Select It Sunday: Thomas James

Selected by Justin, this week’s SS case is Thomas James, a Universal Studios employee who disappeared from Los Angeles on June 18, 1998. I don’t have much about his disappearance but it doesn’t look like he left on his own. He left everything behind at his apartment, and his car turned up abandoned in Burbank, California.

If James is still alive he’d be 60 this year.

Missing persons news

I’ll cover the recovery of the Yates girls in their own entry, but here’s some other missing persons news:

  • This accountant’s hobby? Identifying missing people through his drawings
    My friend and Irregular Carl Koppelman has been featured in the Orange County Register. He does wonderful sketches of UIDs and was instrumental in identifying Cali Doe as Tammy Alexander. Congratulations, Carl!
  • Trial date in 20-year-old cold case pushed back to October
    A year and a quarter ago ago, more or less, Kirsten Renee Hatfield‘s two-doors-down neighbor was charged with her murder. The headline of this article is pretty self-explanatory, and the news story explains why: the suspect has new lawyers now who need time to review the evidence.
    Kirsten’s case, for whatever reason, fascinated me back when I was a child and first started getting interested in missing persons. I had a website when I was twelve or so, with some poems and stories I wrote, and one of them was a poem called “Missing, Presumed Dead” and it was based on Kirsten’s disappearance, as I explained on the site. Kirsten’s mom found it and emailed me, saying she was touched that a little girl in Ohio was thinking of her and her lost daughter, but she didn’t believe Kirsten was dead.
  • Judge orders suspect in cold case homicide to trial in district court
    Apparently the motive for Cari Lea Farver‘s homicide was a love triangle; both she and the suspect, Shanna Goylar, were seeing the same man. According to prosecutors, after Goylar killed Cari, she burned the body and then went on Cari’s social media accounts and tried to make it look like she was still alive.
  • Missing Oklahoma woman found more than 20 years after disappearance
    This case isn’t one of mine. It’s a really awesome story, though, how hard Shelly Jennings’s daughters looked for her, and how she was found largely through their efforts. Twenty-three years after she walked away from her family in Oklahoma, she turns up at a bus station in Modesto, California. I hope they can reconcile, although given Shelly’s mental illness, this may not be possible.
  • For families of missing persons, not knowing is excruciating
    This is about the disappearance of Cody Henry Turner, who went missing from Washington in 2015.
  • Missing Minnesotans: Susan Swedell
    Obviously, an article about Susan Anne Swedell (for whom I recently posted an updated AP).

A New Year’s miracle

As several people have already told me, Kamiyah Mobley has resurfaced alive and well in the small town of Waltersboro, South Carolina. After EIGHTEEN YEARS. She is, I believe, the youngest person profiled on the Charley Project; she was abducted from the hospital in Jacksonville, Florida only hours after birth, on July 10, 1998.

It’s much like the story of Carlina White: Kamiyah was raised under the name Alexis Manigo, and thought her abductor was her mother. A couple of months ago, “Alexis” started to suspect there was more to the story, and DNA testing has just verified her true identity.

The abductor, 51-year-old Gloria Williams, has been arrested and will be extradited to Florida to face kidnapping charges. Her prior criminal offenses include welfare fraud and writing bad checks. If convicted of kidnapping, she could get a life sentence. (Carlina’s kidnapper got twelve years.) If you ask me, in cases like this, the abductor ought to have to serve AT LEAST one day for every day the child was missing.

From what little has come out so far, Kamiyah/Alexis grew up in poverty and moved around a lot across several different states. She was able to graduate high school, though. It says Williams is married, but I don’t know whether she was married to this man when Kamiyah was taken or whether he was complicit in the abduction.

I am delighted for Kamiyah’s family, though I feel very sorry for Kamiyah herself; she must feel absolutely torn to bits right now. The sheriff was quoted as saying Kamiyah/Alexis “appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman” who is “taking it as well as you can imagine.” A neighbor said, “She wasn’t an abused child or a child who got in trouble. But she grew up with a lie for 18 years.”

Maybe Carlina can offer some advice to Kamiyah. I know Elizabeth Smart reached out to Jaycee Dugard after the latter was found alive.

A few articles:

MP of the week: Darius Miniotas

This week’s featured missing person is Darius Miniotas, a 29-year-old who disappeared from Carteret, New Jersey on November 19, 1994.

Now, I have nothing on Miniotas’s disappearance, but a look at Newspaper.com’s archives turned up a 1989 Asbury Park Press article mentioning a Darius Miniotas of the right age. This Darius was on the crew of a Lithuanian yacht that showed up in Atlantic Highlands. I’m pretty sure it’s the same person; Carteret is a coastal town. I wonder if Darius had moved to the US by the time of his disappearance, or whether he was just here on shore leave.

Hrmm…

I’ve been up all night doing this and that and have been combing over the under-eighteens on NamUs that have no photos, looking to see if I can find some photos. I found one for Tebble Anita Garrett, but it’s several years out of date; I found an archived article on Newspapers.com from when she ran away in 1985. She got found two and a half weeks later.

More interestingly, I found a 2001 obituary for a Mildred Armstrong of Greenville, South Carolina — Tebble disappeared from Pickens — that mentions one of her survivors as “a daughter, Tebble Garrett, who disappeared in 1991.”

NamUs says Tebble disappeared in 1988. I wonder if perhaps her family heard from her or saw her at some point in 1991? Or did they merely report her missing in 1991, when in fact she dropped out of sight years earlier?

She definitely disappeared more than once, and the NamUs profile indicates Tebble had some serious difficulties by 1988: she was seventeen, pregnant, had needle marks on her arms and four street names. By that point I wouldn’t be at all surprised in her family quite wasn’t sure when they’d seen her last, poor girl.

MP of the week: Hector Lopez-Ruiz

This week’s featured missing person is Hector Javier Lopez-Ruiz, a twenty-year-old who disappeared on October 15, 1997. He’s missing from Vista, California, a mid-sized city of just under 100,000 people in the San Diego metro area. Besides the date and place he went missing, and his basic physical description, I have absolutely no information on this young man or his disappearance.

If he’s still alive, Hector would be 40 this coming spring. I’d love it if anyone who knew him, or knows any details about his disappearance, would comment on this blog entry or email me. I’d love to be able to update his casefile — it hasn’t been updated even once in my 12 1/2 years of running the Charley Project.

(I know this is a day late. I’m sorry. I’ve kind of sucked lately at updating the database and the blog. Partly cause of the holidays and partly because my neurotransmitters still aren’t firing entirely correctly.)

Select It Sunday: Shannon Verhage

This week’s Select It Sunday case was chosen by Tracy S.: Shannon Dale Verhage, who disappeared from Cedar Springs, Michigan on June 3, 1997, just twelve days from her first birthday.

It’s “virtually undisputed” what happened to Shannon: Marvin Gabrion killed her, along with her mother, nineteen-year-old Rachel Timmerman, and dumped them both in a lake in a national forest. Gabrion had raped Rachel shortly after Shannon’s birth, and Rachel and Shannon disappeared just a few days before Rachel was to testify against him. He later allegedly said he “killed the baby because there was nowhere else to put it.”

Michigan doesn’t have the death penalty, but because Rachel was killed on federal land, her murder was prosecuted under federal law and Gabrion was sentenced to death. He’s never been charged in Shannon’s disappearance, or the murder of a man whose body was found in the same lake, or the disappearances of two others he’s suspected of killing.