Black History Month: James Bess

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 James Eric Bess, a fourteen-year-old boy who disappeared from Ashland, Kentucky on October 4, 1984.

James lived in a children’s home. He ran away with another resident of the home, Chipley Charles Saunders, who is white and was thirteen years old at the time.

Neither of the boys have been heard from again and, given the length of time — over 30 years — you have to wonder if they’re still alive.

I would like to note that although James is African-American, he has blue or gray eyes. This is very uncommon and might serve as an identifying feature.

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Black History Month: Angela Darcel Cephas

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 Angela Darcel Cephas, who disappeared from Port Norris, New Jersey on May 4, 1984.

She was tiny — only a little over four feet tall. And she was seven months pregnant.

Angela left to go on a bike ride through her neighborhood and never came back. The bike never turned up either, which is unusual. She left all her belongings behind at home.

Sadly, the most common non-natural cause of death in pregnant women is homicide, and the most common killer is the father of the baby. In Angela’s case, she had identified a former boyfriend as the father of her unborn child, but he said he was not the father and had never even dated her. This man also refused to cooperate with the police in her disappearance.

If Angela is still alive, she’d be 52 or 53 and her baby would be 33. But I’m pretty sure Angela is dead and her baby was never born.

While we’re all waiting, check this out

Site still largely AWOL, not functioning consistently enough for me to get any work done, and I am going mad from boredom.

My host had warned me there would be “service interruptions” this week because “we are upgrading our server hardware and software to significantly improve server response, resiliency and performance.” But I had not realized it would be this bad.

But in the meantime, I invite you to check out this in-depth news feature on toddler Ramona Brown’s 1984 disappearance. The circumstances remind me of the Ricky “Jeannie” Bryant case.

It’s in three parts:

  1. The Fire
  2. The Investigation
  3. The Possibilities

Thinking aloud in today’s updates

Yeah, I went a bit nuts this night.

  • Regarding Angelica Gandara:
    It would appear from the neighbor’s account that someone was stalking Angelica prior to her abduction. I’m not sure what to make of the account by the witness in San Antonio, though.
    It’s certainly plausible but I don’t know if it was ever verified — I could find only one article about it. Nowadays it would be pretty easy to verify since I’m assuming all convenience stores have security cameras, but I don’t think that was the case in 1985.
    If that girl WAS Angelica, though, it would seem to indicate she was kept alive for an extended period after her disappearance, which makes me wonder if human trafficking was involved. Perhaps she might even still be alive today.
    The fact that the little girl didn’t ask for help doesn’t mean this witness’s account is discredited — Shasta Groene didn’t ask for help either, although she did keep walking up to people and staring at them in right the face.
  • Regarding Carol Woolsoncroft:
    I tried to find out what Eugene LaFaye is doing nowadays but came up with nothing I could verify. I couldn’t find anyone by that name listed in the sex offender registry. I couldn’t find him listed in the Florida Department of Corrections database.
    I did find mention of a Eugene LaFaye in the Fort Myers area in 1979 and I’m pretty sure this guy was Carol’s boyfriend’s father, since (a) the 1979 Eugene was 65 is and Carol’s Eugene would have been in 19 at the time and (b) I know Carol’s Eugene is a junior, so his father would have had the same name.
    I did find mention of an “incapacitated person” named Eugene LaFaye in the Fort Myers area in 2001. I’m not sure which Eugene this is. Eugene Sr. would have been 87 by then.
    At any rate this is a very sad but all-too-common kind of disappearance — domestic violence. It’s like super-obvious what happened, they just can’t prove it.
  • Also… I found photos of Ivan Gutierrez and Charles Gibson! They’re not even really awful photos, either! I mean, they’re not the greatest, but they’re about as good as you can expect from newspaper archives, and I could finally add the cases to Charley!
    Though why Gibson is in FDLE and Gutierrez isn’t, I don’t know; one of the articles said Gutierrez was officially reported missing by his father. Shrug.

Select It Sunday: Sharon Baldeagle

This week’s Select It Sunday is Sharon Baldeagle (often named as Sharon Bald Eagle), chosen by Fluttergirl. She was twelve when she disappeared on September 18, 1984, and her case has for some reason fascinated me since I started getting interested in MPs, back when I was the same age that Sharon was when she was taken. I actually blogged about her once before, exactly three years and one week ago.

