MP of the week: Sabrina Aisenberg

This week’s featured missing person is Sabrina Paige Aisenberg, who was abducted from her crib in Valrico, Florida on November 24, 1997, aged just four months old.

Her parents were subsequently charged with some stuff in the case, but the charges were dropped after it turned out there was basically no actual evidence against them. And there the matter rests.

I know there’s been a lot of suppositions and stuff bandied about on the internet about this case. I once spoke to a man who had been posting a certain photo of a young woman on social media, claiming she was an adult Sabrina. The police had already looked into the matter and told the man she was not Sabrina, but he kept posting the picture and making this untrue claim. I figured if someone was doing that with my photo, I’d want to know about it, so I contacted the woman and told her what was going on. She was horrified.

I doubt Sabrina’s parents were actually involved in the case at all. It seems more likely that the baby was kidnapped by someone who wanted to raise her, or by someone who wanted to sell her for adoption purposes.

Sabrina, if still alive — and there’s really no reason to think she isn’t — would be 25 years old today. She has some Y-shaped marks on her shoulder which might be used to identify her as an adult.

Haleigh Cummings’s dad released from prison

Ronald Cummings, the father of Haleigh Cummings who disappeared from her home in 2009 at age 5, has been released from prison. He had been serving a fifteen-year sentence for drug trafficking. His now ex-wife, Misty, who was watching Haleigh on the night she disappeared (Ron was at work) is serving 25 years for the same offense.

I had always thought that those drug sentences were very severe, and wonder if they were mandated sentences left over from the “get tough on drugs” years in the 90s. I mean, 15 years, 25 years for selling some pills on the street? You can get less time than that, sometimes, for MURDER.

There had been hope that the drug defendants would try to cut their sentences down by offering information on Haleigh. But this never materialized.

With Misty, anyway, there’s a sense that she was sentenced for the wrong crime: if she didn’t outright cause Haleigh’s disappearance, she knows what happened and isn’t saying. But that’s not how things are supposed to work in this country. You’re supposed to be sentenced for the crime you were found guilty of, and ONLY that crime.

In any case, Ron’s release got Haleigh’s name back in the news where it hadn’t been in quite awhile. Maybe something will come of that. I’ve blogged about Haleigh numerous times, but the last time was over ten years ago.

There’s a four-episode podcast about Haleigh, by the way. I haven’t listened to it so can’t comment on the quality.

MP of the week: Verna Richardson

This week’s featured missing person is Verna Marie Richardson, a 48-year-old grandmother who was last seen in Fort Myers, Florida on July 7, 1990. She had begun dating a guy named Alexander Smith, but broke up with him the summer she went missing and was trying to reconcile with her husband.

Smith took her from her home on the day of her disappearance, apparently against her will. Verna was last heard from when she placed a pay phone call to say Smith had kidnapped her, tied her up and beaten her. For some reason she chose to call a friend to tell them this, instead of 911. She was never heard from again and Smith later crashed her car and was arrested for drunk driving. Richardson was gone by then, but Smith still had her purse.

I think there’s a pretty strong presumption of foul play here. I wonder where Smith is now, or if he’s even still alive.

Verna had multiple health problems, including insulin-dependent diabetes, and she needed dialysis. Even if Smith didn’t kill her, she could not have survived long without needing medical assistance.

In the unlikely event she’s still alive, she’d be 80 today. She is black, pierced ears, and she’s missing her two front teeth. She’s 5’8 and at the time of her disappearance she weighed somewhere between 180 and 225 pounds.

I’ll be out of Facebook Jail in a week. Here’s some more news.

From California:

  • They’re still looking for Khrystyna Carreno, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Bakersfield in November 2020. (The article spells her name “Khrystina” but the NCMEC and CDOJ spell it “Khrystyna” so I’m going to go with that.) I don’t have her on Charley but figure I should add her. Twelve is very young, obviously, and she’s been missing for a year and a half now. I hope she’s alive and hasn’t been trafficked. Here’s Khrystyna’s NCMEC poster.

