Flashback Friday: Gloria Korzon

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Gloria Suzanne Korzon, who disappeared from Warrington, Pennsylvania on March 9, 1981. The case is a very sad but pretty typical example of domestic violence.

Due to her husband William’s attempt to cover up her absence, she wasn’t reported missing until July of that year. When Gloria’s family reported her disappearance to the police and they asked William about it, he lied and said she was visiting an aunt out of state.

Furthermore, the couple’s marriage had been pretty terrible. The police had been called to their home eight times, and Gloria left behind a list of times when William allegedly assaulted her; the list was three pages long.

William is, obviously, the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, but no charges have ever been filed in her case.

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Select It Sunday: Ke’Shaun Vanderhorst

Kristen Y. selected Ke’Shaun Bryant Vanderhorst as this week’s Select It Sunday case. Like Peter Kema‘s and Relisha Rudd‘s, this is a case that really gets to me. Also like with those two, it’s as if the system opened up whole knew cracks just for Ke’Shaun to fall through. What’s more, the 22nd anniversary of this adorable little boy’s disappearance is tomorrow, Monday. He vanished from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1995, at the age of two years and three months.

I wrote about the case on my blog seven years ago, inserting my own commentary into Ke’Shaun’s Charley Project casefile. Since then there’s been an additional development: last October, Tina was charged with murder — not in Ke’Shaun’s disappearance, but in the case of a 64-year-old man whom she allegedly stabbed 77 times before setting his body on fire. She was homeless at the time, and was charged with murder, robbery, arson and “causing a catastrophe.”

I can’t find anything else about the case and don’t know if it has yet been resolved. It often takes a long time to resolve murder cases, as long as several years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Tina is still awaiting trial. It’s been less than a year since she was charged, after all.

I wonder if this murder charge has prompted authorities to take another look at Ke’Shaun’s case. I can only hope so. Tina needs to pay for what she did to her son, and 2 1/2 to 7 years for child endangerment isn’t nearly enough.

If he is still alive — and he almost certainly is not — Ke’Shaun would be 24 years old today.

Let’s talk about it: Stephanie and Edward Hunsberger

This was a case suggested by a reader: the 1978 disappearances of Stephanie Hunsberger (nee Smith) and her husband, Edward Hale Hunsberger, who were 24 and 30 respectively when they vanished from Northwales, Pennsylvania on February 25 of that year.

The Hunsbergers were drug addicts and in pretty deep; Stephanie even occasionally worked as a prostitute to support her heroin habit. Both of them were in a methadone program at the time they went missing. After Stephanie missed one of her methadone clinic appointments, the staff contacted her father, Jay Smith, and asked if he knew where she was. He said he was trying to detox her himself with Placidyl (a prescription sedative with recreational uses; it’s no longer on the market) and “really good pot.” Neither of the Hunsbergers ever went back to the methadone clinic, and it was assumed they had relapsed.

After that, things get murky.

Read the couple’s casefiles for details on what a weirdo Stephanie’s father was. Suffice it to say that, although he had a doctorate and a respectable job as principal of Upper Merion High School, on his downtime he committed a series of armed robberies, and after his arrest in August 1978, the police found a TON of drugs at his house. He bonded out awaiting trial. He was later sentenced to five years.

Smith was later convicted of three counts of murder in the deaths of Susan Reinert, an employee at the school where he was principal, and her two children, Karen and Michael. Susan was murdered in June 1979, in a fairly unusual way — she was beaten severely, but she survived for about 24 to 36 hours afterwards, and the actual cause of death was a morphine overdose. Karen and Michael disappeared with their mom and the bodies were never found.

The police believed the murders were orchestrated by Susan’s boyfriend Bill Bradfield, an Upper Merion High School teacher, for money, but that Jay Smith actually committed the killings. Bradfield died while serving life in prison for the crimes. Smith (who was sentenced to death) had his conviction overturned because the prosecution had exculpatory evidence they’d unethically concealed from his defense (who claimed Bradfield had deliberately framed him). Smith died in 2009.

What of Stephanie and Edward? Well, the last confirmed sighting of them was on the aforementioned date of February 25, 1978, but there were several reported sightings of them after that, by Smith — not a credible witness perhaps — and by Stephanie’s younger sister, a neighbor, and others.

