MP of the week: Deklon Ford

This week’s featured missing person (sorry about last week, it wasn’t a good week) is Deklon Ford, who disappeared on May 6, 2015. He was only six months old at the time, and would be four years old now.

He and his mom, 28-year-old Brittany Anne Ford, disappeared together, and although the place of disappearance is given as Columbus, Ohio, they were “last known to be” in Hardin, Montana. Brittany’s car (which had Georgia plates, incidentally) was found abandoned on Highway 87 between Billings, Montana and Sheridan, Wyoming, but I’m a bit hazy as to which state it was in.

I’m not sure under what circumstances they’re missing, but they have a Facebook page set up for them, and Deklon’s dad set up a GoFundMe for search funds.

Native American Heritage Month: Valen Hotomanie

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 Valen Roy Hotomanie, a 23-year-old man who disappeared from Wolf Point, Montana on November 15, 1995. I do not know Valen’s tribal information.

We know probably what happened to him and where he must be: Valen got into a fight with two men who threw him off a bridge into the Missouri River. The suspects were charged with aggravated assault, but were released for lack of evidence when Valen or his body was never located.

He’s probably in the Missouri or one of its tributaries, but that’s a lot of space to search in.

Flashback Friday: Wayne Hickman

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Wayne W. Hickman, who disappeared from Missoula, Montana on October 1, 1985. He was 27 years old. Hickman was going to hitchhike to the town of Superior, which Google Maps says is about an hour from Missoula, to have a look at a pickup truck that was for sale. I don’t know if he ever arrived there.

I have to wonder about possible foul play here, especially if Hickman was carrying a large amount of cash to buy the truck with. Perhaps he got picked up by the wrong person. But I don’t have much on the case.

43 years ago

Per this article, the authorities have finally identified Rudy Redd Victor, a 20-year-old Native American man from New Mexico, 43 years after his disappearance. (The article gives his date of disappearance as June 15, 1974; the Charley Project has it as July 21. Shrug. Perhaps July 21 is the date he was reported missing.) Anyway:

A decade after he fled the car during a fight with his girlfriend, who Victor was traveling with on their way back to his family’s home in Colorado, a skull was turned into the Lewis and Clark County coroner.

The skull was actually first found two years prior in the same canyon by a brand inspector, who kept the skull as a souvenir of sorts after locating it while wrangling cattle on the steep hillside in 1982.

Investigators visited the hillside and found more remains, including the lower jaw. They also found a cross with a turquoise center and remnants of a red T-shirt next to a pine tree.

[…]

Air Force investigators traveled to Wolf Creek to see the hillside where Victor’s remains were found. They, alongside the county coroner, a detective in the original case and others, climbed the steep terrain to the tree where it is believed Victor died. During the initial investigation into the case, officials found a wire noose hanging from the tree. Suicide is suspected… 

The official death certificate lists the cause of death as undetermined.

All I can say is…never say never.

Visited my car yesterday, and so on

Yeah, so yesterday Dad came over to see me and together we went to the tow lot to have a look at my car and retrieve the last of my belongings from it. Turns out the thing is in even worse shape than I thought. Presenting exhibits A, B and C:

carweck

carwreck-wheel

carwreck-windshield

Yeah, so not only is just about the entire driver’s side trashed, but the front driver’s side wheel is bent and the windshield is cracked. I emailed the photos to the insurance company. I also noted, and photographed, a pile of automobile detritus in front of my car. I’m not sure whether it’s mine or not, but I sent it along.

It had less than 100,000 miles on it. *sobs* It was a really nice car, too. I mean, yeah it was old (1996) and fracking HUGE and consequently it didn’t have the greatest gas mileage. I doubt its Blue Book value will be much. But it was a luxury model with all the bells and whistles, and its very size may have prevented me from further injury. While we were out I showed Dad the ditch I went into and he was like, “Oh. My. God.”

Last night, Michael and L. and I went out to Granite City, my favorite restaurant, to celebrate my birthday. When the waitress found out it was my birthday they gave me a free, delicious “birthday cookie” with caramel and nuts and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. We had a good time. Today Michael’s parents came over with a card and a cake for me, which was nice.

I don’t know what’s going on but I can barely talk at all and it’s been like this for a few days now. I was able to talk to the insurance companies on the phone on Wednesday, but my voice sounded very hoarse, and gave out almost entirely after that. It’s not so bad with Michael because he’s used to it, but today his parents kept asking me questions and I kept pointing and shaking my head in frustration.

My throat hurts, but not very much — not even enough that I’ve wanted to take aspirin or anything. I don’t feel sick — no sniffling or coughing, no fever, ears don’t hurt, etc. It has been suggested that maybe it’s just a stress reaction due to the accident; I dunno. Certainly I often have physical reactions from stress but I’ve never lost my voice from it; usually my back just freezes up. If I’m still like this by Monday I suppose I’ll have to go back to the doctor.