From Florida:

From Georgia:

  • They have finally identified the little boy whose corpse was found outside Atlanta over 20 years ago. His name was William DaShawn Hamilton and he was six years old when he was murdered. William was never reported missing. His mother, Teresa Ann Bailey Black, has been charged with felony murder, cruelty to children, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another.

From Michigan:

  • They’re still looking for Kathy Sue Wilcox, a 15-year-old girl last seen in Otsego in 1972. She got into an argument with her parents over an older boy she was dating, stomped out angrily and was never seen again. Kathy would be 65 today. Kathy’s sister does not believe she ran away, and made reference to a “significant antisocial person who was in [Kathy’s] life,” whom she thinks could have been involved.

From Minnesota:

  • Remains found in Rosemount in 2014 have been identified as James Everett, a New York man who was not listed as missing. They do not know the cause or manner of death, but they believe Everett died sometime in the autumn months of 2013. I wonder if he died of exposure; Minnesota can get very cold, and I doubt a “decommissioned railroad utility shed” would have heat or insulation.

From New Hampshire:

  • They’re still looking for 15-year-old Shirley Ann “Tippy” McBride, last seen in Concord in 1984. Although there haven’t been any new developments, the article talks about the case in great detail.
  • They’re still looking for Maura Murray, and are searching an unspecified “area in the towns of Landaff and Easton.” This search isn’t based on any new info, though, they’re just shooting in the dark.

From New York:

  • They’re trying to find Judith Threlkeld, a 22-year-old woman who disappeared from Chautauqua County in 1976. She was last seen walking home from the library. I added the case to Charley yesterday.

From North Dakota:

  • Check out this awesome in-depth three-part series on the 1996 disappearances of Sandra Mary Jacobson and her son, John Henry Jacobson: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 (this last part is paywalled, but I was invested enough to fork over two bucks for a subscription). Very mysterious case. I feel terrible for Sandra’s older son, Spencer: he lost his mom and half-brother, literally, and later on his father was murdered, and neither of these cases have been solved. A few years after the murder of Spencer’s father, Spencer’s wife died tragically young at 24, from strep throat of all things, leaving him a young widower with three kids. Poor Spencer has had enough bad luck to last a lifetime.

From Ohio:

  • They’re still looking for Charles King Blanche, a 39-year-old man who disappeared from his Youngstown group home in 1991. Blanche’s cousin says he was a very talented musician who was recruited to tour in Europe in a marching band, but his life kind of cratered after he developed an unspecified severe mental illness. An all-too-common story on the Charley Project.

From Texas:

  • It’s being reported that sometimes when Texan foster kids run away, the agencies just wash their hands of them and end their guardianship over them. This sounds terrible, but given how often foster agencies fail their wards, and given as it’s Texas where they can’t even keep the lights on, I’m not entirely surprised.
  • Using genetic genealogy, they have identified a Jane Doe whose partial remains were found south of Midland in 2013. The victim was Sylvia Nicole Smith, who disappeared in 2000 at the age of sixteen. The case is being investigated as homicide.

From Virginia

  • Cory Bigsby, the father of four-year-old Codi Bigsby, has been indicted on thirty counts, the majority of them child neglect charges. Codi has been missing since January. None of the indictments are related to his disappearance; they’re connected to Cory’s allegedly terrible parenting from prior to Codi’s disappearance. Codi has not been missing long enough to go up on Charley, so here’s his NCMEC poster, and here’s another poster for him.

From Washington state:

  • There are forty known Native American people listed as missing from the Yakima area. And here’s a list of all the Native Americans listed as missing from the entire state.

From Washington DC:

  • They’re still looking for Relisha Tenau Rudd, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from a Dickensian homeless shelter in 2014. I’ve blogged about Relisha several times, as recently as earlier this week when they put up a new AP for her. If still alive, Relisha would now be 16. Here’s another detailed article about her case, with links to the earlier series of articles the Washington Post did about it.