Now, Smith claimed the Hunsbergers went on the run because they owed money to drug dealers. But they left all their stuff behind at his house, including an uncashed tax return, and all those drugs which he claimed were theirs. Smith’s relationship with his daughter was understandably troubled, and he was demonstrably violent. Even if you don’t buy the story that he was a murderer, he was definitely a robber who, at the time of his arrest, was carrying multiple loaded guns and a syringe of “sedative drugs” (Placidyl?). The police consider him a suspect in Stephanie and Edward’s cases.

They definitely dropped out out sight sometime in 1978 or 1979; there were no sightings of them after that, and no one heard from them. Given the high-risk lifestyle they lead, and the lack of contact for nearly 40 years, I highly doubt they’re alive now. But who got them? Jay Smith? Drug dealers? Or just drugs? Or something else? Are their bodies perhaps listed as John Does somewhere else in the country, or do they lie undiscovered in a landfill or a shallow grave in Pennsylvania?

Let’s talk about it.

The sadness I get from the runaways

I posted one runaway case with today’s updates, a girl from Philadelphia. I won’t say her name because, God willing, her case will get removed eventually and I don’t want this blog entry coming back to haunt her later when she applies for things like rental accommodation and college and a job.

She’s been missing since mid-October 2015 — almost thirteen months. Usually I wait two years to post kids classified as runaways, but I sometimes make exceptions if the runaway is under 14. (Don’t ask me why 14 is my arbitrary cutoff. It just is.) In this case, the girl was thirteen and a half years old.

She’s listed as 5’2 but she’s probably grown an inch or two in the past year. She’s Hispanic, but I would have mistaken her for black. She certainly seems to enjoy fixing her hair in African-American styles; one photo I found showed her with braided extensions down to her waist. But I looked up her surname, and although it doesn’t sound at all Spanish, a Puerto Rican university bears that name.

I found her Facebook account, which is not uncommon in runaway cases. Loads of them are on Facebook, and many keep active accounts even while they’re missing. I also found the girl’s Twitter account —  now THAT I’m pretty sure I’ve never found before, not for a missing person. To check and see I searched charleyproject.org for the keyword “twitter” and came up with only a link to Charley’s own Twitter feed and links to the Twitter accounts of two relatives of MPs.

Of course I could only see what this girl chose to make public, but she hadn’t updated the public part of those accounts since well over a year before her disappearance — May 2014 for Facebook, July 2014 for Twitter. (And she has 496 Twitter followers, over 5 times more than my personal Twitter has.) I snagged several pictures of her from both accounts, and wound up with twelve photos altogether, far more than average. I could have added more, actually, but generally I stop at twelve.

Now, I have no idea what her home life was like before she disappeared. All I know is the street where she lived in Philadelphia, and the elementary school she attended. (Oh, and that she has at least two brothers, probably three, maybe more. That info came from her Twitter.) I checked the school website and it’s a K-8. If you go by her age, she was probably in seventh grade, perhaps eighth, when she went missing. That’s all I know about her personal circumstances before she disappeared.

But nevertheless, the information I uncovered while putting together this child’s casefile just made me feel sad. According to the NCMEC and NamUs, she already had at least one tattoo, and perhaps more, by the time she went missing. Some of her pictures betrayed her age, but others did not; she was clearly trying to look much older than she was. One tweet, posted when she was eleven years old, said, in part, that she was “mad as SHIT” because she liked a boy who didn’t like her back. (I don’t want to quote the whole tweet on here.) Her Facebook page had a photo montage with the caption reading “Trust No Bitch.” When she posted that image, she was two weeks past her twelfth birthday.

Let me emphasize that I am not condemning this girl for her makeup and her social media posts. I think some of them are unwise, but she’s a kid, and kids make mistakes. Certainly I’ve made serious mistakes before about what I post on social media, and will probably keep doing so, and I’m an adult. I just think it’s sad because, from what limited information I have, it looks like she was growing up way too fast.

And now she’s been missing for over a year. There’s a good chance she’s got caught up in the child prostitution trade, drugs, that sort of thing. Child traffickers see kids like that as fresh meat. A child can get snatched up and devoured by those vipers within a few days of leaving home. If this girl has gotten involved with that sort of thing, as a substantial percentage of runaways do, she could be anywhere in the country, or even elsewhere in the world.

