Five (sorta) missing people in the wreckage of a crashed plane

So, if a plane crashes and they find the crash site but are unable to recover the bodies for whatever reason, I don’t usually consider those people to be missing, even by my quite generous definition. After all, their fate and the location of their remains is known.

But today, I added five people whose case fit those parameters: plane crash, wreckage found. I decided I could just about wedge the case within the Charley Project’s case requirements because, after the crash site was initially located, it vanished again. It moved.

I doubt that happens all that often, but this was in Alaska, the Land That Eats People.

A small plane carrying four Polish tourists and their pilot was on an aerial tour of Denali National Park when it hit the side of the mountain. This was at 11,000-foot elevation, on an unstable field of ice and snow. When park rangers found the site a few days later, the plane was embedded in snow right on the side of a cliff, as you can see in the photo accompanying this article. The fact that it’s gone now is not terribly surprising: shifting/melting ice and snow, wind, etc.

So anyway, the victims are now up on my site: the pilot, Craig Layson, from Michigan, and the four passengers: Janusz Intek, Maria Libacka, Kazimierz Miernik and Robert Sieniawski, all of them Poles. Rest In Peace. The mountain is their grave.

Wanted to refer everyone to this article

Charley Project Facebook user Michelle S. found this article about the 1987 disappearance of Ronald Oquilluk (who was not on Charley) and how he was identified over thirty years after he went missing. It’s a very good article and there’s a bit at the bottom about the recent identification of missing hunter Patrick Chambers.

Oquilluk’s case reminds me of the 2016 disappearance of Walter Hawk, another Native Alaskan man with special needs who wandered into the wilderness and never came back. What’s particularly frustrating in Hawk’s case is that searchers actually saw him in the days after he went missing, just hoofing it across the tundra, but apparently they weren’t able to get his attention. So close, yet so far.

I’ll say it again: Alaska eats people.

Oquilluk’s remains were found a full 450 miles from where he was last seen, and I wonder whether Hawk wandered as far as that. He disappeared during the summertime, and if he knew how to live off the land he might have been able to survive for an extended time period.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Ai Adams

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 Ai Adams, a 38-year-old Japanese-American woman who disappeared from Beaver, Alaska on May 20, 2017.

Her fate is known: she, her husband Clifford, and another person were on the Yukon River when their boat capsized. Ai and Clifford never made it to shore, but their friend was wearing a life jacket and she survived. Clifford’s body didn’t turn up for a month. Ai’s was never found.

I actually have a friend who has a friend who knew the Adamses. In addition, Ai was photographed and quoted for this New York Times article which came out just months before her death. She sounds like a very brave person, to have taken the enormous leap from the megalopolis of Tokyo to living off the land in northern Alaska.

“Life is just once,” she told the New York Times reporter.

Murder-without-a-body cases galore!

So, someone found a photo of Eli Robert Sharclane on Facebook so I was able to add his case to the Charley Project. I’ve blogged about his case before; it’s kind of unusual. A guy threw him off a bridge fifty feet down to the freezing water and he was never seen again, but the suspect was only convicted of ATTEMPTED murder, because it was 1977 and no-body homicide convictions were not really a thing yet.

More information has been released about the 1991 disappearance of Sabrina Leigh Long. All we knew before was that a female suspect was arrested and charged with kidnapping, someone who’d attended Sabrina’s high school but wasn’t in her year, and the police said multiple people were involved.

Well, this article has a LOT more stuff about the case. Basically, Sabrina said she was supposed to visit a neighbor on the day of her disappearance, but the neighbor said she wasn’t expected and he had no idea why she said she was going to see him. The neighbor, Keith Loyd, had an alibi and wasn’t a suspect in her case, but in 2017 he died by suicide and left a note implicating himself and Melinda McSwain (the woman now charged in Sabrina’s kidnapping) in Sabrina’s disappearance.

Loyd’s alibi for Sabrina’s disappearance had been that he was out with his girlfriend. I wonder if that girlfriend was McSwain. If both of them had kidnapped and killed Sabrina, it would be easy for them to alibi each other.

DonaMae Bourgeois Bayerl‘s husband John has been arrested at his retirement home in Florida and charged with murder. I’m so happy; he’s been a suspect for a very long time. I’ve met DonaMae’s family before; they attend the Wisconsin missing persons events.

Also, yesterday they held closing arguments in the trial of Liam McAtasney for the murder of 19-year-old Sarah L. Stern. She disappeared from Neptune, New Jersey in 2016. The second suspect, Preston Taylor, allegedly helped dispose of her body. He pleaded guilty and testified against McAtasney. The verdict is expected next week.

And Thomas Skeek is on trial for the murder of his wife, Linda Skeek, who disappeared in 2016. Per this article, case had been “shrouded in secrecy” and it wasn’t until the trial actually began that it became public knowledge that Linda’s body was never found. I haven’t heard of this case before. I’ll have to add her. [UPDATE: I did.]

Native American Heritage Month: Walter Hawk

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Walter Hawk, who disappeared from Tuluksak, a Yupik village in Alaska, on July 13, 2016, at the age of 43. He is considered a vulnerable adult and apparently had a habit of wandering.

Hawk left a relative’s home in the early morning hours and never returned. Frustratingly, searchers actually saw him when they were combing through the wilderness, but he would vanish again before they could make contact. Like, they’d be in a plane or a kayak, and they’d see him walking along, but a good distance away, miles even, and they couldn’t get to him.

Apparently Hawk had a good set of legs on him and good wilderness survival skills; he was capable of making it on his own for some time. But two winters have passed and we’re going into a third now, and I don’t think he can still be alive in the bush.

Native American Heritage Month: Justina Kunayak

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Justina Mabel Kunayak, a 45-year-old woman who who disappeared from Nome, Alaska on November 18, 1990.

I don’t know much about Justina’s disappearance, but her casefile includes the following notice:

Approximately 20 members of Alaska’s Native American community have vanished or died under questionable circumstances in the Nome area since the 1960s. Authorities opened a probe into their deaths and disappearances, but they do not believe a serial predator was involved.

Every one of the eight Charley Project missing persons from Nome are Native American, and the following have that same notice: Donald Adams, Nathan Anungazuk and Eric M. Apatiki.

I found a Justina Kunayak Jr. mentioned in a article from January 2017; perhaps the missing Justina’s daughter. Justina Jr., at the time of the article’s publication anyway, managed a hotel in Anchorage.

Native American Heritage Month: Ida Jacomet

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Ida Rose Jacomet, age 37, who disappeared from Fairbanks, Alaska on October 2, 1975. I do not know her tribal info.

She was last seen at a bar. After her disappearance, her purse was found in the bar’s parking lot, which makes me wonder if she got grabbed just after she left.

I don’t know anything much else about her case, but I doubt she’s still alive. Alaska has a high violent crime rate, and it was worse back in the seventies.