The Trail Went Cold

I do give occasional shout-outs to other MP blogs and websites and so on. Here’s another: a podcast called The Trail Went Cold, which discusses unsolved murders and missing persons every two weeks. I found out about them after their Twitter feed followed my Twitter feed.

I’ve only listened to one episode, the most recent one, about Dannette and Jeannette Millbrooks, but I liked it and learned some stuff about their cases — most of it frankly horrifying — and plan to listen to the other episodes. Robin Warder, who runs the podcast, also writes for Cracked.

Adam Herrman’s adoptive father dies

I have written a great deal about the mysterious disappearance of Adam Herrman over the years, but this is my first entry on the subject since 2014. A recap:

Adam was adopted out of foster care by Doug and Valerie Herrman, when he was two years old. He “ran away” from Towanda, Kansas sometime in the late spring or early summer of 1999,  when he was ten or eleven years old. Doug and Valerie never reported him missing; his adoptive sister did, until 2008.

Subsequent investigation showed that Adam’s so-called parents had abused him prior to his disappearance, and after he went missing they told several different stories to family members to explain his absence. They also continued to claim him as a dependent on their taxes and collect subsidies for his care, both of which are illegal.

(A lesson for the uninitiated: Foster parents are paid a little — not nearly enough — to cover their expenses in caring for the kids. If you adopt a foster child, especially a special needs child, in many states they continue to pay you until they turns 18 or for as long as they live with you. A foster kid doesn’t necessarily need to have health problems to be considered “special needs.” The term also applies to older children, non-white children, members of a sibling group or any other type of kid who is considered difficult to place. Adam was a member of a sibling group, and even at two years old, he might have been considered an older child.)

Authorities have found no evidence that Adam is still alive and they’re pretty sure he was murdered by the Herrmans, but due to lack of evidence they were only able to get them for felony theft, regarding the subsidies they accepted after he was no longer living with them.

Anyway, fast forward to the present day: Doug Herrman has died of natural causes at the age of 61. This article says it was complications of a blood clot.

This is bad. With both of them alive, there was always the possibility that one might flip and testify against the other. Now, if Valerie is ever charged with Adam’s murder — and witnesses stated she was the more abusive parent and Doug sometimes even tried to protect him — she can blame Doug for the whole thing and claim she has no idea what happened or where Adam is. And on top of that, given that Valerie is also in poor health, it looks entirely possible that she too could die before this case is resolved.

But then again, they were able to convict Aarone Thompson‘s father of murder even after Aarone’s stepmother and co-abuser, Shely Lowe, died. So who knows.

Yeah, I can’t find any Select It Sunday suggestions today, so…

So here’s one of my own.

I want to bend the rules a bit and talk about a case I just added to Charley last night: Samantha Jean Hopper, courtesy of the new Arkansas MP database. NamUs also had Samantha but without a picture, so I wasn’t able to add her to Charley before.

Per NamUs, Samantha was eight months pregnant and disappeared with her one-year-old daughter, no details provided for the child. The Arkansas MP database had a one-year-old girl named Courtney Holt who disappeared from the same city (Russellville) on the same day (September 11, 1998) so I took a leap of faith and decided this must be Samantha’s daughter. No picture for baby Courtney, though, so she doesn’t have her own profile. I also don’t know her DOB. I wish I did. There’s a huge difference, developmentally speaking, between a one-year-old who just turned one, and a one-year-old who’s almost two.

I can’t find anything about Samantha or Courtney in the news archives or anything.

In spite of the paucity of details this case strikes me as ominous. Why would a heavily pregnant young woman and her baby/toddler vanish into thin air like that? Who was that “friend” they were going with? Did the friend come back? What kind of concert were they attending?

I tried Googling the phrase “little rock” concert and the dates “september 11, 1998” and “september 12, 1998” to see if what bands were playing in the city at that time, but I could find nothing. Hardly surprising, 18 years after the fact, but frustrating nonetheless.

I’ve never cared for a baby or been pregnant, but it seems to me that if I were dealing with both situations at the same time, a concert doesn’t sound like it would be a lot of fun. I suppose it would depend on the concert, how the pregnancy was going and how manageable the child was/whether there was child care available. Certainly something like a mosh pit would be out of the question.

I’d love to know what’s going on with this case. Most importantly, I want to know why there has been no news or anything for nearly two decades.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Some MP news highlights while I was gone:

