Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Dean Tanaka

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 Dean Toshio Tanaka, a 35-year-old man of Japanese descent who disappeared from Woodland Hills, California on September 13, 1996. Woodland Hills is in Los Angeles.

Tanaka had schizophrenia, but he must have been high-functioning because he had a good job, as a motorcycle mechanic.

Apparently his family believes he is dead, because he has a gravesite at Green Hills Memorial Park, a cemetery in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Le Tung Dinh

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 Le Tung Dinh, a 38-year-old man of Vietnamese descent who was last seen standing in the doorway of his family’s apartment in San Diego, California on February 4, 1996.

Dinh was brain-damaged and mentally disabled, and couldn’t take care of himself, so he still lived with his parents. He apparently wandered away when his mom left him alone for a few minutes.

I wish I knew more about this case; I couldn’t find any articles about it in the newspaper archives. Dinh’s parents, who spoke only Vietnamese, are no longer in contact with the police, and NamUs says there’s no DNA available.

Select It Sunday: Cayce Lynn McDaniel

Bridget B. asked me to profile Cayce Lynn McDaniel‘s case for Select It Sunday; the 21st anniversary of her disappearance was last month. She was fourteen when she disappeared from Milan, Tennessee on August 16, 1996. She attended a church party and then someone dropped her off at home, which was unoccupied at the time. Cayce’s mom arrived home in the early hours of the next morning and found her daughter gone. She had had time to change clothes, grab some milk and cookies and turn on the TV before she disappeared.

I did a search and found this 2017 article about the case, but it doesn’t say anything new. A 2010 article says the police believe Cayce is dead.

Let’s talk about it: Four patients in the same medical practice

Between 1996 and 1997 four people, all of them in roughly the same age group, disappeared from the Los Angeles area: Robert Vincent Black, 64, on March 12, 1996; Patricia Laxer, 63, on August 11, 1997; Goldie A. Swanger, 75, on August 29, 1997; Richard Dean Davison, 70, on October 29, 1997. Mysteriously, not only were all four of these individuals patients of the same doctor (I never found out anything about him), but they all supposedly disappeared while going either to or from appointments with him.

The first answer that strikes me is “serial killer connected with the medical practice,” but what little I knew about the cases didn’t seem to indicate foul play; in fact the police not only suggested they were alive, but that each “may be a patient in a hospital or nursing home.”

In 2004, I found out Goldie Swanger’s case had been resolved, but I did not learn her fate at the time, whether she’d been found dead, or what. I blogged about this in 2011, and in 2014 a commenter, claiming to be Swanger’s biological son, left a comment on that blog entry. I quote from it below. He, his daughter Andria and another of Goldie’s granddaughters traveled to Los Angeles in 2000 or 2001 and

did a little investigation, got medical records from a doctor that Goldie was seeing before she became missing. That doctor told me that she saw him about once a month and then just never showed up and that he wondered what became of her! We found out where she was last at, alive, during her being “missing”. I believe it was a nursing home or something to that effect. I believe the government department that we today call the SRS had something to hide as they threw roadblocks in our search of Goldie.

I’m not sure what he means by SRS. Google turned up “special retirement supplement” which doesn’t make a lot of sense, and “supported residential services” which does, but supported residential services isn’t an American government department, only a service provided by the state government in Victoria, AUSTRALIA. My guess is he meant something similar to supported residential services that the U.S. or California government provide, but got the acronym wrong. Anyway, on with what Goldie Swanger’s son said:

It seems strange that as soon as my wife and I determined that her last name was Swanger and informed the SRS we knew her last name, the “SRS” had one hissy fit, and we determined that Goldie was still alive! But when we got to California she had passed away! Now that is strange! We found out where she lived previous to this facility and saw the place (apartment) and met and talked with a person who knew Goldie (an apartment neighbor). The administrator of the facility she was last at clammed up when we started to question the circumstance as to why Goldie was at this facility. Andria talked with a person who worked in that facility and knew Goldie as a patient(?). Andria has the info on this place. Goldie’s biological family believe that what we discovered may possibly be something to do with medicare fraud. The other missing persons in that area may just have been admitted to that same facility. We don’t know. We couldn’t find out.

