Sometimes it seems like I don’t get a resolved case for a month and then suddenly get hit with a dozen at once. This next update will have five. So far. I’m linking to their casefiles but they won’t be up for much longer.
- Runaway Sualee Jeseenia Gonzalez Castro has been found alive, per NCMEC. She had been missing for two years and almost two months and is now 19 years old.
- Runaway Alondra Hernandez-Trujillo has also been found alive, per NCMEC. She had been missing for almost three years. She is now 18.
- Convicted murderer Thomas Riffenburg has confessed to the killings of his girlfriend, Jennifer Anne Walsh, and their son, Alexander Mitchell Riffenburg, who had been missing from Palmdale, California since January 9, 2009. Jennifer was 23 and Alexander was only a year old. This article provides a lot of background info about their cases, more than I have on Charley. Thomas provided hand-drawn maps to where he’d buried their bodies, and the cops found remains and are awaiting DNA confirmation of their identities. I think I’ll resolve their cases now; it’s highly unlikely they’re anyone but Jennifer and Alexander.
- A skull found in the woods 2001 has been identified as Ella Mae Williams, an 80-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease who wandered from her Gainesville, Florida home on March 25, 1990. (The article incorrectly gives her age as 78.)
I had a bit of a burst and spent all night and into the morning working on today’s updates. I raided Facebook, as I have said, finding additional pictures and sometimes a lot more.
- Autumn Starr Cerenil-Lee: It’s eerie and sad to find traces of my MPs’ pre-disappearance lives online. I found Autumn’s Facebook page. Less than a month before her disappearance she wrote she was getting a divorce, after a marriage that had lasted under a year. Her husband posted a comment saying she was to blame for what had occurred. Autumn also wrote about her daughter, who had some chromosomal anomalies that caused severe health problems.
I can only hope that she decided to walk away from her life — and the evidence does seem to indicate that she did walk away, at least for awhile, since she was allegedly sighted in Wyoming. But did she intend to stay gone this long, almost four years now?
- Kelsey Emily Collins: I finally found out the name of that scumbag who was pimping her. I wish I could have found his picture too, and that of his woman accomplice. It seems like a massive failure on the authorities’ part that they didn’t offer Kelsey witness protection, but they claim they didn’t know it was needed, and that if she had told them about any threats they would have helped her.
- Georgia Nadine Kirk: Shades of Walter Dunson here; they were the same age too, almost. Ted Kirk sounds like a snotrag. I read that he lives on a huge property with something like 20 vehicles on it, and friends reported the place smelled pretty bad. I’m not sure if the cops have searched for Nadine’s body there yet; they asked for permission to go over it with cadaver dogs but Ted said no. It seems like there should be enough evidence by now to get a warrant.
- Irma Mkrtchyan: I found Irma’s Facebook page too. She often wrote posts in Russian, and she posted photographs of herself visiting Armenia. She was born there, graduated from a polytechnic there and moved to the U.S. sometime after 1996 (that’s when she got her degree). I found her children’s Facebook pages as well and it says her son was born in Yerevan.
Irma’s disappearance appears to have torn her family apart. I found a vicious character assassination of her brother Davit (aka David), which accused him of fraud, laziness, dishonesty, and generally being a slimeball. I think it must have been written by Irma’s ex-husband. The horrible statement said Davit had dishonored his sister’s legacy, lied to the police, and started fights within the family, and that Irma’s daughter had a restraining order against him. I hope that anyone who reads it would take it with a grain of salt. Davit appears to be the only one in the family who is actively trying to solve his sister’s disappearance.
I wonder how Irma’s surname is pronounced. It needs a serious infusion of vowels.
- Noah Pomaikai Montemayor: A very sad case — a bright, talented, promising kid who, it appears, cracked under the pressure to live up to that promise. It reminded me of the Matthew Wilson case from ten years ago. Matthew did eventually turn up alive, if not well, and I hope Noah will do the same. They say that the longer you’re gone, the harder it is to call home. But it seems odd that he hasn’t been found by now, especially given he had nothing with him and there was an extensive and well-publicized search. I mean, it’s an island.
- Nancy Paulikas: My God Alzheimer’s is scary. Especially in someone as young and smart and successful as she was. Recently I read a book I liked and looked the author up on Facebook, hoping to contact her; I found her page but it hadn’t been updated since 2013 and the last post said she had Alzheimer’s. I concluded there was no point in messaging her because she probably could no longer read. Hopefully by the time I’m old enough to worry about getting it, they’ll have found a cure.
Preston Winfrey, my new web guru, was given the honor of selecting my Sunday case this week, and he chose Brittanee Marie Drexel. Her case has been relatively high profile and bears similarities to Natalee Holloway’s: a beautiful high school student with everything going for her goes off to a resort town and is never seen again. She was seventeen and a junior when she disappeared from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on April 25, 2009. She was from New York and had gone to Myrtle Beach (without parental permission) for spring break.