She might be too ashamed by what has happened to her to call home. She want to call home but be prevented through threats of violence or worse.

Or she might be dead, lying a slab in a morgue somewhere, or in a potter’s field. Or perhaps still undiscovered, in a shallow grave or a landfill. Think of Syllania Edwards, for example, who ran away from Oklahoma and turned up dead — on that notorious mesa in New Mexico, the youngest known victim of more than half a dozen women murdered by a serial killer who remains unidentified.

Wherever she is, this girl from Philadelphia, I hope she’s safe, and I hope she turns up alive and able to put her life back together.

Latest MP news

(I know I’ve been a lazy-butt and not updated for like a week. I hit my head last Friday and my head was killing me for days afterwards in spite of the application of ice packs etc. On Saturday I went to ER because I thought I might have a concussion. They did tests, and said no, and prescribed some completely ineffective painkillers. I actually went back a few days later because my head was still hurting horribly and they did the same tests and said I was fine. Well, the headache finally stopped. Maybe it was the weather — we’ve had horrible storms and humidity all week, and things finally cleared up today.)

  • As various commenters and emailers have noted: Francine Frost (missing from Oklahoma, 1981) and Joseph Spears (missing from Mississippi, 1973) have both been identified.
  • Joseph was 17 when he escaped from a juvenile detention center. Less than a month later, he’d made it to Texas and was crossing a freeway when he was hit by a vehicle and killed. He was finally identified this month. Per this article:
    Mary Raskin, mother of missing teen Joseph “Joey” Norman Spears, ended up looking at pictures of her son’s body to positively identify him, Harrison County Sheriff’s Investigator Kristi Johnson said Monday.
    Officials with the Galveston medical examiner’s office were unable to get a proper DNA sample from Spears’ body to confirm the identity, Johnson said. Instead, they called on Harrison County cold case investigators to provide all the facts they had on the case for comparison to the evidence Texas officials had on hand.
    Mary Raskin, Spears’ mother, identified her son.
    “I have mixed emotions,” Johnson said after learning the news. “I am relieved the case is solved but I know it’s not the outcome Mrs. Raskin was hoping for. I’m sad for her but I’m glad she is getting the answers she was searching for for 43 years. The family has shared their appreciation for us working on this.”
  • As for Francine, her body was found in Muskogee County, Oklahoma two years after her disappearance. She was 43 years old. Per this article: a year ago Francine’s family heard about the Muskogee remains and got a court order to exhume and test for DNA:
    Vernon Martin, the superintendent of Green Hill Cemetery, helped make it happen.
    He said there are about 1,400 unidentified bodies buried there – many of them dating back before statehood.
    He took us back to the plot where Frost’s remains stayed for more than 30 years before they were finally identified.
    “This is actually greater than the pay that you receive in this job, the people that we come across on a daily basis and able to help them through their loss, whether it’s last week, or, in this case, 1981,” Martin said.
    Unlike with Joey Spears, this case is obviously still not over yet. Joey died in an accident; Francine appears to have been abducted and murdered. Her family has half the answer now — that is, they have her back and they can bury her — but I’m sure they’d also like to know who killed her.
    (An Oklahoma TV show actually wanted to interview me about Francine and in particular about identifying long-buried John and Jane Does, but I had spent the day in bed nursing that headache. I didn’t even check my email until 10:00 p.m. and thus missed the interview opportunity. Oh well.)
  • The case of long-missing Quebecois child Yohanna Cyr is back in the news, because a woman in the United States has come forward and thinks she’s Yohanna. Usually I don’t pay too close attention to claims like this, because it’s hardly ever the missing person. But this one has me wondering, because, as this article says, both Yohanna and the American woman have a Y-shaped birthmark on their index finger. I blogged about Yohanna twice, once in 2014 and once in 2011. In the 2011 entry, Yohanna’s mom posted a comment in French.
  • You guys may have heard about the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania twins who disappeared at some indeterminate time years ago — some articles say 10 years, some say 13-14 years. Mom claimed she sold them, but retracted her story after she was informed this was a crime. The first time authorities realized the kids were missing was when CPS sent the cops to the house to remove all the kids, and the cops duly removed the four they found, and CPS was like, “Um, she actually has six.”
    NamUs has profiles for the kids: Inisha Fowler and Ivon Fowler. The only picture that I’ve been able to find is a photo of them as babies, side by side, and I have no idea which twin is which. (See this article for that photo, and a pic of Mom, and of the twins’ not-missing brother as well.) I suppose I’ll post the case on Charley anyway. A baby photo is still a photo, and this is certainly an outrageous story that the world needs to know. Even if, by some miracle, Ivon and Inisha are still alive, the fact that no one noticed they were gone for so long is truly terrible. Heads should roll here — a lot of people dropped the ball.
  • The kidnapper of Zephany Nurse, a South African girl who was abducted as an infant and not found for seventeen years, has been sentenced to ten years in prison. (You might recall that Ann Pettway, Carlina White‘s abductor, got twelve.) Zephany grew up just a mile away from her real family’s home and attended the same school as her biological sister. The identity of the woman who kidnapped her has been withheld from the media to protect Zephany’s privacy.
    Outrageously, the kidnapper has refused to admit she did anything wrong. And sadly for the Nurse family, Zephany has chosen to remain with her kidnapper’s husband. I don’t blame her. I mean, for 17 years she thought this guy was her dad, and it’s a terrible situation she’s in. I just think it sucks for her real parents and I hope that Zephany does eventually choose to form a relationship with them.

