the next day but kept his mouth shut and pitched in to destroy evidence.

It doesn’t really seem fair that Fleming could have gotten a death sentence when his friend (who, by his own admission, witnessed the crime, didn’t report it, and helped clean up the scene and hide the body) got off scot-free, but of course without that friend’s testimony there would have been no case.

And that contractor in the Dock Thompson case sounds totally shady. I was surprised when I looked him up in the Florida DOC database and didn’t find him anywhere — I would have figured he’d have ended up in prison for SOMETHING after 1989, but he didn’t, at least not in Florida.

Sigh… my old friend Contradictory Sources reappears

Tonight in my updates, for Emmanuel Cornelius Quarles, the various sources I found were giving his age as anywhere from 24 to 28 and claiming he was last seen in either a red car or a white truck. I think the vehicle discrepancy may be related to the unconfirmed sighting after he left Pendleton but I’m not sure. I’d love to get his actual date of birth from somewhere. NamUs said he was 26 to 27 years old, and I picked 27, because of the age of his older son, who was eight years old when he disappeared. Though it is by no means unheard of or even terribly uncommon for 24-year-old to have an eight-year-old child. Who knows? Not me.

Meanwhile, for Cynthia Ramirez Rico, her NamUs page says she disappeared on June 30, 1987, but the Abilene Crime Stoppers page listed the year as 1983. That issue was settled when I looked at the “investigating agency” section on NamUs and it said her case got entered into the computer on February 23, 1987 — that is, before her alleged date of disappearance. 1983 it was, then. But her age was a bigger mystery, because Crime Stoppers said she was 20 but NamUs said she was 25 to 26. Even given the date discrepancy that didn’t make sense. However, both NamUs and Crime Stoppers give her current age as 53, which would make her year of birth 1963 or 1964. To this end I decided to list her age as 20, because that would make sense with the 1983 year of disappearance.

Cynthia Rico disappeared from a group home for mentally disabled adults. It’s likely that she lived there, meaning it’s likely she was mentally disabled, but because I don’t know that for sure, I didn’t say she was. I just explained about the group home and left readers to draw their own conclusions.

Flashback Friday: Frank Fox

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Frank Lamont Fox, who disappeared after a New Year’s party in Manchester, New York in 1983. He was walking home and never made it. It’s a “few details are available” case, but “drunk guy walking home late at night in the middle of winter” makes me wonder if he wandered off into the woods or fell into a river or something and froze to death or drowned.

(Okay, I don’t know 100% that he was drunk, but it seems likely.)