Native American Heritage Month: Virginia Pictou-Noyes

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 Virginia Sue Pictou-Noyes, a 26-year-old member of the Mi’kmaq Indian Nation who disappeared from Bangor, Maine on April 24, 1993. The Mi’kmaq are live in the maritime provinces and Quebec in Canada, and in northern Maine.

Virginia seems to have had a very sad life. She had her first baby at fourteen, and dropped out of high school in her junior year. Three additional babies later, she married Larry Noyes and had three children by him, making a total of seven. Two of Virginia’s children died in a house fire in 1990.

Virginia was allegedly assaulted by Larry and his brother, Roger, and had to be hospitalized. This article has some details about what happened:

[Virginia’s brother] Robert Pictou said there was a dispute inside the bar and Pictou Noyes started walking toward the door to leave.

“Larry ran up behind her and jump-kicked her out the door,” Robert Pictou testified.

“She fell on the pavement face first and he jumped on her. He pinned her down, he put his knees on her arms and proceeded to beat her. Her brother-in-law came after him, kneeled down next to his brother and proceeded to beat my sister in the face.”

On the day of her disappearance, after a visit from her husband and brother-in-law, she left the hospital without permission and was last seen at a truck stop trying to get a ride home. After Virginia disappeared, the charges against Larry and Roger were dropped, presumably because there was no complaining witnessed.

Foul play is suspected in her case, and Larry and Roger are the prime suspects in her disappearance. Roger is dead, and Larry is drifting around Bangor as a transient when he’s not in jail for some violent offense or other.

Pride Month: Jael Hilderbrand

In honor of Pride Month I’m featuring a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer missing person every day for the month of June. Today’s case is Jael Hilderbrand, whose legal name was William Wayne Hilderbrand. Although she was born male, she presented as a female. She disappeared from Bangor, Maine in November 4, 2010, at age 22.

Sadly, Jael, like many transgender individuals, apparently died by suicide, jumping into the Penobscot River just before midnight the day she disappeared. She was a good swimmer, but the river would have been deadly cold at that time of year, and she may have been drunk as well. Her body was never found, but there’s very little hope that she’s still alive.

Jael was Native American, of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. She had studied cosmetology.

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.

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.