Yates girls found safe after 31 1/2 years

This has been all over the news so chances are you’ve heard it already: one of my oldest family abductions, the 1985 case of ten-month-old Kelly Ann Yates and her big sister, 3-year-old Kimberly Ann Yates, has been solved. The girls, who are of course now adults, turned up alive and well in Texas.

I haven’t removed their casefiles yet; you can still read them for now. This article from the Providence Journal also provides a really good grounding in the case.

And I want to address an issue that has come up time and time again in family abduction cases, particularly cases where the children were taken by their mothers: the assumption so many people make that the abductor must have been “saving” the children from an unfit and/or abusive parent.

Several of the news articles (such as this one) have brought up the fact that, before Elaine Yates took the children and vanished, there was a domestic argument between herself and Russell, and he struck her. However, if you check out my casefiles for the girls, I include the information that, according to Russell, he only kicked his wife in self-defense after she attacked him first and struck him several times.

I’ve had people being like “How do you know that’s really true” and “How do you know that’s the ONLY incident, maybe there was more.”

I don’t know. That’s the thing. But just because I don’t know does not mean I am going to assume, based on a single incident that did not result in charges and that may have been self-defense, that Russell was an abusive husband and father.

What is DEFINITELY true is that Elaine committed a serious crime and put Russell through a lot of pain and grief for the past 30+ years. Elaine’s offense is much worse than Russell’s offense, which was basically simple assault.

Elaine will get a chance to tell her side of the story in time, but until then, I am a bit sickened by how some people people are automatically giving her the benefit of doubt. People don’t generally do this for most other crimes. Someone commented on my Facebook page about this case saying “some people do this [kidnap their own children] for a good reason.” Well, sometimes people who rob banks do it for a good reason — perhaps they have seven children and no food in the kitchen and they’re behind on the mortgage and about to be turned out of house and home into the frozen cold, and they really, really need the money. But nobody makes such remarks in response to news stories about bank robbery.

I cannot speak specifically on the Yates case because I don’t have all the facts. What I can say is this: in most family abduction cases, the abducting parent is not trying to protect the child or give it a better home. Most abducting parents take their children in order to spite the other parent. They hate their ex and want to hurt them in the worst way possible, by taking away the most precious thing in their lives.

Furthermore, parental abduction is child abuse. Most of the victims are lied to, told that the left-behind parent is dead or doesn’t want them anymore. In many cases the children are shifted from pillar to post, forced to live a lie, use false names, etc. Many times they don’t have access to education or health care while they’re missing, aren’t allowed to have friends, aren’t allowed to live a normal childhood.

I hope Kelly and Kimberly Yates prove willing to at least give their father a chance to get to know them again. That’s most important. I think it’s also important, though, that they follow through with prosecuting Elaine. I don’t think people should be allowed to get away with this sort of thing. The fact that it’s been thirty years does not lessen the gravity of what she did.

I am seriously considering blocking all emails containing the word “Pawtucket”

I keep getting emails from some person — I’m not sure whether this is a man or a woman, they don’t give their name — claiming to have seen one of my MPs in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. They also often claim that a certain man (an actual resident of Pawtucket, according to Spokeo, but I don’t want to name him to protect his privacy) was involved in the disappearance or “should be questioned” about the MP. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of case it is — family abduction, voluntary missing adult, foul play suspected, whatever — or how old the case is.

I have gotten 49 emails from this individual (each time claiming to have seen a different MP in Pawtucket) TODAY ALONE. I got three more as I was writing this entry. This person writes me occasionally, sending mass emails like this to me every couple of months for a few days at a time. At this rate you’d think the city of Pawtucket is populated by no one except MPs, my correspondent, and the apparent serial kidnapper/killer my correspondent names as having caused all those disappearances.

I tried to block the person before but it didn’t work for some reason. I have never written back to any of their emails because I’m pretty sure a polite request to go away is not going to work. You might recall that I called the cops on a previous email stalker, but that was because I had their address. The only thing I know about this person is that they apparently live in Pawtucket and own a BlackBerry.

Maybe just blocking emails with the word “Pawtucket” will work. I’m sick of deleting this person’s emails from my inbox.

Legions of the disappeared

My friend Sean Munger, who runs Charley’s Twitter feed, has published another blog entry — one in a series of four so far — profiling some of the Charley Project’s more puzzling and frustrating cases.

This time he wrote about:

Wojciech Fudali (22, missing from Rhode Island since 2008, I’ve blogged about him before);
Myoung “Mike” Noah (60, missing from California since 2007);
Asha Degree (9, missing from North Carolina since 2000);
Benjamin Cannon (20, missing from Nebraska since 1995);
Anna Christian Waters (5, missing from California since 1973); and
Ruth Baumgardner (22, missing from Ohio since 1937).

He’s got some intriguing info on Mike Noah that I don’t have on Charley. I wonder where he found it.

I hate headlines like this

23-year-old mystery of missing Central Falls girl still haunts relatives, police

So, of course, I eagerly click on the link, hoping to read about an old MP case I have or even discover a new-old one. And after reloading it like three times (cause my internet has gone all wonky lately), I found out the girl isn’t missing and, in fact, hasn’t been since her body turned up a couple of days after her disappearance.

What’s wrong with saying “23-year-old mystery of MURDERED Central Falls girl haunts relatives, police”? It’s just as good a headline and much more accurate.

