Preston Winfrey, my new web guru, was given the honor of selecting my Sunday case this week, and he chose Brittanee Marie Drexel. Her case has been relatively high profile and bears similarities to Natalee Holloway’s: a beautiful high school student with everything going for her goes off to a resort town and is never seen again. She was seventeen and a junior when she disappeared from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on April 25, 2009. She was from New York and had gone to Myrtle Beach (without parental permission) for spring break.
In 2016, investigators announced they thought they knew what happened to her. The theory is that she was abducted, held against her will and gang-raped for several days. Her abductors planned to sell her into prostitution, but because her disappearance received such widespread publicity, they decided to kill her instead.
This theory is short on evidence, though, and although suspects have been named in the alleged kidnapping, rape and murder, no one has been charged and Brittanee has never been found.
This week’s featured missing person is Kelson Ryanell “Ryan” Roby, who disappeared on June 15, 1990 at the age of 31. The Texas Department of Public Safety page for him is a bit unclear: it says he’s missing from New York, but that he was last seen in Irving, Dallas County, Texas.
The Newspapers.com archive yielded no articles about Roby’s disappearance, but I did found some articles from 1979 that mentioned a Kelson Roby who matches the details of the missing man. The Kelson Roby in the articles transferred to the University of Northern Iowa from Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Minnesota and played on the UNI football team. The articles describe the UNI player as a college junior and 6’1 tall. The Kelson Roby on the Charley Project would have been 20 years old in 1979 (that is, about the age to be a junior in college) and his listed height is 6’2, well within the margin of error.
I don’t know for sure but I think it’s entirely likely that they’re the same person in spite of the distance. Kelson Roby isn’t the world’s most common name, after all.
I wish I knew more about Roby’s case. Foul play is suspected but I don’t know why. I do think it’s worth noting that he was wearing a pricey Rolex — gold and platinum with a diamond bezel — as well as a diamond ring. I’m assuming those things have serial numbers or something and are traceable.
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.
This week’s Flashback Friday case is Frank Lamont Fox, who disappeared after a New Year’s party in Manchester, New York in 1983. He was walking home and never made it. It’s a “few details are available” case, but “drunk guy walking home late at night in the middle of winter” makes me wonder if he wandered off into the woods or fell into a river or something and froze to death or drowned.
(Okay, I don’t know 100% that he was drunk, but it seems likely.)
You’ll recall my “let’s talk about it” post about the Guthrie family last month: Leslie and her children Julie and Timothy, who’ve been missing for forty years come February. Well, I wanted to draw your attention this comment that was posted today.
Boy, am I excited. I really, really hope this is the real deal. I mean, it’s terrible really to say “I hope it’s a car and I hope it has three bodies inside it” but after forty years this is really the best anyone can hope for.
Last night I was plugging the names of various old cases into Newspapers.com to see if I could find articles. My persistence yielded a bountiful harvest — I found out the ultimate ending to the Matory/Williams/Marshall murder-without-a-body case for one. One of the names I plugged in was the Guthrie kids, Julie and Timothy, and their mom, Leslie, who disappeared in February 1977 from Katonah, New York. I was able to get another picture of Leslie and a clothing description for her, and that’s on today’s updates.
Two details that I learned last night but did not include in the casefiles:
- Leslie’s mother lent her the too-small, borrowed boots she was wearing that day, and also gave her $10 for gas. Which would indicate that (A) The car was low on gas and (B) Leslie had no money.
- The police do not believe the car wound up in a lake somewhere. The winter had been a severe one and the ice was thick enough that a car could have driven on it without it breaking.
Usually, when a person or persons disappears under circumstances like this and their car never turns up, I tend to believe they wound up in the water. But now it seems that theory is no longer viable.
I’m stumped. It seems highly unlikely that Leslie took the kids and left on her own, with almost no money and shoes that didn’t even fit. Timothy Sr. seems to be in the clear. It’s like this young family and their car just vanished into thin air.
Let’s talk about it.
This week’s mysterious-case-up-for-discussion is Thomas James Mixon, a 26-year-old who disappeared from Buffalo, New York on May 4, 1998.
Mixon’s roommate, Vladimir Sokolov, was later charged with Mixon’s murder. The case against him, on the face of it, looks good: Sokolov wouldn’t tell Mixon’s mom what had happened to him, he put Mixon’s stuff on the street and even started wearing his clothes, he fled back to his native Bulgaria upon learning he was a suspect in Mixon’s disappearance, he allegedly bragged about the murder and his ex-girlfriend claimed to have seen Mixon’s body in the apartment.
However, Sokolov was eventually acquitted, and this is one of the few MWAB cases where I think there’s a distinct possibility the defendant was innocent. Other evidence indicated Mixon had some very good reasons to walk out of his life, including scary people who were mad at him, and had made extensive preparations to do just that.
An aside: it says Mixon wore a Georgetown University class ring, but it seems unlikely that he was an alumnus. If he was, he had certainly fallen far in the few years since graduation.
So do you think Mixon was murdered by his roommate? Do you think he’s even dead? Let’s talk about it.