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.
I find the disappearance of best friends Mark Anthony Degner and Bryan Andrew Hayes puzzling and troubling. They’ve been missing from Jacksonville, Florida since February 1, 2005 — twelve years, nearly twelve and a half.
At first the circumstances of the boys’ cases look pedestrian enough: they were living in a group home, told friends they were going to run away, and apparently did just that. They were even sighted in Holly Hill, a small town south of Jacksonville on the Florida coast, two months later.
The boys, at just twelve (Mark) and thirteen (Bryan), were extremely young to have been gone this long. Bryan had run away before, but never for longer than a day, and Mark had no history of running away. Furthermore, they were developmentally delayed, functioning on the level of seven- to ten-year-old children, and both suffered from bipolar disorder.
How could they have remained off the map this long? Did the boys meet with foul play? If they’re still alive, why haven’t they resurfaced and who’s helping them stay hidden? Were relatives investigated? Were some member or members of the boys’ families unhappy that they were living in a group home? Or is it possible they fell victim to sex trafficking? Due to their disabilities. I should think they would have been extremely vulnerable to any kind of exploitation — even more so than most runaways.
The case reminds me of Clayton Lynn McCarter and Rodney Michael Scott, who ran away from a Bowling Green, Kentucky children’s home three and a half years ago and still haven’t been found. They were almost the same age: fifteen and thirteen. Clayton was developmentally delayed and had psychiatric issues, just like Mark and Bryan, and there’s a good chance Rodney had similar problems though I don’t know that for sure. I’m not suggesting McCarter/Scott disappearances are related to Mark and Bryan’s, though, given the distance in both time and space.
So what do you think happened to Mark Degner and Bryan Hayes? Let’s talk about it.
It’s been a bit since I did a Select It Sunday. Sorry. This one was chosen by one I. Can’t-Remember, someone who contacted me on the Charley Project’s Facebook page (which hit 10,000 likes this week! Wee!) This person asked me to write about Myra Lewis, a Camden, Mississippi who disappeared on March 1, 2014, at the age of two.
There’s very little information about Myra, although the Clarion-Ledger did do an anniversary article about her disappearance last month. She just disappeared from her front yard on Mount Pilgrim Road in Camden, a rural unincorporated community. Myra’s mom was going to the grocery store and told Myra and her sisters to go inside, where their father was. This was between 10:30 and 11:00 in the morning.
Myra apparently never made it inside, or if she did, her father never saw her. Because each parent thought she was with the other one, she wasn’t missed for hours.
Me, I have to wonder if she didn’t just wander off. I was trying to get a better idea of what the Camden area was like — the Wikipedia entry doesn’t say much — so I looked at Zillow, a real estate website. Their listings for Camden have a lot of “lots” for sale, with trees and ponds and such. It would be easy for a two-year-old to disappear in such an environment.
For what it’s worth, the police are saying there’s no reason to believe Myra isn’t alive. I hope she is. She wasn’t even two and a half when she disappeared and would probably have no memories of her home and parents.
You might recall how recently I listed a certain missing sixteen-year-old girl named Kimberly Arteaga as being found safe. She disappeared from Lemon Grove, California in 2014. This was because I got an NCMEC notice to that effect. Then, a few days after I had posted Kimberly on the resolved page, I got another NCMEC notice saying she was found deceased.
Confused, I Googled her name and couldn’t find any articles about her body turning up, so I assumed the first notice must be the correct one.
Well, you know what they say about assuming. Now it’s hit the news: Kimberly Arteaga has been identified. She was found murdered in Chula Vista by a guy walking his dog. They think she was killed around the same time she disappeared.
I have removed her previous resolved notice and plan to put up another next time I update. I apologize for my mistake; I should have contacted the NCMEC and asked for clarification.
What’s going on with this NCMEC poster? Hailey Sandoval disappeared at the age of one year, yet she’s classified as a runaway. And the poster doesn’t even give the name of the city she disappeared from, only the state. That narrows it down to 163,696 square miles.
I checked and Hailey is on CDOJ with more information: she was taken by her mother, who was then sixteen years old. She disappeared from Lynwood.
Why the NCMEC didn’t put this crucial information on the poster is beyond me. Shrug. I checked to see if the mother is also listed in the NCMEC database; she is not.
I found out from the “No Body” Twitter feed that Delano Wilson‘s father, Willie Wilson who’d been charged with killing him, has been found not guilty. That’s quite unusual; even in MWAB cases, most people in this country that face criminal charges either plead out, or get convicted at trial. If you look at my list of convictions in MWAB cases, it’s more than three times longer than my list of acquittals. I think the rate of MWAB convictions is so high because, without a body, all other aspects of the case must be very strong, airtight as it were.
And apparently the case wasn’t airtight here. This article says the prosecution pointed out that Willie Wilson invented a story about his son being kidnapped, a story that was easily disproved, and said the only reasonable explanation why Willie dreamed up the abduction story is because he killed Delano. But there was almost no physical evidence to speak of, or witnesses, and I’m thinking perhaps at least some of the jury members were like “I know he’s guilty, but…” The law says if there is reasonable doubt, the jury must acquit the defendant.
That poor baby was only six weeks old.