Native American Heritage Month: Betty Claw

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Betty Ann Claw, a 49-year-old woman who disappeared from Farmington, New Mexico in 1996. November 28, Thanksgiving Day, was the last day anyone in her family saw her. I don’t know her tribal information.

For some reason, Betty Claw is not listed on the New Mexico state missing persons database. Her case got some media attention early this year when local outlets published articles appealing for information, but there isn’t a whole lot out there.

If still alive, Betty Claw would be in her seventies now.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Karen Rosalba Grajeda

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Karen Rosalba Grajeda, a 7-year-old girl who disappeared from Tucson, Arizona on January 11, 1996.

She was roller-skating with her sister and some other children in the courtyard of her apartment complex when she left to drop her roller skates back off home. It’s not clear whether she ever arrived at her house, but by the time Karen’s mom called the girls in for dinner, Karen was nowhere to be found.

She is believed to have been kidnapped by a non-relative, and some suspects have been named, but no charges were ever filed against anyone. There’s speculation, as noted in her casefile, that Karen’s abduction is connected to the unsolved rape and murder of six-year-old Esther Lizette Galaz. Certainly the cases are very similar, but until Lizette’s murder is solved or Karen is found, any speculation has to remain only that.

I wonder how thoroughly the other residents in the complex (which had over 400 apartments) were checked. In March 1996, Albert Aguilar Ramirez, a resident of the complex who had a criminal for sexual abuse, murdered his elderly neighbor. The cops said they had “no reason to believe” Ramirez was involved in Karen’s disappearance, though. A fellow resident with a history of child molestation would be an obvious suspect in Karen’s case, and my guess is the police had investigated him and ruled him out earlier, right after Karen’s abduction and before he killed the neighbor.

I highly doubt Karen is still alive. There are so many places to hide a body in the desert.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Jose Chavez and Gilberto Gonzales

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is two men who disappeared together: Gilberto Gonzales, 23, and his relative, coworker and roommate Jose D. Jesus Chavez, 19. They were last seen in Tucson, Arizona on January 20, 1996.

I don’t have that much on these disappearances; they seem to have vanished into thin air, leaving all their things behind.

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.

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.