The latest MWAB news

I thought I’d do a run-down in the latest news in murder-without-a-body cases:

  • Per everybody, Antolin Garcia-Torres has been found guilty of the murder of Sierra Mae Lamar, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Morgan Hill, California five years ago. Her abduction and killing is of the most terrifying kind: she was just snatched off the street in a random act of violence.
  • In Iowa, Tait Purk has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Cora Ann Okonski, who disappeared from the town of Tama on April 16, 2000. Unlike in Sierra Lamar’s murder, there wasn’t anything in the way of physical evidence here. However, Purk supposedly confessed to at least two other people that he had killed Cora and buried her body.
  • No charges have been filed as of yet, but Dale LaFleur‘s grand-nephew, Philip, has confessed to murdering him and the police are looking for the body. Philip is currently in jail for the 2015 murder of another man. He’s only 23 now, and Dale disappeared in 2011, so chances are Philip was a minor when he (allegedly) killed his great-uncle. (Not that it’ll matter.) He says he put Dale’s body inside his (Dale’s) car and dumped it in the Atchafalaya River. Police have said they’ve found an “object” in the river that might be the car. Fingers crossed.
  • And as for Peter Kema, alas, I don’t know anything more than I did three weeks ago: namely that Peter Sr. has led police to the alleged disposal spot. I seem to recall some article that claimed the remains were cremated and dumped at sea. If that is so, they’re almost certainly unrecoverable. But I don’t know if that information is correct. There’s a big difference between outright cremating a body and merely setting it on fire. I think if the cops had found something, they would have said so by now, but who knows?

Peter Kema’s dad leads police to alleged disposal spot

This just in: Peter Kema‘s father, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month, has lead police to where he says he put his son’s body. This location is, of course, as yet undisclosed, but it’s somewhere in the district of Puna.

Here’s to hoping there’s actually something recoverable there, and this 20-year saga can finally be over.

Peter Kema denouement

Sorry everyone, the internet was kaput for much of this week. I could access it on my cell phone using data, but the house connection didn’t work. Michael and I have been having issues with our provider since November.

It goes like this: we had to cut down on our expenses so decided to switch our cable and internet package to just internet. The service provider said okay, and yet EVERY SINGLE MONTH SINCE THEN, they’ve billed us for cable, phone and internet, and the result is either our account gets overdrawn and we have to pay fees to the bank, or our service provider stops providing service — ALL service, not just the services we no longer want — because we can’t pay the bill. Then Michael will call them and remind them that we’re only supposed to be getting internet now, and they will apologize, reduce our bill accordingly and promise it won’t happen again. Then it happens again.

Anyway. Now we’ve got our internet back and Michael plans to switch providers because he’s understandably fed up.

So. It looks like the Peter Kema case may be finally reaching its conclusion. Peter’s mother reached a deal with the prosecution last year, pleading guilty to manslaughter and agreeing to testify against her husband. Earlier this week, Peter’s father also pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was sentenced to twenty years and must serve a minimum of six, and he has agreed to lead police to the body. If he doesn’t follow through with that part, his sentence could be increased to 25 years.

At least they are going to jail, and this way Peter’s siblings will be spared the ordeal of having to testify. And I highly doubt Peter Sr., anyway, is going to get out after just six years. I expect he’ll have to serve the whole term, because the case is so notorious in Hawaii, and for the same reason I doubt he’ll be terribly popular in prison. Jaylin, unfortunately, is getting almost no time, even though she’s just as responsible for her son’s death as Peter Sr.

Peter’s parents did nothing but torture, neglect and abuse him his entire brief life. If there was any justice they ought to be getting a manslaughter conviction AND enough child abuse convictions stacked on top of one another to amount to life sentences for both of them.

I mean, read Peter’s Charley Project page to get an idea. Or take what it says in one of the articles I found about the case:

In Peter’s case the abuse started being documented when he was just three months old. After being brought into the hospital, x-rays showed old and new fractures in his shoulder, elbow, ribs and knees. He and his older siblings were removed from the home and they lived with their grandparents for the next three years.

Once he was back with his mother and father, his siblings reported Peter was again physically abused: suffering broken bones and black eyes, as well as enduring mental abuse like being forced to eat dog feces. But those reports came too late to save the six year old boy.

Why weren’t either of his parents charged with child abuse when he was an infant? Why were his parents allowed to regain custody of him? Jaylin’s parents loved Peter and they loved his siblings; it wasn’t like there was no one else willing to take care of the kids. According to the articles, since Peter’s death there have been “reforms” in Hawaii’s child protection system, in order to prevent more such tragedies. I certainly hope so.

We’ll see if Peter’s body can be found. It’s been 20 years so it may be unrecoverable. Here’s some articles:

Holy wow, what happened here?

