Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Anthony Lee

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Anthony P. Lee, a 24-year-old who disappeared from Fremont, California on June 10, 1986.

Authorities think Anthony probably jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, as his car and wallet were found there, and he was known to have been suicidal. If he did jump, he is just one of many people on the Charley Project who are presumed victims of that beautiful and terrible place.

If he is still alive, on the other hand, he’d be 57 years old today.

Got quite a big update dump yesterday

A Charley Project Irregular let me know about how the San Francisco Examiner had been added to the archives, so I went and ran all my old San Francisco cases through to see if they had articles in that paper. Then when that was done, I decided to do with the same with Santa Cruz cases, because I knew the Santa Cruz Sentinel was in the archives. And presto, 29 cases updated.

Some thoughts/info on individual ones:

  • I wonder if Erwin Ernest Bunge‘s car was ever recovered. I also wonder if his disappearance had anything to do with him being a high profile trainer. Henry Martinez was only seventeen years old in 1988 and it seems unlikely that he could have been involved. I wasn’t able to find out much about him; he retired from boxing in 1994 and drifted into obscurity.
  • Not really a thought, but a piece of trivia: Harry Weldon Kees is not the only person presumed to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge on July 18, 1955. The police found TWO cars abandoned there that day, leading to speculation as to which person went first. At the time, they were keeping a record of how many people died. I don’t think they’re keeping track anymore though. (Oh, and here’s a 2011 rant of mine about Golden Gate Bridge suicide victims.)
  • I looked up Walter Christopher Kuchanny‘s wife, and she has remarried and seems to be doing well. She returned to England after his disappearance. I do believe he was a suicide victim and didn’t just leave. Her description of his behavior, being all anxious and depressed and then suddenly happy and relaxed, is pretty typical of people who take their lives.
  • Is anyone else wondering if Michael Omas Masaoay‘s disappearance was just an accident? I wonder if it went something like this: he sets off for the day, realizes school is actually closed, and then decides to chill out at his favorite fishing spot, and then gets dragged out to sea by surf, just like Noel Annette Marcotte and countless others have been. That would explain why Michael’s bag was found where it was. Will anyone who’s familiar with the geography of that location care to voice an opinion in the comments?
  • The SF Examiner article I found about John Dolan Phillips‘s disappearance was mainly about the sale of his car and how it was very sketchy. His family was never notified the car had been found in the parking garage. The mint-condition rare classic car was sold to an employee of the garage for just $200, a tiny fraction of both its actual worth AND the amount of accrued parking fees owed. Apparently when objects worth over $500 are put for sale in these circumstances, the public is supposed to be notified and given a chance to buy them, but the car was sold for an a lower amount, so the garage didn’t have to notify anyone. And then the new owner refused to even let the car get inspected for clues. Whether any of this has something to do with Phillips’s disappearance is anyone’s guess.
  • Given the circumstances of Carlos Benjamin Urruela‘s disappearance, it’s likely he died by suicide. The article I read said his addiction was very bad — he’d gone from snorting to freebasing to shooting cocaine — and was ruining his life and his appearance.

Pride Month: Robin Reed

In honor of Pride Month I’m featuring a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer missing person every day for the month of June. Today’s case is Robin Reed, a 15-year-old gay boy who disappeared from Petaluma, California on January 24, 1995.

It’s no mystery what happened to Robin; he was seen jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He was struggling to cope with his sexuality and had been bullied at school. The students at his high school created a Gay/Straight Alliance in his honor after his death.

His body has never been recovered.

Comparison between Golden Gate Bridge suicides and other jumpers on Charley

Out of curiosity, I checked out the jumpers on this week’s list and compared them to the Golden Gate Bridge jumpers I have listed. I chose to include only those where either the cops specifically said they were sure the person had jumped, or there was a witness or the person’s stuff was found in the water. I left out those who merely left their car parked near the bridge, though I’m sure many of those also died there.

