Missing persons news that happened while my computer was broken

Yeah, so this has been in the news:

  • They’re going to try to identify two bodies, victims of a terrible fire at a Connecticut circus in 1944. 168 people were killed and of those, five are still unidentified. Per the article: “State Chief Medical Examiner James Gill wants to compare the unknown victims’ DNA to that of Sandra Sumrow, the granddaughter of 47-year-old Grace Fifield, a Newport, Vermont woman who was at the circus the day of the fire but was never seen again.”
  • Hazel Rose Hess‘s daughter has gone on the news asking for information that could solve her mother’s 25-year-old disappearance. There isn’t much in the way of anything new in the article, however. I just found a few new pictures.
  • There’s been some news about the 1985 disappearances of Janet Shuglie and her ten-year-old daughter Marisa. It turns out someone found her class ring. They found it over 20 years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that they realized the ring belonged to a missing person and turned it over to the police.
    The police seem to think the find is significant, and they have not disclosed where the ring was found. There were several articles about this: here, here, here and here. There is a picture of the ring (is it just me or is the stone missing?) but alas, no photos of Marisa. I don’t have a photo of her either, so only Janet has a casefile on Charley.
  • They’ve found the bodies of Danielle Marie Steiner and her five-year-old son, Aubrey Hall, who disappeared from Lansing, Michigan a year ago. The bodies were discovered by a clean-up crew in a vacant house in the 800 block of Loa Street. The article notes that “At various times, Steiner and Aubrey had lived in the 700 and 800 block of Loa Street.”
    No other details have been released, except that the deaths are being treated as homicides. I’m sure their families are devastated.
  • This month is the 13th anniversary of the disappearance of Melanie Metheny from Belle, West Virginia. She went missing on July 19, 2006. There’s this article about it.
  • Doreen Jane Vincent‘s 1988 disappearance has been covered in the second season of the podcast “Faded Out.” I grabbed a bunch of photos off this article, and the podcast sounds absolutely fascinating, but I don’t know if I’ll have time to listen to it. There’s 21 episodes in the season so far, ranging in length from 27 minutes to an hour and 17 minutes, during which time I’d have to be paying very close attention, stopping the play to take notes, etc. All for one case. I wish I had the time for this kind of thing; it would benefit the Charley Project greatly. But I just don’t.
  • A suspect, Bryan Lee O’Daniels, has been charged with murder in the 1995 disappearance of Timothy Jason Smart. Apparently there were many witnesses who knew the truth, but none of them spoke up out of fear of O’Daniels. The case broke after the police got an anonymous tip last year that led to a motherlode of information.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Rhonda Yocom

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 Rhonda Lynn Yocom, a 19-year-old woman of Filipino descent who disappeared from Oroville, California in February 1985.

Rhonda left Oroville on February 7 with a man, Odis Garrett, who said he was going to drive her to Oregon so she wouldn’t have to make a court appearance. It’s possible he took her to Vallejo, California instead. She called her boyfriend on February 11, but no one has seen or heard from her since then.

Both Rhonda’s boyfriend and Garrett she was last seen with were Hells Angels, and Garrett’s doing multiple life sentences right now for crimes unrelated to her disappearance.

Curiously, although Rhonda’s boyfriend isn’t a suspect in her disappearance, another woman he dated, 29-year-old Paget Renee Barr, disappeared from Oroville a year later and was never found, and he was the last person seen with her.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Nhi Nguyen

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 Nhi T. Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American woman who disappeared from Port Angeles, Washington on May 1, 1985

She was living there with her two children and her husband was working in Alaska. She knew very few people in the U.S. For that reason, and probably some others, authorities think she was taken against her will. But I don’t have much on her case.

If still alive, Nhi Nguyen would be 67 next month.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Vijaykumar Patel

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 Vijaykumar Parbhubhai Patel, an eighteen-year-old who disappeared from Aurora, Missouri on March 1, 1985. He used the nickname Vijay, or the Anglicized name Victor.

Patel’s family owned and operated the Sands Motel in Aurora, and he worked at the restaurant next door. He was last seen on his way to work his twelve-to-seven shift. He never arrived, and his car has never been located either.

Not much is known about his case, which only made it onto the internet relatively recently. If anyone in his family or circle of friends wants to reach out, they can email me or post in the comments below.

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.

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.

MP of the week: Mohan Vellanki

The first missing person of the week in 2019 is Mohan Chandra Vellanki, a 23-year-old who disappeared from Kent, Ohio on May 18, 1985. Unfortunately I can’t find doodly squat on his case; it’s a “few details are available” one.

Happy New Year to everyone! For me, in spite of my brother’s death in February, 2018 was a pretty good year.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Patrick DiFrancesco and James Johnson

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 the disappearance of Patrick Joseph DiFrancesco (Hispanic) and James Woodford Johnson (white) who disappeared together from Fort Pierce, Florida on August 26, 1985.

Johnson was 61 at the time; DiFrancesco was 24. For some reason, neither of the men are listed as missing persons on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement database. Johnson was a certified pilot and DiFrancesco had a student pilot’s license.

DiFrancesco, the father of two, supplemented the income from his construction job by flying cocaine into Florida for a guy named Jay Crouch. I’m not sure where Johnson comes into all of this, but the two men supposedly flew out of Fort Pierce in a plane owned by Crouch, planning pick up some marijuana in either the Bahamas or in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. They never returned, although there was an unverified rumor that DiFrancesco was jailed in Jamaica.

