Some MP news highlights while I was gone:
- Mark Duane Woodard has been found. Or rather, he was found in 1977, 23 months after his disappearance, but not identified till now. The aforementioned news link uses his Charley Project pic, and asked me permission first. (Thanks!) This link has another photo of him, a much better quality one, as well as more details about his disappearance. He was murdered, shot to death. His sister is the only surviving member of the immediate family.
- In the state of Thuringia in central Germany they have found a missing girl, Peggy No-Last-Name-Released [edit: per a UK article supplied by a commenter, it’s Knobloch], who disappeared mysteriously fifteen years ago, at the age of nine. A mushroom picker found her bones in the forest nine miles from Peggy’s hometown of Lichtenberg. According to this article and one other I found about the case, this had been a murder-without-a-body (MWAB) case: In 2004, a mentally disabled man was convicted of Peggy’s murder. He was later acquitted in a retrial due to lack of evidence after a key witness retracted his statement.
- Corry Ehlers, a guy who disappeared while hiking in Utah in 2012, has also been found deceased. His skeletal remains, found “in a steep, rocky spot near Alta Ski Resort” last summer, were identified in late June. They think Corry fell off a cliff.
- Three days ago it was fifteen years since sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley vanished mysteriously from Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has done an anniversary article about it, with quotes from Diamond and Tionda’s two other sisters, Rita and Victoria: The girls disappeared just a day before Victoria Bradley’s ninth birthday. Until recent years, Bradley, who turns 24 on Thursday, said she was unable to celebrate her birthday because of her depression over the anniversary of their disappearance. I have not updated the girls’ casefiles in over a decade, and last time was just to add some more pics. I will give a look and see if I can find any developments that have taken place in the intervening years.
- Two more recent anniversaries: eleven years since Stacy Ann Aragon and her boyfriend Steven Bishop disappeared from Arizona (see article; Stacy has been reported missing but it appears Steven has not been), and ten years since Roxanne Paltauf disappeared (article) from Texas.
- The NCMEC reports that two of my oldest family abduction cases have been resolved, with the children located alive. One was Jacquelina Ann Gomez, who was abducted from Illinois by her father in 1992 at the age of 3. She would be 27 now, 28 in September.
- The other case involves two brothers who disappeared with their mother and stepfather from Blairsville, Georgia in 1996, when the boys were 2 and 3. A day or so before I left for Minneapolis I got contacted by a very excited reporter who ran a story on Rick Tyler, a man who’s running for Congress under the odious slogan “Make America White Again.” She said after she ran the story she was deluged with emails from people who believed Rick Tyler was probably the same Rick Tyler who was listed as the missing Blairsville kids’ stepfather. She also said the police were now claiming that the boys’ mom DID have custody of them when they disappeared, after all. Well, then the day I left Minneapolis I got an NCMEC notice saying the boys were recovered. I’m not going to say their names on here or put them on the resolved page because I’m not sure about the custody issue, but it should be easy enough to determine who they are from the info I just provided.
- The state of Arkansas has a brand shiny new MP database with 510 people on it, many whose names I don’t recognize. I am very happy about this. I believe every state should have their own publicly searchable online database, as large and comprehensive as possible. Many of the people listed in this new database have no pics though. I hope this situation improves.
- Morgan Keyanna Martin, a pregnant teenager who disappeared in 2012, is now considered a MWAB case. Jacobee Flowers, the father of the unborn child, has been charged with her murder. Homicide is the most common non-natural cause of death for pregnant women in the US and from what I have read, all around the world, the murder of pregnant women — usually by their baby’s father — is a universal problem.
- HuffPo has published a photo essay about the 1998 disappearance of SUNY-Albany student Suzanne Lyall. It’s a mysterious case; no obvious suspects, no answers. 19 years old, promising future, and then gone.
- Kidnap survivor Jaycee Dugard has been in the news again, going on TV and talking about how her life’s going and how she’s raising the two daughters she had with her kidnapper Philip Garrido. The link I just gave provides lots of news articles to read, more than I can summarize here. But here’s one quote from this article to show what a resilient woman and amazing mother Jaycee was and still is: As she and her daughters grew older, Dugard said she planted a flower in front of the shed and set up a little school to teach them as much as she could with only her fifth-grade education. “They’re so resilient, and they’re beautiful and loving, and I’m really lucky,” she said. Dugard has protected her daughters’ privacy and said some of their friends don’t even know of their past. She said the three of them are able to talk about what happened with each other.
My latest Executed Today: Charlotte Rebhun, executed in Berlin during the dying days of the Third Reich. Although it’s not what she was executed for — in fact no one knows now what her “crime” was — Charlotte hid Jews and saved at least one Jewish person’s life, that of a baby named Barbara. Barbara was adopted by a Jewish family after the war and grew up in Israel. She’s searching for her biological relatives now, but it’s hard because she doesn’t even know who her birth parents were. But if it weren’t for Charlotte Rebhun, Barbara would not be alive today.
Today I commemorate Wilhelm Kusserow, a who was executed on this day in 1940 for refusing to serve in the army in Nazi Germany. He was a Jehovah’s Witness and his faith prohibited military service. His brother would later meet with the same fate, for the same reason.
This will be my last Executed Today entry for this month. I had quite a few, five I think, for April. And four upcoming for May: an embittered father, a doctor who was as kind to his patients as he was a terror to his wife, a freed slave with extensive knowledge of the Bible, and a rapist who went back and murdered his victim after he got out of prison. All of them murderers, with seven victims between them.
…in a single post of mine on Executed Today. It’s another Holocaust one; you know that’s my specialty. All of them were Polish Jews, and hanged in pairs: two from the Sosnowiec Ghetto and two from the Bedzin Ghetto.