I was looking at Charley’s visitor stats and noticed that last month my average was nearly 19,000 independent visits a day. My usual average is 9-10,000 visits a day. When I looked at the page for April at first I thought there was a mistake, because most of the days seemed to hover around 10,000, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Then I saw April 21 and 22. 30,509 visits for April 21. And a whopping 198,839 visits for April 22.

Whaaaat?

The number of visits for the days after that are elevated, but not hugely so — around 15,000. And surprisingly, the most-visited casefile is not Peter Kema‘s, but Tammy Leppert‘s.

Did something big happen in Tammy’s case that I’m missing? The only thing I can find is that Tammy was the subject of this Reddit thread.

More on the Peter Kema indictments

As you all probably know, Peter Kema Jr‘s parents, Peter Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema, have been charged with his murder. Well, I have just read comments Peter Boy’s siblings made to the media about the indictments, and it’s pretty heartbreaking.

Peter Boy’s younger sister is referred to as “Devalynn” in his Charley Project casefile; she later changed her name to Lina Acol. (She was sent to live with her maternal grandparents after Peter Boy’s disappearance, and was legally adopted by them.) She was only four years old when her brother disappeared but she remembers what happened. In the last few years she’s renewed her relationship with her mother, hoping Jaylin would tell her what really happened to Peter Boy. Lina even allowed Jaylin to spend time with her son. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.

This is such an awful case. So many kids who are abused have literally no one who really cares about them. Peter wasn’t one of those kids. He had grandparents who cared about him and his siblings and would have taken them in if they could have.

I hope Jaylin flips on Peter Sr. and testifies against him. That seems like the best way to win this case.

Fox News article

This is the article I got quoted in: Parents indicted in cold case murder of Hawaiian boy by Malia Zimmerman.

“It was just absolutely horrifying the torture this child was subjected to,” said Meaghan Good, founder and editor of The Charley Project, a website that is tracking 9,500 unsolved murder cases including that of Peter Boy Jr. “I read all 2,000 pages about the case released by the Department of Human Services in 2005, and it very obvious what happened to Peter Boy Jr.”

Happyhappyjoyjoyjoy

Peter Kema‘s parents have been charged with murder. About. Fracking. Time. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is a copy of the indictment which a nice reporter sent to me. The same reporter interviewed me on the phone, asking what I thought of the case and so on.

I told her about my corpus delicti lists and how there were way more convictions than acquittals, theorizing this was because, without a body, the other evidence in the case has to be VERY strong. The reporter asked how Peter’s case lined up with other child abuse  homicides on the Charley Project. I said I knew a lot more about Peter’s case than most other cases due to the DHS releasing his file, but it didn’t seem at all dissimilar to other child abuse homicides in terms of the severity and so on. (Colton Clark‘s foster parents, according to Colton’s brother, shocked the boys’ genitals with a cattle prod.) I did say I found it slightly unusual that Peter appears to have been singled out by his parents for abuse, even though he was his father’s biological son and named after him, and there were stepchildren in the family. (Armchair psychologists: might this suggest that Peter Kema Sr. was working out some self-hatred by abusing the son that shared his name?)

Anyway, articles:

Parents of ‘Peter Boy’ Kema charged with murder
‘Peter Boy’ Kema’s parents indicted, 19 years after his death
“Peter Boy” Kema’s parents indicted on murder charges
Murder Charges Filed Against Parents of ‘Peter Boy’ Kema
After 19 Years, Parents Of Vanished Peter Boy Kema Charged With Murder
Parents in custody for death of ‘Peter Boy’

New lead in the Peter Kema case

Peter Kema‘s disappearance has received some additional attention — this article shown to me by a commenter on this blog. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I really really want this lead to go somewhere. I read the Hawaii DHS casefile on him when they released it to the public; it was about 3,000 pages. (And no, I don’t know where to find it now, or even if it’s still online.) That adorable little boy, it would appear, never got a thimbleful of love any time in his life.

I don’t understand why they don’t charge Peter’s father with murder right now. It’s not as if Hawaii hasn’t convicted people of murder without bodies before.

A trial this year for Geralyn Graham? My thoughts on the Rilya Wilson case

Geralyn Graham, the foster mother of Rilya Wilson, may go to trial this fall, sez the Miami Herald. Graham was charged with Rilya’s murder in 2005.

