Longtime missing NZ man’s case closed; he was never found

Per the New Zealand Herald, 19-year-old baker Graeme Timlin has been declared legally dead after having been missing nearly fifty years. Circumstances:

The coronial inquest at the Hamilton District Court yesterday heard that Mr Timlin vanished from his bakery in the city on May 15, 1965.

An assistant baker, Carol Sanders, arrived at work that day to find the shop locked and Mr Timlin’s Bedford van gone, but an oven was still hot and baking sat on the bench as if Mr Timlin had “just popped out”. She reported him missing and police began a search the next day.

Five days later his van was found abandoned at Mt Maunganui with two flat tyres. Inside were three cigarette packets. Mr Timlin did not smoke.

Police searched ships at the Port of Tauranga but, despite being in dire financial straits with his business, Mr Timlin was not thought to have tried to flee to Australia.

The case was wound down until three weeks later when Mr Timlin’s mother, Ursula Purchase, read an article in the Herald about a body that had been found on Kawau Island. She went to Auckland but police had not been able to find the body so she found the fisherman who identified Mr Timlin as the body he saw.

Timlin was one of those MPs featured in Scott Bainbridge’s book Without Trace: On the Trail of New Zealand Missing Persons.

Coroner’s jury investigating unusual New Zealand disappearance

Seven years after the disappearance of Iraena Asher from Piha, New Zealand, she has been declared dead and a three-day inquest has been set up to try and figure out what happened to her. Iraena, a 25-year-old college student and part-time model (she was certainly beautiful enough) “was last seen standing naked under a streetlight during a blustery storm. Her case created an uproar when it was revealed police sent a taxi to respond to her 111 call rather than police officers.”

Iraena had bipolar disorder and her boyfriend said she’d been acting weird, “like a zombie”, prior to her disappearance. She’d been on lithium, a mood stabilizer commonly used to treat bipolar disorder (I myself take Depakote) but hadn’t been taking it as directed: “She told [her boyfriend] she missed a couple of her lithium pills. To make up, she’d take extra.” And even she was taking it as she should, stress in her life could cause an episode anyway.

(Sad but so typical: with mental illness of any kind, even if you take your meds as directed you can still struggle and have episodes. It often takes months, years, even decades to get your medicine right. Sometimes they never get it right. In the four months after I finally started getting serious treatment for my depression, I followed all my doctor’s instructions but I had to be hospitalized three times and had some other serious episodes where I could have been hospitalized. In the three years that followed, my medication helped greatly but I still had episodes of extreme depression and suicidality, several times a month and lasting perhaps a few days or a week at a time, and just accepted it as something I would have to deal with forever. It wasn’t until over a year ago that I was finally diagnosed with mild bipolar disorder and started taking Depakote. And let me tell you, the difference is stupendous. Great Headache Crisis and all, I haven’t had a black day since then. But it took almost three years to get it right, and that was with good medical help and supervision and a very cooperative patient. But anyway…)

According to one witness, the night Iraena vanished she became giddy and irrational: changing out of her pajamas into a dressy skirt, “like something you would wear to a fashion show not the beach,” she began crying but refused to say what was wrong. Then she ran out into the thunderstorm and got soaked. They gave her some dry clothes, but she wouldn’t keep them on and instead wore a duvet (my WordWeb program says that’s Brit-speak for a quilt) or “occasionally dancing naked around the room.” The guy she was with said she was acting “seductive” but when Iraena called the emergency phone number, she said she was being pressured for sex and was scared. The cops thought it was not an emergency and she was just wanted a free ride home. As noted above, they sent a taxi instead of a police car. It didn’t matter: Iraena walked out of the house before the taxi arrived and vanished into space.

As with Shannan, the police believe Iraena probably died in an accident. Quoting from this article:

“At the time of her disappearance it is believed Iraena Asher was suffering from a manic bi-polar episode,” officer in charge Detective Senior Sergeant John Sutton told the inquest.

“She wandered into the surf at Piha beach and drowned. In my view this is the most probable explanation.”

[…]

[After she left the house] Asher was taken in by a Piha couple when they discovered her in distress on the road but later panicked and ran away. Police say given her state, they should have acted… She was last seen wandering naked toward the Piha surf.

