National Hispanic Heritage Month: Ximena and Sergio Granados

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is the disappearances of siblings Ximena Paola Granados, 1, and Sergio Paul Granados, two and a half, who went missing from Pomona, California on July 30, 2008.

The Granados kids are classified as family abductions; authorities believe they were taken by their non-custodial mother and father, possibly to Mexico. However, I can’t find any info on the parents and I don’t know if any warrants were ever issued for them.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Brenda Ovalle

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Brenda Eli Ovalle, a sixteen-year-old runaway from Naples, Florida. She’s been missing since February 3, 2004.

It is very unusual for a teen runaway to be missing for fourteen years, but the last indication was that Brenda was safe and sound, living with family in Mexico. I hope that’s correct, and I hope if it is, she will contact the police in Florida to get herself taken off the books.

MP of the week: Jose Padilla

This week’s featured missing person is Jose DeJesus Padilla, a three-year-old boy who was abducted by his non-custodial father from Sacramento, California on August 15, 2008. He would now be 13 years old. Jose may be in Mexico, where his grandparents live.

This is from December, but I didn’t see it till now

I wanted to blog about this story because it’s so awesome — a girl who vanished at the age of TWELVE has turned up alive and well eight years later — and at the same time, extremely sad.

The headline: Juárez girl found after missing for 8 years.

From the article:

[Viridiana] Santillan had been reported missing by her mother on March 2, 2010, officials said.

The girl’s mother at the time told authorities that she had last seen her 12-year-old daughter when she left home in late July 2009, the attorney general’s office said.

The mother said that she took eight months to report that her daughter was missing because the young girl would sporadically run away and always returned, but that this time she didn’t come back, officials said.

After she was located, Santillan told Morelos state investigators that she ran away from a hostile and abusive environment at home in Juárez, officials said.

That’s absolutely horrific, that a twelve-year-old girl had it so bad at home that she had to run away and never come back. And Viridiana’s story about a bad home environment is borne out by the fact that her mom didn’t report her missing for the better part of a year. Remember, she was only twelve.

Fortunately, although life on the run was initially very hard for her, it sounds like she’s in a much better place now:

Santillan told investigators that she spent several days as a vagrant in the streets of Juárez before ending up in a shelter with the help of a government social assistance program, known as DIF…

Santillan later got the opportunity to study in [Cuernavaca] and ended up staying in that old colonial city located south of Mexico City, officials said.

Santillan told investigators that she wants to remain in Cuernavaca and has no plans to return to Juárez, officials said.

I hope she has a good life from now on.

Thinking aloud on one of today’s cases

From what information I have (which isn’t very much), the disappearance of Brian Lee Drew is pretty puzzling. He went missing three years ago from his home in Tucson, Arizona.

Drew’s NamUs page makes it look like he could have left of his own accord; he “mentioned going to Mexico to help feed the hungry.” But if he did, he left his vehicle and most of his stuff behind. I don’t know how he would have gotten to Mexico without those things.

If he did indeed cross the border there should be a record of that. NamUs said his wallet disappeared with him, but what about his passport? He should have needed one to cross the border — although I’m aware that American border officials are much more concerned about keeping people out than keeping people in.

His Facebook page is puzzling. In one of his last posts, less than a week before he went missing, he writes:

drewfacebook

I don’t know if he really was at risk or if he was just paranoid.

As is often the case, his Facebook was a rich source of photos of him, and photos of his tattoos as well. He had a bunch of them.

I hope he is alive and well and decides to contact his family soon.

MP of the week: Claudia Guillen

For this week the featured MP is Claudia Berenice Guillen, the 21-year-old mother of a toddler also named Claudia who disappeared with her from Yuma, Arizona on November 24, 2004. The child went by her middle name, Jareth.

I don’t have much on them, but the obvious suspect is Claudia’s boyfriend, who had a history of domestic violence and went to Mexico shortly after Claudia and Jareth vanished. The cops in both Arizona and Mexico have interviewed him, with no result.

I’m thinking Claudia is probably dead, but maybe there’s a chance Jareth is alive and perhaps is in Mexico. I’d like to know more — particularly whether Claudia’s boyfriend is Jareth’s biological father.

MP of the week: Jason Macias

This week’s featured missing person is Jason Richard Macias, who disappeared from El Paso, Texas on August 30, 2011, at the age of 23. He left all his belongings behind, including his car, but nothing has been said about his passport, which probably would have needed if he was going to cross the border into Mexico. Macias was a frequent traveler to that country, but I don’t know if he went there after he disappeared.

If he is still alive, Macias would be 28 today. He’s quite tall — six foot five — and has the name “Martha” tattooed on his arm.

