This week’s featured missing person is 17-year-old Maria De Los Angeles Martinez, who disappeared from Phoenix, Arizona on October 13, 1990. Her disappearance is similar to the 1974 disappearance of Margaret Fox: Maria advertised her babysitting services on the radio, a guy hired her for a job, and she went with him and was never seen again.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to learn much more about Maria’s disappearance. I’ve heard that her family was undocumented, which may explain why there was little news about her case. Of course, looking in the news for a particular person named “Maria Martinez”, particularly in Arizona, is like the proverbial needle in a haystack.
She would be 46 if she was still alive today. But I think she’s still 17.
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.
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 Stevey Howard Sommerville, a fourteen-year-old boy who disappeared from Brooklyn, New York on September 6, 1990.
He is classified as a runaway, and uses a string of aliases, all close to his original name. Unfortunately I don’t know anything else about this case.
In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Justina Mabel Kunayak, a 45-year-old woman who who disappeared from Nome, Alaska on November 18, 1990.
I don’t know much about Justina’s disappearance, but her casefile includes the following notice:
Approximately 20 members of Alaska’s Native American community have vanished or died under questionable circumstances in the Nome area since the 1960s. Authorities opened a probe into their deaths and disappearances, but they do not believe a serial predator was involved.
Every one of the eight Charley Project missing persons from Nome are Native American, and the following have that same notice: Donald Adams, Nathan Anungazuk and Eric M. Apatiki.
I found a Justina Kunayak Jr. mentioned in a article from January 2017; perhaps the missing Justina’s daughter. Justina Jr., at the time of the article’s publication anyway, managed a hotel in Anchorage.
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 Felita Ruark, who disappeared from Madison, Georgia on June 24, 1990, the day before her 27th birthday.
The circumstances of Felita’s disappearance are unclear: she was supposedly going to meet up with her soon-to-be-ex-husband in Jackson, Mississippi, where he lived. That’s more than a six-hour drive. But her husband says he never saw her or even had plans to see her. Shrug.
Her car later turned up at the Madison Wal-Mart, meaning that if she did plan to go to Jackson, she probably never even made it out of town. That doesn’t look good at all.
I couldn’t find anything about Felita’s disappearance on Newspapers.com, but I did find this from the Yazoo Herald, a Mississippi paper, printed on February 24, 1990, exactly four months before her disappearance:
I’m quite sure it’s the same Felita. The name isn’t exactly common, and as I previously noted, the missing woman’s husband lived in Jackson.
This week’s featured missing person is Andrea D’Anne Durham, a 13-year-old girl who disappeared from Fort Walton Beach, Florida on February 1, 1990.
She was considered a runaway at the time, and perhaps that’s actually what happened, but she’s been missing for 28 years now — more than twice as long as she had been alive before. And if she did run away she did so without taking her purse, makeup or extra clothes.
I’ve got Andrea’s mom’s phone number listed as well as law enforcement for a contact.
So I re-posted all the Corpus Delicti lists last night and today (it’s been forever I know) and I took the chance to go through Not Concluded/Unknown Outcomes again to find out some of those outcomes.
The result is fifteen updated cases.
- Cynthia Linda Alonzo: Eric Mora pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, got eleven years.
- Abigail Estrada: Ruben Torres pleaded guilty to murder, got eighteen years but could be out in ten.
- Cari Lea Farver: Shanna Golyer was found guilty, got life without parole plus 18 to 20 years for an unrelated arson.
- Jarrod Devlin Green: Brandon Wheeler’s charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
- Alice Kristina Wehr Hummel: Bruce Hummel was tried and convicted of the murder a second time, but an appeals court overturned his second conviction and he cannot be retried.
- Charles Edward “Mississippi” Johnson: David Lint pleaded no contest to criminal homicide, got seven to fifteen years.
- Zachary Matthew Malinowski: No conclusion yet, but suspect Javon Gibbs (allegedly) murdered someone else while out on bail in Malinowski’s murder.
- Bernadine M. Montgomery: Tracie Naffziger pleaded no contest to being an accessory second-degree murder after the fact. She will testify against David Mariotti, whose trial is supposed to be early next month.
- Sara Jo Mowrey: After alleged misconduct by the prosecution, Michael Baker pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit murder and being an accessory after the fact to murder, and got three years instead of the life sentence he’d have gotten if convicted of the original charges.
- Catherine E. Nelson and Charles Martin Russell: Brian Ferry’s trial was early this year. The jury couldn’t reach a verdict and there was a mistrial.
- Heath Riley Reams: Amanda Sanders-Bolstad pleaded guilty to manslaughter and got 25 years, with 20 suspended, but the prosecution is trying to get her suspended sentence revoked because she moved without telling the police.
- Bret R. Snow: More details have been released about the crime and two additional suspects have been charged. Alvaro Guajardo is charged with murder, and Cheryl Sutton with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, and leading organized crime.
- Aaron Lamar Turner: One suspect, Bryan Byrd pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and got 20 to 40 years. (Also found an article about how Bryan was an academic star in high school and seen as a really great kid who had risen above his poverty and single-parent childhood, then he ruined his life in one weekend.) The second suspect, LaQuanta Chapman, was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned four years later and he got life instead. A third suspect has been identified, but has never faced charges. I think it’s because Chapman isn’t saying boo and they only have Byrd’s testimony to put the man at the scene. Also, not-very-fun fact: Chapman shot one of his dogs dead and dismembered the body in his attempt to cover up Aaron’s murder.
- Rebecca Ann Ware: Timothy Johnson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and got nineteen years, with credit for three years’ time served.