EastPark John Doe, missing persons events, and other stories

Colorado: There will be two events to honor the May 10, 2020 disappearance of Suzanne Morphew from Chaffee County. (I haven’t added her yet cause it hasn’t yet been a year.) The first will be held at the Poncha Springs Visitor Center at 7010 U.S. Highway 285 in Poncha Springs, Colorado at 7:00 p.m. on April 30. This day would be/have been Suzanne’s fiftieth birthday. The second event is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on May 2, at the Community Garden at 202 East Church Street in Alexandria, Indiana; Suzanne grew up there and many family and friends still live there. I might attend that event as it’s only an hour and ten minutes from where I live.

Kentucky: In EastPark, on the edge of Boyd County, last July, hunters found the badly decomposed remains of a murdered man partially buried. He had been dead for between approximately two weeks and a month. The man was wearing only boxer shorts and there were no personal effects. The man was between 20 and 40 years old and about 5’8 and 140 to 160 pounds, with brown hair between earlobe length and shoulder length. He had been shot, but also had drugs in his system when he died. The place where he was buried, although somewhat secluded, had easy access to the interstate; the dead man “literally could have come from anywhere.” The man has yet to be identified.

Also in Kentucky: Skeletal remains found in Hardyville in February 2020 have been identified as Jacob Lewis Tipton, a 24-year-old man who disappeared from Berea on April 23, 2016. Unfortunately there wasn’t much left of him and they couldn’t establish a cause of death.

Also in Kentucky: They’re still looking for Andrea Michelle Knabel, a 37-year-old woman who disappeared from Louisville on August 13, 2019. A retired homicide detective has taken an interest in the case and believes he’s found a three-hour discrepancy in the timeline of the night of Andrea’s disappearance.

Mississippi: They’re still trying to identify a Jane Doe who were found under a bridge over the Pearl River in Rankin County in 1978. She was nude and wrapped in an old blanket. She had died of multiple blows to the head and may have been killed by serial killer Samuel Little, who died late last year. They’re looking into the possibility that the Jane Doe may be Wendy Susan Byron, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Glendora, California just two days before Jane Doe was found in Mississippi.

New York: They’re still looking for Flossie A. Wilbur, a 75-year-old woman who disappeared from Angelica on August 24, 1985. David Sherk, one of her then-neighbors, confessed to her murder in 2020 and told authorities he had buried her body near the Almond Dam, but the body has never been found. Doesn’t mean the man was lying; the dam has flooded multiple times since 1985. Sherk had terminal brain cancer when he made his confession and I’m not sure he’s still alive now, but he was never charged.

South Dakota: In Rapid City, groups and leaders both from town and from Native American reservations across the state united yesterday to raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous people. Here are some photos of the event.

Virginia: It’s been ten years now since Robert Lee Hourihan disappeared, leaving behind a wife and six-year-old daughter her adored. Foul play is suspected in his case. His wife has never remarried and still hopes every day that he will be found.

Also Virginia: Human remains found in the woods on the campus of Hollins University back in February have been identified as Jessica Darling Dickson, a 30-year-old woman who disappeared from Roanoke on June 1, 2019. Jessica’s death is under investigation, but the police said there doesn’t seem to be any connection to the university and they don’t think the students (it’s a women’s college) are in danger.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada: There’s an interesting article/podcast episode on the systemic failures of Toronto Police and missing persons cases.

New Waterford, Nova Scotia, Canada: They’re still looking for Debbie Hutchinson, 59-year-old woman who disappeared on April 15, 2017 and wasn’t reported missing for twelve days. Her niece found groceries lying on the floor of Debbie’s home, and her car later turned up abandoned and burned.

A bunch of “they’re still looking for…” and other stories

Lee and Anthony Redgrave are working with the the DNA Doe Project to identify transgender and nonbinary murder victims. They’ve started the Trans Doe Task Force, which helps police and medical examiners with cold cases involving transgender people.

Alaska: An unusually high number of people have gone missing from Fairbanks in the past ten months. Fairbanks averages five missing persons a year, but since May 2020, eleven people have disappeared and have not been found. (I wonder if the political, economic and emotional turmoil caused by the pandemic has anything to do with it.) Five of the missing eleven are Native. The community is concerned and held a vigil about it.

Colorado: Wendy Stephens, a Denver teenager who disappeared in 1983, has been identified as a victim of Gary Leon Ridgeway, the Green River Killer. He pleaded guilty to 49 murders but is believed to have killed more than 71. Not all of his presumed victims have been found, and three that have been are still unidentified.