And in general:

  • Although they don’t drop kids from the guardianship rolls when they disappear, in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Illinois, most missing foster kids who resurface are not screened to see if they were trafficked during the time they were gone. The article says Texas actually has a better record in this regard, with over 80% of missing-and-then-located foster kids being screened. But the number should ideally be 100%.
  • My husband has persuaded me to finally turn the Charley Project into an official registered nonprofit organization. Right now we’re saving up the money to pay a lawyer to file the paperwork to do this though it’s going to be awhile at this rate; money is super tight right now. If the Charley Project is a registered nonprofit, all donations will become tax-deductible and also the organization could become the recipient of grants. I’d use the grants to travel to more missing persons events, and pay the subscription fees for more databases to use in researching cases, and maybe hire an editor or something.

MP of the week: Mayra Sandoval

This week’s featured missing person (so sorry it’s late, been failing at life lately) is Mayra Erisuria Sandoval, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared from Sarasota, Florida on January 10, 2006. She was seeing getting off the school bus, but didn’t attend school that afternoon and never returned home. A week later she called home and said she was okay and still in the US, but didn’t say where she was or who was with her.

This may be a case where the missing person has actually gotten in touch with family but the police have not been notified of this. It happens sometimes that families of missing people sometimes lose contact with law enforcement. It seems more likely in this instance because after Mayra went missing, it came out that her family was living in the US illegally and they were asked to leave go back to Mexico. If they did go back, perhaps Mayra (who is also believed to be in Mexico) contacted them.

Her case is classified as a runaway by all agencies including the Charley Project, but when it comes to a preteen child and a “male acquaintance who is in his twenties” it seems like abduction would be more appropriate. I don’t think anyone who convinces as twelve-year-old to run away from home has their best interest at heart. If she was in fact lured from her home by this “male acquaintance”, they may no longer be together. Sixteen years is a long time.

If still alive, Mayra would be 29 years old today. She’s Hispanic, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was 5’1 and 130 pounds in 2006 but she’s probably grown since then. She was last seen wearing a light blue and beige sweatshirt with the word “Micky” on the front, blue jeans, white sneakers and a light blue backpack.

MP of the week: Sean Seebarran

This week’s featured missing person is Sean Yougeshwer Seebarran, who disappeared from West Palm Beach, Florida on New Years’ Eve, 2017. He lived in New York but was visiting family in Florida when he disappeared after arguing with one of the aforementioned family members. He didn’t know anyone else in the area besides his relatives, and he didn’t have a car with him.

It’s not clear what happened to him, but he had bought a seat on a plane back to New York for January 8 and never made his flight.

Sean was 33 when he was last seen, and he had an unspecified injury to his left arm and shoulder. He was born in Guyana and is of Asian descent (a lot of Guyanese people are descended from Indian immigrants), with black hair, brown eyes, and scars on his abdomen and chest. He is 5’8 tall and weighed 140 pounds. If still alive, Sean would be 38 today.

From his Facebook page, he seems like a normal and happy young man, though well I know that social media posts can be deceiving.

His last public post is dated Christmas Day, a week before his disappearance: he posted some selfies he’d taken with one of the kid actors from Stranger Things. Earlier that month he posted pics and a video clip from the Christmas Parade in Queens, New York City. (By the way, the “Queens College” he mentions is not Queens College, New York, but rather a school in Guyana that happened to have the same name.)

I hope he’s still alive and that he’ll be located soon.

As for me — I’m working on the very last letter of the website overhaul. As I mentioned in my last entry, after completion I plan to take a day or so off to chill out and have a drink or five. Then resume updates.