There were 21 names and as far as ages are concerned, they just about corresponded with the other list: most of them young, seven in their twenties, four in their teens (two of them only fifteen, sigh). However, in the previous list, there were almost as many females as males. Not so with the GGB list: eighteen males and only three females.

According to John Bateson’s wonderful book on the subject of Golden Gate Bridge suicides, three-quarters of the jumpers are male. 3 of 21 is only fourteen percent, though. But I suppose the additional difference might be explained by the fact that that male bodies, being heavier, might sink deeper and be less likely to be found than female ones, which is why they would appear on Charley. Just a hypothesis, mind.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: put up a barrier already. People are dying while you complain about it ruining your precious view.

It’s Tuesday again

This week’s spotlighted missing person is Carlos Urruela, disappeared from San Francisco in 1987. A blog commenter requested him. Carlos disappeared under circumstances that suggest he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge — his car turned up there — but CDOJ says “suspicious circumstances.” His mom commented on my blog last month and said she thinks too many people missing in the vicinity of the Bridge were written off as suicides and the cops didn’t look at any other theories, when in fact some of those supposed suicides have got to have left on their own.

She’s probably right. I read an estimate somewhere that at least 10% of Golden Gate suicides where the body wasn’t found are probably “pseudocides” but I don’t know how they would arrive at that figure. As to whether Carlos was among that number, I have no idea. I hope he’s alive. He has very intense eyes.

Haven’t updated yet. I’m still working on that.

I finally updated

For the first time in nearly two weeks. I suck, I know. I wasn’t even busy. Just kind of chilling out, hanging around with Michael and his parents (I spent two days and two nights in a row at their house, one of which was without Michael), and reading. I’ll try to update more in the future.

The new MP of the week is Rosario Pacheco-Flores, age 28, missing from Phoenix since 2008. She vanished with her boyfriend, 30-year-old Luis Villafana. Foul play is suspected but I’ve got nothing beyond that.

(Aside: A curious thing about the name Rosario — and also the name Consuelo — most of the time in Spanish, female names end in an A, but not in those cases. I don’t know why they aren’t Rosaria and Consuela. Rosario in Italian is male, sez Nameberry. Consuela and Rosaria aren’t even listed on the site.)

The last MP of the week (which was, of course, two weeks ago *hangs head in shame*) was Ka Ming Kwan, a 39-year-old man who vanished fishing off the west end of the Golden Gate Bridge back in 1981. Pretty easy to surmise what happened to him.

And I have a new Executed Today entry: Israel Lipski, hung for murder in London in 1887. It was a strange case — the victim was killed by being forced to swallow nitric acid — and it was controversial and notorious in its time but almost forgotten now. I love writing about those kinds of cases.

Another possible jumper

I have written before about people who reportedly jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and were never found. Well, I might have found one more: Du Pham, a young man of Vietnamese descent who disappeared in 2008.

I updated his case today. I had had him on Charley with no information, then happened to take another look at his California DOJ entry and discovered they’d updated it (this hardly ever happens) with info that his car was found near the bridge. This is not, of course, a guarantee that he jumped, but it certainly puts that possibility right at the top of the pile. He even looks mournful in his picture–though it was probably a driver’s license photo and we never look our best in those.

I hope he’s still alive out there somewhere. Sometimes people commit “pseudocide” at the bridge where they deliberately leave a note saying they’ll jump, or leave their belongings there, or both, and then walk out into the sunset. But Mr. Pham has been gone for an awfully long time.

Probable and possible suicides

I’m still thinking about the people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and realized I’d never come up with a list of all the probable suicides listed on Charley. I thought I’d attempt it now:

