Minutes before I was supposed to go do my CrimeCon presentation, I did an interview with an East Idaho News reporter. They ran the story today. Here’s the article and here’s the interview on YouTube:
Yeah, I haven’t updated in a bit and I’m sorry. The last week has been super busy, mainly with wedding stuff. Michael and I are getting married Saturday.
I picked up my dress at the alterations place yesterday and it fits me perfectly. In my completely unbiased opinion I’m going to be the most beautiful bride in the world. There’s not going to be any honeymoon because of Covid. Michael will go back to work on Monday and so will I.
So, in lieu of Charley Project updates, here’s a sample of the more interesting recent missing and unidentified persons news:
- A woman whose body was found off Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California in 1981 has been identified as 26-year-old Lily Prendergast, who was last seen when she left her family’s Texas home in late 1980.
- John Michael Carroll disappeared from Victor, Idaho in 2005. His skeletal remains were found “in the general area” where he lived in 2013, and were identified this month.
- Hollis Willingham has been arrested in the murder of Jim Craig Martin, who disappeared from Normangee, Texas on August 6, 2007. It doesn’t look like Martin’s body has been found, however.
- Thomas Drew disappeared from Salisbury, Connecticut in 2007. He used to be on Charley but then his daughter asked me to remove the case. She didn’t like what I’d written, I guess. Anyway, he is still missing, and his daughter has recently published a memoir, Searching for My Missing Father: An American Noir. It sounds very interesting and I added it to my wishlist.
- Blackfeet Community College, in corroboration with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, has launched a website to help streamline missing persons reports of Native American people: “The website [linked here] allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement.”
- A woman’s torso found washed ashore in the seaside community of Benicia, California in 1979 has been identified as Dolores Wulff, who disappeared from Woodland, California that year. Dolores’s husband Carl Wulff Sr. had actually been charged with her murder in 1985, but the charge was dismissed later that year and he died in 2005.
- A skull found on Mount Hood in Oregon in 1986 has been identified as that of Wanda Ann Herr, who had left a Gresham, Oregon group home a decade earlier at the age of nineteen. No missing persons report was filed at the time and the most recent photo available showed her at age twelve. The police are asking anyone who knew Wanda or has any info on her 1976 disappearance to contact them.
- The police have identified a new suspect in the 1973 disappearance of Barbara Jean Aleksivich from Bath, New York. The suspect, Richard W. Davis, is now dead, but he was recently identified through DNA as the killer of Siobhan McGuinness, a Missoula, Montana six-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1974. Barbara, who was 24, was way out of Richard Davis’s preferred age range for victims, but he did live in Bath at the time Barbara disappeared. A previous suspect in her case, who still lived in the Bath area last I knew, has been cleared.
- The body of Ethan Bert Kazmerzak, who disappeared from Hampton, Iowa in 2013, has probably been found. At least they found his car submerged in a local pond, with human remains inside. The remains have been sent to the state medical examiner to be identified, but it’s highly unlikely it’s anyone but Ethan.
Yesterday was the 27th anniversary of the disappearance and presumed abduction of Stephanie Lyn Crane, a nine-year-old girl from the tiny, rural town of Challis in central Idaho. I found multiple articles that commemorated the anniversary: this one from KVIV TV, this one from Idaho News 2, and this one from East Idaho News. None of them really have anything new, though I did add a new photo to Stephanie’s casefile, courtesy of The Abyss Podcast.
Stephanie’s family has had more than its fair share of tragedy. Her parents divorced after she disappeared and just a few years later her mother died of a blood clot. I think she was only in her thirties.
Per this article, her father took Stephanie’s younger sisters out of state to raise them “as normal kids” in a place where people didn’t automatically associate them with their sister’s abduction. He passed away in 2012 of a heart attack, nineteen years to the very day after Stephanie went missing. You can’t tell me that stress and grief wasn’t a factor.
Stephanie still has her sisters, though, and members of her extended family, who hope for answers in her case someday. It sounds like somebody just grabbed her. Imagine living in that tiny town wondering every day if it was one of your neighbors who did this. No wonder her dad moved.
We are almost the same age, her and I. If still alive, Stephanie would be 36 today.
In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Webster George Jr., a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Blackfoot, Idaho on September 1, 1982. I don’t know his tribal status.
George had a troubled past, but unfortunately I don’t know anything about the actual circumstances of his disappearance. If still alive he’d be 69 years old today.
This week’s featured missing person is Daniel Glennon, a 32-year-old man who disappeared from Sandpoint, Idaho on December 5, 1995. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance, but I don’t have a lot of information about it.
Work on putting up those old resolved cases continues apace. And I got interviewed about the Charley Project yesterday for a lady’s YouTube channel. The interview was conducted using an app and my cell phone camera. At one point early in the recording, you see a pair of black triangular ears pop up on the bottom edge of the frame, because that jerk Aria decided she needed to hop up in my lap RIGHT THEN. I will put up a link when the interview goes up on the channel, later this month.
