This week’s featured missing person is Jessie Barnes, a 28-year-old mentally disabled woman who disappeared from West Point, Mississippi, a small town in the northeast part of the state, on July 7, 2000.
Although she had mental challenges, Jessie was relatively high-functioning and would sometimes “drop out of sight for a few days.” Her family got concerned and reported her missing after ten days because her grandma had died and she didn’t show up for the funeral.
I think if she is alive (and this seems unlikely) she may be on the streets somewhere. She has a daughter, and if still alive she would be 46 years old today.
In honor of Pride Month I’m featuring a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer missing person every day for the month of June. Today’s case is Charles Lee Toliver, a gay man who disappeared from Oak Ridge, Tennessee on February 4, 2000. He was 30 years old.
Toliver’s disappearance is suspicious and his former roommate seems pretty sketchy, but it’s really not clear what happened.
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 Daniel Murry Dutton, a biracial 28-year-old of Asian and Caucasian descent, who disappeared from Long Beach, Mississippi under unclear circumstances back in 2000.
Dutton lived with his parents and worked as a cab driver. He left a note at home saying he’d be gone for a few days, then apparently drove his cab to Lake City, Florida, which is over 400 miles away, around six hours on I-10. That’s where the cab was found, in the parking lot of a hotel where Dutton hadn’t checked in. Investigators think he actually stayed at a hotel in Gainesville, another hour down I-10.
Why he left, what he intended to do, and why his cab was found in Lake City and not Gainesville all appear to be mysteries.
Was he just taking off for a short vacation, and did something happen to him in Gainesville? Or was he planning on leaving for good? He was having serious financial issues. Did he have an episode of dissociative fugue, where a person develops amnesia and just wanders off? That doesn’t explain the note he left, though.
One detail that worries me is the fact that Dutton’s glasses were inside his abandoned cab. Speaking as a glasses-wearing person, the furthest I will go without them is down the street to the mailbox. I can’t even see well enough to use the computer without my glasses and I certainly can’t drive. And Dutton’s eyesight is noted as being very poor. Unless he had another pair of glasses — which is entirely possible, I have several pairs myself — I can’t see him voluntarily leaving without them.
A friend of Diana L. Leone‘s sister asked me to run her case for Select It Sunday. Diana was 35 years old when she disappeared from Las Vegas in February 2000. Her longtime boyfriend, David Morgan, said she’d run off with another man, leaving all her stuff behind. She wasn’t reported missing until October.
Morgan had a history of brutal domestic violence against Diana — he’d once been charged with attempted murder in connection with his abuse of her — and police believe he’s a serial killer. His second wife, Marie Morgan, and her lover, Gabriel Vincent, disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 1979 and were never found. A business associate of Morgan’s, David Cowan, disappeared in 1982 and was also never found. (Cowan and Morgan aren’t on Charley cause I have no photos or physical information for them.)
Morgan was actually charged with Vincent’s murder in 2007, but five years later, before he was tried, the charges were dropped for lack of evidence because one of the key witnesses had died. Police are pretty sure Morgan killed Diana as well, but he has never been charged. I’m not sure he’s even still alive.
This Select It Sunday post, chosen by Elisabeth D., is Star Michelle Palumbo, a young woman missing from Reno, Nevada since April 26, 2000. I have a fair amount of info on her case but I haven’t updated the casefile in almost a decade.
Star was an attractive young woman and 25 when she vanished. Unfortunately she’d gotten involved with meth and, with it, prostitution. Around the time she disappeared she’d gotten very paranoid, probably as a result of her meth use: she believed she was being stalked, that her phone was tapped and the federal government was trying to kill her.
The last person to see her was, apparently, a police officer who found her wandering around the airport tarmac and took her to a hotel. She never checked in.
I have been unable to find any updates on her case. Someone has set up a Facebook page but there’s not much on it.
Although foul play might not necessarily have been involved in her disappearance, I think it’s very unlikely Star is still alive today. But if she is, she’d be 42 now.
I thought I’d do a run-down in the latest news in murder-without-a-body cases:
- Per everybody, Antolin Garcia-Torres has been found guilty of the murder of Sierra Mae Lamar, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Morgan Hill, California five years ago. Her abduction and killing is of the most terrifying kind: she was just snatched off the street in a random act of violence.
- In Iowa, Tait Purk has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Cora Ann Okonski, who disappeared from the town of Tama on April 16, 2000. Unlike in Sierra Lamar’s murder, there wasn’t anything in the way of physical evidence here. However, Purk supposedly confessed to at least two other people that he had killed Cora and buried her body.
- No charges have been filed as of yet, but Dale LaFleur‘s grand-nephew, Philip, has confessed to murdering him and the police are looking for the body. Philip is currently in jail for the 2015 murder of another man. He’s only 23 now, and Dale disappeared in 2011, so chances are Philip was a minor when he (allegedly) killed his great-uncle. (Not that it’ll matter.) He says he put Dale’s body inside his (Dale’s) car and dumped it in the Atchafalaya River. Police have said they’ve found an “object” in the river that might be the car. Fingers crossed.
- And as for Peter Kema, alas, I don’t know anything more than I did three weeks ago: namely that Peter Sr. has led police to the alleged disposal spot. I seem to recall some article that claimed the remains were cremated and dumped at sea. If that is so, they’re almost certainly unrecoverable. But I don’t know if that information is correct. There’s a big difference between outright cremating a body and merely setting it on fire. I think if the cops had found something, they would have said so by now, but who knows?
I’m at home. Internet is not shut off yet, so I took the opportunity to update my missing person of the week. This time it’s 18-year-old Jason Lee Armstrong, missing from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Unfortunately I know very little about his case, not even the exact date of disappearance — just that his family last heard from him sometime in August 2000. He wasn’t reported missing till 2004.