I’m working on a list for a future Make-a-List Monday that requires me to basically look at every single casefile to see if it qualifies for the list. (I might have mentioned this before, not sure.) Anyway, the list involves the place the MP disappeared from. I googled “Oakland Township, PA” for Andrew Armstrong…and discovered there are THREE Oakland Townships in Pennsylvania.
And I have no idea which one he disappeared from.
Sandra Baker disappeared from Delaware Township, Pennsylvania. And there are FIVE of those.
I had a case awhile back which had several different sources for it, and there were two last names given. The difference was only one letter, but that didn’t just make it a different spelling; it made it a different name entirely. And I had an equal number of sources giving me both names. I had no idea which was the right one. Finally I just picked the more common surname. It was either that or not put the case up at all. I chose the lesser evil.
Well, turns out I was wrong. Sigh. I did the best I could.
Moan, whine, muttergrumble etc.
I really hate it when I find people listed as missing on government sites who have already been found. Particularly if they were found quite a long time ago, long past the time when the “I just haven’t gotten around to removing it yet” excuse reaches its expiration date.
Now, sometimes I don’t find out that one of my Charley Project MPs was located until months (or more) after the fact. (More than once I’ve been enlightened by the no-longer-missing person themselves.) It’s quite embarrassing for me when this happens. But oversights like that on my part are understandable: I am one person, working on her own, and a civilian at that, with no access to any kind of government databases and stuff like the NCIC.
I was thinking in particular of a woman I put up just the other day, who had disappeared in 2010. I couldn’t find any press on the case but there was a page for her in the state database so I used that information. If you can’t rely on official state or federal databases, what can you rely on? I put her case up…and got an email from someone directing me to this woman’s obituary. No word as to when she was found, but she died of natural causes early this year. 2013, I mean. My guess would be that she was missing for only a matter of days. Nothing I could do but take it off again. If she hadn’t died in January and got an obituary, I would never have known she’d been found at all.
There is no excuse for that kind of thing. None. The fact that this person is still listed as missing is going to be confusing and misleading for people trying to identify bodies, and so on. And she took up a slot on that day’s Charley Project updates that could have gone to any of the other hundreds of MPs that I haven’t posted yet.
This isn’t a problem with just one particular state or another. I’ve seen it happen with a lot of state databases. I know government employees, including whoever is actually sitting behind the computer running those databases, are often overworked and underpaid, but it seems to me that if they can find time to add new cases, they should be able to find time to remove resolved ones too.
*end of rant*
This from Patch in Columbia, South Carolina a few days ago: “Sharon Denise Henderson, now 38, has been missing from Richland County for a few years.”
Got a picture, a date of birth, height, weight, hair and eye color.
And…no date of disappearance.
What am I supposed to do with with this?
I left a comment: “I would be helpful if you said exactly when Ms. Henderson disappeared. I’m just sayin’. Not even a year is listed.”
Neither, I noticed just now, is a law enforcement contact.
Seriously, NCMEC, I am annoyed with you. Why on earth did you make those changes to your search page? It is like 90% less useful now. You used to be able to search by name, place of disappearance, date of disappearance, age, height and weight, hair, eyes, race, type of disappearance and where the kid might be. Now it’s just name, place of disappearance and date. And you’ve got a cookie or something that automatically sets the place to whatever state the viewer happens to be in, so if I want to search for kids missing from outside Indiana, I have to change it myself. And in the results, the kids’ middle names aren’t visible anymore. You have to Google their names to find ’em.
Why on earth would you do this? Mind you, I’ve raised my eyebrows before at some of the things you’ve done, but I understand you’ve got rules and stuff and have to comply with the wishes of those that fund you (re: the government). Did the government tell you to make a ludicrously dumbed-down search page? I’ve only been using it for the past few days and already it’s driving me crazy(er).
I posted a case today out of Montana, using information from their missing persons database, which said he disappeared last January. I was unaware that the person was also on NamUs. NamUs, however, gave a different middle name as well as a different date of disappearance — last December. The wonderfully useful Carl pointed this out to me, and I wrote Montana to clarify.
Turns out MT DOJ got the name right but the date wrong: the MP disappeared last December, not January — that is, eleven months after they said. Which means he hasn’t been gone nearly long enough to be profiled on Charley. Which means I’ll have to remove his case. Which means that I essentially wasted a perfectly good slot in today’s updates, where I could have profiled another case. I mean, there’s always tomorrow and everything, but this was a waste of my time.
*kvetch kvetch kvetch*
From time to time I hear from relatives of MPs wishing to correct some inaccuracy or another in the MP’s casefile. Now, for the most part, I take them at their word: that they are who they say they are and that they are being honest with me about the information. I’m a trusting sort of person and besides, I don’t have a lot of choice because it’s usually difficult or impossible to independently verify absolutely every detail. Furthermore, a lot of times the claimed inaccuracies are small things that don’t really matter much as far as the investigation is concerned, like what college the person went to, or whether or not their parents were married.
But sometimes, well, people lie. Sometimes people get upset that some (usually rather unflattering) bit of information about their missing relation is on the Charley Project, so they write to me saying it’s untrue in hopes that I’ll remove it.
I’m pretty sure that’s what happened today. A person wrote to me threatening a lawsuit about “false statements” about their aunt. Now, since that particular casefile is very short, I think I know what details the person is referring to: the part about the MP having an arrest record for drugs and prostitution. The problem is, I got that info straight from the horse’s mouth: that is, from the police. The information about the MP’s arrest record is mentioned when they talk about her on the missing persons section of the police department website.
Which leaves one of three explanations:
1. The upset relative genuinely didn’t know about the MP’s arrest record and doesn’t believe it. Possible, I suppose.
2. The information on the police website is inaccurate. Also possible, but not likely.
3. The upset relative is lying to me.
Anyway, this is unfortunate. I’m going to have to refuse to remove the information unless I hear from the police themselves correcting their own mistake. Which is going to make the relative even angrier at me than they already are. I really hate making family members upset, but I don’t see any other way to go in this case.
“Where did you get your information on the such-and-such case?” Someone asked me today. Um…from the links at the bottom of the page. You know, where it says “Source Information.”
“Are you aware that some of your information is inaccurate?” Um, no. If I had thought any of it was inaccurate I wouldn’t have posted it.
End of email.
Now, I totally don’t mind people informing me of any inaccuracies on Charley. In fact I prefer it. I want the site to be as accurate as possible. But it seems I get a lot of people who write me, tell me such-and-such case has inaccuracies, and then disappear without bothering to go into details.
To top it all, the case they referred to is a particularly sordid one: a missing child, the product of divorced parents, with many terrible accusations flung by both sides of the family against the other side, and the police openly speculating about murder — in other words, just the kind of case to arouse strong emotions in the parties involved.
Perhaps this person will write back with more information. But it would save a lot of time if they had said “Are you aware that some of your information is inaccurate? For example, this, this, and this. Here’s what actually happened…”
Remember the person who wrote to me saying her father was on my site and there were inaccuracies, and I wrote back saying tell me what they are so I can fix them?
Well, she finally replied. Like, almost six months later. And she doesn’t want me to fix the inaccuracies. Just wants the case removed. Sigh.
I’ve gotten several FB comments/emails from people lately that refer to MPs on my site without giving the full name. Like “We want you to change X detail on Audrey’s casefile, it’s wrong.” Um…Audrey who? I think Charley has about nine Audreys, as well as some people with the middle name Audrey.
Ah well. I’ll just have to write and ask for clarification.