It’s kind of inconvenient being without a car of course. I had a friend drive me to the doctor this week for my concussion followup, and then my mother drove me back to Fort Wayne. Earlier this week I took an Uber ride to the library and back. But that’s just not practical for anything outside the city. Mom thinks I should demand a rental from the insurance company until my car gets replaced.

As for the Charley Project: I have been working on it, but it’s been “behind the scenes” type stuff you guys can’t see. (Purging cases, answering emails, etc.) Tomorrow I’m planning to start public updates again.

Today I read a book called Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park. It was very good. It mentioned several accidents where the person undoubtedly perished but the body was never recovered — by author Lee Whittlesey’s reckoning there are at least a dozen, perhaps as many as twenty, bodies in Yellowstone Lake and he doesn’t recommend that ANYONE take a small boat out on there, EVER, because the water is so cold (year-round average temperature is around 45 degrees) and storms can come very quickly and capsize small craft. I have several Yellowstone cases on Charley, and in the book Luke Sanburg was mentioned, as was Dennis Johnson. Whittlesey mentioned one case from 1900 where the guy disappeared from his hotel in the park and was never found; he thinks the man went out for a walk after dark and fell into one of the hot springs. The book also mentioned — and had a copy of the poster for — another case I don’t have on Charley.

If you’re interested in such things I also recommend Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers’s book Over The Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. It’s really good too, and quite similar to the aforementioned book, except of course it’s about a different national park. It does however have a mistake in it for which I am partially to blame: they claim Connie Smith‘s body was found in Grand Canyon National Park several years after her disappearance. In fact, the remains were misidentified as Connie at first; the mistake was quickly rectified and Connie is still missing, obviously, and “Little Miss X” remains unidentified to this day. When I read that in the first edition, I remember thinking “Someone should tell them they’re wrong.” That someone should have been me. When I read the second edition of the book and realized the error was still there, I emailed Mr. Ghiglieri and told him about it and provided some links. He said they were working on another edition and he’d try to make sure the error was corrected, but it might already be too late for that.

Amazon also recommends Death in Glacier National Park: Stories of Accidents and Foolhardiness in the Crown of the Continent, which just came out in May, for readers who enjoyed the two aforementioned books. I will have to check that one out. WorldCat says neither the Allen County Public Library nor any library in the OhioLink system has it, but I’ve got birthday money burning a hole in my pocket and I could spend some of it on that. I had thought Glacier National Park was in Alaska, but I was mistaken; it’s in Montana. The Charley Project has Patrick Terrence Whalen who disappeared from there. I think I had Glacier National Park mixed up with Arctic National Park, which is in fact in Alaska; Thomas Seibold is missing from there.

For the first two books (and probably the third although I haven’t read it), the moral of them is basically this: “These places are beautiful and offer a unique experience you’ll remember for the rest of your days and we highly recommend a visit. BUT pay attention to the warnings and obey all the rules and don’t go over the guardrails, and generally don’t be an idiot, because almost everyone who got seriously injured or died here did so at least in part due to their own arrogance and/or stupidity.” Amen.

An MP-related article from Cracked!

Robin Warder (who does that Trail Went Cold podcast I wrote about not too long ago) did an MP-related Cracked article that got published yesterday: The 5 Most Insane Twist Endings Of Real Missing Person Cases. Included was the case of Bobby Dunbar, who was “found” in 1912 but is actually still missing (long story). I thought I’d let y’all know about this article. Like most Cracked articles it’s interesting, informative and funny.

Incidentally, the most recent podcast for The Trail Went Cold is for two Catholic priests, father Reynoldo Rivera and Father John Kerrigan. The former was the victim of a horrific murder; the latter disappeared and was never found but was almost certainly also murdered. Both cases remain unsolved. There’s some speculation that the cases are related, although the murder happened in New Mexico and the disappearance in Montana. Father Kerrigan had spent some time in New Mexico, and in both cases, it seemed like whoever did this had a serious grudge against the church.

I actually updated Father Kerrigan’s casefile last month, with some significant new information. (I found out he was accused of sexual abuse.) I wonder if it’s a coincidence, then, that Warder did this podcast now. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet so I don’t know.

Podcasts are fun and entertaining, and I highly recommend them to true crime buffs, but unless I have some time to kill, I usually don’t listen to them myself. If I’m already familiar with the case, a podcast usually just provides a few shreds of extra info for the most part, or sometimes nothing at all. It would take much less time to read an article about the case and those often have more info in them. I wish more podcast included the written text as well as the recording.

Growl. Muttergrumble.

I’ve been obsessively entering names into Newspapers.com today for info on older missing persons cases and gotten some good results. But some things are just not good enough. For example, I found a new photo of Megan Ginevicz, but it is of just such terrible quality that I am not going to use it. Don’t believe me? Check it out. I can tell it’s a different picture from the one I already have only because you can see her hand up in front of her face. There’s no point in posting this thing. I’ll just have to hope I come up with a better version somewhere else in the archives.

[UPDATE: Yay, someone found me a better version!]