Michael and I will be pulling up the horrible beige carpet in the living room and hallway and the worn-out linoleum in the kitchen later this week and replacing it all with tile. It will be a great improvement, and much easier to clean up messes, but it will require removing everything from those areas first, which will be an enormous pain. We will somehow have to cram a two sofas, a loveseat, an armchair, a coffee table, an entertainment center, an area rug, two bookcases, a kitchen table and chairs, and a whole bunch of random junk into the bedrooms and offices.
Michael’s mother is coming over to help with some of the furniture moving tomorrow. I don’t know how much help she could possibly be, as she’s got a bad knee. I think she just wants to feel useful. Then Michael and his friend Mark will put the tile down, while I try to keep the animals out of the way. Fortunately Mark has prior tiling experience because the rest of us have no idea what we’re doing. I’m assuming it’s a bit more complicated than just applying glue to the underside of the tiles and lining them up on the floor.
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Randall Dean Leach, a twenty-year-old who disappeared from Idaho Falls, Idaho on November 6, 1980. He was planning to hitchhike from Sheboygan, Wisconsin to Bend, Oregon, his first-ever really long hitchhike odyssey. He stopped at a farm in Idaho Falls, stayed for a couple of days and did some work there, then left. He apparently never arrived in Bend.
It’s possible he changed his mind and decided not to go to Bend — Leach’s family described him as a bit of a wanderer and a free-thinker — but I highly doubt that he’s still alive. It seems like if he was able to contact his family, he would have at some point in the past 36 and a half years.
Given the hitchhiking element, he could be anywhere in the country. I wonder if he’s a John Doe somewhere.
A relative asked me to profile the disappearance of Darwin Kenneth Vest, who disappeared 18 years ago as of June 2. He sounds like a really interesting guy, an internationally known entomologist and expert in hobo spiders and poisonous snakes. He testified about them in court and even worked with the FBI and the CIA sometimes.
Whether Vest’s work had anything to do with his 1999 disappearance seems to be up in the air, though personally I doubt it. The man, who was unmarried and childless but had a loving extended family, vanished off the face of the earth while walking home late one evening after his weekly trivia game with friends.
Vest had been drinking that night and it’s possible he simply stumbled into the Snake River — he vanished from Idaho Falls, Idaho. But his family doesn’t think so cause that’s not on his usual route home, and they think foul play was involved.
If he is ever found as a John Doe, his distinctive belt buckle and watch — both with spider decorations — might help identify him.
John Peter Fox, a guy who disappeared from California in 1991 and is listed with the Idaho State Police’s MP clearinghouse for some reason, is said to have “HFR RIGHT WRIST.”
I have no idea what that means. A little help please? Thank you.
Yeah, so yesterday Dad came over to see me and together we went to the tow lot to have a look at my car and retrieve the last of my belongings from it. Turns out the thing is in even worse shape than I thought. Presenting exhibits A, B and C:
Yeah, so not only is just about the entire driver’s side trashed, but the front driver’s side wheel is bent and the windshield is cracked. I emailed the photos to the insurance company. I also noted, and photographed, a pile of automobile detritus in front of my car. I’m not sure whether it’s mine or not, but I sent it along.
It had less than 100,000 miles on it. *sobs* It was a really nice car, too. I mean, yeah it was old (1996) and fracking HUGE and consequently it didn’t have the greatest gas mileage. I doubt its Blue Book value will be much. But it was a luxury model with all the bells and whistles, and its very size may have prevented me from further injury. While we were out I showed Dad the ditch I went into and he was like, “Oh. My. God.”
Last night, Michael and L. and I went out to Granite City, my favorite restaurant, to celebrate my birthday. When the waitress found out it was my birthday they gave me a free, delicious “birthday cookie” with caramel and nuts and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. We had a good time. Today Michael’s parents came over with a card and a cake for me, which was nice.
I don’t know what’s going on but I can barely talk at all and it’s been like this for a few days now. I was able to talk to the insurance companies on the phone on Wednesday, but my voice sounded very hoarse, and gave out almost entirely after that. It’s not so bad with Michael because he’s used to it, but today his parents kept asking me questions and I kept pointing and shaking my head in frustration.
My throat hurts, but not very much — not even enough that I’ve wanted to take aspirin or anything. I don’t feel sick — no sniffling or coughing, no fever, ears don’t hurt, etc. It has been suggested that maybe it’s just a stress reaction due to the accident; I dunno. Certainly I often have physical reactions from stress but I’ve never lost my voice from it; usually my back just freezes up. If I’m still like this by Monday I suppose I’ll have to go back to the doctor.
It’s kind of inconvenient being without a car of course. I had a friend drive me to the doctor this week for my concussion followup, and then my mother drove me back to Fort Wayne. Earlier this week I took an Uber ride to the library and back. But that’s just not practical for anything outside the city. Mom thinks I should demand a rental from the insurance company until my car gets replaced.
