MP of the week: Shy’Kemmia Pate

This week’s featured missing person is Shy’Kemmia Shy’Rezz Pate, a beautiful eight-year-old girl who’s been missing from Unadilla, Georgia for nearly twenty years now: September 4, 1998. There hasn’t been a lot of news about this disappearance, but on the face of it it’s a non-family abduction — by who, they don’t seem to know.

The family has a Facebook page set up for the little girl, nicknamed ShyShy.

Raymond Matlock identified

Per Charley Project Irregular Jennifer C., Raymond Lee Matlock, who disappeared during an elk hunting trip in Washington in November in 1998, was identified last December. His remains were actually found less than a month after he disappeared; it appears he drowned in the Bone River, which feeds into the Pacific, and his body drifted some 125 miles up the Washington coast to Vancouver Island.

Such a long journey is unusual for drifting bodies, and that’s a big part of the reason Matlock remained unidentified for 18 years. But I think this case is also a good example of why detailed clothing descriptions are important wherever possible. The body was found wearing a distinctive t-shirt with a drawing of a truck, surfboards and the words “Jimmy Z” — something the police at the time might help identify him, except that if anyone knew what Matlock was wearing when he disappeared, they never bothered to say.

The management of the Washington cemetery where he was buried combined forces with a local crematory to exhume his remains, cremate them and ship them to his mom in Texas at no cost to her. That was nice of them.

Select It Sunday: Thomas James

Selected by Justin, this week’s SS case is Thomas James, a Universal Studios employee who disappeared from Los Angeles on June 18, 1998. I don’t have much about his disappearance but it doesn’t look like he left on his own. He left everything behind at his apartment, and his car turned up abandoned in Burbank, California.

If James is still alive he’d be 60 this year.

A New Year’s miracle

As several people have already told me, Kamiyah Mobley has resurfaced alive and well in the small town of Waltersboro, South Carolina. After EIGHTEEN YEARS. She is, I believe, the youngest person profiled on the Charley Project; she was abducted from the hospital in Jacksonville, Florida only hours after birth, on July 10, 1998.

It’s much like the story of Carlina White: Kamiyah was raised under the name Alexis Manigo, and thought her abductor was her mother. A couple of months ago, “Alexis” started to suspect there was more to the story, and DNA testing has just verified her true identity.

The abductor, 51-year-old Gloria Williams, has been arrested and will be extradited to Florida to face kidnapping charges. Her prior criminal offenses include welfare fraud and writing bad checks. If convicted of kidnapping, she could get a life sentence. (Carlina’s kidnapper got twelve years.) If you ask me, in cases like this, the abductor ought to have to serve AT LEAST one day for every day the child was missing.

From what little has come out so far, Kamiyah/Alexis grew up in poverty and moved around a lot across several different states. She was able to graduate high school, though. It says Williams is married, but I don’t know whether she was married to this man when Kamiyah was taken or whether he was complicit in the abduction.

I am delighted for Kamiyah’s family, though I feel very sorry for Kamiyah herself; she must feel absolutely torn to bits right now. The sheriff was quoted as saying Kamiyah/Alexis “appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman” who is “taking it as well as you can imagine.” A neighbor said, “She wasn’t an abused child or a child who got in trouble. But she grew up with a lie for 18 years.”

Maybe Carlina can offer some advice to Kamiyah. I know Elizabeth Smart reached out to Jaycee Dugard after the latter was found alive.

A few articles:

Let’s talk about it: Yuan Xia Wang

This week’s “let’s talk about it” case is Yuan Xia Wang, a young Chinese girl who disappeared from Lincolnia, Virginia on October 21, 1998. I was just getting interested in missing persons at that time and I remember seeing her NCMEC poster right after she disappeared and wondering about it. Like most of their posters, it said very little, and it was years before I learned the details of her disappearance.

Yuan was smuggled into the country by a Thai man, using someone else’s genuine Thai passport. According to this Washington Post article, the immigration and customs people caught them after someone at the airport realized she didn’t speak Thai, and her smuggler was arrested.

Usually, Chinese immigrants who get smuggled into the U.S. are sent “to restaurants or brothels where they are held in virtual servitude to pay off huge smuggling fees.” Yuan’s case was somewhat unusual in that her passage was paid for in advance.

She said she was twelve, but the authorities doubted it and so do I. I was five feet even at that age, about middling height for the girls in my class at school, and I think Chinese people tend to be smaller than Americans. Yuan was five feet six. They thought she could have been as old as fifteen. I don’t know what reason she would have had to lie; perhaps she felt she would be better treated if they thought she was younger.

