Latest MP news

(I know I’ve been a lazy-butt and not updated for like a week. I hit my head last Friday and my head was killing me for days afterwards in spite of the application of ice packs etc. On Saturday I went to ER because I thought I might have a concussion. They did tests, and said no, and prescribed some completely ineffective painkillers. I actually went back a few days later because my head was still hurting horribly and they did the same tests and said I was fine. Well, the headache finally stopped. Maybe it was the weather — we’ve had horrible storms and humidity all week, and things finally cleared up today.)

  • As various commenters and emailers have noted: Francine Frost (missing from Oklahoma, 1981) and Joseph Spears (missing from Mississippi, 1973) have both been identified.
  • Joseph was 17 when he escaped from a juvenile detention center. Less than a month later, he’d made it to Texas and was crossing a freeway when he was hit by a vehicle and killed. He was finally identified this month. Per this article:
    Mary Raskin, mother of missing teen Joseph “Joey” Norman Spears, ended up looking at pictures of her son’s body to positively identify him, Harrison County Sheriff’s Investigator Kristi Johnson said Monday.
    Officials with the Galveston medical examiner’s office were unable to get a proper DNA sample from Spears’ body to confirm the identity, Johnson said. Instead, they called on Harrison County cold case investigators to provide all the facts they had on the case for comparison to the evidence Texas officials had on hand.
    Mary Raskin, Spears’ mother, identified her son.
    “I have mixed emotions,” Johnson said after learning the news. “I am relieved the case is solved but I know it’s not the outcome Mrs. Raskin was hoping for. I’m sad for her but I’m glad she is getting the answers she was searching for for 43 years. The family has shared their appreciation for us working on this.”
  • As for Francine, her body was found in Muskogee County, Oklahoma two years after her disappearance. She was 43 years old. Per this article: a year ago Francine’s family heard about the Muskogee remains and got a court order to exhume and test for DNA:
    Vernon Martin, the superintendent of Green Hill Cemetery, helped make it happen.
    He said there are about 1,400 unidentified bodies buried there – many of them dating back before statehood.
    He took us back to the plot where Frost’s remains stayed for more than 30 years before they were finally identified.
    “This is actually greater than the pay that you receive in this job, the people that we come across on a daily basis and able to help them through their loss, whether it’s last week, or, in this case, 1981,” Martin said.
    Unlike with Joey Spears, this case is obviously still not over yet. Joey died in an accident; Francine appears to have been abducted and murdered. Her family has half the answer now — that is, they have her back and they can bury her — but I’m sure they’d also like to know who killed her.
    (An Oklahoma TV show actually wanted to interview me about Francine and in particular about identifying long-buried John and Jane Does, but I had spent the day in bed nursing that headache. I didn’t even check my email until 10:00 p.m. and thus missed the interview opportunity. Oh well.)
  • The case of long-missing Quebecois child Yohanna Cyr is back in the news, because a woman in the United States has come forward and thinks she’s Yohanna. Usually I don’t pay too close attention to claims like this, because it’s hardly ever the missing person. But this one has me wondering, because, as this article says, both Yohanna and the American woman have a Y-shaped birthmark on their index finger. I blogged about Yohanna twice, once in 2014 and once in 2011. In the 2011 entry, Yohanna’s mom posted a comment in French.
  • You guys may have heard about the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania twins who disappeared at some indeterminate time years ago — some articles say 10 years, some say 13-14 years. Mom claimed she sold them, but retracted her story after she was informed this was a crime. The first time authorities realized the kids were missing was when CPS sent the cops to the house to remove all the kids, and the cops duly removed the four they found, and CPS was like, “Um, she actually has six.”
    NamUs has profiles for the kids: Inisha Fowler and Ivon Fowler. The only picture that I’ve been able to find is a photo of them as babies, side by side, and I have no idea which twin is which. (See this article for that photo, and a pic of Mom, and of the twins’ not-missing brother as well.) I suppose I’ll post the case on Charley anyway. A baby photo is still a photo, and this is certainly an outrageous story that the world needs to know. Even if, by some miracle, Ivon and Inisha are still alive, the fact that no one noticed they were gone for so long is truly terrible. Heads should roll here — a lot of people dropped the ball.
  • The kidnapper of Zephany Nurse, a South African girl who was abducted as an infant and not found for seventeen years, has been sentenced to ten years in prison. (You might recall that Ann Pettway, Carlina White‘s abductor, got twelve.) Zephany grew up just a mile away from her real family’s home and attended the same school as her biological sister. The identity of the woman who kidnapped her has been withheld from the media to protect Zephany’s privacy.
    Outrageously, the kidnapper has refused to admit she did anything wrong. And sadly for the Nurse family, Zephany has chosen to remain with her kidnapper’s husband. I don’t blame her. I mean, for 17 years she thought this guy was her dad, and it’s a terrible situation she’s in. I just think it sucks for her real parents and I hope that Zephany does eventually choose to form a relationship with them.

