Select It Sunday: Karen Wells

Selected by Kat, this Sunday MP is Karen Denise Wells, a 23-year-old mother of one young son who disappeared from Carlisle, Pennsylvania 22 years ago, in the spring of 1994. She had apparently traveled to Pennsylvania from her home in Oklahoma to visit a female friend, and was staying in a hotel and told a hotel clerk she was going to have a quick meal at a nearby McDonald’s, then go to bed. She was supposed to meet her friend after midnight that night, so I’m not sure why she said she was going to bed. Maybe she was just planning to take a nap.

Anyway, when the friend she’d come to see couldn’t get her to answer her room door, the woman summoned a hotel staff member to unlock the door and they found the room deserted. On the morning after Karen’s disappearance, they found her car parked on a rural state road 35 miles away, mud-splattered, with the doors wide open. It had run out of gas and the battery was dead. According to the odometer, the car had driven six to seven hundred miles that couldn’t be accounted for.

The whole thing, especially the condition in which the car was found, looks extremely suspicious to me, and both police and Karen’s family think she was murdered. The fact that the car was parked right smack in the middle of the westbound lane isn’t too surprising, since it had run out of gas. The driver might not have had time to pull over before the engine went dead. But why would anyone — either Karen or an abductor — leave the doors open like that? You’d think they’d at least bother to close them. That sort of thing attracts attention.

If I was a passerby and found a car abandoned in the middle of the road with the doors open like that and no one around, I wouldn’t necessarily assume a crime had occurred, but I would think this was strange and I’d probably call 911. (Three years ago I wrote a long entry about the difference between “suspicious” and “odd” and how “odd” things often should merit the attention of the authorities, even if there’s nothing overtly threatening about the situation.)

The most recent news articles I could find on Karen’s disappearance were from 2009. (She is also listed on the FBI’s website but it doesn’t say much.) There’s a suggestion that drugs were involved in this case, since they found some marijuana in Karen’s car — but loads of people smoke pot.

Karen has since been declared legally dead. On the off chance she’s still alive she would be 45 now.

Some news in Chance Wackerhagen’s disappearance

Per this article, the police no longer believe Chance Wackerhagen‘s father, Lee “Dub” Wackerhagen Jr., murdered his live-in girlfriend and then abducted Chance. The two have been missing since Christmas 1993, after Lee’s girlfriend, Latricia White, was found shot to death in her home. At present, Lee is listed as Chance’s abductor in his casefile. But the cops have a new theory, that someone else killed Latricia and that Lee and Chance also met with foul play.

That’s something I had considered myself, because it seems like those two dropped off the face of the earth. I didn’t think Lee had the kind of skills and resources necessary to keep himself and his son off the radar for so long when he was wanted for murder, and it seems like Chance would have found some way to call home if he could have. (And perhaps he did. See casefile.) I thought both of them had probably died a very short time after Latricia did, but I didn’t know if it was a murder-suicide situation or if another person altogether had been involved.

Now that I have the police endorsing this new theory, I’m not really sure how best to update Chance’s casefile. Should I make a whole new casefile for Lee as a missing person in his own right, do you think?

The article also has a color version of my previous black-and-white photo of Chance. I have replaced the photo accordingly.

Holy wow, what happened here?

I was looking at Charley’s visitor stats and noticed that last month my average was nearly 19,000 independent visits a day. My usual average is 9-10,000 visits a day. When I looked at the page for April at first I thought there was a mistake, because most of the days seemed to hover around 10,000, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Then I saw April 21 and 22. 30,509 visits for April 21. And a whopping 198,839 visits for April 22.


The number of visits for the days after that are elevated, but not hugely so — around 15,000. And surprisingly, the most-visited casefile is not Peter Kema‘s, but Tammy Leppert‘s.

Did something big happen in Tammy’s case that I’m missing? The only thing I can find is that Tammy was the subject of this Reddit thread.

New APs and one new pic

Earl Kidder has a new picture added, and the following cases have new age-progressions:

  1. Briana Ochoa
  2. Mindy Ochoa
  3. Tania Ochoa
  4. Jack Daniel Phillips
  5. Kawan K. Pryor

More on the Peter Kema indictments

As you all probably know, Peter Kema Jr‘s parents, Peter Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema, have been charged with his murder. Well, I have just read comments Peter Boy’s siblings made to the media about the indictments, and it’s pretty heartbreaking.

Peter Boy’s younger sister is referred to as “Devalynn” in his Charley Project casefile; she later changed her name to Lina Acol. (She was sent to live with her maternal grandparents after Peter Boy’s disappearance, and was legally adopted by them.) She was only four years old when her brother disappeared but she remembers what happened. In the last few years she’s renewed her relationship with her mother, hoping Jaylin would tell her what really happened to Peter Boy. Lina even allowed Jaylin to spend time with her son. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.

This is such an awful case. So many kids who are abused have literally no one who really cares about them. Peter wasn’t one of those kids. He had grandparents who cared about him and his siblings and would have taken them in if they could have.

I hope Jaylin flips on Peter Sr. and testifies against him. That seems like the best way to win this case.

Fox News article

This is the article I got quoted in: Parents indicted in cold case murder of Hawaiian boy by Malia Zimmerman.

“It was just absolutely horrifying the torture this child was subjected to,” said Meaghan Good, founder and editor of The Charley Project, a website that is tracking 9,500 unsolved murder cases including that of Peter Boy Jr. “I read all 2,000 pages about the case released by the Department of Human Services in 2005, and it very obvious what happened to Peter Boy Jr.”


Peter Kema‘s parents have been charged with murder. About. Fracking. Time. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is a copy of the indictment which a nice reporter sent to me. The same reporter interviewed me on the phone, asking what I thought of the case and so on.

I told her about my corpus delicti lists and how there were way more convictions than acquittals, theorizing this was because, without a body, the other evidence in the case has to be VERY strong. The reporter asked how Peter’s case lined up with other child abuse  homicides on the Charley Project. I said I knew a lot more about Peter’s case than most other cases due to the DHS releasing his file, but it didn’t seem at all dissimilar to other child abuse homicides in terms of the severity and so on. (Colton Clark‘s foster parents, according to Colton’s brother, shocked the boys’ genitals with a cattle prod.) I did say I found it slightly unusual that Peter appears to have been singled out by his parents for abuse, even though he was his father’s biological son and named after him, and there were stepchildren in the family. (Armchair psychologists: might this suggest that Peter Kema Sr. was working out some self-hatred by abusing the son that shared his name?)

Anyway, articles:

Parents of ‘Peter Boy’ Kema charged with murder

‘Peter Boy’ Kema’s parents indicted, 19 years after his death

“Peter Boy” Kema’s parents indicted on murder charges

Murder Charges Filed Against Parents of ‘Peter Boy’ Kema

After 19 Years, Parents Of Vanished Peter Boy Kema Charged With Murder

Parents in custody for death of ‘Peter Boy’