Sorry this is late, yesterday I kind of forgot what day it was.
This week’s featured missing person is Clara Marie Grunst, a 21-year-old woman who was last heard from on October 9, 1984. She was planning to hitchhike from Joplin, Missouri to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Joplin is given as the place of her disappearance.
She was sighted in Joplin, getting into a truck driven by a Milwaukee driver, on October 8. On October 9 she made a call and said she was in Pittsburg, Kansas. No one ever saw or heard from her again.
Clara is described as white, 5’3 to 5’6 tall and 118 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore glasses, her ears were pierced, and she had a red birthmark on her navel and a tattoo of the name “Jeff” on her left forearm. She also had scoliosis, a deformity of the spine, though I’m not sure if this would have been noticeable in life. She was last seen wearing a white shirt with a floral waistbant, reddish-brown pants, blue sneakers, a Timex watch with a blue band, and a silver ring.
Back in 2011 her family said they’d be holding a memorial service for her. Per Whereabouts Still Unknown, Clara’s mom died a few years ago. Her siblings are still alive and hope she’ll be found someday.
Yesterday a child’s body was found in a camper near Garryowen on the Crow Reservation in Montana; it has been identified as Mildred Alexis “Millie” Old Crow, who disappeared sometime in 2019 or 2020. She was living with her guardians, her aunt Roseen Lincoln Old Crow and Roseen’s wife Veronica Dust, and was last seen with them in April 2019. No one’s exactly sure when she disappeared and nothing much has been released yet about her death. It seems likely she was murdered; little girls don’t just die for no reason.
Meanwhile in Florida, former cult leader Anna Young was sentenced to 30 years in prison for second-degree murder in the beating/starvation death of Emon David Harper, a toddler who disappeared sometime in 1988 and whose body was never found, and manslaughter in the death by neglect of Katonya Jackson, a two-year-old girl with epilepsy who died because Young withheld her medication. Both children and their families were members of Young’s cult.
This article talks about the plea deal and sentence Young accepted, but fails to mention that Young is tied to two other missing children: the 1973 (pre-cult) disappearance of Catherine Barbara Davidson, Young’s six-year-old stepdaughter, and the 1984 disappearance of two-year-old Marcos Antonio Cruz, another child whose family was involved in the cult. Marcos may have been abandoned in Puerto Rico by a cult member at Young’s orders. Catherine, however, was almost certainly murdered; one of Young’s other children reportedly saw her body in a closet before her disappearance was reported. It seems unlikely that Young will confess to her involvement in her stepdaughter’s case or help authorities recover the body; she’s got nothing to gain by it.
This week’s featured missing person — the first of 2021 — is Stephanie Ann Drnovsek, a 27-year-old woman who disappeared from Lakewood, Colorado on September 5, 1984. She left home driving her boyfriend’s car and was never seen again, and two weeks later the car was found stripped and abandoned in Denver. Her boyfriend didn’t report her missing until September 22, two days after the car turned up.
Unfortunately the only photos I have of Stephanie Drnovsek are high school yearbook photos from about 1975, nine years before she went missing. She has a butterfly tattoo on her abdomen and another, unknown tattoo on her hip, and a hysterectomy scar.
Foul play is suspected in her case.
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.
(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.
Earlier this week, skeletal remains turned up at an oil and gas site in rural Weld County, Colorado. Today it was announced that they were identified as twelve-year-old Jonelle Renee Matthews, who disappeared from Greeley, Colorado on December 20, 1984.
The Greeley Tribune was anonymously sent photos of the remains, which they said they would not be showing to anyone, but which they did describe in their article. Per the description, “tattered red- and blue-colored clothing” was found with the body, and Jonelle was wearing a blue jacket and a red blouse when she was abducted, so it sounds like she’s been dead since very shortly after her disappearance. Perhaps that very same night.
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 Howard Shizue Takanaka Jr., a 26-year-old Army veteran who disappeared from Superior, Wisconsin sometime in January 1984.
The circumstances of his disappearance are vague; even the exact date his unknown. However, there’s no reason to think he’s not still alive today …somewhere.
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.
- Easley writes letters to Melvin’s boss trying to get him fired.
- Melvin and John Davis’s shared house is burglarized, and someone slashes the tires of John’s car and trailer.
- Melvin catches Easley pouring sugar and syrup into his gas tank.
- 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.
- Someone breaks into the Davises’ house, slashes all of John’s clothes and tries to start a fire in the bedroom.
- Someone sets the Davis brothers’ garage on fire, destroying one of John’s race cars.
- A third brother, Ronnie, is shot at by an intruder in Melvin and John’s house. He is uninjured.
- Easley shoots Melvin in the wrist. She is arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and bails out.
- Three days later, someone fires several shots at John and misses.
- Gracie Nash, the Davises’ sister, disappears, apparently abducted from the parking lot of her workplace, the day after Christmas.
- 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.
- 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.
- John is shot to death outside his house.
- Easley goes to trial for shooting Melvin, but the jury deadlocks, and she takes a plea and gets probation.
- 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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- Did Naomi Easley have a pre-1983 history of launching into psychotic crime sprees against other ex-boyfriends?
- 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.
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.