Sharon and a fifteen-year-old friend ran away from Eagle Butte, South Dakota, which is on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, the fourth-largest reservation in the U.S. Sharon was Native American, presumably Cheyenne River Sioux, and probably her friend was too. They were hitchhiking in Casper, Wyoming, almost a six-hour drive from home, when they got picked up by Royal Russell Long, a truck driver who took them to his house in Evansville. There he attacked them, raping the older girl and beating Sharon. Sharon’s friend escaped and went for help, but by the time the authorities arrived at the scene, Long and his other captive were gone.

Long wasn’t arrested until the following year; by then he’d gone to New Mexico. He claimed Sharon was alive and well the last time he saw her, but let’s face it, what are the chances of that? He was convicted of two counts of kidnapping — that of Sharon and her friend — and died in prison 25 years ago.

Long was probably serial killer; he’s also a suspect in the cases of Carlene Brown, Christy Gross, Deborah Rae Meyer, Jayleen Dawn Baker, Charlotte June Kinsey, and Cinda Leann Pallett, who ranged in age from ten to nineteen. Carlene and Christy disappeared together from a rodeo in Rawlins, Wyoming in July 1974, and Deborah and Jayleen disappeared, nineteen days apart, from the same area in August of that year. Cinda and Charlotte from a fair in Oklahoma in 1981 — Long was actually charged with their murders, but the case was dropped for lack of evidence. Only Christy and Jayleen’s bodies were ever found.

I think it’s pretty obvious what must have happened to Sharon; I only wish her family had answers. Her father was alive as 2013 and still hoping to find her — he looked all over the country for her. I’m not sure if he’s still living as he had cancer in 2013, but I can’t find an obituary for him.

I wonder if anyone’s ever written a book about Royal Russell Long. Serial killers are a popular topic in literature, after all. If someone has, I’d love to read it.

MP of the week: Nicasio Fernandez

This week’s featured missing person is Nicasio Carmona Fernandez Jr., a seventeen-year-old missing from Montclair, California. He disappeared on March 19, 1984, but for some reason he wasn’t reported missing until 1993.

As to what’s happened to him, that’s unclear: the circumstances of his disappearance would seem to indicate foul play is a possibility, but people who knew him reported having seen him alive and well in Montclair and in the Los Angeles area in the nineties.

If he’s alive, I wonder if he even knows he’s listed as a missing person.

Flashback Friday: Kimberly Carter

This week’s Flashback Friday is for Kimberly Carter, who disappeared from Kansas City, Missouri on July 5, 1984. I’ve seen her middle name given as both “Lawanda” and “LaWanda.” Unless there’s strong evidence to the contrary, I spell such names with a capital letter after the “La” or “Le” or “De” etc.

Anyway, Kimberly, although only nineteen years old, had three kids. The oldest was four; the youngest was only two months. On the day of her disappearance, Kimberly had a friend babysit them all while she went to work. It’s not clear whether she ever arrived at her job, but she did leave a cryptic phone call to a friend — I’m not sure if this whether this was the same friend who was babysitting — saying she was in trouble and asking to be picked up. The line went dead before she could say where she was.

The plot thickens: another friend claims to have heard from Kimberly on July 7, three days after she went missing. Kimberly supposedly said, “One of the men said he would take me home.” But no one did take her home. She’s been missing now for 32 years.

Kimberly had a lot of criminal associates at the time of her disappearance and her family, understandably, believes she met with foul play. Human trafficking comes to mind here, and, although drugs were not specifically mentioned, I wonder if Kimberly might have had some kind of run-in with drug trafficker(s). or suffered an accidental overdose.

(I must emphasize I’m not trying to make Kimberly sound like a bad mother or a bad person, or make it sound like she deserved whatever her fate was. It’s just that SOMETHING happened to her, and whatever it was, it was probably bad.)

I have no idea what happened to Kimberly’s kids, who would all be in their thirties now. I hope they found good people to take care of them. I hope they’ve become happy, productive adults.

And I hope their mother will be found.