Aftercare for families of the no-longer-missing?

An interesting idea out of Wales: they’ve launched a pilot scheme to provide social support for families where a person had gone missing but then returned home alive:

“We have recognised that when a person comes back there can be a whole new set of problems and issues that can arise from that.

“In some circumstances, it can be like having a stranger in the house.”

I am reminded of the comment I’d copied into this blog entry, where the woman said her brother’s disappearance continued to traumatize the family even after his return, they couldn’t reconnect and the family never forgave him for leaving.

On the face of it, this seems like a good idea. I do however wish the article was more specific about just what kind of social support will be provided. Family therapy? Individual therapy for the not-missing-anymore person and those relatives that want it? Maybe job training and education, if it’s someone who ran away and was living on the streets or whatever?

Siblings of the missing

This is a fascinating article from the always wonderful Guardian about what it’s like to be the brother or sister of a missing person. They interviewed people from several different families — all British, of course, but I’m sure they would have the same feelings as American families do. It’s rather wrenching to read. At the bottom, though, they interviewed a guy who was missing for over a decade and then came home.

In the comments section I saw this:

my brother disappeared for 19 years, we hired a detective, registered him with the Salvation Army (they have a missing persons register) and after 16-17 years we had a note from the SA telling us our brother was alive but did not want to be in touch with us. It was simultaneously a relief and further torture and frustration. A year later I had a woman contact me via Facebook to say she knew my brother and wanted to let me know he was fine but didn’t want contact. Another year passed and he agreed to meet me on the condition I not let the rest of my family know. I agreed and met him for three hours, we cried and cried and cried when we met and hugged each other endlessly. It was a one-way street he wanted to know everything about the family but would tell me nothing of himself and his circumstances. To cut a very long story short, he agreed to meet my family and had an emotional reunion. It was fine for a few months but my family found it very hard to forgive him the decades of pain he had caused them. He continues to ‘disappear’ to this day for months/a year at a time and my father now says he wishes he had never returned at all. Sometimes there is no happy ending.

Make-a-List Monday: Armenians

Armenia is a small nation in the south Caucasus region, basically right in the doorway between Europe and Asia, with a population of three million and change. I don’t know much about it, other than that they are more or less perpetually in a state of war with their neighbor Azerbaijan. I read once that, in proportion to the population, Armenia has more PhDs than any other country in the world. Anyway, there’s enough Armenian-Americans on Charley to make a (short) list of them.

  1. Atinui Kevorkian
  2. Gregory James Kuljian
  3. Irma Mkrtchyan
  4. Martin Pogosian
  5. Alexander Haig Tafralian

[ADDENDUM: When I said I didn’t know much about Armenia, I meant modern Armenia, not the Armenia of a century ago, whose people underwent a dreadful ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Turks. That I do know something about, having read a few memoirs by survivors.]

Maybe they’ll find Mary Boyle…

Mary Boyle is a famous Irish missing child: she vanished in 1977 at the age of six, while walking from her uncle’s farm to a neighbor’s home. We have a pretty good idea as to what she’d look like if she were still alive today, because she has an identical twin. However, Mary is presumed dead.

Well, the police — the New York City police at that — are now saying they know know who killed Mary and they know where her body is.

Me — well, I hope they’re right but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve seen a lot of “We’ve almost solved such-and-such ancient case!” things deflate and fade from the headlines.

A history lesson, or: The 500-year-old case of a missing royal

I hadn’t realized until now that they never found King Richard III of England’s body after his gory death at the Battle of Bosworth Field — though it’s something I ought to have known, since I did know historians were fighting over just how deformed he was, a question that could be settled easily if we had his remains.

Well, it appears we have them now. Archaeologists found the skeleton of a man with a twisted spine and a nasty wound in the skull buried at a car park in Leicester, beneath the floor of a 500-year-old church:

[Archaeologists] Foxhall and Appleby point out that they have nothing but circumstantial evidence – but say it is “very, very strong circumstantial evidence”.

“We have a grown man, buried in a position of great honour near the altar in the church but without much in the way of ceremony, with a twisted spine and a terrible battle injury – he didn’t get that walking home drunk from the pub,” says Appleby.

The Telegraph has published a report, albeit unconfirmed, that DNA has proven the remains were Richard III’s and he will buried with the ceremony befitting a king, possibly at Leicester Cathedral. Though the official announcement hasn’t been made yet, if this guy ISN’T Richard I’d be very surprised.