ET yesterday

Yesterday I got another ET entry in, #196: Modiste Villebrun, the last person executed in Canada while it was still a colony. Villebrun lived in Quebec and he and his girlfriend, Sophie Boisclair, poisoned his wife and her husband so they could marry each other. They got away with the first murder but they were caught the second time. My guess is the lovers weren’t being terribly discreet about their affair.

Sophie Boisclair’s sentence was commuted to life in prison because she was pregnant. She was released after serving 20 years.

And that’s the last of my Executed Today entries for this month.

Tania Murrell’s brother has died

Per this article: Tania Marie Murrell‘s brother, John, has passed away. The 37-year-old, it says, “had battled drug addictions through most of his adult life.” He was living in a halfway house when he took an overdose of methadone and was taken to the hospital. He convinced a friend to sneak him out so he could make it back to the halfway house by curfew time. They found him dead in his bed the next morning.

Obviously it’s very sad. Drug and alcohol addiction is caused by a lot of complex factors, both genetic and environmental, but I’m sure the disappearance of his sister when he was a child was a great trauma. It may not have caused his later problems but it certainly didn’t help. He was the one who was supposed to have walked home from school with Tania that day. She went the other way instead, and never came back.

I happened to speak once to a psychologist who, I think as part of his PhD, studied one particular family who had lost a boy when he was a child — literally lost, the boy was kidnapped and is listed on Charley. (I’m not going to identify the psychologist or the boy because I don’t want to upset anyone or get anyone in trouble. I’m not sure it was appropriate for the person to have confided this knowledge to me.) Anyway, the psychologist told me the boy came from a very large family and, in spite of having had a good upbringing with loving working-class parents, the kids were all pretty troubled and several of them became addicted to drugs and alcohol later in life.

John and Tania’s sister has her brother’s ashes and hopes to scatter them at Niagara Falls. If only she knew where Tania was.

Okay, so I lied

I had a change in plans yesterday and didn’t come home at all, but spent the night at my father’s house instead. I still feel rather awful. But I did come home today and began writing updates, and took a break from that to write this. So you won’t have to wait much longer, God willing.

In MP news:

The police conducted a search for the body of Yohanna Cyr, a Quebecois child who’s been missing since the seventies. (I wrote entries about her before here and here and her mother responded to the latter with a comment in French. Mom now lives in the U.S.) Unfortunately, this latest search turned up nothing.

The cops in Detroit are going to exhume some unidentified bodies to try to link them to missing persons cases. Good for them.

Arizona is apparently the state with the most MP cases per capita. That doesn’t surprise me. I wonder if that figure includes the migrants who disappeared crossing the border.

Fox executive Gavin Smith has been found in a shallow grave near the Angeles National Forest. He was murdered, obviously, and the cops say they know “how and why” but no one’s been charged. Yet.

Teen runaway Dajanae Harmon has turned up alive and well after two and a half years.

There’s this article about Andria Bailey that provides a LOT more details on her disappearance. Up until now it had been one of those horrible “few details are available” cases. Apparently the cops aren’t even sure what year she went missing, or the circumstances thereof, since her disappearance wasn’t reported for a decade-ish.

Search for Yohanna Cyr still ongoing

The authorities are digging under a Montreal parking lot for the body of Yohanna Cyr, a Quebcois toddler who vanished in 1978.

Her case is a lot like Florida’s Katheryne Lugo: Mom left her boyfriend to babysit the kid, and when she came back the child was gone and the boyfriend gave various unconfirmed stories as to what happened. One account is that Yohanna died, accidentally, during the week that Mom was gone. Another report said she was in Washington State. Mom believes she was sold, possibly to someone in the United States, as the boyfriend is a U.S. citizen.

I had blogged once about Yohanna in 2011. Her mother, Lilianne, posted a comment, but it was in French so I had to rely on Google Translate to read it. From the rough translation I was given, the comment basically said she regretted having left Yohanna in her boyfriend’s care and she would never stop looking for her daughter. This video I found is also in French and I don’t know if it had anything new.

I don’t have a lot of hope that Yohanna is under that parking lot, but I’m glad the authorities are at least still looking. I think it’s disgusting that the boyfriend never faced justice for whatever he did to Johanna, and for torturing Lilianne with his various different stories. He isn’t even named in the article I linked to (or in another one I found from the same publication, which has another picture of Yohanna and a new AP); perhaps the laws in Canada won’t allow the press to name him because he wasn’t convicted of a crime.

Whatever happened to Yohanna, I hope she turns up. And if only I had the time and linguistic capabilities to help by putting her and other Canadian children on the Charley Project website. Oh well; a person can only do so much.

Canadians give out weekly allowance for parents of missing and murdered children

Per Canada.com: the government is offering a grant of $350 a week for parents who had to take time off because their children have been murdered or gone missing. You have to apply for it and it only lasts for a maximum of 35 weeks, or eight or nine months. This program is in its early stages and so far the number of applicants has been “modest.”