The case is incredibly complicated and tragic. Rilya was neglected and abused by her mother, a cocaine addict, but Graham was clearly no better, something that should have been obvious long before Rilya disappeared. The state of Florida must have been really hard up for foster parents to certify a convicted fraud with a string of alias and an alleged “psychotic disorder.” A social worker was supposed to visit Rilya once a month to determine her well-being, but Rilya’s social worker didn’t so much drop the ball as deliberately hurl it into the abyss. She falsified records of visits she wasn’t making. As a result, no one found out about Rilya’s disappearance until over a year after it happened. I am quite sure that Geralyn Graham killed Rilya, but I’m not at all sure the state can prove it, given that one of their major witnesses backed out and will not testify after all. There is no body. As far as I know, there’s no physical evidence at all. There are no direct witnesses to the alleged homicide.

Too bad we can’t put the entire Florida DCF on trial for Rilya’s homicide. They all killed her together, them and Graham. Rilya’s case is unique on Charley, not because she was gone a long time before she was reported missing, but because of the way she was abysmally failed by the very system set up to protect her. Let’s look at some other Charley cases that are similar:

Brittany Williams, age 8, missing from Virginia since 2000. Disappearance not discovered for over two years. Brittany was living with a guardian at the time of her disappearance; her guardian had legal custody of her and she wasn’t in the foster care system. My theory is that Brittany, who had full-blown AIDS by the time of her disappearance, simply died and her guardian hid her body somewhere in order to continue to collect benefits from the state.

Peter Kema, age 6, missing from Hawaii since 1997. Disappearance not discovered for several months. Though Peter and his siblings were being supervised by the Hawaii Department of Human Services, they were living with their biological parents at the time of his disappearance. In retrospect, the DHS should have taken them all away long before he vanished. I believe they did act correctly once they realized Peter was missing, though. If the DHS had not demanded Peter’s parents produce him in person, it’s possible his disappearance wouldn’t have been discovered for much longer. It’s plain as day what happened to him and who did it.

Rene Romero, 4, missing from Nevada since 1994. His mother and her boyfriend killed him, then immediately moved out of state with their other kids to conceal his disappearance. It’s not clear when his disappearance was discovered, but it came to light when Rene’s parents were investigated for abusing their other children. They were both charged with murder in 1998, and eventually convicted. I don’t know whether Rene was under any kind of supervision by child protective services at the time of his death, but it seems unlikely.

Michelle Pulsifer, 3, missing from California since 1969. Her disappearance wasn’t reported to the police for over thirty years. Michelle’s mother had full custody of her and her father had no legal rights to her, and though he visited her and her brother there was nothing he could do when the family up and moved to another state very suddenly. This was to conceal Michelle’s death; she was murdered by her mother or her mother’s boyfriend or both of them. Decades later, Michelle’s aunt hired a private investigator to find her, and the police began investigating after the P.I. couldn’t find any record of her after 1969. Michelle’s mother and her boyfriend were charged with murder, but Mom was acquitted and the boyfriend died before trial.

Garnell Moore, 7, missing from Maryland since 2002. Bizarrely, even his own relatives didn’t notice he was gone for almost three years. Garnell’s parents weren’t part of his life and he was passed around to various (probably unwilling) relations, was never enrolled in school and never came to the notice of child protective services or, apparently, anyone else. It wasn’t that the system failed him, per se; he was never in the system to begin with. The last person known to have cared for him claims she abandoned him on the doorstep of a social services building, but the address she gave did not exist. God only knows what happened to him and if he’s still alive.

Adam Herrman, 11 or 12, missing from Kansas since 1999. Disappearance not noticed for nine years. A former foster child, he was legally adopted by his foster parents. They continued to pick up his benefit checks in his absence and gave various explanations for his absence to those who asked. Adam’s disappearance came to light when his adopted sister, who thought he had been given back to the Department of Social and Rehabiliation Services, tried to locate him though the SRS and found out that as far as the SRS knew, he was still with his adoptive parents. His adoptive parents claim he ran away and they were afraid to report it at the time. Riiiight. After Adam’s disappearance came to light, many credible witnesses came forward saying Adam had been severely abused by his adoptive mother. I think we all know what really happened.

Ke’Shaun Vanderhorst, 2, missing from Pennsylvania since 1995. Disappearance not reported for three weeks. His mother told her family he’d been taken by the state Department of Human Services, but they got suspicious and went to the police. Ke’Shaun’s mother, when confronted, gave several stories to account for his disappearance, including one where she sold him to a nice lady who promised to take care of him. She later pleaded no contest to child endangerment.

All these children were badly let down by those around them. Their parents or guardians abused them. Others in their lives knew about the abuse and failed to stop it. In some cases, child protective agencies failed to rescue them from abusive homes, or rescued them from abusive homes only to place them in other abusive homes. These kids never had a chance.

In my opinion, however, none of them were let down nearly as badly as Rilya Wilson was. In none of the above cases was there the level of supervision expected in Rilya’s case. The children were living with biological relatives or adoptive parents, not foster homes like Rilya, and social workers weren’t required to check up on them as Rilya’s social worker was supposed to do.