As for the Charley Project: I have been working on it, but it’s been “behind the scenes” type stuff you guys can’t see. (Purging cases, answering emails, etc.) Tomorrow I’m planning to start public updates again.
Today I read a book called Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park. It was very good. It mentioned several accidents where the person undoubtedly perished but the body was never recovered — by author Lee Whittlesey’s reckoning there are at least a dozen, perhaps as many as twenty, bodies in Yellowstone Lake and he doesn’t recommend that ANYONE take a small boat out on there, EVER, because the water is so cold (year-round average temperature is around 45 degrees) and storms can come very quickly and capsize small craft. I have several Yellowstone cases on Charley, and in the book Luke Sanburg was mentioned, as was Dennis Johnson. Whittlesey mentioned one case from 1900 where the guy disappeared from his hotel in the park and was never found; he thinks the man went out for a walk after dark and fell into one of the hot springs. The book also mentioned — and had a copy of the poster for — another case I don’t have on Charley.
If you’re interested in such things I also recommend Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers’s book Over The Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. It’s really good too, and quite similar to the aforementioned book, except of course it’s about a different national park. It does however have a mistake in it for which I am partially to blame: they claim Connie Smith‘s body was found in Grand Canyon National Park several years after her disappearance. In fact, the remains were misidentified as Connie at first; the mistake was quickly rectified and Connie is still missing, obviously, and “Little Miss X” remains unidentified to this day. When I read that in the first edition, I remember thinking “Someone should tell them they’re wrong.” That someone should have been me. When I read the second edition of the book and realized the error was still there, I emailed Mr. Ghiglieri and told him about it and provided some links. He said they were working on another edition and he’d try to make sure the error was corrected, but it might already be too late for that.
Amazon also recommends Death in Glacier National Park: Stories of Accidents and Foolhardiness in the Crown of the Continent, which just came out in May, for readers who enjoyed the two aforementioned books. I will have to check that one out. WorldCat says neither the Allen County Public Library nor any library in the OhioLink system has it, but I’ve got birthday money burning a hole in my pocket and I could spend some of it on that. I had thought Glacier National Park was in Alaska, but I was mistaken; it’s in Montana. The Charley Project has Patrick Terrence Whalen who disappeared from there. I think I had Glacier National Park mixed up with Arctic National Park, which is in fact in Alaska; Thomas Seibold is missing from there.
For the first two books (and probably the third although I haven’t read it), the moral of them is basically this: “These places are beautiful and offer a unique experience you’ll remember for the rest of your days and we highly recommend a visit. BUT pay attention to the warnings and obey all the rules and don’t go over the guardrails, and generally don’t be an idiot, because almost everyone who got seriously injured or died here did so at least in part due to their own arrogance and/or stupidity.” Amen.
Flashback Friday this week was a case from Idaho; here’s another one. Gypsy T., an old friend of Christopher Lyn Holverson, asked me to run his case for Select It Sunday. The circumstances of his disappearance appear straightforward enough: in 1998, Christopher went camping in Madison County with a group of friends, and one night he just left the campsite and never came back. That night it was sleeting and there was snow on the ground. This looks like a case of “got lost and died of exposure” but Gypsy isn’t sure of that and she told me why in the emails she sent me.
With permission, I am sharing some parts of Gypsy’s emails to me, slightly edited for spelling and clarity etc.:
When I was a child I had a friend named Christopher Holverson. We met through his little brother. Chris and I were more the same age and we hit it off. We hung out and chatted on the phone. Later we found out we were distant cousins. Well, as time passed we drifted apart. We would chat occasionally but not much else.
Well, one day in 1998 or 1999 I was watching the news and found out Chris was missing. While camping with friends he had left the tent and never returned. After learning this I became interested in missing person cases. While I am interested in all missing person cases, Chris fascinates me the most of course. The sad part is, Chris is almost one of those forgotten missing persons cases.
Our hometown newspaper did a feature of him a while back, but before that, I could hardly find anything about the case. There was even a time when I couldn’t find a picture. Many people think that he got lost while camping, which I find strange. The place he was camping is pretty popular and not very isolated. He left the tent in the middle of the night. When camping usually you only leave the tent in the middle of the night to urinate. You wouldn’t go far for that. So if he wasn’t far how did he get lost? The area where he was camping is not known for bears or other wildlife dangers. Not saying it didn’t happen, but it’s not likely. My best guess is he was harmed by someone. I don’t know the people he was camping with so I am mot blaming them, but there were other people up there too. Or maybe slim possibility, he decided to make a new life for himself.
When describing her friendship with Chris and what he was like, Gypsy says he was a very kind person and a good friend:
I have a skin disorder, psoriasis. I was teased horribly as a child. In fact, that is one of the reasons Chris’s case is so hard on me. He met me as a preteen and saw my psoriasis and didn’t care. He was one of the first people that didn’t care. He helped me see myself as a worthy whole human that was beautiful. He made a major impact on my early teen years.
Christopher was eighteen when he disappeared. If he’s still alive, he would be 37 today.