Let’s Talk About It: Tiffany Papesh

This week’s “Let’s Talk About It” is Tiffany Jennifer Papesh, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from Maple Heights, Ohio, in the Cleveland metro area, on June 13, 1980. She’d be 46 today if she is still alive, which is unlikely.

Tiffany’s case is one of the few murder-without-a-body cases where I believe the suspect, Brandon Flagner, may very well be innocent. He was convicted of murder but I really can’t see why. The only thing I can think of is his defense must have been very inadequate.

Flagner confessed to Tiffany’s kidnapping and murder something like 30 times, and he is definitely a serial child molester who had a history of threatening his victims — all young girls — with violence if they didn’t do what he said. Those confessions and his criminal history were, as far as I can tell, pretty much the entire case against him.

However…

Flagner also had an excellent alibi for the time of Tiffany’s abduction: he claims he was at work up until half an hour before Tiffany disappeared. Tiffany’s Charley Project casefile says Flagner’s workplace was 40 miles from where she disappeared; this source says 58 miles. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other: at either distance he wouldn’t have had the time to race over to Maple Heights and abduct the little girl.

Now, it’s true that by the time the police got around to asking, no one specifically remembered seeing Flagner at work that day. But his time card WAS stamped, and furthermore, he worked in a factory production line that needed a certain number of people — him included — to function properly. Since the factory was functioning just fine that day, that seems like a pretty strong indication that Flagner was exactly where he said he was.

The police investigating Tiffany’s disappearance, as well as Tiffany’s own family, think the way that I do, that Flagner is innocent (of this crime anyway) and someone else abducted her. The case is still open. You can see a lot of articles and stuff about Tiffany’s disappearance and Flagner’s conviction here. He made headlines again about ten years ago when he claimed the Ohio Department of Corrections violated his religious rights by forcibly cutting off his beard (he had converted to Orthodox Judaism while in prison).

Flagner comes up for parole in 2019. Given his background as a serial child molester and his insistence that he’s innocent of Tiffany’s murder, I highly doubt he’ll get released then.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the man himself. I think he’s a danger to the community and belongs behind bars, but not for this reason. And as long as he sits in prison convicted of abducting and killing Tiffany Papesh, that means whoever DID abduct Tiffany is still out there.

So what happened here? Does anyone think Flagner is guilty? How did he get convicted in the first place, and how can this problem be fixed? If Flagner didn’t do this, who did? Let’s talk about it.

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Maybe I should phone this in on Monday

Earlier this month I mentioned on this blog a case of a local guy who disappeared, Kori Glossett, and how I went to school with Michael and Michelle Glossett, presumably relatives of Kori. Kori himself went to the same school but he was many grades below me and I’m not sure we ever met.

In my blog entry I’d said I had seen Michelle in a gas station awhile back. She was working there. Yesterday evening I was at the same gas station and, as I’d like to satisfy my curiosity as to what the Glossett twins’ familial relation is to Kori and maybe get more details about his disappearance, I asked the guy behind the counter if Michelle still worked there. Nope, he said.

“Oh,” I said. “Oh well. I run a missing persons database, you see. There’s a guy named Kori Glossett missing from around here and I figure Michelle must be related to him and I was going to ask her about it, see if she could tell me something I could put on my site. I don’t know a lot about his case.”

“Kori?” the gas station guy said, as if in surprise. He looked to be about 25 or so, about Kori’s age. “That ***hole? He’s STILL missing?”

“Yup,” said. “For over a year now.”

I was a bit surprised he was using that kind of language, given how he was an employee and I was a customer and we didn’t know each each other. I mean, I didn’t mind but I bet his boss would have had something to say about it.

“He’s not REALLY missing, you know,” the guy said. “He’s buried out in the woods.”

“Hmm,” I said noncommittally. I know there had been multiple search warrants executed on private properties, and digs on said properties for Kory’s body. You don’t really need to read between the lines to realize the cops think he’s dead.

“A LOT of people wanted Kori dead,” Gas Station Guy said. “This is what happens to scumbags, especially when they get into drugs.” He just kinda shrugged and smirked at me as he said that.

I gave him one of the Charley Project business cards. Maybe he will give it to Michelle or Michael or someone else in the family, and they’ll contact me.

But what I’m thinking is maybe I should call LE about this.

Chances are this guy knows nothing in particular about Kori’s case and is just repeating rumors he’s heard. Maybe LE has spoken to him already. But suppose he DOES actually know something and suppose the cops HAVEN’T interviewed him or heard of him? Maybe he even knows the person or persons responsible for Kori’s disappearance. Anything’s possible.

I didn’t catch the guy’s name or anything but it should be easy for the cops to learn his identity. Only two people were working in the gas station when I walked in yesterday.

So what’ll y’all think?

[EDIT: Yeah, like ten minutes after writing this I decided to call it in right then and there even if it was Saturday. The man who answered the phone listened politely, wrote down what I said, and promised to pass the info on to the detectives, plus my name and phone number for if they need to talk to me.

My mom is worried because this guy has my Charley Project business card and I used my credit card to buy snacks at the gas station so he’s got that info too. What if the police come to talk to him and he gets mad about it, she says. Well, the credit card billing address is my dad’s apartment, not my own house. He could harass me online, I suppose, but I doubt he will, and even if I did, I’ve certainly dealt with that before. He could steal my credit card info and buy stuff with it just to give me a hard time, but if someone does that within the next few days or weeks, I will tell the credit card company to look at him as a possible suspect in the theft.

I doubt anything will come of this at all but I’ve done my bit. It’s all you can do.]

