Black History Month: Irene Kouame

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Irene Kouame, a seventeen-year-old girl who disappeared from Pasadena, California on August 23, 2001. She’s from the sub-Saharan African nation of Cote d’Ivoire aka the Ivory Coast, and was in the U.S. on an exchange program.

Irene is classified as a runaway. Perhaps she simply didn’t want to return to her home county, a third-world nation that saw a coup in 1999 and, after her disappearance, two civil wars inside of a decade.

Irene would be 33 years old today.

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MP of the week: Raymond Poland

This week’s featured missing person is Raymond Samuel Poland, a 35-year-old man who was last seen in Erie, Pennsylvania on August 22, 2001. Since he wasn’t reported missing for a year, I’m not sure how they fixed the date of his disappearance, but that’s what I’ve got.

Poland was an occasionally homeless alcoholic who had trouble keeping a job because of his problem. I think he may still be alive and just unaware that his family’s looking for him, or he may be a John Doe in some far-off part of the country.

Select It Sunday: Masayuki Kubo

This week’s Select It Sunday is Masayuki Kubo. I’m not sure who suggested it, Kat maybe. Blog commenter Hennylee put together a lovely spreadsheet of suggestions for me to go off of.

Kubo was 80 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease when he disappeared from Honolulu on June 23, 2001. He had a history of wandering off from home and getting lost, and then one day he went for a walk, got lost, and never came back.  There were possible sightings of him in the local area after his disappearance, leading to speculation that he was still alive, but I doubt that’s true anymore.

Let’s Talk About It: Kristopher Charles Loesch

Yeah, so I’ve decided to turn this “Let’s Talk About It” thing into a feature for as long as I can find strange cases with a lot of twists and turns and unanswered questions. Let’s make it Thursday’s, yeah? Juanita Oxenrider‘s one last week got a decent response so I’ll run with it.

So this Thursday I’d like to talk about Kristopher Charles Loesch. His official place and date of disappearance are given as May 16, 2001 in Post Falls, Idaho, when he was ten, but that’s kind of open to question. In fact, just about everything about Kristopher’s disappearance is open to question.

Whatever the case may be, Kristopher, who had been attending school under an alias name and living with a guardian, dropped out of sight around 2000 or 2001. His school never got any requests to forward his transcripts anywhere else. The guardian was later imprisoned for fraud.

Both of Christopher’s maternal grandparents were murdered in separate incidents in the 1990s, and the authorities think his mother, Tina Loesch, was involved. She was dating another woman, Skye Hanson. In 2008, warrants were issued for the couple’s arrest for the murder of Tina’s mother, and they were broadcast as fugitives on America’s Most Wanted. A few hours later, they killed themselves out in the desert near Tucson, Arizona. They left a very long suicide note saying they were innocent of murder. I’m not sure if the note mentioned Kristopher at all.

It seems the authorities didn’t start looking for Kristopher in earnest until after his mother’s and her girlfriend’s deaths in 2008, by which time he would have been 18. The most recent article I could find on the case dates from 2011; Kristopher’s uncle (Tina’s brother) still hopes for some kind of resolution, both in the murders and in his nephew’s disappearance.

He could be anywhere on this earth. Wherever he is, though, I doubt he’s still alive.

So what do y’all think? I yield the floor to you.

Select It Sunday: Brian Martin

This week’s SIS case is Brian Kent Martin, selected via Facebook by Melissa A. She was a friend of his when they were growing up.

It isn’t clear exactly when Brian disappeared. His mother last spoke to him in March 2001; he was living in Biloxi, Mississippi at the time. She didn’t report him missing until September. He was transient at the time of his disappearance and had no legal address, and his mother and siblings lived in Georgia, which would explain why it took so long for the report to be filed.

Brian suffered from dyslexia, which can make anyone’s school years a misery. The person’s intelligence is unimpaired and I’ve heard of dyslexic people who’ve gotten graduate degrees, but it makes reading very difficult. Depending on the severity of the condition, you could just need to work a little harder at reading, or you could be almost entirely illiterate. A person with dyslexia is often placed in special education at school, at least for the reading-intensive classes. Which is good, because special education teachers are specially trained to help them learn strategies to compensate for their condition, but it’s also bad, because the other kids at school inevitably make fun of the special ed kids and sometimes even other teachers bully them. The bullying and the struggle to deal with reading may explain why Brian dropped out of high school.

(I’m an excellent reader, as you’ve probably guessed, and picked it up pretty much instantly in first grade. Once, in third grade, we were put into small groups and told to read a story in our reading books aloud to each other, taking turns, a few paragraphs at a time. A girl in my group was dyslexic and read aloud very slowly, often stumbling over her words. The teacher deliberately placed her with me because she thought, for some reason, that Rachel would benefit with having a really good reader in her group. I’m ashamed, even now, to admit I kept complaining to the rest of the group about how long she was taking to read her parts, and I even asked my teacher to move me to a different group. Rachel, I’m really sorry for being such a jerk.)

Brian was 24 when he disappeared; he would 39 now, turning 40 in November. Although there’s no hard evidence of foul play in this case that I know of, both the Martin family and the police believe he was probably murdered. After his 2001 disappearance, his paper trail stops: no Social Security number activity, no record of employment, in the past 15 years. And he didn’t have a passport so it’s unlikely he left the country. He doesn’t seem to have had any motive to walk away from his life — in fact, he’d said he wanted to return to Georgia where most of his family lived.