This is a very exciting find for history buffs like me, comparable to when they found the bodies of the missing Anastasia and Alexei Romanov after 90 years. Except Richard’s been gone for a lot longer — since the 1400s.

I admit I don’t know an awful lot about the guy. I do know he’s a very controversial figure in English history. He was definitely a usurper and had his nephews, the rightful heirs to the throne, declared illegitimate and locked up in the Tower of London. Richard III was appointed their Lord Protector after the death of their father, but it seems he didn’t do a good job protecting them: the two boys, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, vanished mysteriously around 1483 and were presumed murdered. A lot of people believe it was on Richard’s orders. He certainly had a great deal to gain from their deaths, and I think it’s telling that when, in his lifetime, when people accused him of being a child murderer, he didn’t produce the Princes alive to prove them wrong. If he was truly innocent, that seems like the most logical thing he could have done.

But there’s no conclusive evidence one way or another. Royal pretenders kept popping up for quite some time, claiming to be one or the other of the missing boys. In the 1670s they found the bodies of two boys about the right age buried in the Tower, but I don’t think it was ever officially confirmed that they were the Princes.

Anyway, Richard III has been hated ever since and the image most people have of him is an evil, deformed hunchbacked man. His reign lasted only two years before he was killed in battle, his naked body slung on the back of a horse and carried ignominiously away. I’ve read that he was an able administrator and had other talents, and might have redeemed himself somewhat if his reign had been longer and given people a chance to forget about the whole Princes in the Tower thing. There are a couple of historical groups that are trying to rehabilitate his reputation. These societies argue, among other things, that the Princes in the Tower were probably killed by Richard’s successor, Henry VII (who married the Princes’ sister Elizabeth), or Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.

Assuming he did killed the Princes (and I think he probably did), Richard III was hardly the first or the last person who would slaughter his way through the line of succession in order to assume the throne. Cleopatra, for example, had her half-sister Arsinoë murdered because she got in the way, and Arsinoë may have been as young as 15 at the time.

So, well, finding Richard III’s body is an archaeologist’s wet dream and it’s quite a Christmas present for me as well. Carry on.

Back to work

I spent last week, and the week before that, sulking. Then the computer went up in smoke and I got a new one and had to set it up and everything. (Oh, and play the old Oregon Trail game that I just rediscovered.) But I promise you, I will update today. And get back on to regular updates again. Pinky swear.

And, in the meantime, some international MP news:

They’ve opened up a mobster’s tomb looking for the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, a teenager who was kidnapped from the Vatican City in 1981. (The mobster was killed in 1990.) Her disappearance is all spooky and mysterious: “Various theories have tied the presumed kidnapping to intrigue involving the Italian secret services, organized crime, even the attempt to assassinate John Paul II — or possibly all three.” Though what organized crime, the Italian secret service, etc., would want with a fifteen-year-old girl is a mystery to me.

A dumbass travel agency used a photo of Madeleine McCann in an ad. Of course her parents are appalled and everyone else wonders how these people could be so tasteless. More to the point, I wonder why on earth the ad people thought this would be appealing to potential customers. “Go to Europe! Visit beautiful resorts where children get kidnapped!”

They found Gerald Twibey, a man who disappeared from a British mental hospital in 1985. Actually, they found him back in 1985 in the River Colne, but he’s been unidentified all this time and lying in a pauper’s grave. Now (although the DNA tests were inconclusive) they’re pretty sure the dead body is Gerald, sure enough to return the remains to his family. Some funeral home did the service for no charge. Nice of them.

A body found in Fox Lake in Ontario Nova Scotia, Canada has been identified as Ray Peter O’Connell, a 32-year-old who had been missing for almost eight years. The cause of death hasn’t been determined but it isn’t being treated as suspicious.