Yuan was sent to a foster home. Her foster family welcomed her as best they could, but they didn’t speak Mandarin, and she was the only Mandarin-speaking student at her new school. If I were her I’d have been desperately lonely. She vanished without a trace six weeks later — significantly, perhaps, on a day she had a doctor’s appointment.

They’re not sure what happened to her. The most obvious suggestions are that she either ran away or got picked up (voluntarily or otherwise) by someone, like a relative or someone involved in the smuggling, in order to avoid deportation. (The U.S. authorities hadn’t decided what to do with her yet; she could have been either deported or allowed to stay.) I suppose it’s possible she could have been abducted for reasons having nothing to do with her immigration status, as well.

Other than a lead placing her in Kansas City in 2008, there hasn’t been any sign of her in almost twenty years.

Let’s talk about it.

Let’s talk about it: Thomas Mixon

This week’s mysterious-case-up-for-discussion is Thomas James Mixon, a 26-year-old who disappeared from Buffalo, New York on May 4, 1998.

Mixon’s roommate, Vladimir Sokolov, was later charged with Mixon’s murder. The case against him, on the face of it, looks good: Sokolov wouldn’t tell Mixon’s mom what had happened to him, he put Mixon’s stuff on the street and even started wearing his clothes, he fled back to his native Bulgaria upon learning he was a suspect in Mixon’s disappearance, he allegedly bragged about the murder and his ex-girlfriend claimed to have seen Mixon’s body in the apartment.

However, Sokolov was eventually acquitted, and this is one of the few MWAB cases where I think there’s a distinct possibility the defendant was innocent. Other evidence indicated Mixon had some very good reasons to walk out of his life, including scary people who were mad at him, and had made extensive preparations to do just that.

An aside: it says Mixon wore a Georgetown University class ring, but it seems unlikely that he was an alumnus. If he was, he had certainly fallen far in the few years since graduation.

So do you think Mixon was murdered by his roommate? Do you think he’s even dead? Let’s talk about it.

Select It Sunday: Christopher Holverson

Flashback Friday this week was a case from Idaho; here’s another one. Gypsy T., an old friend of Christopher Lyn Holverson, asked me to run his case for Select It Sunday. The circumstances of his disappearance appear straightforward enough: in 1998, Christopher went camping in Madison County with a group of friends, and one night he just left the campsite and never came back. That night it was sleeting and there was snow on the ground. This looks like a case of “got lost and died of exposure” but Gypsy isn’t sure of that and she told me why in the emails she sent me.

With permission, I am sharing some parts of Gypsy’s emails to me, slightly edited for spelling and clarity etc.:

When I was a child I had a friend named Christopher Holverson. We met through his little brother. Chris and I were more the same age and we hit it off. We hung out and chatted on the phone. Later we found out we were distant cousins. Well, as time passed we drifted apart. We would chat occasionally but not much else.

Well, one day in 1998 or 1999 I was watching the news and found out Chris was missing. While camping with friends he had left the tent and never returned. After learning this I became interested in missing person cases. While I am interested in all missing person cases, Chris fascinates me the most of course. The sad part is, Chris is almost one of those forgotten missing persons cases.

Our hometown newspaper did a feature of him a while back, but before that, I could hardly find anything about the case. There was even a time when I couldn’t find a picture. Many people think that he got lost while camping, which I find strange. The place he was camping is pretty popular and not very isolated. He left the tent in the middle of the night. When camping usually you only leave the tent in the middle of the night to urinate. You wouldn’t go far for that. So if he wasn’t far how did he get lost? The area where he was camping is not known for bears or other wildlife dangers. Not saying it didn’t happen, but it’s not likely. My best guess is he was harmed by someone. I don’t know the people he was camping with so I am mot blaming them, but there were other people up there too. Or maybe slim possibility, he decided to make a new life for himself.

When describing her friendship with Chris and what he was like, Gypsy says he was a very kind person and a good friend:

I have a skin disorder, psoriasis.  I was teased horribly as a child. In fact, that is one of the reasons Chris’s case is so hard on me. He met me as a preteen and saw my psoriasis and didn’t care. He was one of the first people that didn’t care. He helped me see myself as a worthy whole human that was beautiful. He made a major impact on my early teen years.

Christopher was eighteen when he disappeared. If he’s still alive, he would be 37 today.