The plot thickens indeed. This is most peculiar. I’d love to learn more about this case — some questions that come to mind are who was this doctor, what was his speciality, is he still practicing, what the MPs were seeing him for, and what were their general states of physical/mental health at the time they went missing? The facility administrator may have “clammed up” because there was something sketchy going on, but it could have been for confidentiality reasons (HIPAA).

I suppose it’s possible the other three could be still alive, particularly if they’re in a reasonably good care facility. (Key words being “possible” and “reasonably good”.) By now Black would be 85, Davis would be 89, and Laxer would be 83. But I wonder if anyone is even looking for them by now. If I was looking to imprison some people in a care facility against their will for the purposes of committing medical assistance fraud, I’d be targeting people with no living relatives, or at least no close relatives, and few ties to their community — people who would be easily missed.

So what happened to these people? Let’s talk about it.

A word about a certain “search and rescue service”

I posted about this on the Charley Project’s Facebook page yesterday, and I thought I’d blog about it too, because frankly it really makes me mad.

In yesterday’s updates I added one Dennis Frank Svoboda, who disappeared in 1996. He’s presumed drowned in a fishing accident. While researching his case I found several articles about International K-9 Search and Rescue Services, which is apparently the only for-profit SAR service in the world. It charges $200 an hour.

It turns out this SAR service is pretty shady. A lot of legitimate SAR services and law enforcement agencies won’t have anything to do with it. In an interview, the founder said it’s because people are jealous of his success, something I find unlikely. He also said his SAR dogs have a 97% success rate and other SAR dogs have only a 20% success rate.

I found a mention of Svoboda on the “drownings” section of its website:

96-668-024(C) 01-25-96 Cowlitz Co. Drowning X (2). Dennis Svoboda and Larry Mansur. Two missing fisherman. Missing X 4 days. Searched their favorite fishing holes. Very cold outside. Snowing in hills. Winds from West 0-5 MPH. Air temp..35f. Water 42F. One found by Valorie in 40 feet of water and one found in 60 feet of water. Grief therapy 1 hour with family after debriefing. (Note) Bodies were moved from their location. One by the current the other by water boat traffic-tug boat towing a barge.

Uh, no. Larry Mansur’s body was missing for months, not four days, before it turned up. And Svoboda is still missing. He’s on NamUs and on the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Department MP page and now he’s on Charley too.

I posted a comment on the SAR service’s Facebook page, on a post they made boasting of their “successes” (Svoboda was on the list); I said Svoboda had never been found. My comment got deleted.

It’s pretty disturbing. Stay away from these folks.

MP of the week: Claudia Tinsley

This week’s featured missing person is Claudia Tinsley, a 24-year-old missing since September 8, 1996. Like last week’s case, she’s an Ohioan; she’s from Toledo (which I always mix up with Dayton for some reason).

Claudia, a mother of three, was using crack cocaine at the time of her disappearance. Police believe she met with foul play. The most recent news I can find that mentions her is from 2006, ten years almost to the day.

In other news, the internet mysteriously went dead yesterday and was remained so; nothing was working, not even the weather app on my cell phone. Frankly I welcomed it, because it kept me from the nonstop election coverage drenching the news and social media. I hoped it would remain dead until the morning — I really don’t want to hear about the winner until then. Otherwise I’ll be hyperventilating and generally tearing my hair out all night.

But then the internet came back on shortly after ten and my hopes were dashed. I’m trying to stay away from Facebook but I’ve got some apps on my computer that automatically notify me of the headlines. I also had to beg Michael to change the channel away from the news when he got home. So he turned over to Cops. We always love Cops. As Michael says, no matter how bad a day he’s had, the Cops people are having a worse one.

I have these anti-anxiety pills I take as needed; I don’t take them very often, probably not as often as I should. Like, I don’t carry them on me, so if I have a panic attack away from home I just have to ride it out unassisted. I might take one of them tonight though. In fact I have half a mind to take about five and just sleep through the storm.

I’m almost sure these are the same person…but…

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.

However…

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.

Thoughts, anyone?