In the past week two different family members of MPs have contacted me asking to correct errors on the MPs’ respective casefiles.
One of them emailed me saying:
The profile mentions that [MP’s] sons were raised by [MP’s] parents. Actually, while [MP’s parents] had custody of the boys for the year after [MP’s] disappearance, my husband and I adopted and raised them. They joined our natural family of five (one daughter and two sons) on August 10, 1996. I am [MP’s] first cousin and her will named me as guardian for her children. My husband’s name is XXXXX. The boys are now grown and doing well.
I corrected the information and told her it sounded like MP’s kids were lucky to have her and I was glad they were doing well after having suffered such a terrible loss early in life.
The other found my personal Facebook account and told me one of the two photos I had for her son wasn’t of him. (Color me surprised; that photo was on his CDOJ page for years.) And, she said, if I didn’t remove the wrong photo immediately she would “be forced to take further action.”
Oh-kay then. I did of course remove the photo. I don’t want wrong info on my site and all she had to do was, like MP’s cousin above, explain that it was in error and politely ask for me to fix it. I was slightly flabbergasted.
I asked my friend Wendy the Minister why people behaved that way (like the second person I mean) and she said, “Because they’re so used to being ignored. They’re used to people not caring, so they learn that they have to threaten people if they want anything done.”
That’s probably true. And very sad.
Tonight I noticed that Paul Smith has a NamUs profile as well as a poster with the Missouri Highway Patrol. (Not all MHP cases have posters.) So I started to add the additional info and found a conundrum: Paul’s MHP poster says he is 5’6, and NamUs says he is 6’1!
I’m inclined to believe NamUs’s height, because both sources have him weighing at least 220 pounds, and someone who’s that weight and only 5’6 would be quite overweight, and he doesn’t look overweight in the picture. But I’m not sure.
I got an email from Justin saying NamUs had some additional info on a case I had already posted. The MP had been arrested on a minor charge five years before he went missing, and NamUs had posted a document with his fingerprints and some info I didn’t have, such as his place of birth and middle name.
I also noted that the fingerprint sheet said the MP was 5’7 and 177 pounds. NamUs has him listed as somewhere between 6’0 and 6’3, and 200 to 210 pounds. And he was middle-aged, making it highly unlikely that he managed to grow at least five inches in the years between his arrest and his disappearance. (He might easily have gained thirty pounds, though.)
I have no idea how tall this guy is now. I’m inclined to think the info on his fingerprint sheet is more likely to be correct, because when they arrest you, don’t they stand you in front of a height chart to take your mug shot? But I don’t know, and as it stands, unless you find that fingerprint sheet, you’re going to be trying to match this guy to a bunch of much taller John Does.
I’m not blaming NamUs here — he was in the CDOJ database too and it seems the height was off there as well — I’m just expressing my frustration about having to work with heights and weights that might have been wild guesses.
Still writing updates for tomorrow and now I have a conundrum.
NamUs says Brian Shookman has “Beaver” tattooed on his left arm. They also say Shookman’s nickname is Beaver. At first, because of the nickname, I assumed Shookman had the WORD “Beaver” as his tattoo. But the Shoshone News-Press says he “had a beaver tattoo on his left arm.” So now I’m not sure.
One of the NamUs pictures shows Brian without a shirt on, and you can see the tattoo in question, but the angle is wrong and the tattoo is so small and blurry that I can’t tell if it’s letters or the animal.
Now I’m really not sure what to do here. This could really go either way.
I discovered Reddit’s “Without a Trace” forum, which has links to loads of MP articles I’ve missed, and have been going through them this night. In the process I found this article about Donna Michele Barnhill. A quote from it:
The photo released in 1981 of Donna Barnhill was that of a school picture when she was between the age of 7-8 years old, the news release stated. In the mid 2000s, the CUE Center for Missing Persons located additional grainy snapshots, including an “eye-shut” photo. Barnhill’s family did not purchase the photo from the school because her eyes were closed, and the photo was of poor quality.
In other words, the picture the NCMEC has on their poster was taken nearly half a lifetime before Donna disappeared at age 13. The only other photo is of such poor quality that there’s no real way to tell what she looked like when she vanished.
I listed 18-year-old Daryl Martinez, missing from Albuquerque, New Mexico since last July, today. Then I had to remove him about five minutes later. Annoying.
This is Mr. Martinez’s missing persons poster with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.
This is an article about a young man also named Daryl Martinez, who was the same age and bears a striking resemblance to the photo on the poster, being arrested for murder in Albuquerque last September. He shot a guy in an argument over $1.
Barring some conclusive evidence that the two Daryl Martinezes are NOT the same person, I’m inclined to believe the New Mexico DPS website is behind in the times and Daryl was located eleven months ago.
The California Department of Justice database is awesome in many ways, but it has some flaws too, just like any other site. I uncovered a major mistake this week: a woman whom, they claim, disappeared from Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is a coastal city in central California. For as long as this woman has been on the Charley Project — and that’s been almost ten years — I’d had her listed as missing from there. I had no reason to believe otherwise.
This week I got an email from the missing lady’s daughter and found out that, although she’s FROM Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County police are investigating her case, she actually disappeared from Alaska. ALASKA. That’s like, thousands of miles away from the stated POD.
Oh, and the photo the CDOJ had up for her until about a month ago wasn’t of her either. They’ve fixed that, but the CDOJ page for her still says she disappeared from Santa Cruz.
I write up a whole casefile for a man who’s listed as missing on NamUs and on his police department’s website, only to discover this individual is wanted for NINETEEN sex crime charges and is, in all probability, running from the law. No Sir, I will not have you defiling my website.
I got an email in my inbox this evening about someone who was less than satisfied about what I wrote about her missing son and wanted me to make changes. As long-time readers of this blog know, such communiques are not uncommon. I sent the standard response, asking what I could do to help her.
Slight problem, though: the email ARRIVED in my inbox this evening, but according to gmail it was SENT a full week ago. The poor woman probably thought I was ignoring her all this time. Fortunately I noticed the discrepancy as I was sending the reply, and added a note to my email to her explaining that for some reason I hadn’t gotten her message for a week. I hope she believes me.
I don’t think this has ever happened before, but if it does in the future I’ll have to tell gmail customer service about it. She could have reached me faster by sending me a postcard!
One of the Indianapolis missing persons cases they’ve put up on their new website (and all the links are still broken, btw) is Kimberly Blackburn. Kimberly is also listed on NamUs.
The Indianapolis PD gives a date of disappearance April 11, 1983. The NamUs date of disappearance is more than six weeks later, on May 29, 1983. But in the “circumstances” section it says she disappeared in JUNE 1983.
That’s three different dates of disappearance, people. Make up your minds; you’re making my job even more difficult than it already is.
Given these discrepancies I don’t feel comfortable posting her case, until the dates get worked out. More’s the pity.