Thoughts on today’s updates

It’s 11:47 p.m. as I type this, so perhaps by the time it’s finished, “today” will be “yesterday.”

For all the updated cases today, except Jahi Turner and Donna Mezo, you can thank Mion, who kindly gathered together a bunch of old newspaper articles about cases I had and emailed them to me.

Regarding my Donna Mezo update, I hope it clarifies the situation with her boyfriend’s death. Earlier I had said there was a suicide note and his death was ruled a suicide in spite of the fact that the gun used was found in “a nearby lake.” Well, I have since learned that “nearby” was more like “a few feet away.” I think what probably happened is that Jeffrie either threw or dropped his weapon into the water during or after firing it.

I found quite a lot on Newspapers.com for Marcell Byers‘s case. His NamUs profile includes a clipping about how the people charged with kidnapping him disappeared and their lawyer had been threatened and maybe it was foul play.

Well, the two suspects did disappear, leaving a van shot full of holes, but I guess it was all just an attempt to evade prosecution because they were alive, back in custody and well enough to cop a plea less than a year later.

It’s disturbing that Marcell was never found. All this over a gold chain. The Zuppos pleaded no contest to kidnapping, meaning they didn’t even admit they were guilty. They’d be out of prison by now and I’m not sure what they’re up to these days. I think Gerald Sr. may be dead; someone with the same name and birth year died in North Carolina in 2003.

Tejin‘s case is just sad. (Also, NamUs has him listed as a girl? I admit you can’t really tell from the pictures. If I hadn’t found some articles on his disappearance I’d have been none the wiser.) I found his Facebook page and one picture was of him holding a little turtle, whom Tejin called “my son.” This was just a few months before his presumed death.

Julie Davis‘s case is sad too. Judging from the Facebook page created for her, she was lost for awhile before she disappeared. They only have the one not very good quality and out-of-date photo of her, and from the Facebook page her family apparently wasn’t really clear on when they’d last heard from her. They mentioned getting a letter from her “around 1985 or 1986.” (I’m not sure where NamUs’s date of disappearance comes from.)

She was just sixteen years old and already out on her own, almost four hours from her hometown.  I know things were a bit different back in the eighties, but that’s still pretty unusual. I wonder if she was in foster care. Obviously her family cares about her or they wouldn’t be trying to find her. I hope she’s alive out there and doesn’t even know anyone is looking, and isn’t a Jane Doe somewhere, or worse, dead and never found.

For this case, normally I’d have listed her as just regular “Missing” but then I saw the detail about the track marks and thought “drugs” and upgraded her case to “Endangered Missing.” Question: do track marks ALWAYS mean drugs? There are some medical conditions that require a person to get frequent injections; do those people get similar scars?

Ashley Lynn Thomas has such striking eyes, so big and dark against her pale skin and hair. I hope she’s okay. I hope she and the baby are both healthy and being looked after.

Stuart Owen Collins got a big update today. (Thanks again, Mion!) It does sound like something bad happened to him, and one inevitably wonders about the woman he was with, and even more so about her husband.

With Paul Egan (another big update there) the whole rendering theory is just awful to contemplate. The police seemed to suspect Paul’s friend. They said his friend was not a suspect, but they also made a point of saying they couldn’t confirm the friend’s story.

It could have happened something like this: Paul and his friend got into some kind of argument at the plant after hours — his friend was a foreman, Paul a technician — and things got out of hand something went horribly wrong, and his friend is panicking and thinks “well, there’s this rendering machine, if I just chuck him in and keep my mouth shut, no one will ever know.” I doubt such places had security cameras in 1975. The rendering machine was designed to grind up horses; a human corpse would be easy.

Of course that’s all supposition. I did look up the friend in the Florida DOC database and on Facebook and couldn’t find anyone by that name. I did find a Newspapers.com mention of a person by that name (and a photo of that person) from 1970, five years before Paul disappeared. Nothing since then. I wonder if I’ve got the spelling of his surname right.

As far as the note Elsie Elsinga left behind — and her daughter’s poo-pooing the significance of that note — I don’t know. Her daughter said something like “How could someone of that age have done anything to mess up their life?” But perhaps Elsie’s “possible mild depression” was more significant than her daughter thought.

For Helen Robinson, I wonder if she decided to take a plane to visit one of those CB radio friends she had, and maybe something happened that prevented her from coming back. It was two solid years before her van turned up; by then, the weeds might have grown over the flight records. Robinson is definitely dead now; I don’t think she would have lived long in any case, because of her emphysema.

I added 27 updates and I’m very pleased with my work output today. I hope y’all have noticed how much more productive I’ve been ever since the site got redesigned. It takes less time to add/update stuff, since I don’t have to write all the code by hand, or hand-add case names to the lists.

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Black History Month: Ramona Catherine Redd

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Ramona Catherine Redd, who disappeared from Baltimore, Maryland on March 7, 2002. She was 19 years old at the time.

I don’t have much on Ramona’s disappearance. She left home in the wee hours and was planning to walk to her sister’s house. The last sign of her was at a 7-11 on Orleans Street. She called a friend from a pay phone and said she was lost. Other than that, nothing seemed to be wrong. Ramona was never seen again.