About the “Piha couple,” they testified as well:

Asher was last seen naked, under a streetlight by Zachary Nixon and his girlfriend Simone Ross. They hid and watched her “address” the streetlight, Sutton told the court. She then appeared to kneel down, and kiss the ground, before turning towards the beach.

“They followed her. The last they saw her as she moved toward the beam of the last streetlight near the beach. They were astonished she seemed to disappear into the darkness,” Moore said.

They think she either walked into the ocean intentionally or, more likely, was dragged out into the water by a wave or something. Iraena was apparently a really good swimmer and surfer who knew how to deal with riptides, but these were quite dangerous conditions. There’s no evidence to support any other theories in her disappearance, and I agree that this seems to be the most plausible explanation. Most people who drown in the ocean wash up on shore, but some bodies are swept out to sea.

This case totally sounds just like Shannan Gilbert‘s disappearance and death. Shannan freaked out in the middle of the night for some reason and called 911, and they only sent one police officer who took his sweet time cause they thought the call was not an emergency. Shannan ran outside and vanished without a trace, only to turn up in a nearby swamp more than a year and a half later. The police think it was probably an accident (understandable), the family is saying murder (also understandable) and the media are still speculating about how she died and why and who’s to blame. Like Iraena, Shannan was bipolar and apparently having a breakdown at the time of her disappearance.

A very sad story.

And to take your minds off of the tragedy in Washington

MP news that is not about Josh Powell’s cowardly murder/suicide:

The Morning Sentinel in Maine has done an article about cold case missing children there; it mentions Douglas Chapman, Cathy Moulton, Kimberly Moreau, Kurt Newton (why isn’t he on NCMEC?) and Bernard Ross. The article quotes the Charley Project in several places.

In New Zealand they’re digging for the body of Jefferie Hill, a two-year-old who disappeared in 1968. The dig site is at the property of a former neighbor, whom Jefferie’s mother thinks was involved in the disappearance. The neighbor died in the 1980s.

Per Annie of For the Lost: this four-month-old article about Natasha Paula Corley, who was abducted by her mother and probably taken to Mexico back in 2006. Natasha was a year and a half at the time and would now be six years old. Her father, Keith, stated she and her mother simply vanished one day when Keith showed up to get her for a visitation.

This article talks about Guy Pyke and Carol Wood, both of whom vanished from central New York in the nineties. Guy’s wife of over 50 years died in January.

The body of Jason Wing has been identified. He disappeared in August 2010 at the age of 21 and was found last week, shot to death. Dustin J. Trimm has been charged with second-degree murder in his case.

I hope to be able to update tonight. I was able to get connected to the internet at Shya’s, but the connection there is really bad, really slow.

Some more international MPs

I just did blog entries about MPs from Iceland (via Oregon) and Norfolk in the UK. I thought I’d write about a few more international ones.

There’s a “coronial inquiry” (not sure what that is; the equivalent of an American grand jury investigation maybe?) going on, investigating the disappearance of Linda Davie. She was born in New Zealand, but living in Sydney, Australia when she went missing. On April 6, 1980 she went to visit her boyfriend, who was hospitalized, and this was the last time anyone saw her. A few days later he got a letter saying she was going away for a few days but would return and visit him again. She never resurfaced, and she left all her stuff behind at her apartment.

Also in Australia, they’re investigating a new lead in the disappearance of 14-year-old Eve Askew, who vanished from Tasmania on November 17, 1991. The cops have released a sketch of a person of interest in her case. Eve has a pretty distinctive appearance: in addition to flaming-red hair, she’s got unusual thumbs that apparently look like they were pushed down and never grew back up. Sadly, according to this article Eve’s parents are both dead now (a car accident in 1996) and, of her five three siblings (she is the youngest), her two brothers and one sister are estranged. The sister and one of the brothers still live in Australia, but the other brother lives in the UK now and they all haven’t spoken to each other in years. You might view it as another lottery family here.

In East Yorkshire, UK, the cops are re-investigating the disappearance of Russell Bohling on March 2, 2010. He was 18 when he vanished and his car was later found abandoned on a clifftop. His family attempted (without success) to file a lawsuit against the police, saying they had botched the investigation. The Daily Mail said Russell’s parents had given him £300,000 (that’s around $463,000 in American money) to help him start his own company, and they are afraid he was killed over the money.