  • Mark Duane Woodard has been found. Or rather, he was found in 1977, 23 months after his disappearance, but not identified till now. The aforementioned news link uses his Charley Project pic, and asked me permission first. (Thanks!) This link has another photo of him, a much better quality one, as well as more details about his disappearance. He was murdered, shot to death. His sister is the only surviving member of the immediate family.
  • In the state of Thuringia in central Germany they have found a missing girl, Peggy No-Last-Name-Released [edit: per a UK article supplied by a commenter, it’s Knobloch], who disappeared mysteriously fifteen years ago, at the age of nine. A mushroom picker found her bones in the forest nine miles from Peggy’s hometown of Lichtenberg. According to this article and one other I found about the case, this had been a murder-without-a-body (MWAB) case: In 2004, a mentally disabled man was convicted of Peggy’s murder. He was later acquitted in a retrial due to lack of evidence after a key witness retracted his statement.
  • Corry Ehlers, a guy who disappeared while hiking in Utah in 2012, has also been found deceased. His skeletal remains, found “in a steep, rocky spot near Alta Ski Resort” last summer, were identified in late June. They think Corry fell off a cliff.
  • Three days ago it was fifteen years since sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley vanished mysteriously from Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has done an anniversary article about it, with quotes from Diamond and Tionda’s two other sisters, Rita and Victoria: The girls disappeared just a day before Victoria Bradley’s ninth birthday. Until recent years, Bradley, who turns 24 on Thursday, said she was unable to celebrate her birthday because of her depression over the anniversary of their disappearance. I have not updated the girls’ casefiles in over a decade, and last time was just to add some more pics. I will give a look and see if I can find any developments that have taken place in the intervening years.
  • Two more recent anniversaries: eleven years since Stacy Ann Aragon and her boyfriend Steven Bishop disappeared from Arizona (see article; Stacy has been reported missing but it appears Steven has not been), and ten years since Roxanne Paltauf disappeared (article) from Texas.
  • The NCMEC reports that two of my oldest family abduction cases have been resolved, with the children located alive. One was Jacquelina Ann Gomez, who was abducted from Illinois by her father in 1992 at the age of 3. She would be 27 now, 28 in September.
  • The other case involves two brothers who disappeared with their mother and stepfather from Blairsville, Georgia in 1996, when the boys were 2 and 3. A day or so before I left for Minneapolis I got contacted by a very excited reporter who ran a story on Rick Tyler, a man who’s running for Congress under the odious slogan “Make America White Again.” She said after she ran the story she was deluged with emails from people who believed Rick Tyler was probably the same Rick Tyler who was listed as the missing Blairsville kids’ stepfather. She also said the police were now claiming that the boys’ mom DID have custody of them when they disappeared, after all. Well, then the day I left Minneapolis I got an NCMEC notice saying the boys were recovered. I’m not going to say their names on here or put them on the resolved page because I’m not sure about the custody issue, but it should be easy enough to determine who they are from the info I just provided.
  • The state of Arkansas has a brand shiny new MP database with 510 people on it, many whose names I don’t recognize. I am very happy about this. I believe every state should have their own publicly searchable online database, as large and comprehensive as possible. Many of the people listed in this new database have no pics though. I hope this situation improves.
  • Morgan Keyanna Martin, a pregnant teenager who disappeared in 2012, is now considered a MWAB case. Jacobee Flowers, the father of the unborn child, has been charged with her murder. Homicide is the most common non-natural cause of death for pregnant women in the US and from what I have read, all around the world, the murder of pregnant women — usually by their baby’s father — is a universal problem.
  • HuffPo has published a photo essay about the 1998 disappearance of SUNY-Albany student Suzanne Lyall. It’s a mysterious case; no obvious suspects, no answers. 19 years old, promising future, and then gone.
  • Kidnap survivor Jaycee Dugard has been in the news again, going on TV and talking about how her life’s going and how she’s raising the two daughter she had with her kidnapper Philip Garrido. The link I just gave provides lots of news articles to read, more than I can summarize here. But here’s one quote from this article to show what a resilient woman and amazing mother Jaycee was and still is: As she and her daughters grew older, Dugard said she planted a flower in front of the shed and set up a little school to teach them as much as she could with only her fifth-grade education. “They’re so resilient, and they’re beautiful and loving, and I’m really lucky,” she said. Dugard has protected her daughters’ privacy and said some of their friends don’t even know of their past. She said the three of them are able to talk about what happened with each other.

Today in previous years

I can’t sleep tonight so I wound up checking my blog entries for June 29 on previous years. I began the blog in late 2008. There’s nothing from this day in 2009, 2010 or 2011, but on June 29, 2012 I (tongue in cheek) threatened to commit suicide after I counted my backlog and realized it was 987 cases. (The total is a lot higher now.)

On this date in 2013 I directed readers to Sean Munger’s coverage of Scott Hilbert‘s disappearance, and also noted that I was in the process of purging casefiles.

A year ago today was a Make-a-List Monday and a short commentary on a presumed-dead MP who basically died of stupidity. In the latter entry, questions were raised in the comments section about whether one of the photos I posted for Zulma Pabon was really her. (It turned out it wasn’t. Not my fault; the Virginia State Police posted the wrong pic. I think they might have pulled the picture from a driver’s license database and it was a different person with the same name.) I also griped about a case where the Alabama MP database made it look like James Aaron Toole disappeared 19 YEARS after he actually went missing.

Carry on.

Bertha Sieg found deceased

I got a notice from the NCMEC saying Bertha Sieg has been found dead. She’s been removed from NamUs as well, or at least, I can’t access her profile there. Bertha was a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from a city in northern Texas 22 years ago. One of those “few details are available” cases.

I checked and I can’t find anything about this online. I am hoping to get some information before I put a notice up in the resolved page.

R.I.P. Bertha.

MP of the week: Jennie Fisher

This week’s featured missing person is Jennie Lee Fisher, who disappeared from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on January 14, 1991. She was 37 at the time and would be 63 today.

I don’t have much on her. The only details I have come from Jennie’s husband, who said she simply left him and their two kids one day, getting into a beat-up van with two men who looked like biker types. Jennie does have a somewhat troubled past, though, with a history of drug abuse and violent tendencies. She also has epilepsy and may have been suicidal at the time of her disappearance.

Looking at all that put together, it seems unlikely that Jennie is still alive after 25 years. I’d love to hear from someone who knew her, a friend or a family member. Shoot me an email at administrator@charleyproject.org or post something in the comments section below. Even if you don’t know anything about her actual disappearance, I’d like to learn about Jennie herself and what sort of person she was.