There’s been a social media storm these last 24 hours

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a woman who claims she is Jennifer Klein who disappeared in 1974. This story has been floating around the internet for about a month, but yesterday there was a YouTube video published where the woman claimed she had DNA testing done and it proved her identity.

This woman also claims her abductors were members of a Satanic cult and that they kidnapped Kurt Newton and Etan Patz (who both disappeared in the 1970s, across the country from Jennifer) as well. She says she was brainwashed and didn’t start remembering what happened until after she was injured in a car accident.

As for what I think, well, I didn’t write this editorial but it pretty much sums up my own position on the matter.

Hopefully the truth will come out over the next few days or so. Until then, that’s all I’ve got to say.

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MP anniversaries today

Courtesy of the Unfound Podcast‘s Twitter feed and my own checking:

  • Colleen Vanita Simpson, 14, missing since 1975 from Clearfield, Iowa. Disappeared from her home at night, classified as a non-family abduction, but I’ve got nothing on her. Wish I did.
  • Karen Lee Kohls, 31, missing since 1982 from Maumee, Ohio. Her car turned up parked at a nearby lake with chairs and fishing tackle locked inside it. Foul play is suspected.
  • Daniel A. Naylor, 14, missing since 1982 from Fremont, California. Although his case was classified as a runaway for decades, foul play is now suspected.
  • Babette Nadine Alberti, 23, missing since 1983 from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. I don’t have much on her, but she might have gone to Mississippi after her disappearance.
  • Michelle Doherty Thomas, 17, missing since 1985 from Santa Fe, Texas. She was a young wife and mother (she was last seen the day before her son’s first birthday), and had been a police informant prior to her disappearance. Two men were later indicted for her kidnapping but never brought to trial.
  • James Jamison, 75, missing since 1987 from Burlington, Iowa. He was last seen getting into a cab with suitcases; he’d planned to go to Chicago. His disappearance was seen as completely out of character, though.
  • Amanda Marie Rivera, 14, missing since 1990 from La Mesa, California. She was a recent MP of the week. I don’t have much on her.
  • Zeta D. Gordon, 43, missing since 1992 from Atchison County, Kansas. There’s speculation that her husband was involved in her case; he took his own life in 1998. She was MP of the week in 2004. Two months ago someone posted a comment on the blog entry: I was in Atchison for a friends wedding, I met the daughter of Wayne and Zeta. It was shortly after she went missing. There is a lot not being told in this story. The daughter pulled out a scrapbook of all the articles written about this story. They did I fact have 3 kids together, the daughter and oldest son believed there dad had everything to do with the mothers disappearance, the oldest son would no longer have anything to do with Wayne and the daughter who was barely out of high school who was still living at home was visibly scared of her dad when he walked in while she was showing us the scrapbook. She absolutely believed her dad was guilty the younger brother was to young to understand. The daughter said she thought that her mom and dad were meeting somewhere later to talk and that’s where her car was found. Her dad accused mom of having an affair with someone and was trying to shift the blame onto someone else. From everything the daughter said I believe he was to blame
  • Barry Paul Duncan, 38, missing since 1994 from Phoenix, Arizona. Eleven days later his truck turned up abandoned at the Gila River Indian Reservation. Foul play is suspected.
  • Kenneth William Harker, 34, missing since 1996 from Sioux City, Iowa. He was disabled due a head injury, although capable of living independently. Investigators believe he was murdered.
  • Ronald Leonard Farrell, 62, missing since 1999 from Hemet, California. He left on foot to go to the pharmacy several miles away and and fill a prescription, and never returned. Farrell was a retired Air Force veteran.
  • Andrea Michelle Reyes, 1, missing since 1999 from New Haven, Connecticut. A family abduction; her mother took her. Mom is from Mexico and well-experienced at crossing back and forth across the border.
  • George Boardman, 70, missing since 2000 from Bingham, Maine. Because he often left for weeks-long trips without telling anyone, his family didn’t notify the police he was gone until they failed to hear from him at Christmas. Foul play is suspected.
  • Tristen Alan Myers, 4, missing since 2000 from Roseboro, North Carolina. His story is exceptionally sad. Even before he disappeared, this poor little boy never had a chance.
  • Bedriye Sayrun, 33, missing since 2001 from Chicago, Illinois. Last seen at a restaurant in the early morning hours. She suffered from mental illness.
  • Eric M. Apatiki, 21, missing since 2004 from Nome, Alaska. He didn’t live there; he lived in a tiny village on St. Lawrence Island. He’d traveled to Nome to see his girlfriend, who was pregnant with his child.
  • Janita Gay Sites, 60, missing since 2005 from Las Vegas, Nevada. A murder-without-a-body case; her husband was convicted. He claimed self-defense but given that Janita was mostly wheelchair-bound, that didn’t exactly go well.
  • Christie L. Wilson, 27, missing since 2005 from Rocklin, California. This was also a murder-without-a-body case; Mario Flavio Garcia, a man she met at a casino the night she disappeared, was convicted in her death and sentenced to 59 years to life.
  • Uvaldo Moises Anaya, 64, missing since 2007 from Denver, Colorado. He was living with relatives at the time of his disappearance and was drinking and using hard drugs. For some reason at the time of his disappearance his left eye was painted over with white shoe polish.
  • Barbara D. G. Sears Frears, 56, missing since 2008 from Reno, Nevada. She had schizophrenia and lived in a group home for mentally ill people. Apparently she hopped a bus to San Francisco after she left the home.
  • Eric Lawrence Brown, 23, missing since 2009 from Tucson, Arizona. I don’t have much on him, but he did associate with a local street gang.
  • William Cameron Brown, 66, missing since 2010 from Monroe County, Florida. He lived in a houseboat and was traveling to shore in a dinghy but apparently never made it; the dinghy never turned up either.
  • David Christopher Allor, 56, missing since 2011 from Enterprise, Alabama. He may have tried to hitchhike to his previous hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
  • Catherine Marie Tornquist, 56, missing since 2011 from Hot Springs, South Dakota. Another murder without a body. Her own son, Matthew, is serving LWOP in this case.
  • Citlalli Perez-Coronel, 13, missing since 2012 from Louisville, Kentucky. A runaway; she had previously run to Nashville, Tennessee and may have done so again.
  • Jason Lee Lovelady, 38, missing since 2013 from Whatcom County, Washington. He disappeared while gathering pinecones in the Mt. Baker Wilderness in the northern part of the state.
  • Melissa Dawn Eagleshield. 42, missing since 2014 from Becker County, Minnesota. She apparently left a friend’s rural home, shoeless, in the early morning hours and it’s possible she accepted a ride from a passing motorist.