Many of you have probably heard of Jakadrien Turner, a 14-year-old runaway (not on Charley) who was mistakenly deported to Colombia. After she ran away she was arrested and gave a false name, Tika Cortez. Unfortunately, Tika Cortez turned out to be a real person, a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Colombia with outstanding criminal charges. Jakadrien, who never ‘fessed up to the truth, was put on the next plane to Colombia, found a job, stayed there nearly a year, and got pregnant. Eventually her searching grandmother found her on Facebook. ICE is still trying to sort it out; Jakadrien was fingerprinted before she was deported, and this should have proved her identity, or at least proved that she wasn’t the person she claimed she was. Also, she’s black and doesn’t speak Spanish.

Well, now Jakadrien is back in the US (CNN; MSNBC; WFAA-TV; Fox News) and has been reunited with her family. A lot of people are making nasty remarks directed at both sides: stupid ICE for screwing up, stupid girl for running away and lying etc. What I wonder is this: what was she running from that was so terrible that she was willing to get herself deported to a third-world country to stay away? I have never heard of anything like this, although I know of another runaway girl, the American-born child of Polish immigrants, who was ALMOST deported to Poland before she admitted to her true identity and was returned to her family.

In Australia, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared along with sex offender Augustine Winter Miller was found alive (along with Miller) in the outback several days after they went missing. Unfortunately, the child (unnamed in the press reports) was very dehydrated when she was found — as might be expected, given that she’d spent several days in the Australian Outback smack in midsummer. She was in such poor condition when the rescuers located her that she died only a short time later.

It’s not really clear whether there was any foul play involved in this. Miller, whose sex offense was a consensual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, had permission to take the child on a hunting trip. (The woman who had custody of the girl was his live-in girlfriend. Some articles say the custodial carer was a relative, but this one says she wasn’t a blood relation) Maybe he intentionally “got lost” so he could harm the child in his care, but it sounds like they were just on a real hunting trip and really got lost. Miller was also in pretty poor shape when they were found and had to be hospitalized. He has been charged with possessing an unlicensed firearm and is now out on bail as the case is under investigation. This article has a picture of him. Miller says he is afraid for his life because he thinks the girl’s relatives might attack him.

Author investigating a very cold New Zealand disappearance

Jamie sent me this article about the disappearance of two-year-old Jeffrie Hill, who vanished from outside his home in the town of Tokoroa, New Zealand in 1969. The police conducted a perfunctory investigation and concluded he had drowned, even though they didn’t find his body. (Shades of Charley’s own Aaron Mitchell Anderson here.) Well, Scott Bainbridge, author of two books on New Zealand missing persons, believes Jeffrie was abducted and may still be alive today.

Mr. Bainbridge and I have corresponded. I reviewed his first MP book, Without Trace: On the Trail of New Zealand Missing Persons, and he gave me a copy of the second, Still Missing: More Unsolved Missing Persons Cases in New Zealand — which was just as good as the first, but I have yet to review it. It’s on my to-do list. He also wrote a book about New Zealand’s cold case murders titled Shot in the Dark.

Another Oceanic murder-without-a-body case

A 49-year-old man from Auckland, New Zealand has been arrested and charged with the murder of Sara Niethe, who disappeared in March 2003 at the age of 32. As per the custom down there, the suspect hasn’t been identified by name. Sara went missing on her son’s tenth birthday — ouch. No word on where, or whether, they’re looking for the body.

Articles:
The New Zealand Herald
3 News
TV NZ

Scott Bainbridge wrote another book

Earlier I reviewed Without Trace: On the Trail of New Zealand Missing Persons by Scott Bainbridge. (It’s not for sale in the US and was given to me by my dear from Justin. I subsequently donated it to the Fort Wayne library.) Well, I just discovered that Bainbridge wrote another book on the same topic: Still Missing: More Unsolved Missing Persons Cases in New Zealand. This came out in 2008, three years after the first book, and it’s like twice as long as the first one.

I’ve added this to my to-read list. Unfortunately the only library I can get it from would be the Library of Congress, meaning I’ll have to read it on-site (the LofC does give inter-library loan books but doesn’t let you check books out properly; they have to stay in the library they’re lent to). But I have sufficient interest to want to do that, even though none of these cases could go on Charley.