This week’s featured missing person is Rene Perez Jr., who disappeared with his mom, Cecilia Elizabeth Newball, from Los Angeles in 1994. Rene was six years old; Cecilia was thirty-two.
Cecilia’s husband of one year, Alfredo (who is not Rene’s father) claims Cecilia and Rene simply left one day and never came back. Cecilia left a goodbye-card and her wedding and engagement rings, and Alfredo got a typewritten letter a few days later. The letter said Cecilia (who is originally from El Salvador) was moving to Honduras with a guy named Arturo.
However, foul play is suspected in their cases. Cecilia was eight months pregnant, and women don’t usually pick that time to make major life changes or travel internationally. Furthermore, all of her and Rene’s belongings were left behind, including Cecilia’s car, their clothes and Rene’s glasses.
Some general questions that occur to me with the info that’s available:
- Did Cecilia and Rene’s passports disappear with them? Did Rene even have a passport?
- Was there any record of either of them leaving the United States?
- Did Cecilia even know how to type? Did she usually type her letters?
- Did Alfredo own a typewriter? If so, did the police check and see if it had been used to write that letter?
- Was Rene’s father a presence in their lives, and has he been ruled out as a suspect?
- Does Alfredo have a criminal record or a history of violence towards women?
If he’s still alive, Rene would now be 30 years old. I think he’s probably still six. And I don’t think his younger sibling was ever born.
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 Karen Zhou, a ten-year-old girl who disappeared from this apartment complex in Grenada, Mississippi on May 21, 1994. She was born in China and had only been living in the U.S. for a few years before she vanished; her English was limited.
Karen used to be listed on the NCMEC, but she isn’t anymore. It’s my understanding that the family asked her to be taken off their database. She is, however, on NamUs.
The prime suspect in her disappearance is her stepfather, Shindong He. (I remember I struggled a bit to write Karen’s casefile, not sure which of the stepfather’s names was his family name, since the Chinese do this the other way around. I still don’t know.)
Prior to her disappearance, Karen frequently came to school with bruises, and Shindong He was also abusive to Karen’s mother, Wen Hua “May” Zhou. He later attacked her and, during the assault, told her he’d killed Karen. Shindong He was convicted of aggravated assault and then deported back to China, and who knows where he is now.
If still alive, Karen would be 34 years old. Her disappearance is still classified as a non-family abduction. I don’t know if Wen Hua Zhou is still in the U.S. Wherever she is, I hope she’s been able to rebuild her life.
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.
I got an NCMEC message in my email saying Aleacia Di’onne Stancil has been found alive. This comes as a most unexpected surprise. Frankly, I had not expected her to be found at all, never mind found alive. The police were outright admitting they had no idea where to look for her.
The NCMEC, of course, offers no details, and as of this writing, there’s nothing in the news. I’d love to know the circumstances under which Aleacia, who would now be 23 years old, was located, and what sort of woman she’s become. I’m hoping she was properly raised and is in college or something like that. It seems like the odds are against her growing into a functional young adult, but we can hope, right?
I’ve got a case, one of my “foul play is suspected but few details are available” cases, involving a toddler who disappeared in the eighties. A relative emailed me to say the child’s mother sold it for drugs. I don’t doubt this information, but I wasn’t able to confirm it with any official source so it’s not in the casefile, just in my head. In a way I hope that kid WAS sold for drugs, because if it was, maybe it’s still alive.
I often wonder about the little babies on my site who disappeared ages ago and are presumed to be still alive — I wonder what they’re like now. Alexis Manigo/Kamiyah Mobley and Nejra Nance/Carlina White seem to have turned out all right in spite of being raised by their abductors. Aleacia’s mother struggled with drug addiction and was murdered a year after her daughter disappeared; it’s entirely on the cards that whoever raised Aleacia was able to provide a more stable home environment than she could have gotten from her biological family. But the circumstances of Aleacia’s disappearance aren’t that clear and I’m not sure if she was, in fact, abducted.
I hope there’s something in the news soon. I’m happy to learn this baby lived to grow into a woman.
Susan P. asked me to re-share Elizabeth Jean Acton‘s casefile on the Charley Project Facebook page. I thought I’d do one better and do a Select It Sunday about her.
Unfortunately I really don’t know anything about Elizabeth’s disappearance. The 41-year-old woman was last seen in Montross, Virginia on August 24, 1994. That’s all I know. Wikipedia says that Montross is the county seat of Westmoreland County, but it’s really tiny; the population was 315 people in the last census. It’s in northeastern Virginia, right near the coast.
If anyone can give me some more information about Elizabeth Acton’s case I’d be most grateful.
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.
A NamUs profile that just went up is for Reginald Lovell Garrett. I already had a Reginald Garrett on Charley, courtesy of the CDOJ, so I pulled him up to update his case with the info from the NamUs profile.
Reginald Lovell Garrett on NamUs has the listed date of disappearance as January 1, 1995, and in the “details of disappearance” it says his family doesn’t actually know the date but they believe it was sometime between 1994 and 1996. He is said to have disappeared from Pascagoula, Mississippi, after getting into a car with a white man. The Pascagoula Police Department is investigating.
Reginald Garrett on the Charley Project has a date of disappearance as February 2, 1995, and the place is given as Tulare, California. I have no other details about his disappearance. The Tulare Police Department is investigating.
I’m pretty sure these are the same man. I mean, the names are the same; they’re both black; the listed ages, heights and weights correspond with each other; the date range in Reginald Lovell Garrett’s case fits the date given for Reginald Garrett; Reginald Garrett’s photo closely resembles the three photos of Reginald Lovell Garrett.
I’m just not really sure how to deal with this, though. I mean, where’d he actually disappear from? Is it possible that he disappeared from Mississippi, went to California and then disappeared again from there? This isn’t the only time that’s happened.