Her family has suffered greatly, and not just because of her disappearance — the month after Ramona vanished, her mother was murdered.

If Ramona is still alive, she’d be 35 years old today.

Strike that, reverse it: murder-without-a-body cases

It has been brought to my attention that Walter Shannon Stevenson, whose case I resolved yesterday, has not been found after all. This article, from which I got the original information, has issued a retraction. A suspect, Jeffrey May, has been charged with his murder, but Walter’s case is currently a no-body homicide.

I hope the body turns up soon. In the meantime, I’ll remove the resolved notice and put up Walter’s casefile again with the next update (probably today).

And speaking of murder-without-a-body cases, it looks like the only indicted suspect in Katherine and Sheila Lyon‘s 1975 disappearances is about to plead guilty. Some articles:

This isn’t the end of the story — there’s another suspect who is also believed to have been involved — but it might be the beginning of the end.

As of this writing, the Corpus Delicti section of Charley — my three lists of murder-without-a-body cases currently on the website — has approximately 615 names. (I saw “approximately” because a few names are on more than one list due to multiple defendants and multiple outcomes. I wish I could find the outcomes for more of those cases on List Three, which surely must have been resolved by now.)

For more details about murder-without-a-body cases, I highly recommend you check out Tad DiBiase’s website (particularly this PDF) and book.

Let’s talk about it: Juanita Oxenrider

Charley Project Irregular Katherine B. suggested I do a “let’s talk” feature where I post some of the most bizarre Charley Project cases there are to offer, and let people have free rein speculating about them in the comments. I don’t think I have enough super-bizarre cases to make a regular weekly go of this, but here’s the first one anyway:

Juanita Marie Oxenrider, a pregnant 29-year-old who disappeared after she, her husband Donald, and a friend, Thomas Maynard, took a ride out on the Oxenriders’ boat on the Patapsco River in central Maryland in 1976. The boat mysteriously exploded and sank in broad daylight in only fifteen feet of water, but no bodies were immediately recoverable.

Six months later, in the river about a mile downstream from where the boat sank, Donald Oxenrider’s body turned up. They were too severely decomposed to determine the cause of death. In an even more crazy detail of this case, the other passenger, Thomas Maynard, turned up a decade after that, alive and well — the guy was facing serious criminal charges at the time of his disappearance, and he’d jumped the country and had been in Canada all that time.

But what happened to Juanita? You decide. It’s worth noting that she has been declared legally dead. But if she’s still alive she’d be about 69 today, and her baby would be 41 39.

Let’s hear it from the comment crowd. All theories are welcomed.

Gosh darn it

I was working just now on adding/updating APs for cases. I know the NCMEC had released a new AP for Kathryn Quackenbush, which had previously had none at all, even though she’s been missing for 35 years. I had bookmarked the poster and I went back to it… and the AP is gone.

Muttergrumble. Why on earth would they go to all the trouble to make one and then remove it? Maybe it’s a mistake. I don’t know who to email about it but I might call the hotline.

I looked elsewhere online — on Kathryn’s NamUs profile, and in a Google Image search — but that AP is well and truly gone. I wish I had grabbed it right away.

Sometimes the NCMEC adds info to posters, only to remove the info about five minutes later. They added an extra photo of Stephen Beard to his poster and I snatched it up straightaway because I had a feeling it would be gone soon, and it was, within a day or two.

At least I just noticed something that IS still on Kathryn’s poster that I don’t currently have: her nickname is Kitty. I’ll put that up anyhow.

I wish I knew more about her case. Newspapers.com has several hits for both “Kathryn Quackenbush” and “Kitty Quackenbush” but they’re all for someone who clearly isn’t my missing teenager.

Flashback Friday: Judith O’Donnell

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Judith Erin O’Donnell. She disappeared from Baltimore, Maryland on November 30, 1980, but she actually lived in New York City. She’d been visiting Baltimore with her family for Thanksgiving and the last time they saw her was when they dropped her off to get a bus back home.

Given Judith’s lifestyle, I think it’s very unlikely that she’s still alive. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was a Jane Doe somewhere. Common sense would indicate that wherever she is, it’s somewhere between Baltimore and New York.

MP of the week: Cherice Ragins

This week’s case is Cherice Maria Ragins, a young woman of 24 who disappeared from Catonsville, Maryland on February 21, 2010. I pulled her file pretty much at random and noted it hadn’t been updated at all since I first posted the case four years ago. So here she is. Another one of those “few details are available” cases, although there are in this case a few details as opposed to none.

As for the rest of today’s updates, you’ve got your five, though none of them have much info attached. You could argue that it is those cases that have the most pressing need for coverage. Last night I mined the Texas database and found a lot of ones to put up. Vitia’s case concerns me. I normally don’t post runaways that are not on the NCMEC (basically, because they would be hard to keep track of; the NCMEC sends notices when they’re found but no one else does) but I made an exception for Vitia because, well, she was fracking TWELVE and with a man ten years older, and she’s been missing for over a decade. My guess is she’s somewhere in Mexico, probably with a couple of kids.