This has literally never happened before

You know I’ve really been on a roll lately with updates. I posted 20 for today just a few minutes after midnight, went to bed, woke up in the early morning hours and now I’ve started on tomorrow’s updates already.

Anyway, I wanted to bring up a case I’m going to add tomorrow: Kori Glossett, missing from Ohio since late June or early July 2016. I really don’t know much in the way of details yet because I haven’t actually started researching writing the case yet, but things are kind of contradictory — one source I’ve seen gives the place as Van Wert, Ohio and the date as “approximately” July 1, and the other other source says it was Middle Point, Ohio and the date was June 24.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing about Kori is I’m 95% certain I went to school with close relatives of his.

A set of twins named Michael and Michelle Glossett were in my class at the Lincolnview school district in Van Wert County when I was growing up. Lincolnview is a super rural district, to the extent that it doesn’t actually have a town attached to it, but one of their campuses was in Middle Point and many of the students came from there. (And I will note that the name of the town is Middle Point with two words, not Middlepoint, as the link above says. Just makes me wonder how many other errors are out there on state databases and stuff that it would take a local to spot.)

Given the proximity and the surname and the fact that both Michael and Michelle are listed as “friends” on Kori’s Facebook page (along with five other Glossetts), I’m sure Kori has got to be a close relative of those kids I attended school with. Probably not a full brother, because Michael and Michelle are biracial (black and white) and Kori is listed as white. But perhaps a half brother or a cousin.

I actually saw Michelle at a gas station in Van Wert a few months ago, and I was aware of Kori’s disappearance at the time, but I didn’t think to ask her about it until I’d already left.

I’ve never actually known anyone from my life prior to my missing persons involvement who had a relative that disappeared and stayed gone this long. I do have a longtime friend whose grandfather (I think?) disappeared, and he asked me for advice on what to do about it, but the missing man was found (dead, alas) a week or so later.

Anyway. I’ll do the best I can for Kori.

[EDIT: Gah, this is proving difficult. The published information about Kori’s tattoos may be inaccurate. I found photos of the tattoos on his Facebook page but they’re not clear enough to read. See Charley’s Facebook page. Sigh.]

ET entry: three teenagers in Ohio

I had an ET entry posted today for three boys who were hanged in Ohio on this day in 1880: George Mann, Gustave Ohr and John Sammett. They were between the ages of fifteen years and eighteen years plus one day when they died. Mann and Ohr had run away from home and were riding the rails when they hooked up with a fellow tramp, robbed and killed him. Sammett had robbed a store with another boy who agreed to turn state’s evidence against him. Sammett shot and killed him to prevent him from testifying.

I noted that Mann and Ohr’s gallows ballads were suspiciously similar to the ballad published by another murderer whom I wrote about on Executed Today, Christopher Rafferty, who was hanged in 1874. And Rafferty’s ballad in turn appears to have been plagiarized from the 1858 ballad for James Rogers.

Strike that, reverse it

Remember my happy announcement that Linda Pagnano was identified with help from Carl Koppelman’s forensic art and Websleuther Ice190’s research? Well, erm, it turns out the announcement was a bit premature. Carl got the news from Linda’s family that dental records proved it was her, but it seems the medical examiner wants to wait for DNA results to make it official.

Sorry about that, y’all.

That said, I’d be VERY surprised if this body turned out to be someone other than Linda. See for yourself at the above link; all the stats match and she very closely resembles Carl’s drawing of the UID.

Linda Pagano identified

Per Carl Koppelman, Linda Marie Pagano has been identified. (That link’s not gonna work much longer; I intend to remove her today.) The seventeen-year-old had been missing from Akron, Ohio since September 1, 1974, but I think she wasn’t added to NamUs till last year, and I just added her case last month. She was beautiful, doe-eyed. Her body was found in Strongsville, Ohio, less than an hour from Akron, in February 1975, only a few months after Linda disappeared, but no one made the connection until now. In fact the UID wasn’t even listed on NamUs until June of last year. Carl says,

An online sleuth discovered this forgotten case while researching cemeteries for graves of John and Jane Doe’s. Websleuths member Ice190 [whom I know, she’s a Facebook friend] obtained the casefile via a FOIA request.

(Muttergrumble. Just how many more of these forgotten UIDs are out there?)

Just to show what an amazing, talented forensic artist Carl is, I’m going to show his drawing of the UID. He calls it a “rough reconstruction” because he had only the side view to work with, and no lower jaw. Yet it looks amazingly like Linda. Here’s Carl’s drawing on the left, and a photo of Linda on the right (I cropped Carl’s drawing and made it smaller because I don’t have a bigger picture of Linda).

lindapaganopagano_linda

Linda had been shot in the head, and her hands and feet were deliberately removed. Her mandible was missing also, though I’m not sure whether this was done by the killer or by nature.

Since the killer made a considerable effort to make sure Linda wouldn’t be identified, my guess is he or she was someone Linda knew. Given how long ago she died, there’s a good chance her killer is also deceased. But at least her family will get the opportunity to bury her decently.

Select It Sunday: Leon Moncer

This week’s Select It Sunday case was chosen by Julie W.: it’s her father, Leon Arthur Moncer, who disappeared from Bellaire, Ohio at the age of 21. It was February 18, 1982 — 35 years ago yesterday.

Leon’s case has a number of odd aspects to it — some indications of foul play, but also indications that he may have just left on his own. He has been declared legally dead, but his family still hopes for answers.

(And can I have some more Select It Sunday suggestions? I’m running dry.)