Indiana: This article details the uncertainty about the veracity of a suspect’s confession in the Denise Diane Pflum case. Denise was 18 when she disappeared from Connersville in 1986. Her body has never been found. In 2020, her ex-boyfriend, Shawn McClung, confessed to her killing after being offered immunity for her death and also the dismissal of two charges he was in jail for. At the time he was dying. Before he passed away a few months later, McClung retracted his confession, saying he’d only made the statement because he didn’t want to die in jail.

Louisiana: They’re still looking for Cory Marie Rubio, a 24-year-old mother of two who disappeared from Shreveport in 1999. The most logical person to look at is her ex-husband; they were in the middle of a custody battle, and he had a history of violent behavior.

New Hampshire: Authorities have determined that the remaining unidentified body in the Bear Brook murders case has maternal relatives in the Pearl River, Mississippi area. DNA testing indicates the child and her mother were descendants of Thomas “Deadhorse” Mitchell, who was born in 1836, or William Livings, who was born in 1826. The dead child also may have suffered from anemia.

New Mexico: They’re still looking for Robert Marcos Romero, an eight-year-old boy who disappeared from Santa Fe in 2000. The most plausible theory is that his brother Ronnie killed him accidentally while under the influence of drugs, but nothing has been proven and Ronnie died over a decade ago.

New York: They believe the car found in the Muscoot Reservoir, which I wrote about earlier, is that of Brenda Kerber, a 40-year-old woman who disappeared from White Plains in 1989. I’d never heard of this case before.

Also New York: They’re still trying to identify a Jane Doe found in Chautauqua County. She now has her own Facebook page.

Oklahoma: They’re still looking for Darian Michelle Hudson, age 23, who went missing from Stillwater in 2017. She was going through a lot of personal problems and may have had a mental breakdown. Her family thinks foul play was involved in her disappearance, but the police say they aren’t sure.

Also Oklahoma: A proposed missing persons bill, House Bill 1790, is being called the Aubrey Alert, after missing transgender Native woman Aubrey Dameron. Aubrey was 25 when she disappeared from Grove in 2019. The Aubrey Alert bill, if passed, would require “critically missing” adult cases to be investigated immediately. The text of the bill can be read here.

Oregon: They’re still looking for Jodie Marie Anderson, a 29-year-old woman who disappeared from Crescent City in 2017. She may be in the Linn County area.

South Carolina: They’re still looking for Shelton John Sanders, a 25-year-old man who disappeared from Columbia in 2001. He now has a Facebook page.

Tennessee: They’re still looking for married couple Kristie Wilson, 39, and Henry Wilson, 45, who disappeared from Monterey in 2018. Their car was found at the bottom of a ravine months after they went missing; it had been there so long there were plants growing in it. No sign of either of them. There have been multiple tips that the Wilsons were murdered, but no solid leads.

Texas: They’re still looking for Fredrick Joseph “Little Joe” Boehm, age 23, who disappeared from Marshall on this day twenty years ago. He was temporarily staying with a friend when late one night he got a mysterious phone call, changed from his pajamas into street clothes and left, saying he’d be back later. He never returned.

Also Texas: They’re still looking for Andrea Leigh Cotten, a seventeen-year-old girl who disappeared from Corsicana in 2004. She left her cousin’s house in the night and never returned. She disappeared the day before she was supposed to visit her child, who was in foster care, and her family doesn’t think she would have missed that on purpose. Since she went missing there’s been no activity on her Social Security number, which is ominous.

Canada: The four-month-old disappearance of 30-year-old Megan Michelle Gallagher from Saskatoon is now being investigated as a homicide.

England: The brother of Suzy Lamplugh, a 35-year-old woman who disappeared from London in 1986, has issued an appeal for answers in her case.

Hmm, I wonder…

They’ve found human remains in a car at a reservoir in Katonah, New York. They’re not saying much about it yet, but they did say the car is “connected to an old missing persons case that is still open.”

There’s only one missing persons case out of Katonah on the Charley Project: the 1977 disappearance of Leslie Anne Guthrie and her two children, six-year-old Julie Anne Guthrie and three-year-old Timothy Patrick Guthrie Jr.

Leslie’s car disappeared with them and has never been found.

Twelve-year-old missing for four months is classified as a runaway, and other stories

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was pretty good. Very quiet of course, cause of covid.

In California: the body of Barbara Thomas, a 69-year-old woman who disappeared hiking in the Mojave Desert in 2019, has been found in the desert near Essex.

In Louisiana: they’re still looking for David Claude Yeager, a seventeen-year-old boy who disappeared from Shreveport in 1971, and there’s little indication as to what happened to him. His cousin has created a Facebook page for him.

In Missouri: they’re still looking for Cheryl Anne Scherer, a 19-year-old girl who disappeared from Scott City in 1979. The article doesn’t have a lot in terms of information, just focuses on her family’s pain and grief.

In New York: they’re still looking for Jaylen Griffin, a 12-year-old boy who disappeared under unclear circumstances from Buffalo in August. The police have this preteen listed as a runaway.