Teala Thompson found deceased

Earlier this year I added the new/old case of Teala Thompson, a light-skinned, gray-eyed biracial thirteen-year-old who disappeared from Pittsburgh nearly fifty years ago on September 5, 1967. Well, she’s been found: a body that turned up in a Salem Township, Pennsylvania landfill just two weeks after Teala disappeared has been identified as the missing girl.

This case should have been solved a long time ago. I mean, she was found not too long after she disappeared and less than 40 miles away, and they got her fingerprints and were able to chart her teeth. They were off on the age, but only slightly — they thought the dead girl was between fourteen and sixteen, when Teala was thirteen years and ten months.

I don’t really know what happened here and neither, according to the article I linked to, does anyone else:

[Teala’s younger sister] Mary Thompson said some family members believe that police had contacted [their mother] Shirley Thompson once early on in the investigation and had asked her to view a photo of the unidentified remains but that Shirley Thompson had declined. “I think it was just too hard for her. I don’t think she wanted to admit that Teala wasn’t coming home,” Mary Thompson said.

There’s no evidence in the police record that indicates the Thompson family was contacted by police nor that the Thompson family had reported Teala missing.

Perhaps Shirley really did turn down a chance to identify the body. She’s dead now so we can’t ask her. It would explain why she told Mary that Teala had been murdered in Greensburg (which is, I believe, where the landfill was). It’s also entirely on the cards that the police either wouldn’t take a missing persons report for a teen girl — a child of that age would have been written off as a runaway, and probably the fact that she was non-white wouldn’t have helped matters — or that they did take a report but the records were lost later on.

In any case, I’m afraid there may be no more answers to be found. Whoever killed Teala could be dead now, and even if he/she isn’t, building a case after all this time is well nigh impossible.

“I can’t say I remember much about what happened,” her sister Mary says. She was four when Teala disappeared. She adds: “What I remember was that Teala was beautiful and she was loved.”

Other articles

Seeing them living (again)

As I have said, I’m plugging Charley Project names into the Newspapers.com database, looking for info. I’m doing it in reverse chronological order. I don’t have a lot of time — I only have a seven-day free trial and a paid subscription is pretty expensive.

Reading all those older papers gives you a really good idea as to how much America has changed just in these past several decades. Like, I keep getting weirded out by all these married women being introduced as “Mrs. Husband’s Name.” Another example — a shocker, from the current post-HIPAA perspective — is something I just discovered: in the now-defunct Franklin News-Herald, a Pennsylvania paper, their edition for February 10, 1972 included a list of recent hospital admits with the admitted person’s name and the name of the street they lived on and, in some cases, their full street address. Any American newspaper that somehow obtained and published such information nowadays would be sued into oblivion.

One of those admits was Patricia Jane Seelbaugh. This would have been just two weeks prior to her 16th birthday. Patricia disappeared without a trace in October 1973, one year and eight months after her admission to Bashline Hospital (now the Grove City Medical Center). She had been admitted to Bashline at least once before, in late July of 1969. No idea on what for. Nothing about her actual disappearance, alas. “Few details are available.”