The father and son who died in Sosnowiec 71 years ago today have a cameo in Maus, Art Spiegelman’s famous graphic novel about the his father’s journey through the Holocaust. I read Maus for school over ten years ago, but I’ve just about forgotten it. I ought to pick it up again.
I wrote to the woman whose book was the principal source for the info in today’s entry. I told her about the entry, and also told her about an upcoming one that will cite her book as a source and quote from it. Speaking as the administrator as the Charley Project, thank-you notes mean a lot to me. I get them from family members, police officers, and sometimes even just random people who stumble across my site. I get two or three a week on average, I guess. (These communications far outnumber the critical emails I get or the emails from crazy people, but I don’t write about the thank-yous much because it sounds like I’m bragging or just out for my own glory or something, and I don’t think the thank yous are nearly as interesting to write about.) It boosts my spirits to know that my efforts are appreciated and I’m making a positive difference in the world. This isn’t the first time I’ve contacted a scholar to thank them for helping my Executed Today research; I figure they deserve to know they’re appreciated, too.
Also on executed on this day in 1942: Sergeant Anton Schmid, a German soldier who helped save Jews in Lithuania and was later honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. He saved hundreds of lives at the cost of his own. My Executed Today entry for him was posted two years ago.
Sorry for being absent and not updating as of late. I’ve been doing other things — nothing in particular, but stuff like playing Sims 3 and Civilization. Just chilling out. I’ll update today, I promise.
In the meantime, yesterday I did update my missing person of the week. It’s Margaret Unger, a middle-aged woman from Missouri with late-onset schizophrenia who, in 2010, ran into the woods during a fit of paranoia and never came out.
And I had another Executed Today entry posted: Marianne Kurchner. I don’t know the date of her death, but she was condemned for sedition in Nazi Germany on June 26, 1943. She made a joke at Hitler’s expense, and that is quite literally all she did, but that was enough.
Another Executed Today entry by me: 32 Soviet soldiers who refused to open fire on a crowd of peaceful protesters in Germany. It’s not clear exactly when they died, sometime in June or July of 1953. Their skeletons were unearthed from a mass grave in 1994. Martyrs for the cause of humanity.
I’m three and a quarter hours too late, but better late than never: I thought I’d commemorate the passing of one Mirjam Sara P., who was recorded as having died on May 27, 1941 as a result of the Nazis’ T4 Program. T4 targeted people with mental retardation, mental illness and/or various deformities and infirmities, and as many as 275,000 people may have died between 1939 and 1945.
Mirjam wasn’t mentally ill so much as a brat. Oh, and she was Jewish. She ran away from home repeatedly as an adolescent, lied to people, stole, couldn’t hold a job and didn’t do well in the numerous residential placements (in group homes, hospitals, etc.) they tried for her. She and her mom and stepfather moved from Germany to Palestine in 1933, when she was fifteen and already known as a handful. She caused so much trouble in Palestine that they had her deported back to Germany (!) in 1936, but that didn’t make her change her ways. She was jailed, then put in a mental hospital, which she escaped from only to find herself jailed again for petty theft. After her release she was carted off to the mental hospital again, then to one of the T4 death institutions.
I say she is “recorded as having died on May 27” because a lot of times the T4 places delayed reporting people’s deaths so they could continue to get money from the state for housing and feeding those people. I don’t know Mirjam’s last name. My sole source for the story was a book called One Life by Tom Lampert, and he just used the initial, presumably to protect her privacy and that of her family. In any case it’s a very sad story. Mirjam may not have been a terribly likable person but she didn’t deserve that kind of death.
I read in my history books about people who lived long ago, and I feel a moral obligation to make sure others know about them. Learn from history or find yourself repeating it, etc. Not too long ago I got into an argument in the comments section of an online magazine with a guy who said “R-persons” (meaning retarded people) and “autisms” (meaning those on the autistic spectrum) were “not human beings.” This guy wasn’t a troll, either. I checked his account on the website, and he was a regular commenter, and his comments were ordinary enough. I think he truly believed what he was saying. Just how slippery is the slope that leads from that kind of thinking to the actual construction of euthanasia centers?
Another Executed Today entry from me: Johann Georg Elser, who tried to kill Hitler in 1939. He was on my earlier list of 12 superheroes. That list wasn’t done in any particular order, but if it had been, Elser would have been at or near the top.
That’s three ET entries in three days from me. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I won’t have another for more than a month.
Thanks to Annie for sending me this article on Theda Gonzalez-Smith, a toddler abducted by her mother in 2009. She was listed on Charley and is now in the resolved section. The article is very informative and also encouraging. Although it took Theda’s dad, Raul Gonzalez, a long time to get her back from Germany, he did succeed in doing so, using legal channels, and Theda’s abducting mother and stepfather are now facing felony charges. This is all the more encouraging because Theda’s left-behind parent was her father. Fathers have an even harder time than mothers in retrieving their children who were abducted and taken abroad.
Unfortunately, Theda now speaks only German, and Raul doesn’t know that language. But they’re managing to communicate anyway, and in the pictures they look really happy.
Note that Theda’s mother simply abandoned her at a social services office in Germany and fled rather than face the charges. She sounds like quite the avoider — she broke up with Raul via text message!
A significant percentage of my Charley cases are old and/or mentally impaired people who wander away from the care facilities where they live. This is a huge problem and they’ve got all sorts of strategies, such as tracking bracelets and stuff, to try to keep these vulnerable individuals safe. But I just found this article about a simple and effective technique out of Germany: nursing homes put up fake bus stops in front of the facility. The patient decides to go home or whatever, and goes outside to wait for the “bus.” So they just sit there until they get found, instead of wandering off to God knows where.
I would totally shake the hand of whoever thought of that.