DiFrancesco’s brother believes his missing brother never left Fort Pierce at all, and that he and Johnson were murdered and buried locally.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Diane Suzuki

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 Diane Yayoe Suzuki, a 19-year-old of Japanese descent who disappeared from Aiea, Hawaii on July 6, 1985. She was a student at the University of Hawaii and a part-time dance instructor, and apparently disappeared from work. Some blood was found in the dance studio bathroom.

The suspect in her disappearance is Dewey Hamasaki, a photographer at the dance studio who knew Diane. There was never enough evidence to charge him, and the case remains unsolved after over 30 years.

Thoughts on today’s updates

It’s 11:47 p.m. as I type this, so perhaps by the time it’s finished, “today” will be “yesterday.”

For all the updated cases today, except Jahi Turner and Donna Mezo, you can thank Mion, who kindly gathered together a bunch of old newspaper articles about cases I had and emailed them to me.

Regarding my Donna Mezo update, I hope it clarifies the situation with her boyfriend’s death. Earlier I had said there was a suicide note and his death was ruled a suicide in spite of the fact that the gun used was found in “a nearby lake.” Well, I have since learned that “nearby” was more like “a few feet away.” I think what probably happened is that Jeffrie either threw or dropped his weapon into the water during or after firing it.

I found quite a lot on Newspapers.com for Marcell Byers‘s case. His NamUs profile includes a clipping about how the people charged with kidnapping him disappeared and their lawyer had been threatened and maybe it was foul play.

Well, the two suspects did disappear, leaving a van shot full of holes, but I guess it was all just an attempt to evade prosecution because they were alive, back in custody and well enough to cop a plea less than a year later.

It’s disturbing that Marcell was never found. All this over a gold chain. The Zuppos pleaded no contest to kidnapping, meaning they didn’t even admit they were guilty. They’d be out of prison by now and I’m not sure what they’re up to these days. I think Gerald Sr. may be dead; someone with the same name and birth year died in North Carolina in 2003.

Tejin‘s case is just sad. (Also, NamUs has him listed as a girl? I admit you can’t really tell from the pictures. If I hadn’t found some articles on his disappearance I’d have been none the wiser.) I found his Facebook page and one picture was of him holding a little turtle, whom Tejin called “my son.” This was just a few months before his presumed death.

Julie Davis‘s case is sad too. Judging from the Facebook page created for her, she was lost for awhile before she disappeared. They only have the one not very good quality and out-of-date photo of her, and from the Facebook page her family apparently wasn’t really clear on when they’d last heard from her. They mentioned getting a letter from her “around 1985 or 1986.” (I’m not sure where NamUs’s date of disappearance comes from.)

She was just sixteen years old and already out on her own, almost four hours from her hometown.  I know things were a bit different back in the eighties, but that’s still pretty unusual. I wonder if she was in foster care. Obviously her family cares about her or they wouldn’t be trying to find her. I hope she’s alive out there and doesn’t even know anyone is looking, and isn’t a Jane Doe somewhere, or worse, dead and never found.

For this case, normally I’d have listed her as just regular “Missing” but then I saw the detail about the track marks and thought “drugs” and upgraded her case to “Endangered Missing.” Question: do track marks ALWAYS mean drugs? There are some medical conditions that require a person to get frequent injections; do those people get similar scars?

Ashley Lynn Thomas has such striking eyes, so big and dark against her pale skin and hair. I hope she’s okay. I hope she and the baby are both healthy and being looked after.

Stuart Owen Collins got a big update today. (Thanks again, Mion!) It does sound like something bad happened to him, and one inevitably wonders about the woman he was with, and even more so about her husband.

With Paul Egan (another big update there) the whole rendering theory is just awful to contemplate. The police seemed to suspect Paul’s friend. They said his friend was not a suspect, but they also made a point of saying they couldn’t confirm the friend’s story.

It could have happened something like this: Paul and his friend got into some kind of argument at the plant after hours — his friend was a foreman, Paul a technician — and things got out of hand something went horribly wrong, and his friend is panicking and thinks “well, there’s this rendering machine, if I just chuck him in and keep my mouth shut, no one will ever know.” I doubt such places had security cameras in 1975. The rendering machine was designed to grind up horses; a human corpse would be easy.

Of course that’s all supposition. I did look up the friend in the Florida DOC database and on Facebook and couldn’t find anyone by that name. I did find a Newspapers.com mention of a person by that name (and a photo of that person) from 1970, five years before Paul disappeared. Nothing since then. I wonder if I’ve got the spelling of his surname right.

As far as the note Elsie Elsinga left behind — and her daughter’s poo-pooing the significance of that note — I don’t know. Her daughter said something like “How could someone of that age have done anything to mess up their life?” But perhaps Elsie’s “possible mild depression” was more significant than her daughter thought.

For Helen Robinson, I wonder if she decided to take a plane to visit one of those CB radio friends she had, and maybe something happened that prevented her from coming back. It was two solid years before her van turned up; by then, the weeds might have grown over the flight records. Robinson is definitely dead now; I don’t think she would have lived long in any case, because of her emphysema.

I added 27 updates and I’m very pleased with my work output today. I hope y’all have noticed how much more productive I’ve been ever since the site got redesigned. It takes less time to add/update stuff, since I don’t have to write all the code by hand, or hand-add case names to the lists.