In Ohio: they’re still looking for Mary Jane Vangilder, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared from Willard in 1945. They’re going to check some Jane Does and see if any of them are her.

In Pennsylvania: Justo Smoker, who had previously been charged with Linda Stoltzfoos’s kidnapping, has been charged with her murder as well. Linda, an 18-year-old Amish girl, disappeared while walking home from church in Lancaster County back in June. She has never been found. Smoker was arrested on the kidnapping charges in July.

In Texas: they’re still looking for Patty Inez Brightwell Vaughan, a 32-year-old woman who disappeared from La Vernia on Christmas Day, 1996. She went missing after an argument with her estranged husband, who is the prime suspect in her case, but he has never been charged.

In Virginia: they’re still looking for two people missing from the Richmond area: Stephanie Collette Wallace, a 45-year-old woman who went missing from Richmond in 2005, and Robert Lee Hourihan, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Palmyra in 2011. They also are hoping to identify a white or Hispanic man whose skeletal remains were found near a vacant apartment in Highland Springs in 2014.

In Australia: they’re still looking for Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who disappeared while on a camping trip in the Wonnangatta Valley in eastern Victoria back in May. They are believed to have been murdered.

In Canada: they’re still looking for Melanie Ethier, a 15-year-old girl who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in her small Ontario town in 1996. Melanie’s birthday is on Christmas Day.

The police wouldn’t accept a report for a missing mentally disabled woman for over a year, and other stories

From Alabama: ‘I want my momma’: Family of Montgomery woman missing since 2018 wants answers. Donna Michelle Calloway disappeared in 2018, per the article, though her “few details” Charley Project casefile has it as 2019 — probably because the police wouldn’t take the report till then. I’ll have to update her case.

From Florida: Jupiter police say missing woman’s remains found after husband takes second-degree murder plea. Gretchen Anthony disappeared in March. Her estranged husband, David, was charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder in her case. He’s pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping, and told police where to find her body, which was left three miles from Gretchen’s home.

From Kentucky: COLD CASE: Family of William Scott Crain searches for answers 26 years after disappearance. I don’t have William on Charley yet but he was added to NamUs in August. He was 22 when he disappeared from Bowling Green on November 21, 1994.

From New York: Family pleads for safe return of New York woman who’s been missing since October. Lynette Hernandez, a 27-year-old Nassau County resident, said she was moving to Brooklyn to be with a boyfriend. After not hearing from her, her family contacted the boyfriend, who said he hadn’t seen her in almost a week. Two different police departments each claims the other has jurisdiction over the case.

From Washington DC: Unique Harris disappearance: Man charged with murder a decade after woman goes missing and Arrest made in cold case murder 10 years after DC mother vanished. Unique RaQuel-Leona Harris, a 24-year-old mother of two, was last seen in 2010. Her body has never been found. The suspect is someone I’ve never heard of before, but he was an acquaintance of Unique’s and had been on the police radar for years, not the least cause he left his DNA at the crime scene.

From New Zealand: Cold Case murder mystery: What happened to Marion Granville? A mother of three young children, she disappeared in 1980, at the age of 29. Her partner at the time is asking for anyone with information to come forward. He believes she’s dead and just wants to be able to properly bury her.

From Singapore: Choa Chu Kang girl disappears in 2002, allegedly calls 1 year later: ‘Someone won’t let me come back’. Tina Lim Xin Ying was 14 when she disappeared while en route to visit her sick grandfather. She hasn’t been seen since, and the police are still not sure whether the phone call was from her.

Sorry for the recent silence

Yeah, I haven’t updated in a bit and I’m sorry. The last week has been super busy, mainly with wedding stuff. Michael and I are getting married Saturday.

I picked up my dress at the alterations place yesterday and it fits me perfectly. In my completely unbiased opinion I’m going to be the most beautiful bride in the world. There’s not going to be any honeymoon because of Covid. Michael will go back to work on Monday and so will I.

So, in lieu of Charley Project updates, here’s a sample of the more interesting recent missing and unidentified persons news:

