Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Rakesh Gopi

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 Rakesh Pal Gopi, an eighteen-year-old of Indian descent who disappeared from Pittsburg, California on December 4, 1991.

Rakesh was last seen in the 300 block of Cabrillo Place. Google Maps shows that is currently a cul-de-sac in a quiet residential neighborhood. Perhaps this young man was last seen at home.

Unfortunately I don’t know anything else about him, or his disappearance. Was he in college? High school? Was he born in the U.S. or was he an immigrant? What do the police think happened to him? I haven’t a clue.

If still alive, Rakesh would be 44 years old today.

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Black History Month: William Weatherall

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 William “Buster” Weatherall, who disappeared from Los Angeles on June 6, 1991. He was 85 years old.

The circumstances are suspicious: Buster was expecting a call from a friend, but when his friend called his house, no one picked up. He left his dogs abandoned and unfed, and his front gate open. He lived alone at the time of his disappearance, and I couldn’t find anything saying he had dementia or anything like that.

Buster would be well over 100 years old if he was still alive, but I think he’s still 85.

I forgot to say

Awhile back, Megan Elizabeth Garner‘s mom contacted me on Facebook. As I had practically nothing on Megan’s disappearance, I was happy to hear from her.

Sadly, Megan’s mom didn’t have much to tell me. She said the police have dutifully followed leads in Megan’s disappearance for the past couple of decades, but never developed a suspect or a theory of the crime or anything.

Megan’s parents were separated when she disappeared, I guess, and Megan lived with her mom. The family was so poor they didn’t even have a phone when Megan went missing.

It’s a sad story. No telling what might have happened if there had been more publicity in this case at the time.

As for working on the site, I finished W today and I’m working on E. I anticipate finishing E today. So I’ve got cases A-D and U-Z finished, and quite a lot of others besides.

MP of the week (a day late, sorry): Lavorn Frye

This week’s featured missing person is Lavorn Frye, a twenty-year-old man who disappeared from Blytheville, Arkansas on September 30, 1991. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything more to report on his case.

I have another Executed Today entry that ran today: Sheyna Gram and the Jews of Preiļi. Preiļi being a small Latvian town whose Jewish population was almost entirely wiped out on this day in 1941. Sheyna Gram was a sixteen-year-old girl who kept a diary from the day of the German invasion of the Soviet Union until her death.

Unfortunately I’m really not doing very well at the moment. The last week or so has kicked my butt and I’m barely functioning. I’m sorry.

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.

Select It Sunday: Robin Kerry

Chosen by Anka, this week’s Select It Sunday case is Robin Ann Kerry, who disappeared with her sister Julie from St. Louis, Missouri on April 5, 1991. Unlike with many of my cases, it’s perfectly obvious what happened to Robin: she and her sister were gang-raped and thrown off the Chain of Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River. Julie’s body turned up several weeks later but Robin was never found.

I wrote about this case in 2009. It was a horrific crime, made all the more so by the fact that the four perpetrators were complete strangers who just had a random encounter with Robin and Julie and their cousin Tom Cummins that night, and the fact that Tom Cummins was wrongfully arrested and charged with his cousins’ murders before the situation got sorted and the cops caught the real killers.

I will quote part of my earlier entry:

There are still some people online who think Cummins killed his cousins and framed the four suspects, but the evidence against the defendants is pretty strong. One of them had Cummins’s wallet either on his person or in his house (I forget which) when he was arrested. All four suspects confessed at one point or another, although three of them later retracted their statements. One defendant pleaded guilty and testified against the others. Cummins’s sister Jeanine wrote a wonderful book about the case called A Rip in Heaven. Many news accounts say Cummins confessed to the crime. According to his sister’s book, after the police told him their theory about him being the killer he said something like, “If that’s what you said, then that’s what I did.” That’s hardly a confession.

I Googled the case again for today’s entry and discovered that Reginald Clemons, who spent over twenty years on death row for the Kerry sisters’ murders, had his conviction overturned and is awaiting a second trial. I don’t think he has much of a chance, though, even though it appears his confession has been ruled coerced and cast out of evidence. This article says they’ve got “a match consistent with Clemons’ DNA to a degree of one in 16,690 individuals in the African-American population,” something they didn’t have in 1991. I’ll have to update Robin’s casefile, I guess.

One of the four defendants, Daniel Winfrey, was released from prison in 2007. He was the only one who didn’t take part in the rapes, and he only fifteen years at the time of the crime, too young for the death penalty, and he took a plea deal: thirty years in exchange for testifying against the others.