Adrian Ferraras Almario, age 17, in 2006
Allison Taylor Bayliss, age 15, in 2011
Robert Ralph Beich, age 46, in 1990
Leonard Bernard Branzuela, age 32, in 1993
Casey Joanna Brooks, age 17, in 2008
Eric Dickson Cansler, age 40, in 2005
Ylenia Maria Sole Carrisi, age 23, in 1994
Atlanta Clark, age 73, in 1984
Lisa Ann Clark, age 39, in 1996
Jonathan Samuel Dorey, age 22, in 2010
Thomas Redd Evans, age 51, in 1994
Ronald Eugene Davis, age 34, in 1993
Andrew Cardoza Fluegelman, age 41, in 1985
Amador Garcia, age 27, in 1986
Brenton J. Garmire, age 43, in 1990
Patricia E. Gomez, age 23, in 1979
Gregory Dean Gothard, age 54, in 2006
Silvestre Reyes Hidalgo, age 38, in 1995
Jack Allen Hilton, age 25, in 1983
Robert F. Hughes, age 59, in 2008
Paresh Jain, age 25, in 2011
Danny Lee Kelley, age 35, in 1995
Jerry Wayne Lackey, age 36, in 1985
William Jeffers Lank, age 42, in 1992
Anthony P. Lee, age 24, in 1986
Maricel Tolentino Marcial, age 27, in 2002
William Thomas McKay, age 53, in 1993
Priscilla Giordano McKee, age 44, in 1991
Patricia Minassian, age 37, in 1996
Frank Oliva Sr., age 76, and his wife Mary Oliva, age 79, in 1973
Kristina Ashe Olsen, age 50, in 2008
John Pavlat, age 34, in 2002
Mark Wade Potts, age 45, in 2010
William Thomas Purcell III, age 38, in 2003
Robin Reed, age 15, in 1995
Andrew Brian Renton, age 46, in 2007
John Robert Scialabba, age 23, in 2001
Michael Joseph Scully, age 24, in 1986
Kristin Marie Snyder, age 35, in 2003
Hilary Harmon Stagg Jr., age 16, in 1970
Sandra Stricklin, age 24, in 1998
Matthew Vincent Sueper, age 22, in 2011
Kayoko Tomoikari, age 40, in 2003
Donna L. Urban, age 23, in 1983
Lewis Barrett Welch Jr., age 44, in 1971 (he was a minor character in one of Jack Kerouac’s books)
Matthew Chase Whitmer, age 20, in 2007
Charles White Whittlesley, age 37, in 1921 (a Medal of Honor winner)

They’re rather older than I expected — the average age is 38 years.

And some marginal cases, maybe-suicide-maybe-not:
David Scott Abramovitz, age 23, in 2001
Zachary A. Aylsworth, age 22, in 2006 (no disputing what he did, but rather his intent)
Robert Matthew Bockmann, age 26, in 2003
Charles Howard Bolter, age 69, in 1972
Tracee Jane Carter, age 40, in 2002
Merrian Lynn Carver, age 40, in 2004
Jennifer Rayleen Casper-Ross, age 30, in 2005
Steven Norman Chait, age 20, in 1972
Skip Conrad, age 57, in 2006
David Cortez Jr., age 27, in 2000 (a very odd case)
Lee Sterling Cutler, age 18, in 2007
Sandra Lee Davis, age 38, in 1974
George Wolfgang Dudding, age 45, in 1999
Kyle Andrew Carl Eppler, age 20, in 1999
Jonathan Lewis Ginsburg, age 32, in 1987
Roy Jacob Hagel, age 38, in 1989
Brian Eugene Helmuth, age 38, in 1999
Gregory Downes Howells, age 42, in 1997
Lonnett Myer Jackson, age 46, in 2006
Sandra Mary Jacobson, age 36, in 1996 (and her son John, see the list below)
Harry Weldon Kees, age 41, in 1955 (a Beat writer like Lew Welch mentioned above)
Dermot Faulkner Kelly, age 16, in 1972
Margaret M. Kilcoyne, age 50, in 1980
Bonita Louise Krummel, age 44, in 1991
Vincent Lamouris, age 18, in 2002
David J. Miller, age 27, in 2011
Ornaith Murphy, age 55, in 2001 (and her husband, see below)
Van T. Nguyen, age 26, in 2001 (and her children, see below)
Muni Bart Perzov, age 49, in 2009
Joseph David Wolfgang Pichler, age 18, in 2006
Brian Ross Ritchie, age 36, in 1999
Victorio Abueg Santiago, age 37, in 2002 (and his sons; see below)
Roger Schwerman II, age 19, in 1993
Bobby Nathan Simpson, age 32, in 2005
Shantina Marie Smiley, age 29, in 2010 (a very sad case)
Austin Sparks, age 15, in 2004 (like the Aylsworth case: we know what he did, but did he mean to harm himself?)
Michael Dean Stephenson, age 44, in 1996
Charles Southern Jr., age 39, in 1987
Arkadiy Tashman, age 17, in 2005
Joan Penderell Taylor, age 63, in 2003
Susan Walsh, age 36, in 1996
Robbie A. Wardwell, age 51, in 2008
Marvin Duane Witte, age 51, in 2005
George Robert Zelaya, age 61, in 2005

