MP of the week: Brenda Jackson

This week’s featured missing person is 32-year-old Brenda Maria Jackson, a woman who disappeared from Park Forest, Illinois on January 3, 2016. Her mom spoke to her on the phone that evening and Brenda said she was home alone. She was reported missing after she didn’t show up for her early morning shift at work.

I wonder if Jackson’s husband is a suspect in her disappearance. There was a history of domestic violence between them apparently. I haven’t been able to find out anything about him.

One murder trial ends while another begins

Brendt Christensen has been convicted of the murder of 26-year-old doctoral student Yingying Zhang, whose body has never been found.

Of course Yingying’s Charley Project casefile has the basics. I also recommend this Washington Post article, which links to a partial transcript of the trial. And there’s plenty of other news articles about this available.

There remains the punishment phase: LWOP, or the death penalty? (The state of Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011, but because Brendt was tried in federal court he can be executed.) The defense’s primary objective, as they said from the outset of the trial, is to save Brendt from the death penalty. I have a hard time imagining how they’re going to accomplish this.

Given the recorded confession and the blood found at Brendt’s apartment, the defense in this case is waging an uphill battle with a 50mph wind in their faces. But even so, their argument strikes me as pathetically weak: Brendt totally isn’t a vile human being and would-be (or, perhaps, actual) serial killer, not at all! He only kidnapped, raped, murdered and decapitated a complete stranger because he was depressed and flunking out of college and felt like a failure!

To which I say: SO WHAT? Lots of people are depressed. I’ve been depressed since I was in middle school. Lots of people flunk out of college. Most people feel like a failure at some point in their life. That isn’t an excuse to go out and murder some poor woman you don’t even know.

In other news, yesterday John Bayerl’s murder trial began in Wisconsin (which happens to be Brendt Christensen’s home state). John’s wife, DonaMae, disappeared in 1979 and was never seen again. Suspicion hovered over him for decades before he was finally arrested early this year.

I’m a bit surprised they’re going to trial so quickly; in most murder cases (as in Yingying’s) years pass between arrest and trial. But John is 79 and not getting any younger; I suppose he’s hoping they’ll acquit him and he can return to his retirement home in Florida and die on a beach instead of in jail.

John is another absolute turd and I firmly believe he killed his wife. I just hope the prosecution can prove it.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Xu Wang

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 Xu Wang, also known as Sue, a 39-year-old woman who disappeared from Darien, Illinois on August 10, 1999. At the time of her disappearance, she was a doctor at a hospital in Aurora, Illinois. She was last seen leaving for work.

Her car was found only hours later, in a forest preserve. Later, her pager was found alongside the road, but I don’t know if the location was on her route or not.

The police have indicated that Wang’s husband is suspect in her disappearance, which is often the case. However, he’s got Parkinson’s Disease and I don’t know if he would have been physically capable of killing her and getting rid of her body.

This summer, she will have been missing for twenty years.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Chengxu and Zhaoxu Wang

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 actually two cases, the twins Chengxu Wang (male) and Zhaoxu Wang (female). They were five when they disappeared from Champaign, Illinois on February 7, 2015.

Per the NCMEC, the twins were abducted by their non-custodial mother. My guess is she’s taken them back to her country of origin, which my guess, based on the children’s names, would be China. Though it could be Singapore or Malaysia or any country where a lot of people are Chinese.

Anyway, if the children were victims of international family abduction, it’s unlikely they can be returned unless the mother chooses it. I don’t think China has signed the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. I’m not sure any Asian country has.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Rachel Mellon

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 Rachel Marie Mellon, also known as Rachel Mellon Skemp, a thirteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Bolingbrook, Illinois on January 31, 1996. She is listed as Asian, but I think she may have some Caucasian ancestry as well.

Rachel had stayed home sick from school on the day of her disappearance. Her stepfather, Vince Mellon, said she was lying on the couch when he went to take the dog for a walk, and when he came back, she was gone.

Vince himself has been a suspect in Rachel’s case for years, though. Rachel had written in her diary that he kissed her and touched her inappropriately, and he had scratches on him after her disappearance. There just isn’t enough evidence at present to charge anyone, however.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Hiep Luu

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 Hiep T. Luu, a 21-year-old Vietnamese immigrant who disappeared from Berwyn, Illinois on December 15, 2003.

Luu had moved to the U.S. in the 1990s and was living with his parents, sisters and brother-in-law. He was last seen when he left home to drive to work. He never arrived and was never heard from again.

I don’t have much information on this case, but as his car is missing also, I have to wonder if he got into an accident of some kind. Driving conditions in the midwest in the wintertime can be rather horrible. It’s a forty-minute drive from Berwyn to Woodridge, the town where his job was, and I note several forest preserves dotting the area. I wonder how thoroughly these have been searched.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Wendy Kimura

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 Wendy M. Kimura, a 28-year-old woman who disappeared from Cary, Illinois on May 21, 1999. I don’t know for sure but I think she’s of Japanese descent; Kimura is a Japanese surname.

Wendy was a Chicago resident who took the train to Cary on May 20, and spent the night with a friend. She was last seen walking along Route 14 the next day.

There isn’t a whole lot out there about the circumstances of her disappearance, but it’s worth noting that she has both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In June 2013, fourteen years after her disappearance, the cops searched the Fox River for her, but didn’t find anything.