Thinking aloud with May 14 updates

Yeah, I was up all night working on these. Go me.

  • Suzen Cooper: The cops have GOT to know who this unidentified third party is. After all, Rachael took a plea deal and one of the conditions of the plea was to be honest with the authorities about what happened (though she claims she doesn’t know where Suzen’s body is). So where is this Mystery Man and why hasn’t he been charged?
  • Tamara Lynn Elbertson: Does anyone know what sort of medical conditions can cause that droopy eye? Maybe a stroke? My mom’s first husband (before she met my dad) has something similar and I was told he was dropped on his head when he was a baby, but I’m not sure that was meant entirely seriously.
  • Kito Royal Felton: Not mentioned in the casefile, but Kito may be one of those people where the line between “missing” and “on the run” is pretty thin. Right around the time he disappeared, a woman and her teenage son, Susan and Laurier Myrick, were shot to death in north Tampa and the articles said Kito was sought for questioning. I don’t think the murder has been solved.
    However, he’s listed as missing both on NamUs and FDLE, he doesn’t have any active warrants that I’m aware of, and he was simply wanted for questioning in the murders, not named as a suspect, so…I dunno.
  • Jared Baptista Germano: I studied his Facebook page pretty carefully. I don’t know what happened to him, but I hope he is missing because he wants to be. Jared had a troubled past and an extensive arrest record in Florida and North Carolina.
    His Facebook is public and is pretty open about his background; it says he studied criminal justice in the educational institution called “prison”. Per Jared’s posts, he had a meth problem, which would explain the arrests. But his Facebook says he had gone through rehab, got clean, was working and was generally trying to make a decent go of it.
    Wherever he is, he’s managed to avoid getting arrested again, which is a significant departure from his prior lifestyle. That could mean he’s leading a law-abiding life somewhere or it could mean he’s dead.
    Incidentally, Jared has a brother who looks JUST LIKE him. The brother also has an arrest record and I thought one of his mug shots was of Jared till I realized one person had neck tattoos and the other didn’t. Then I saw a photo on Jared’s Facebook of him and his brother side my by side and was like, “Ah, okay, here’s your double.”
  • Teresa Gossage and Alfred Hoffman Marshal: I’m very proud of getting these two up because their case is notorious in local history and they’re not listed on ANY database. They’re not even on the Missouri Highway Patrol’s list of missing persons, perhaps because they vanished on federal land. I found their names by accident while looking for something else.
    Fort Leonard Wood, by the way, is some 61,000 thousand acres spread over the Missouri Ozarks. My bet is TC and Al are still somewhere on the base. And I’m pretty sure Mr. Thornton is responsible. It would be a very strange coincidence if he wasn’t.
  • Sarah Necaise: She appears to have an active Facebook page — at least, there’s a page under that name, with a young woman who lives in Mississippi and resembles the missing girl. Hmm. An active page doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been found.
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Some recommended reading for you

I’ve just updated their cases so you can read about the sordid story of missing stepdad and stepdaughter Gary McCullough and Liehnia Chapin on Charley.

However, I highly recommend you check you the really wonderful two-part series on the case: After 10 years missing, is Lena Chapin still alive? and Cover-up, confession and what remains of Lena Chapin.

It is an absolutely awful and somewhat convoluted tale, and an excellent piece of investigative reporting on the part of the Salem News. Good job, guys!

Poor Lena. Poor Gary. I had kind of a deer-in-the-headlights feeling as I read what what down.

Black History Month: Marcus Daniel

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 Marcus J. Daniel, a University of Missouri student who disappeared from Columbia on December 6, 2002. I don’t know what he was studying or whether he was last seen on campus or what. He was 25 years old and would be 40 today.

Marcus apparently left of his own accord; he wrote a goodbye note to his dad, and a few days after his disappearance he sent his mom a letter postmarked Chicago. Perhaps as a result, he wasn’t reported missing until 2005.

He may believe he has good reasons for staying under the radar these past 15 years. In which case I recommend he contact the police and verify his identity and well-being. That way they can close his case and his family will know he is safe, but whatever new life he’s carved out for himself does not have to be disrupted.

What about this headline?

Eight years ago I wrote a blog entry about potentially problematic headlines for articles about missing persons and crime victims. That is, headlines that point out info about the MP or suspect that might be seen as shaming them. I was reminded of this entry cause I just found another such headline:

Police seek missing cross-dresser from Jennings

I’m inclined to let this headline go. The fact that Eddie Johnson was a cross-dresser was news to me until I saw the article. And he was, apparently, wearing a woman’s kind of wig when he disappeared, though I can’t tell from the clothing description whether they were women’s clothes or not. The inevitable possibility is that he was the victim of a hate crime and that’s why he’s missing.

That’s all.

Select It Sunday: Robin Kerry

Chosen by Anka, this week’s Select It Sunday case is Robin Ann Kerry, who disappeared with her sister Julie from St. Louis, Missouri on April 5, 1991. Unlike with many of my cases, it’s perfectly obvious what happened to Robin: she and her sister were gang-raped and thrown off the Chain of Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River. Julie’s body turned up several weeks later but Robin was never found.