  1. A woman whose body was found off Interstate 5 in Sacramento, California in 1981 has been identified as 26-year-old Lily Prendergast, who was last seen when she left her family’s Texas home in late 1980.
  2. John Michael Carroll disappeared from Victor, Idaho in 2005. His skeletal remains were found “in the general area” where he lived in 2013, and were identified this month.
  3. Hollis Willingham has been arrested in the murder of Jim Craig Martin, who disappeared from Normangee, Texas on August 6, 2007. It doesn’t look like Martin’s body has been found, however.
  4. Thomas Drew disappeared from Salisbury, Connecticut in 2007. He used to be on Charley but then his daughter asked me to remove the case. She didn’t like what I’d written, I guess. Anyway, he is still missing, and his daughter has recently published a memoir, Searching for My Missing Father: An American Noir. It sounds very interesting and I added it to my wishlist.
  5. Blackfeet Community College, in corroboration with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, has launched a website to help streamline missing persons reports of Native American people: “The website [linked here] allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement.”
  6. A woman’s torso found washed ashore in the seaside community of Benicia, California in 1979 has been identified as Dolores Wulff, who disappeared from Woodland, California that year. Dolores’s husband Carl Wulff Sr. had actually been charged with her murder in 1985, but the charge was dismissed later that year and he died in 2005.
  7. A skull found on Mount Hood in Oregon in 1986 has been identified as that of Wanda Ann Herr, who had left a Gresham, Oregon group home a decade earlier at the age of nineteen. No missing persons report was filed at the time and the most recent photo available showed her at age twelve. The police are asking anyone who knew Wanda or has any info on her 1976 disappearance to contact them.
  8. The police have identified a new suspect in the 1973 disappearance of Barbara Jean Aleksivich from Bath, New York. The suspect, Richard W. Davis, is now dead, but he was recently identified through DNA as the killer of Siobhan McGuinness, a Missoula, Montana six-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1974. Barbara, who was 24, was way out of Richard Davis’s preferred age range for victims, but he did live in Bath at the time Barbara disappeared. A previous suspect in her case, who still lived in the Bath area last I knew, has been cleared.
  9. The body of Ethan Bert Kazmerzak, who disappeared from Hampton, Iowa in 2013, has probably been found. At least they found his car submerged in a local pond, with human remains inside. The remains have been sent to the state medical examiner to be identified, but it’s highly unlikely it’s anyone but Ethan.

Watched the Unsolved Mysteries episode on Shane Walker and Chris Dansby

The other day, Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries episode on the possibly linked abductions of Shane Anthony Walker and Christopher Milton Dansby dropped, and I watched it on my browser this morning. Unfortunately Netflix won’t let me screenshot them so I wasn’t able to get the previously unavailable pics of Shane and Christopher that were on the show. Sigh. I did find a few on other sources.

There wasn’t a whole lot I didn’t already know, but a few things stood out to me.

Christopher’s mom mentioned he had a figure-eight birthmark on his right leg. All the other sources I’ve seen say it was on his back, and those sources also mention a scar on his thigh. I wonder if the info on those got switched around somehow over the years, that the birthmark is on his thigh and the scar is on his back. But that’s just supposition. On Chris’s casefile I did change the birthmark info to say it was on his leg.

Also, Shane’s mom, Rosa Glover, said he wasn’t yet talking at the time of his disappearance. I don’t know whether Ms. Glover meant he wasn’t talking AT ALL, or just that he wasn’t talking MUCH. He nineteen months old at the time. I looked it up and most children can say at least ten words by eighteen months and start acquiring language rapidly after that. If Shane truly couldn’t talk at all, that suggests he might have been developmentally delayed. But I don’t have enough info to say one way or another.

I wonder if it would be possible for the police to track down the kids the boys had been playing with, and ask them again what happened. Maybe there’s something they remember, which didn’t seem significant at the time but stands out in hindsight.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Jeronimo Rico

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 Jeronimo Mendoza Rico, who disappeared from Rochester, New York on August 21, 1994. He was at his house when he got into a conversation (an argument?) with his girlfriend, left upset, and never returned. For unclear reasons he wasn’t reported missing till March the following year.

Rico was 26 years old at the time of his disappearance. He would be 51 years old now, if still alive.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Jesus Balbi and Xiomara Rodriguez

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 actually two cases: Jesus Balbi and his girlfriend, Xiomara Rodriguez, who disappeared together from Syracuse, New York on November 5, 1991. They were 25 and 29 years old, respectively.

The couple was from New York City and was visiting Syracuse, a four-and-a-half-hour drive upstate, on the day of their disappearances, driving a blue 1984 Oldsmobile. They were never seen again and their car was found abandoned in Upper Onondaga Park, a community park in Syracuse.

Unfortunately that’s really all I have on them. I haven’t been able to find any articles on the couple’s case, and Balbi’s photo is of such poor quality it might be of anybody.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Mahfuza Rahman

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Mahfuza Rahman, a 30-year-old woman of Bangladeshi origin who was living in the Bronx when she disappeared on December 8, 2015. She was a nurse, a devout Muslim, and the mother of a nine-year-old girl.

The circumstances of her case make it pretty clear what happened: she was almost certainly murdered by her husband, Mohammad Chowdhury. The cops are trying to build a murder case against Chowdhury, who decamped for Bangladesh immediately after Mahfuza’s disappearance. He’s still there as far as I know; I wonder if they’ve got an extradition agreement with the US?