False leads

As I’ve stated so many times before, I view the Charley Project as a place to share the story of a person’s disappearance: before, during, and after. That includes talking about the false leads that inevitably crop up during an investigation.

The Beverly Potts casefile, for example, details a number of leads that went nowhere, including a woman who wrote a letter that said she’d caught her husband disposing of Beverly’s body and left it in her house. It turned out, as I recall, that her husband was horribly abusive and she thought he would kill her, so she left the letter as a kind of attempt to frame him for child-murder from beyond the grave, assuming he actually did kill her.

As many of you know, there have been exciting new developments in the Jacob Wetterling case, and I dutifully updated his casefile. The details of disappearance includes an aside that Jacob’s father is an adherent of the Baha’i religion, a faith which not many Americans are familiar with, and there were rumors among the locals that Jacob’s dad’s religion had something to do with his son’s abduction.

A person posted a message on the Charley Project’s Facebook account saying they’d never read about Baha’i in relation to Jacob anywhere, and suggesting it be removed.

Well, the thing was, I hadn’t read about it either. The information about Jacob’s father’s religion and the subsequent rumor mill had been added to the casefile by Jennifer Marra back when she was running the MPCCN. So I checked with Newslibrary, a major source of old news articles, and found a St. Paul Pioneer Press article that referenced it. So at least I could confirm the accuracy of the information. (Not that I ever doubted it in the first place; Jenni cared as much about accuracy as I do.)

My question to you guys, though, is: where do we draw the line? At what point does a false lead or ruled-out potential suspect or local rumor become irrelevant, and perhaps even detrimental to the story?

Honestly, although I haven’t removed the info, I’m not sure I would have put the Baha’i thing into Jacob’s casefile if I myself had written it from scratch. There’s been news lately about Roger Day, an interview with his sister who mentions a “pedophile” who lived nearby and whose home was searched. They found bones that turned out to be not human. Yesterday I updated his case with more info, but didn’t include the bit about the neighborhood pedophile since there seemed to be no evidence, beyond his sister’s speculation, that Roger had any particular interaction with the man.

Where do we draw the line?

Excellent article mentioning the Charley Project

This article, headlined “How a single database of missing person cases could keep searches alive”, is an excellent summation of the way things stand right now in the world of online MP investigation. Particularly this paragraph:

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, has 27 names on its list of missing persons in Maine. Unofficial lists on the Doe Network and The Charley Project websites, which are maintained by volunteers, have 18 and 25 names, respectively.

But the actual number could be higher because of inconsistent reporting over the years. Each list goes back only as far as 1971, and some names will appear on one list but not another.

Me, I understand why this cannot and should not be done, but I would love to crack open the NCIC database, even for a day. For just one day. I can imagine myself glued to the computer, with a cooler full of pop bottles and sandwiches in the room so I won’t need to stop to eat, and a bucket perhaps for calls of nature, staying up all 24 hours and harvesting information, until time’s up and I stagger, sticky-eyed and aching, to bed.

MWAB: three in one day

Today’s update contained THREE murder-without-a-body cases: the aforementioned Starlette Vining, Kimberly Diane Greene Medina and Samuel Kairy. This might just be a new record for me — although only the Vining and Greene Medina murder convictions were recent. Samuel Kairy was one of the “Joe Cool Crew” missings who were murdered off the coast of Florida several years ago. I had cases up for the other three, but didn’t find a picture of Kairy till last night.

Another MWAB conviction

Starlette Vining disappeared from Presque Isle, Maine sometime in October 1998. In 2012, George Jaime Sr., her live-in boyfriend, was charged with her murder. He was convicted on Friday after only a few hours’ jury deliberation. The linked article provides lots of details about the case:

The trial began Tuesday with Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson telling jurors in his opening statements that Jaime killed Vining, his live-in girlfriend, in a drunken rage in October 1998. Vining was 38 years old when she was last seen alive.

The accused killer’s son, Ted Jaime, and his friend, James Campbell, both testified earlier this week that George Jaime told them he stabbed Vining to death, dismembered the body and incinerated it in a commercial furnace in the basement of the pawn shop and apartment complex he owned. Ted Jaime also testified that he saw Vining’s corpse in his father’s apartment, and both he and Campbell said they helped clean up the murder scene.

Ted Jaime’s ex-wife, Parise Voisine, said on the witness stand Wednesday that her former husband had told her about cleaning up the murder scene and about the dismemberment.

Ethel Jaime, Ted Jaime’s mother and the accused killer’s ex-wife, testified that her son had told her several times about George Jaime murdering a woman and about Ted Jaime’s participation in cleaning up the crime scene, although he never mentioned Vining’s name.