When people shouldn’t mind their own business

Today I posted the disappearance of Jonathan Dorey, a British guy who was studying abroad at Virginia Commonwealth University when he disappeared in March. His case is viewed — with good reason — as a probable suicide. A person saw a man matching Dorey’s description “swimming” in a local river. In early March. On a rainy/snowy day when the temperature hovered around 30. And apparently this individual took no action, and all this didn’t come out until weeks after Dorey’s disappearance.

Kind of similar is the December 2008 disappearance of a recent college graduate, Wojciech Fudali. It’s not clear what ultimately happened to him, but after a party he apparently stripped down to his skin and walked out of a friend’s home into the cold. Some neighbors saw him nearby that morning. Two hours later some friends saw him running on the grounds of a bird sanctuary. Both times he was stark naked. Yet, as far as I can tell, no one so much as bothered to speak to him and ask what was going on.

If I saw a person swimming outdoors on an icy-cold day, I would probably call the police. If the person was from Siberia or something and just felt like some bracing exercise, fine, no harm done, but someone should at least check. If I saw a naked person standing around in public in any weather, I would DEFINITELY call the police. I mean, indecent exposure, anyone? Both of these young men are probably dead. And if someone had just taken five minutes out of their day to intervene in what was clearly a very strange if not life-threatening situation, both of these young men might still be alive/not missing now.

I’m all for not poking your nose in someone else’s business. But there are limits.

Two family abduction cases: kids found, but are they ever going to come home?

Hannah Marie Aguilera-Hurtado, age one, and Teresa Charlene Aguilera-Hurtado, age six, were abducted by their non-custodial father from Rhode Island in June 2008. They were recently listed as located…but they still haven’t been sent home to their mother. This article from the Albuquerque Journal tells the story: the two girls are living in a government orphanage in Cancun, Mexico and the authorities are trying to figure out to do with them.

Teresa and Hannah are US-born, US citizens, and so is their mom, Jennifer. Their father, Miguel, was in the US illegally when he married Jennifer and he initially lied to her about his name. (He called himself Mario Canifari and when he fessed up to her, he said he used the false name to avoid racism against Hispanic people.)

Although the NCMEC announced the girls’ recovery just a few weeks ago, this article says they were found in APRIL and they are still stuck in the orphanage as their case makes its way through the Mexican court system. Their Mom went to Cancun to fight the case and she’s determined she’s not going to leave until she gets her daughters back — she says she can’t afford it, anyway — but she’s not even allowed to visit them.

It is a well known fact that institutionalization is bad for children, especially very young ones, and adversely affects their development. And these girls have a mother who is willing to care for them and has custody of them in their home country. What’s the holdup here, people? Argh!

Meanwhile, Chandler, Hayden and Rebekah Clark (ages 23, 20 and 17) have been located safe in England. (They are still on Charley but won’t be for much longer.) Their mother, Eileen, took the kids and walked out of her marriage in New Mexico in 1995. They found her in another city, served her the divorce papers and told her to appear at a custody hearing. Instead she ran with the children, leaving their father wondering and worrying for the next fifteen years.

Well, according to this incredibly biased article, the kids seem to be all right. The oldest one is in law school, the middle one has been accepted to college and the youngest is in sixth form (which I think is like the British equivalent of being a senior in high school). They’re really unhappy about the situation and the disruption in their lives — and I can’t say I blame them there — and Eileen is royally pissed about her recent arrest and the United States’s extradition request, going on about how it is going to ruin her kids’ lives etc.

Well, she should have thought of that before she ran off with them. She didn’t just leave, the way the Telegraph article makes it sound; she deliberately hid them. The info in the article about the statute of limitations is also incorrect. Statute of limitations usually applies only as long as the offender is still within the state where the offense took place. This is to prevent criminals from fleeing to avoid prosecution — which was precisely what happened on in this case.

The Clark children all say they don’t want to be reunited with their dad, who would presumably be willing to provide a home for them. I wonder what they’ve been told about him. Only Chandler would be old enough to remember much.

It’s a very sad situation all around.

Another for the ???? Category

I’m writing today’s updates and recorded the case of Wojciech Fudali, who disappeared from Rhode Island last December after a late-night party with friends. Sounds typical on the surface, except that Fudali was stark naked when he vanished. He left his shoes and every stitch of clothing behind. In New England. In December.

This article says, “While police interviewed some of his friends at the East Shore Road house Sunday afternoon, a friend arrived and said he saw Fudali running nude near the Galilee Escape Road around 11:30 a.m. Saturday but did not report it to police.” What’s going on there? If I saw any of my friends running in the buff down the road at any time of year, never mind the dead of winter, I’d probably call 911 on the spot. At the very least I’d be yelling, “Hey! What’s going on? Why are you naked? Are you okay?”

Other articles say Fudali was a “nature lover,” so perhaps he dabbled in nudism before. But being naked in public in suburban Rhode Island IN DECEMBER is not normal, even for nudists.

I think he’s got to be dead. A naked person could not survive more than a couple of hours outside in below-freezing temperatures. What caused him to leave the house in that condition, I wonder? Was he depressed and trying to commit suicide by hypothermia? If so, why didn’t he go off somewhere where no one could see him, not lounge around in public places? Was he whacked out on some kind of drugs or something, did he have a psychotic episode? That poor guy. He had just gotten his college degree, too.