Canadian MWAB case

A suspect has been arrested in the 1993 disappearance of Christine Harron from Hanover, Ontario. She was 15 at the time. Anthony Edward Ringel had actually been arrested for Christine’s murder back in 2004 and confessed, but he was released on a technicality in 2006. Now they’re giving it a second go.

I hope it sticks this time.

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Some very cold cases

They’re still trying to find Eileen Williams, a nineteen-year-old girl from Ontario, Canada who disappeared while hitchhiking to Prince Edward Island in 1962:

Police all but rule out the possibility Williams either committed suicide or simply chose to deliberately disappear on her own to never be found by friends or family. The most practical assumption, a former detachment commander for Montague RCMP told The Guardian a few years back, is that the young woman was picked up while hitchhiking and met her untimely end some point thereafter at the hands of the driver and/or other occupants of the vehicle.

And they’re searching for a girl who’s been missing from Oroville, California since 1973. She was fifteen at the time and lived in a group home. She was listed as a runaway, but the cops got a tip that her body was buried in the foundation of a local home, and they’re digging. I wish they would release the MP’s name. I have no idea who she is and I’m quite sure she’s not one of my cases.

And they’re still trying to identify Princess Doe, a teenage girl who was found brutally murdered in a cemetery in Blairstown, New Jersey in 1982. For awhile they thought it was Diane Dye, who ran away from California in 1979, but she’s been ruled out. They have a pretty good idea who Princess Doe’s killer is, but no idea who she herself is. I’m confident they can give a name to her. After all, they were able to identify Dorothy Gay Howard 55 years after her death.

Mariam Makhniashvili’s funeral

The funeral for Mariam Makhniashvili has taken place — a public ceremony on Friday, and a private one yesterday. Although she wasn’t a Charley Project case because she disappeared in Canada, I did follow it to a certain extent and blogged about her in my March 11 entry “Final Leaps.”

Mariam’s disappearance (now presumed to be a suicide, although not officially ruled as such) tore her family apart. Literally. Some months after she vanished, her father, Vakhtang, snapped under the pressure of it all and stabbed a guy whom he accused of being involved in Mariam’s disappearance. A sympathetic couple, strangers to the Makhniashvili family, bailed Vakhtang out of jail. He later stabbed one of them too. Of course this violent behavior lead to speculation that Vakhtang had also harmed his daughter. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to six years in prison. He isn’t dead, of course, but at least until he gets out of prison the family has to all intents been reduced by half: now it’s just Mariam’s younger brother, George Makhniashvili, and their mother, Lela Tabidze.

Vakhtang has reportedly behaved well in prison, but he was not allowed leave from prison to attend his daughter’s funeral. The decision was “partially based on Mr. Makhniashvili’s court-ordered psychiatric assessment.” He has a “delusional disorder” and I guess they think he’s (still) dangerous.

I can understand the authorities not wanting to take a risk with Vakhtang, but it’s still a shame that he couldn’t attend. The Makhniashvilis are immigrants from the Republic of Georgia and I don’t think they have any relatives in Ontario. They had been living in Canada for only three months. Mariam was shy, had no friends, spoke no English, and had attended school for all of four days by the time of her disappearance. Of course some of the teachers and students from her school showed up at the funeral and said nice things — the principal called Mariam “a wonderful student, a person who was highly introspective and highly sensitive and very intuitive” — but let’s face it, they didn’t know her.

In a sense, every grieving person is alone in their sorrow, but Lela Tabidze and George Makhniashvili must feel especially alone, surrounded by all these kind well-wishers, but no one who actually knew Mariam and could share memories of her childhood, her personality, all that she was.

Final leaps

I was in the library today and, as always, stopped to have a look at their display of new books. One caught my eye: The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge by John Bateson. Being a connoisseur of Incredibly Depressing Books, of course I had to check it out. I haven’t started it yet — I’m in the middle of two books right now — but it looks very interesting.

Charley has quite a few presumed Golden Gate Bridge suicides, as I recorded here. Less than a month ago I added Allison Bayliss, a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore who jumped last May. The prologue of Bateson’s book talks about Casey Joanna Brooks, a high school senior who jumped in 2008 (and is still classified as a “runaway juvenile” on the California Department of Justice missing persons database in spite of my calling them to tell them this was both inaccurate and insensitive).

Another reason for bridge jumpers to be on my mind: the tragic recovery of Mariam Makhniashvili from Toronto. A recent immigrant from the Republic of Georgia who didn’t speak English, she vanished without a trace in 2009. The cops suspected foul play and her father has since been imprisoned for stabbing a guy whom he accused of being involved in Mariam’s disappearance, then stabbing the couple who bailed him out of jail in the first incident.

Then someone stumbled across Mariam’s body under an overpass, just outside the search grid. She’d been missing for two and a half years. The cops think she took her own life, although it’s possible her death was an accident. We’ll never know for sure.

Det. Sergeant Dan Nealon, lead detective in Mariam’s case, said the teen’s family never indicated the girl was depressed or anxious — but “in retrospect,” she kept to herself in the months before her 2009 disappearance.

Investigators “could assume that it was a result of isolation or depression,” he said, adding that she also could have been struggling with cultural barriers.

Rest in peace, Mariam.

Three cold Canadian cases

The North Bay Nugget notes that fifteen-year-old Melanie Ethier disappeared from New Liskeard, Ontario fifteen years ago today. According to another source, at the time Melanie was walking home, three weddings were letting out and the bars were closing with customers leaving, yet nobody saw a thing. There’s no evidence that she ran away.

The 26th was the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of Jesokah Adkens from British Columbia. She was seventeen.

And in Quebec, the cops are searching the Mile-Illes River for Julie Surprenant (French language link), who disappeared in 1999 at the age of 16. A man dying of cancer reportedly confessed that he killed her and dumped her in the river. The nurse who heard his confession didn’t tell anyone about it for five years.

Cold case disappearance articles

I found several today, all from 14-year-old cases, oddly enough:

A Daily Item one for Jesus De La Cruz, a six-year-old missing fourteen years today from Lynn, Massachusetts.

A Tundra Drums article for Stella Evon, age seventeen, who disappeared fourteen years ago tomorrow from Bethel, Alaska.

And a Northern Life article and a Bay Today article for Melanie Ethier, a fourteen-year-old missing from New Liskeard, Ontario fourteen years ago tomorrow. She’s not on Charley cause there’s no American connection.

Also, an article about missing people in Botswana.