The latest MWAB news

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?

Let’s talk about it: Mimi Boomhower

This time I’d like us all to discuss one of my oldest cases: Mimi Boomhower, who’s been missing for nearly 70 years. She disappeared from Los Angeles in 1949, at the age of 48, and was never seen again. Her case got a fair amount of attention at the time, probably because her deceased husband had been a wealthy businessman and Mimi herself was quite the socialite. Contemporary press articles often called her “the merry widow.”

Mimi was childless and her closest living relatives were siblings who lived on the East Coast, but she had plenty of friends, and they all swore that it was completely unlike her to just drop out of sight without telling anyone where she was going. Yet I found a seeming contradiction in the news accounts: when she DID drop out of sight, her friends assumed she’d just gone off on a short trip and would be back in her own sweet time, and so she wasn’t reported missing for the better part of a week. I have to wonder if her friends knew more than they disclosed.

The only trace of her they ever found was her purse, which got left in a phone booth with a note saying “We found this on the beach Thursday night.” The police never found out who left it there, but they noted the purse didn’t look like it had been exposed to sand or water. And anyone who’s been anywhere near a beach knows that sand gets into everything.

It’s worth noting that, although she kept up appearances, she was having financial problems and was pawning things and selling other things at a loss and taking out loans and so on. A judge found it necessary to declare her legally dead a whopping eleven days after she was last seen, just in order to allow her attorney access to her accounts so he could keep paying on her home equity loan and the bank wouldn’t foreclose on her house. (The judge subsequently reversed his decision and declared that Mimi was legally alive after all. Seven years later, she was declared dead a second time. Shrug.) Mimi’s furniture and her late husband’s big game trophies were sold off after she disappeared to cover her debts, and I learned that one of the buyers discovered his new elephant head had tusks made of plaster-of-paris rather than ivory — presumably Mimi had sold off the ivory earlier.

Nevertheless, she can’t have been TOO hard-up. She was wearing $25,000 worth of jewelry when she disappeared, after all. That’s $25,000 in 1949 dollars, too. Factor in inflation and that jewelry would be worth over $250,000 today.

Mimi’s friends and associates all said she was neither suicidal nor thinking of eloping. One of her closest friends was quoted as saying, “We’ve ruled out everything but foul play.” Yet they couldn’t think of anyone who had a reason to hurt her, either.

Offhand the only sensible explanation I can think of is this: Mimi had arranged to meet someone, possibly to talk about selling or pawning more of her jewelry or something. Maybe this person was of the sketchy variety and that’s why she didn’t tell her friends about it. And this person, rather than buying whatever Mimi was selling, simply killed her and took it for himself.

But in that case, where’s the body? And can there have really been NO SUSPECTS AT ALL over the years? ‘Tis a puzzlement.

Let’s talk about it.

MP of the week squeaked in: Nigel Jay

This week’s featured MP (added at 11:26 p.m., whew!) is Nigel Shervanti Jay, a 33-year-old African-American man who disappeared from Oakland, California on April 7, 2013. I don’t have a whole lot on his disappearance, other than that it’s considered suspicious. Nigel has two tattoos, one of which is of a spatula — perhaps related to his job as a cook.

I apologize, I beeped up

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.

A word about Russell Randall Thompson

For some reason a lot of people want to know about Russell Randall Thompson all of a sudden. They keep contacting me through various mediums to ask about him because they can’t find him listed anywhere else. I’ve heard about him, like, three or four times in the past week.

Well, he’s on CDOJ, and I don’t know anything more about him than what’s in the casefile. CDOJ, unfortunately, is PACKED with cases that aren’t available anywhere else.

Flashback Friday: Essie Hiett

This week’s FF case is Essie Margarette “Marge” Hiett, who disappeared from Oroville, California on February 13, 1978. A bartender and waitress, she finished up her shift in the wee hours of the morning and started driving home, but never made it. Her car was found wrecked in a ditch, with her belongings scattered, and no sign of her.

Essie’s case actually got some attention two years ago when Marvin Owens was charged with the murder of his still-missing wife Deborah Diane Owens. Because Deborah also disappeared in 1978, from the same area as Essie, and they had mutual friends, the cops looked into the idea that Marvin had killed Essie too. They decided no. He eventually pleaded out in Deborah’s case and got four years.

As for Essie, the police have another person of interest in her disappearance now — someone whom Marvin Owens knew also. I wonder if they believe someone forced her off the road and abducted her, or if their theory is that first she crashed and then afterwards someone took advantage of the situation.