In 2016, investigators announced they thought they knew what happened to her. The theory is that she was abducted, held against her will and gang-raped for several days. Her abductors planned to sell her into prostitution, but because her disappearance received such widespread publicity, they decided to kill her instead.
This theory is short on evidence, though, and although suspects have been named in the alleged kidnapping, rape and murder, no one has been charged and Brittanee has never been found.
It has been brought to my attention that Walter Shannon Stevenson, whose case I resolved yesterday, has not been found after all. This article, from which I got the original information, has issued a retraction. A suspect, Jeffrey May, has been charged with his murder, but Walter’s case is currently a no-body homicide.
I hope the body turns up soon. In the meantime, I’ll remove the resolved notice and put up Walter’s casefile again with the next update (probably today).
And speaking of murder-without-a-body cases, it looks like the only indicted suspect in Katherine and Sheila Lyon‘s 1975 disappearances is about to plead guilty. Some articles:
This isn’t the end of the story — there’s another suspect who is also believed to have been involved — but it might be the beginning of the end.
As of this writing, the Corpus Delicti section of Charley — my three lists of murder-without-a-body cases currently on the website — has approximately 615 names. (I saw “approximately” because a few names are on more than one list due to multiple defendants and multiple outcomes. I wish I could find the outcomes for more of those cases on List Three, which surely must have been resolved by now.)
For more details about murder-without-a-body cases, I highly recommend you check out Tad DiBiase’s website (particularly this PDF) and book.
Vivi D., a woman from Brazil, asked me to profile fellow Brazilian Carla Vicentini. I was going to make her my MP of the week but decided to do a Select It Sunday case for her instead.
Carla was 22 and living in Newark, New Jersey on a cultural exchange program when she disappeared on February 9, 2006. Vivi D., when asking for me to give the case some publicity, said, “There was not a lot of publicity in her case since she was a student in Brazil, she was there only a month when it happened.” Carla’s Charley Project casefile notes that her case “has been well-covered in the media in Brazil and in Portuguese-language newspapers in New Jersey, but the mainstream American press has given it little attention.”
I haven’t updated Carla’s case since 2009, but I ought to. I found this 2010 article and this 2015 article, both from the Star-Ledger newspaper, with additional details about her case.
She was a very attractive young woman, didn’t speak much English, and was perhaps a bit naive — she grew up in a small farming community in Brazil, and Newark is a pretty rough city. She was last seen leaving a bar with a strange man; my guess is he was either a trafficker or, more likely, a garden-variety predator who wouldn’t take no for an answer, and that he knows what happened to her. The problem is that he has yet to be identified.
This week’s featured missing person is Barry Miles Pruett, who disappeared from Redding, California on January 5, 2008, at the age of 28. I’ve got two available photos of him: in one he is clean-cut, military even were it not for the goatee, and in the other he’s quite unkempt and looks like a homeless person.
There’s no reason to suppose Barry’s dead: although he hasn’t had contact with his family since his disappearance, he is known to have been alive (if not well) in El Paso, Texas in 2009 and 2010. El Paso is where he’d told his family he was heading, and it’s 1,346 miles from Redding.
Pruett suffers from the double whammy of both bipolar disorder (characteristic by drastic mood swings) and schizophrenia (characterized by psychosis) and may not even know who he is anymore. My guess is he’s living in a homeless community somewhere, perhaps even still in El Paso.
I’ve got five cases to resolve next update. (Not sure if that update will be today. I know it’s been almost a week but I’ve got a lot of stuff to do today. If not today, then tomorrow.)
The body of John Henry Dubose, a 38-year-old missing from South Carolina since 2000, was found inside his submerged vehicle in Lake Russell. They’re still investigating but my guess is it was an accident.
The body of Michael Damian Rust, who was reported missing from Saguache, Colorado in 2009 (I updated his case earlier this month), was found in January. The remains weren’t identified until now. Authorities haven’t released any info about how the body was found or what the cause of death was, but the circumstances of his disappearance strongly indicate he was murdered.
Susan Glaser, who disappeared from Wisconsin in 1995, has been identified. Her body was found in Portage County, Wisconsin in May 1998. Glaser’s boyfriend, who made “suspicious statements” about her case, committed suicide several months after she went missing.
Meanwhile the NCMEC reports that Marifer and Stephanie Garcia, sisters who were abducted by their non-custodial mother from Michigan in 2005, have been found safe. Stephanie was two years old at the time of her abduction and Marifer was one day past her first birthday. They would now be 13 and 12 respectively.