I wrote about this case in 2009. It was a horrific crime, made all the more so by the fact that the four perpetrators were complete strangers who just had a random encounter with Robin and Julie and their cousin Tom Cummins that night, and the fact that Tom Cummins was wrongfully arrested and charged with his cousins’ murders before the situation got sorted and the cops caught the real killers.

I will quote part of my earlier entry:

There are still some people online who think Cummins killed his cousins and framed the four suspects, but the evidence against the defendants is pretty strong. One of them had Cummins’s wallet either on his person or in his house (I forget which) when he was arrested. All four suspects confessed at one point or another, although three of them later retracted their statements. One defendant pleaded guilty and testified against the others. Cummins’s sister Jeanine wrote a wonderful book about the case called A Rip in Heaven. Many news accounts say Cummins confessed to the crime. According to his sister’s book, after the police told him their theory about him being the killer he said something like, “If that’s what you said, then that’s what I did.” That’s hardly a confession.

I Googled the case again for today’s entry and discovered that Reginald Clemons, who spent over twenty years on death row for the Kerry sisters’ murders, had his conviction overturned and is awaiting a second trial. I don’t think he has much of a chance, though, even though it appears his confession has been ruled coerced and cast out of evidence. This article says they’ve got “a match consistent with Clemons’ DNA to a degree of one in 16,690 individuals in the African-American population,” something they didn’t have in 1991. I’ll have to update Robin’s casefile, I guess.

One of the four defendants, Daniel Winfrey, was released from prison in 2007. He was the only one who didn’t take part in the rapes, and he only fifteen years at the time of the crime, too young for the death penalty, and he took a plea deal: thirty years in exchange for testifying against the others.

Flashback Friday: Kimberly Carter

This week’s Flashback Friday is for Kimberly Carter, who disappeared from Kansas City, Missouri on July 5, 1984. I’ve seen her middle name given as both “Lawanda” and “LaWanda.” Unless there’s strong evidence to the contrary, I spell such names with a capital letter after the “La” or “Le” or “De” etc.

Anyway, Kimberly, although only nineteen years old, had three kids. The oldest was four; the youngest was only two months. On the day of her disappearance, Kimberly had a friend babysit them all while she went to work. It’s not clear whether she ever arrived at her job, but she did leave a cryptic phone call to a friend — I’m not sure if this whether this was the same friend who was babysitting — saying she was in trouble and asking to be picked up. The line went dead before she could say where she was.

The plot thickens: another friend claims to have heard from Kimberly on July 7, three days after she went missing. Kimberly supposedly said, “One of the men said he would take me home.” But no one did take her home. She’s been missing now for 32 years.

Kimberly had a lot of criminal associates at the time of her disappearance and her family, understandably, believes she met with foul play. Human trafficking comes to mind here, and, although drugs were not specifically mentioned, I wonder if Kimberly might have had some kind of run-in with drug trafficker(s). or suffered an accidental overdose.

(I must emphasize I’m not trying to make Kimberly sound like a bad mother or a bad person, or make it sound like she deserved whatever her fate was. It’s just that SOMETHING happened to her, and whatever it was, it was probably bad.)

I have no idea what happened to Kimberly’s kids, who would all be in their thirties now. I hope they found good people to take care of them. I hope they’ve become happy, productive adults.

And I hope their mother will be found.

Cynthia Day identified

I’ve still got her on Charley but not for much longer: Cynthia Louise Day, a 37-year-old mother of two who disappeared from National City, Illinois on August 10, 1990, has finally been identified.

Her remains were actually recovered in Pike County, Missouri (about an hour and a half away from National City), just sixteen days after she disappeared. Due to some error, an official missing persons report wasn’t filed for Cynthia for 14 years, which certainly didn’t help when it came to finding her.

All that was left of Cynthia was “a box of bones”, they were able to get one usable fingerprint and that was enough. It’s a good thing they were able to get that print, because lab technicians had BOILED the bones and that ruined chance of recovering DNA evidence. Apparently this boiling thing was common practice before DNA technology came onto the scene.

(Reading about that kind of thing reminds me of a historical TV medical drama I saw once, set in 1905, where the hospital was showing off their brand new X-ray machine, the latest thing in medical technology. The TV characters were like, “You have to hold your hand in front of the machine for about ninety seconds, and then you can see all the bones inside it. Isn’t it neat? Want to try it again?” And I was wincing and thinking “Nooooo! Don’t do it!” By the end of the show, the X-ray technician had died of radiation poisoning.)

Anyway… now begins the murder investigation. Cynthia was allegedly involved with prostitution and drugs, and she had a rocky relationship with her boyfriend, who disappeared shortly after she did and later ended up in prison. That’s a lot to be getting on with.

But at least Cynthia’s daughters can bury her.