From the article:

In order for parents to be eligible, they must have made at least $6,500 income the previous calendar year and be on leave from all employment. The child must be less than 18 years old and have been missing or deceased “as a result of a probable Criminal Code offence” and, in the case of death, the child must not have been a “willing party” to the crime.

A victim advocate said lack of awareness is most likely the reason for the modest participation in the program.

My thoughts:

$350 a week isn’t much — that sum is almost insultingly low. Dollar per dollar, Canadian and U.S. money are worth about the same amount. I don’t know how that income level works in Canada — maybe things are cheaper there, I dunno — but $350 a week is only about minimum wage in the U.S., and minimum wage isn’t even designed to be enough to live on.

On the other hand, it is SOMETHING at least, and I don’t think the U.S. offers any compensation at all in these situations. I know there are funds run by individual states that compensate crime victims for actual expenses, such as medical bills, but I don’t know that they compensate relatives of crime victims or missing persons, and I don’t know if “lost work time due to emotional earthquake from having missing/murdered child” would fit the compensation criteria.

I’d love to hear what my Canadian readers think of this.

Select It Sunday: Vincent Lamouris

This week I’m featuring eighteen-year-old Vincent Lamouris, who’s been missing for more than a decade now. Unlike with a lot of Select It Sunday cases so far, foul play isn’t indicated in Vincent’s case; in fact, he definitely ran away back in 2002 and there’s no reason to believe he’s dead now.

Vincent is from the city of Ghent in the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium. He had some trouble in the past: at age sixteen, upset over his parents’ divorce, he attempted suicide by jumping off a building. He had to have some serious physical rehabilitation as well as psychiatric care, and he has surgical scars on his legs and feet and metal plates in his right leg and foot as a result of his injuries. But by the time Vincent disappeared two years later, he seemed to have recovered completely, both physically and mentally. He planned to enroll in the University of Ghent to get a degree in mathematics.

But for reasons unknown, instead of going off to the university to study, Vincent Lamouris secretly got a passport, purchased tickets to New York City, erased his computer hard drive and took off. It was January 25, 2002.

We know he arrived safely in New York and somehow managed to make it upstate — 400 miles — to Niagara Falls, where he apparently crossed over to the Canadian side and then stayed for a few days before returning to the U.S. Several days later his backpack turned up in a park in Niagara Falls. Vincent had bought a return ticket to Belgium (immigration laws required him to do before he could enter the United States) but never used it; in fact, the ticket and his passport were in his bag when it was found. There’s been no trace of him since then.

What happened to Vincent Lamouris, then?

Did his old depression raise its ugly head? Did he take his own life because of it? Well, if he did, he didn’t do it by jumping over Niagara Falls. The bodies of people who go over the falls always turn up. In fact, due to the water currents, the police know exactly when and where to expect them. (I know because I went to Niagara Falls and asked one of the people there.)

And if he planned to commit suicide, why go to New York City to do it? I have heard of people traveling thousands of miles in order to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but the Niagara Falls (though it’s had its fair share of jumpers) is not a super-famous suicide hotspot like the GGB, and if he had jumped there his body would have been found. Even with GGB, people who travel any significant distance to jump there are quite rare; most of their suicides are locals.

Did he simply plan to take a short vacation and then return home to Belgium, but something kept him from doing so? That seems unlikely to me. All the planning involved in his trip, all the secrecy, erasing his computer hard drive, seems quite unnecessary if he only intended to be gone a few weeks.

It’s possible that he did experience a recurrence of his depression and that’s why he ran away. A lot of people who leave like that suffer from mental health issues, and I’ve said before that I find those kinds of disappearances — just walking out of life with nary a word — to be like a symbolic form of suicide.

The fact that he erased his hard drive makes me wonder if he met someone on the internet and flew to the United States to meet up with that person. If so, finding that person might be the key to finding Vincent.

Vincent, if you’re out there, call home. If you like your life now, you’re an adult and you don’t have to come back if you don’t want to. Leave an anonymous message if you want. Just let your family know you’re okay.

Woman missing for over half a century is found alive

Lucy Johnson, who disappeared from Surrey, British Columbia all the way back in 1961, has been found alive. The police had thought her husband killed her — he didn’t report her disappearance for four years, which naturally looks suspicious — but it seems she took off on her own and started another family. She is 77 years old and lives up north in the Yukon now. That province borders Alaska, where Lucy was originally from.

Lucy Johnson’s husband died in the nineties, but she has two children and her daughter is still alive; I’m not sure about her son. From the article I can’t tell if they have reunited or not. If I were her children I would be both happy and angry. I don’t have a lot of respect for anybody, man or woman, who walks out on their kids without a word.

This case reminds me very much of Ragna Esther Gavin, another long-term missing and presumed woman who turned out to have simply walked out of her life. Yet another reminder that with the missing, you can never really give up hope.