MP of the week: Dolly Hall

This week’s featured missing person is Dolly Loucina Hall, a 42-year-old white woman who was last seen in Bradley, Florida on January 19, 2019. Dolly has brown hair and blue eyes, and is 5’2 and 110 pounds. She’s got a couple of tattoos, her ears and nose are pierced, she has a mole on her upper cheek and her nickname is Dee.

I don’t have anything much about her disappearance, other than the fact that the very last post publicly visible on the Facebook page was written the day she went missing and says:

Just wanted to say im getting married to the man i’ve waited my hole life for.Thank you God for putting him back in my life.And im given up facebook and messager. Bye everyone and i hope everyone gets what their looking for in life cause i know i have.

Maybe she really did get married, but wouldn’t they have been able to locate her by checking state marriage registries and see which city/state she married in, and then searching there? It seems equally likely that this post was a lie and written (either by Dolly herself or by someone else) in an effort to cover up whatever caused her disappearance. But there is insufficient information to really say what occurred here.

This kind of reminds me of the Beverly Sharpman case. Beverly also left a statement saying she was getting married, and also, if she got married it wasn’t under real name because they couldn’t find a record of her marriage. But Beverly disappeared quite a few decades ago, and at the time she was young enough to have been Dolly’s daughter.

I hope Dolly is happy and okay. I hope she calls home soon.

There’s a first time for everything

So today was a Charley Project first: the database’s first example of a Florida Man.

By Florida Man, I am not speaking merely of a man who happens to live in Florida. I am speaking of the headlines that begin with the words “Florida Man” (or sometimes “Florida Woman”) and tell a story of some absolutely INSANE, often drug- and alcohol-fueled mess that the person got themselves into.

While researching the life of a gentleman I added today, I learned that, several years prior to his disappearance, he had a naked run-in with some alligators.

And that this was his SECOND naked run-in with alligators. And that the first time this happened, said alligators attacked him and he lost his arm. He nearly lost both arms in fact. He was in the hospital for months recovering.

I didn’t put this information in the casefile because I didn’t consider it to be relevant, but based on the reports of what had previously occurred I thought it might be a good idea to mention in the distinguishing characteristics that he might have scarring on his back, buttocks and thigh — it said the gators bit him in those areas too.

All the conspiracy theorists in the Gabby Pettito case are driving me mad

So social media can be a blessing AND a curse, and I think in the Gabby Pettito case it’s mainly turned out to be a curse. People who don’t know anything keep speculating, pulling all sorts of ideas out of their rear ends. There’s a reason I don’t normally hang around web-sleuthing and true-crime forums and Facebook groups and so on because this happens a lot in those places and I find it infuriating.

Back in the days when such talk was confined to one’s immediate social circle in the physical world (the breakfast table, coworkers, your friend group), it was pretty much harmless. But online, it is not necessarily harmless and I think the speculation in Gabby and Brian’s case is a pretty good example of the harm it can cause.

For example, during the time Brian was missing, Internet mobs were harassing men whose only crime was that they bore some vague physical resemblance to him. Armchair detectives were claiming that Brian’s parents must have him hidden in a bunker under their backyard and when his mom appeared to be gardening she was actually passing food and stuff down to his bunker. People were protesting outside Brian’s parents’ house and some rando sued his parents for $40 for absolutely no reason I can determine.

This all kind of reminds me of when the Internet (for some reason) decided the furniture company Wayfair was trafficking children through their website, listing kids for sale in disguise as overpriced cabinets. Internet mobs were actually HARASSING MINOR CHILDREN who had returned home after being missing for a period, to the point where one poor girl went on Facebook Live to say she was alive and well and with her family and had not been trafficked and was begging people to stop this nonsense as it was ruining her life. I was horrified and tremendously angry about this and still am frankly.

And now that Brian has been found, the Internet mobs who had seemed so dedicated to solving the case themselves now suddenly don’t want it to be solved and try to keep coming up with reasons why the remains that were identified as him could not be him.