Mirko Yug revisited

Last Friday I profiled a guy named Mirko Yug for Flashback Friday. I knew nothing about him as a person or about his disappearance at the time. Well, the Charley Project Irregulars decided to pitch in and I’ve gotten some emails from different people with a LOT of info on Mirko, mainly from Ancestry.com. Here’s what I know now:

Mirko Yug was born in Yugoslavia to Friedrich Jug and Melia Serianz. His city of birth was Ljubljana, which is now the capital of Slovenia. One person who emailed said his name at birth was (also) Friedrich Jug. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1950. His first wife was a Yugoslavian-born woman named Bozena, born in 1919 and thus seven years older than him. They married in Austria.

In 1954, Mirko petitioned for naturalization. His petition was granted in 1958 and he changed his name to Mirko Yug at that time. (The change in spelling of his last name was probably for ease of pronunciation. My psychiatrist, born in Haiti, had the last name Brunot, but changed it to Bruno in America, presumably for similar reasons. As to why he’d change “Friedrich” to “Mirko” I don’t know.) Bozena was naturalized in 1956.

In 1956 or 1957, Mirko graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles with a BA in Finance and an MA in Foreign Trade. He listed his hometown as Cleveland, Ohio (which is where his wife had been from). On December 31, 1956, he married again to a woman named Terry, who was born in California, and was several years younger than Mirko. No word on what happened to his first wife. In 1958, Mirko attended the American Institute for Foreign Trade in Arizona. The school still exists but it is now called the Thunderbird School of Global Management, at Arizona State University. Thunderbird’s website says it’s one of the top-ranked business schools in not just the country, but the world.

Also in 1958, Mirko and his second wife moved to Mexico City. One or both of them had been transferred there by an employer, Pfaudler-Permutit, an industrial and chemical company that’s apparently still around. There’s a record of Terry crossing back into California in 1959, but no similar record for Mirko. In 1964, the couple had two sons (twins?) and in 1972, a daughter. That same year, they divorced in Nevada. (All three children still live in Nevada and have good jobs and are apparently upstanding members of society. Terry remarried in 1979 and also still lives in Nevada.)

Also in 1972, Mirko was one of the founding members of a the first modern maquiladora association in Mexico, in Matamoros.  (A maquiladora is a US-owned factory that produces goods for export back to the US.) He is listed as the commissioner for Mexicomp, a company that apparently doesn’t exist anymore, though other companies use that name. The maquiladora still exists though. Whether Mirko was actually still living in Mexico at this point is unclear.

Then he disappeared in Los Angeles in 1976. About the actual circumstances, there’s still nothing known.

This is all very interesting. Mirko was, apparently, an intelligent, driven man and a successful businessman. This is not the kind of background you’d expect from someone who would drop so completely out of sight like that.

Tips on Facebook

People send me “tips” about cases all the time, mostly through email. I really wish they wouldn’t. I try to actively discourage people from doing this, for obvious reasons, but what can you do?

I got a really intriguing private message on Charley’s Facebook page last night, though, that I did feel compelled to pass on to the NCMEC. A woman from Mexico, whose English wasn’t terribly good, sent me a series of messages saying she had found a missing boy in Mexico. He’s been missing for nine years. She said she’d also found his mother — where, she didn’t say, whether the mom was with him or what.

All of this is not very much by itself: she didn’t even say WHERE in Mexico this kid supposedly is. But intriguingly, the woman attached a series of what appear to be current photos of this young man.

I called the NCMEC and told them about it, and they actually had me email them all the photos and stuff. I hope something comes of this.

A judgment call

I was putting together Charley Project updates when I stopped to write this blog entry. I just had to make a judgment call again.

Now, quite a lot of the time I find my multiple sources of information contradicting each other. When this happens I just go with what I think must be true, and perhaps note that other people say something else. As a general rule, I think that law enforcement sources and family sources are most likely to be correct. When those two contradict each other, then I have a real problem.

I wrote up a case of a woman who disappeared in 2011. She had been staying at a hotel in the border city of Eagle Pass, Texas while trying to sell property in Eagle Pass’s sister city of Piedras Negras, Mexico. (I looked up Piedras Negras and it doesn’t look good for her.) Anyway, the woman was in a law enforcement database and her name was given as Patsy. I went with that and wrote up a basic casefile for her, then went to check other sources. I found her mother’s obituary. If a relative, particularly a parent, dies after the MP disappeared, I will usually note in the Charley Project casefile if the MP is listed as having survived or predeceased the parent.

Patsy’s mother’s obit said she was “presumed deceased.” I put that in the casefile. But the obituary also called her Patricia, not Patsy.

I was really uncertain about what to do with this one. It’s possible that the law enforcement database made a mistake and her legal name was Patricia. Perhaps she’s only listed in there as Patsy because no one ever called her Patricia. And it’s possible that her legal name was Patsy and they made a mistake with the obituary.

I am going with Patsy. I hate these kind of situations. I want everything to be correct and it makes me very uncomfortable to list a case when I’m not 100% sure I’ve gotten their name right. That’s kind of an important detail, don’t you think?

Anyway, blog entry over, back to the salt mines I go.