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 Newspapers.com 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.