He may very well be a John Doe somewhere. The only particularly unusual physical characteristic I know of is an unspecified “gang brand” five inches in size on his arm. I don’t know whether they mean a tattoo or an actual brand.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Some MP news highlights while I was gone:

  • Mark Duane Woodard has been found. Or rather, he was found in 1977, 23 months after his disappearance, but not identified till now. The aforementioned news link uses his Charley Project pic, and asked me permission first. (Thanks!) This link has another photo of him, a much better quality one, as well as more details about his disappearance. He was murdered, shot to death. His sister is the only surviving member of the immediate family.
  • In the state of Thuringia in central Germany they have found a missing girl, Peggy No-Last-Name-Released [edit: per a UK article supplied by a commenter, it’s Knobloch], who disappeared mysteriously fifteen years ago, at the age of nine. A mushroom picker found her bones in the forest nine miles from Peggy’s hometown of Lichtenberg. According to this article and one other I found about the case, this had been a murder-without-a-body (MWAB) case: In 2004, a mentally disabled man was convicted of Peggy’s murder. He was later acquitted in a retrial due to lack of evidence after a key witness retracted his statement.
  • Corry Ehlers, a guy who disappeared while hiking in Utah in 2012, has also been found deceased. His skeletal remains, found “in a steep, rocky spot near Alta Ski Resort” last summer, were identified in late June. They think Corry fell off a cliff.
  • Three days ago it was fifteen years since sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley vanished mysteriously from Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has done an anniversary article about it, with quotes from Diamond and Tionda’s two other sisters, Rita and Victoria: The girls disappeared just a day before Victoria Bradley’s ninth birthday. Until recent years, Bradley, who turns 24 on Thursday, said she was unable to celebrate her birthday because of her depression over the anniversary of their disappearance. I have not updated the girls’ casefiles in over a decade, and last time was just to add some more pics. I will give a look and see if I can find any developments that have taken place in the intervening years.
  • Two more recent anniversaries: eleven years since Stacy Ann Aragon and her boyfriend Steven Bishop disappeared from Arizona (see article; Stacy has been reported missing but it appears Steven has not been), and ten years since Roxanne Paltauf disappeared (article) from Texas.
  • The NCMEC reports that two of my oldest family abduction cases have been resolved, with the children located alive. One was Jacquelina Ann Gomez, who was abducted from Illinois by her father in 1992 at the age of 3. She would be 27 now, 28 in September.
  • The other case involves two brothers who disappeared with their mother and stepfather from Blairsville, Georgia in 1996, when the boys were 2 and 3. A day or so before I left for Minneapolis I got contacted by a very excited reporter who ran a story on Rick Tyler, a man who’s running for Congress under the odious slogan “Make America White Again.” She said after she ran the story she was deluged with emails from people who believed Rick Tyler was probably the same Rick Tyler who was listed as the missing Blairsville kids’ stepfather. She also said the police were now claiming that the boys’ mom DID have custody of them when they disappeared, after all. Well, then the day I left Minneapolis I got an NCMEC notice saying the boys were recovered. I’m not going to say their names on here or put them on the resolved page because I’m not sure about the custody issue, but it should be easy enough to determine who they are from the info I just provided.
  • The state of Arkansas has a brand shiny new MP database with 510 people on it, many whose names I don’t recognize. I am very happy about this. I believe every state should have their own publicly searchable online database, as large and comprehensive as possible. Many of the people listed in this new database have no pics though. I hope this situation improves.
  • Morgan Keyanna Martin, a pregnant teenager who disappeared in 2012, is now considered a MWAB case. Jacobee Flowers, the father of the unborn child, has been charged with her murder. Homicide is the most common non-natural cause of death for pregnant women in the US and from what I have read, all around the world, the murder of pregnant women — usually by their baby’s father — is a universal problem.
  • HuffPo has published a photo essay about the 1998 disappearance of SUNY-Albany student Suzanne Lyall. It’s a mysterious case; no obvious suspects, no answers. 19 years old, promising future, and then gone.
  • Kidnap survivor Jaycee Dugard has been in the news again, going on TV and talking about how her life’s going and how she’s raising the two daughters she had with her kidnapper Philip Garrido. The link I just gave provides lots of news articles to read, more than I can summarize here. But here’s one quote from this article to show what a resilient woman and amazing mother Jaycee was and still is: As she and her daughters grew older, Dugard said she planted a flower in front of the shed and set up a little school to teach them as much as she could with only her fifth-grade education. “They’re so resilient, and they’re beautiful and loving, and I’m really lucky,” she said. Dugard has protected her daughters’ privacy and said some of their friends don’t even know of their past. She said the three of them are able to talk about what happened with each other.

MP of the week: Stefanie Welch

This week’s featured missing person is Stefanie Welch, a 23-year-old mother of two who was last seen dropping her kid off at preschool in Lakin, Kansas. Her kid would probably be in high school or maybe college now: Stefanie has been missing for 15 years.

There’s a fair amount of info in this case but it’s also kind of mysterious: she was engaged to one guy, while in the process of a divorce from another, and had been threatened by a third man, but none of the above parties are considered strong suspects in her case. Her car turned up in a mobile home park and witnesses saw a mysterious “man in black” leaving there. (Was it Will Smith?)

All joking aside, I don’t know this woman’s family but this has got to be so devastating for those poor boys of hers, who may not even remember their mother at all.