It’s like these people think that this is a fascinating Netflix series, and now it’s over and they don’t want it to be over and are desperately trying to come up with excuses to carry on with another season of the Gabby and Brian Mystery Show…at the expense of the very real people involved in it. I am really hoping that Gabby and Brian’s respective families and friends are staying offline at the moment and don’t read any of the garbage that’s being spouted. Stuff about fake teeth, fake remains, substituted dental records, all sorts of conspiracies are being made up out of thin air.

But this isn’t Netflix. This is real life. And this is a very sad but very familiar story of a domestic abuser who killed his partner and then, probably, himself. It’s a story that happens every day all around the world and frankly I don’t understand why Gabby and Brian’s particular tragic saga has captivated so many people.

Honestly, I think the reason behind a lot of conspiracy theories is that people want to feel like they’re smarter than everybody else, even the experts. Like there’s some big secret thing going on that only they know about, so they get sucked into believing the most ridiculous things.

I certainly don’t mind if a person has legitimate good-faith questions that can be answered. Like, when I don’t know something, I look it up or I ask someone who knows.

Some people have asked why dental records were used in the identification and not DNA. Answer: dental records are much faster and cheaper than using DNA, and so that’s what’s usually done unless either the records or the decedent’s teeth are unavailable. Others have asked why only partial remains were located. Answer: probably his body had been lying in that nature preserve for weeks, maybe over a month, and animals would nibble on bits and take away pieces to eat.

But those people who ask the questions, then flatly dismiss your answers and laugh in your face and go chasing after some completely implausible story they made up themselves, I cannot stand that. Either you want to learn, or you don’t, you know?

If you DO want to learn, I have some recommendations of books on the topics of forensic science and domestic violence that you guys might find interesting. I have read all of these books myself and found them both interesting and educational.

On forensic science, I recommend (in no particular order):

  1. Sue Black’s Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind and All That Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality, and Solving Crimes
  2. Richard Shepherd’s Unnatural Causes: The Life and Many Deaths of Britain’s Top Forensic Pathologist
  3. Malcolm Dodd and Beverley Knight’s Justice for the Dead: Forensic Pathology in the Hot Zone
  4. Stefan Timmermans’s Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths
  5. Colin Evans’s Blood On the Table: The Greatest Cases of New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
  6. Ryan Blumenthal’s Autopsy: Life in the Trenches with a Forensic Pathologist in Africa
  7. Zakaria Erzinclioglu’s Maggots, Murder, and Men: Memories and Reflections of a Forensic Entomologist
  8. Cynric Temple-Camp’s The Cause of Death: True Stories of Death and Murder from a New Zealand Pathologist

On domestic violence I recommend:

  1. Rachel Louise Snyder’s No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us
  2. George Lardner’s The Stalking of Kristin: A Father Investigates the Murder of His Daughter

(Incidentally, if you read a lot like me and you have a smart phone I highly recommend Scribd. It’s a reading app kind of like Amazon’s Kindle, and provides you with unlimited access to Scribd’s large, regularly updated library of books for just $10 a month. It has a wide selection of books, including academic type books that cost a lot of money to buy, and including some of the books I listed above. You can read as many as you like for just the flat $10 fee. For me, it’s more than paid for itself.)

MP of the week: Shannon Hawkins

This week’s featured missing person is Shannon Marie Hawkins, a 35-year-old woman who was last seen in St. Johns, Florida on July 31, 2010. She’s white, 5’5 tall and weighed 135 pounds at the time of her disappearance. Her hair and eyes are naturally brown but at the time she went missing, her hair was dyed auburn.

It sounds like Shannon may have taken her own life. She has a history of suicide attempts due to depression, and was apparently in a crisis at the time she went missing, since she had placed a call to a mental health hotline the night before. In her diary she’d written that she wasn’t sure she would live to see her 36th birthday.

If suicide was what happened, though, her body has never been found.

Shannon would be 46 if she is still alive today. She left behind two children and a husband.