Thinking aloud about this case

So a case I added yesterday, Niija Council, is a “few details” case, but I had plenty of photos, including pics of her tattoos, from Niija’s Facebook page. (She also put a photo of herself on a page called Team Bisexual. Maybe I could profile Niija for Pride Month in June.)

The thing is, Niija has posts on her Facebook from AFTER her official date of disappearance, September 1.

I don’t know whether September 1 was the date she was last physically seen by anyone, or if they just mean she was last seen sometime in September, or what. On September 11 she made four posts:

niijafacebook

Later in the month she changed her profile picture multiple times, the last time on September 23. The comments on her September 16 profile picture change indicate people were pretty worried about her:

niijafacebook2

So I dunno what was going on there. It’s a struggle to piece what exactly happened from what I’ve got to work with. I hope Niija is alive and well somewhere.

Incidentally, I wish I could read the words tattooed on her neck and chest. I posted pictures of them on her casefile but I can’t tell what they say. Here’s larger photos below (the neck picture is from before she added the stars and squiggles) if you want to help me out:

niijanecktattoo

niijachesttattoo

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A bunch of no-body homicide updates

So I re-posted all the Corpus Delicti lists last night and today (it’s been forever I know) and I took the chance to go through Not Concluded/Unknown Outcomes again to find out some of those outcomes.

The result is fifteen updated cases.

  • Cynthia Linda Alonzo: Eric Mora pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, got eleven years.
  • Abigail Estrada: Ruben Torres pleaded guilty to murder, got eighteen years but could be out in ten.
  • Cari Lea Farver: Shanna Golyer was found guilty, got life without parole plus 18 to 20 years for an unrelated arson.
  • Jarrod Devlin Green: Brandon Wheeler’s charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
  • Alice Kristina Wehr Hummel: Bruce Hummel was tried and convicted of the murder a second time, but an appeals court overturned his second conviction and he cannot be retried.
  • Charles Edward “Mississippi” Johnson: David Lint pleaded no contest to criminal homicide, got seven to fifteen years.
  • Zachary Matthew Malinowski: No conclusion yet, but suspect Javon Gibbs (allegedly) murdered someone else while out on bail in Malinowski’s murder.
  • Bernadine M. Montgomery: Tracie Naffziger pleaded no contest to being an accessory second-degree murder after the fact. She will testify against David Mariotti, whose trial is supposed to be early next month.
  • Sara Jo Mowrey: After alleged misconduct by the prosecution, Michael Baker pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit murder and being an accessory after the fact to murder, and got three years instead of the life sentence he’d have gotten if convicted of the original charges.
  • Catherine E. Nelson and Charles Martin Russell: Brian Ferry’s trial was early this year. The jury couldn’t reach a verdict and there was a mistrial.
  • Heath Riley Reams: Amanda Sanders-Bolstad pleaded guilty to manslaughter and got 25 years, with 20 suspended, but the prosecution is trying to get her suspended sentence revoked because she moved without telling the police.
  • Bret R. Snow: More details have been released about the crime and two additional suspects have been charged. Alvaro Guajardo is charged with murder, and Cheryl Sutton with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, and leading organized crime.
  • Aaron Lamar Turner: One suspect, Bryan Byrd pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and got 20 to 40 years. (Also found an article about how Bryan was an academic star in high school and seen as a really great kid who had risen above his poverty and single-parent childhood, then he ruined his life in one weekend.) The second suspect, LaQuanta Chapman, was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned four years later and he got life instead. A third suspect has been identified, but has never faced charges. I think it’s because Chapman isn’t saying boo and they only have Byrd’s testimony to put the man at the scene. Also, not-very-fun fact: Chapman shot one of his dogs dead and dismembered the body in his attempt to cover up Aaron’s murder.
  • Rebecca Ann Ware: Timothy Johnson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and got nineteen years, with credit for three years’ time served.

More recommended reading

I’m still writing up this man’s casefile, but I wanted to share some articles about it.

This is another case of excellent small-town investigative reporting, detailing a VERY messed-up story (in all senses of the word) out of Pennsylvania, involving Thomas Hayden, a man who dropped out of sight in 2011 and wasn’t reported missing for six years.

As in the Chapin/McCullough case I talked about yesterday, it’s pretty clear what happened and who did it. Unlike in that case, though, it looks like justice is coming along here.

Presenting: Discovery of blood, hair in Foodsaver bag opens unsolved mystery of missing Dover Twp. man

MP of the week: Raymond Poland

This week’s featured missing person is Raymond Samuel Poland, a 35-year-old man who was last seen in Erie, Pennsylvania on August 22, 2001. Since he wasn’t reported missing for a year, I’m not sure how they fixed the date of his disappearance, but that’s what I’ve got.

Poland was an occasionally homeless alcoholic who had trouble keeping a job because of his problem. I think he may still be alive and just unaware that his family’s looking for him, or he may be a John Doe in some far-off part of the country.

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.

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.