And, saddest of all, people who may have been victims of murder/suicides:
Carolyn Denise Brown, age 27, and her children Barry Michael Brown, age 6, Brandon Mitchell Brown, age 2, and Sheketah Michele Brown, age 10, in 1985
A.J. Campbell Jr., age 11 months, and his sister Myrisha Faye Campbell, age 3, in 1958
Rachel Lyn Conger, age 30, in 2008
Bekime Elshani, age 22, in 2008
John Henry Jacobson, age 5, in 1996
Kieran Murphy, age 58, in 2001
John Thai Nguyen, age 3, and his sister Kristina Thay Nguyen, age 4, in 2002
Isabella Pastrana, age 1, in 2003
Timmothy James Pitzen, age 6, in 2011
Daniel Borje Santiago, age 7, and his brother Noel Borje Santiago, age 11, in 2002
Reachelle Marie Smith, age 3, in 2006
Dennise Jeannette Sullivan, age 15, in 1961

Alas, more jumpers

Only a week ago I wrote about some probable suicides on Charley, mostly Golden Gate Bridge related. And today, sadly, I added two more: Matthew Sueper, who was seen jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge last August, and Paresh Jain, who was probably a Golden Gate Bridge suicide too. At least I know he disappeared in San Francisco and it was more or less immediately ruled a suicide. I can’t find any mention of the bridge but I’d be surprised if that wasn’t his chosen method. He came there all the way from Virginia to do it — 2,700 miles.

Both of these were young men: 22 and 25, respectively. Right in the prime of their lives. And from the web postings I found by the friends and family they left behind, it’s obvious they were loved. Makes you wonder what happened.

Final leaps

I was in the library today and, as always, stopped to have a look at their display of new books. One caught my eye: The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge by John Bateson. Being a connoisseur of Incredibly Depressing Books, of course I had to check it out. I haven’t started it yet — I’m in the middle of two books right now — but it looks very interesting.

Charley has quite a few presumed Golden Gate Bridge suicides, as I recorded here. Less than a month ago I added Allison Bayliss, a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore who jumped last May. The prologue of Bateson’s book talks about Casey Joanna Brooks, a high school senior who jumped in 2008 (and is still classified as a “runaway juvenile” on the California Department of Justice missing persons database in spite of my calling them to tell them this was both inaccurate and insensitive).

Another reason for bridge jumpers to be on my mind: the tragic recovery of Mariam Makhniashvili from Toronto. A recent immigrant from the Republic of Georgia who didn’t speak English, she vanished without a trace in 2009. The cops suspected foul play and her father has since been imprisoned for stabbing a guy whom he accused of being involved in Mariam’s disappearance, then stabbing the couple who bailed him out of jail in the first incident.

Then someone stumbled across Mariam’s body under an overpass, just outside the search grid. She’d been missing for two and a half years. The cops think she took her own life, although it’s possible her death was an accident. We’ll never know for sure.

Det. Sergeant Dan Nealon, lead detective in Mariam’s case, said the teen’s family never indicated the girl was depressed or anxious — but “in retrospect,” she kept to herself in the months before her 2009 disappearance.

Investigators “could assume that it was a result of isolation or depression,” he said, adding that she also could have been struggling with cultural barriers.

Rest in peace, Mariam.