Second Barry Cummins book

I’m presently reading Without a Trace: Ireland’s Missing, which is journalist Barry Cummins’s second book on missing persons in Ireland. The first book I talk about on Charley’s recommended books page (which needs to be updated, but that’s neither here nor there). Instead of individual chapters for each MP, he talks about them in a continuous narrative, also covering unidentified bodies, and MPs who were found murdered, etc. The book covers both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

A lot of the MPs Cummins talks about in this book were victims of the Troubles, in all probability killed by the Irish Republican Army. The IRA has since then directed authorities to a lot of bodies, but not all of them. The problem is, this book is obviously written for an Irish audience. Cummins doesn’t go into detail about the Troubles, because he assumes the reader already knows plenty about them. But I know jack about the Troubles (the British were acting like jerks and there were people campaigning for Northern Ireland to separate from the UK, and there was a lot of violence — that’s all I know) and I found myself mystified as to just why these particular people were kidnapped in the first place, and what they were “interrogated” about, etc.

Some more international MPs

I just did blog entries about MPs from Iceland (via Oregon) and Norfolk in the UK. I thought I’d write about a few more international ones.

There’s a “coronial inquiry” (not sure what that is; the equivalent of an American grand jury investigation maybe?) going on, investigating the disappearance of Linda Davie. She was born in New Zealand, but living in Sydney, Australia when she went missing. On April 6, 1980 she went to visit her boyfriend, who was hospitalized, and this was the last time anyone saw her. A few days later he got a letter saying she was going away for a few days but would return and visit him again. She never resurfaced, and she left all her stuff behind at her apartment.

Also in Australia, they’re investigating a new lead in the disappearance of 14-year-old Eve Askew, who vanished from Tasmania on November 17, 1991. The cops have released a sketch of a person of interest in her case. Eve has a pretty distinctive appearance: in addition to flaming-red hair, she’s got unusual thumbs that apparently look like they were pushed down and never grew back up. Sadly, according to this article Eve’s parents are both dead now (a car accident in 1996) and, of her five three siblings (she is the youngest), her two brothers and one sister are estranged. The sister and one of the brothers still live in Australia, but the other brother lives in the UK now and they all haven’t spoken to each other in years. You might view it as another lottery family here.

In East Yorkshire, UK, the cops are re-investigating the disappearance of Russell Bohling on March 2, 2010. He was 18 when he vanished and his car was later found abandoned on a clifftop. His family attempted (without success) to file a lawsuit against the police, saying they had botched the investigation. The Daily Mail said Russell’s parents had given him £300,000 (that’s around $463,000 in American money) to help him start his own company, and they are afraid he was killed over the money.

Many of you have probably heard of Jakadrien Turner, a 14-year-old runaway (not on Charley) who was mistakenly deported to Colombia. After she ran away she was arrested and gave a false name, Tika Cortez. Unfortunately, Tika Cortez turned out to be a real person, a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Colombia with outstanding criminal charges. Jakadrien, who never ‘fessed up to the truth, was put on the next plane to Colombia, found a job, stayed there nearly a year, and got pregnant. Eventually her searching grandmother found her on Facebook. ICE is still trying to sort it out; Jakadrien was fingerprinted before she was deported, and this should have proved her identity, or at least proved that she wasn’t the person she claimed she was. Also, she’s black and doesn’t speak Spanish.

Well, now Jakadrien is back in the US (CNN; MSNBC; WFAA-TV; Fox News) and has been reunited with her family. A lot of people are making nasty remarks directed at both sides: stupid ICE for screwing up, stupid girl for running away and lying etc. What I wonder is this: what was she running from that was so terrible that she was willing to get herself deported to a third-world country to stay away? I have never heard of anything like this, although I know of another runaway girl, the American-born child of Polish immigrants, who was ALMOST deported to Poland before she admitted to her true identity and was returned to her family.

In Australia, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared along with sex offender Augustine Winter Miller was found alive (along with Miller) in the outback several days after they went missing. Unfortunately, the child (unnamed in the press reports) was very dehydrated when she was found — as might be expected, given that she’d spent several days in the Australian Outback smack in midsummer. She was in such poor condition when the rescuers located her that she died only a short time later.

It’s not really clear whether there was any foul play involved in this. Miller, whose sex offense was a consensual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, had permission to take the child on a hunting trip. (The woman who had custody of the girl was his live-in girlfriend. Some articles say the custodial carer was a relative, but this one says she wasn’t a blood relation) Maybe he intentionally “got lost” so he could harm the child in his care, but it sounds like they were just on a real hunting trip and really got lost. Miller was also in pretty poor shape when they were found and had to be hospitalized. He has been charged with possessing an unlicensed firearm and is now out on bail as the case is under investigation. This article has a picture of him. Miller says he is afraid for his life because he thinks the girl’s relatives might attack him.