Ruben Herrera mystery continues: has he been found in South America?

They’re still trying to indentify of the man in South America who claims he’s Ruben Herrera. Ruben disappeared from El Paso, Texas in 1983, at the age of fourteen. He apparently went to Mexico with an adult man who was located later without him. The case was classified as a non-family abduction but I didn’t have much in the way of information. I wrote about the mystery a week ago.

This newest article has a lot more info on Ruben’s disappearance, including the identity of the man who kidnapped him. He said it was for ransom. He got 30 years in prison and never revealed Ruben’s whereabouts. The man in South America who claims to be Ruben wants to be de-listed as a missing person and wants to get in contact with Ruben’s sisters. (Ruben’s mother is dead.)

Color me skeptical. The South American guy COULD be Ruben. Or he could be a crazy person who believes he’s Ruben. Or he could be a creep who gets off on tormenting missing people’s families. Or he could be an opportunist who wants access to an American passport and birth certificate.

Nothing to do but wait and see.

Guy in South America claims to be Ruben Herrera

A South American organization emailed an El Paso newspaper claiming they’ve got Ruben Herrera, who disappeared in 1983 at the age of 14. From the article:

Marcel Ramirez Rhor, with Fundación Papá por Siempre (Father for Life Foundation) in Colombia, said in a May 21 email that Herrera is indigent and needs to fix his immigration status in a country outside the United States.

Ramirez said his organization wants to help Herrera and for that reason requested a street address for Herrera’s relatives in El Paso and a Social Security number for him.

He also said the missing El Pasoan was unwilling to provide further details that might help to confirm his identity. “He is not very sociable, and we are the ones who insisted on him regularizing his status, but so far he has not cooperated,” Ramirez said. “After he told us his story, we began to search on the Internet for information. We saw that everything he told us was true, and we thought it was necessary to contact his relatives.”

The man who says he is Herrera indicated in emails to the El Paso Times that he does not wish to return to El Paso, reunite with his Texas relatives or disclose where he lives. “I just want to find my two sisters,” he said.

Now, it would be really cool if this guy IS in fact Ruben, even if he doesn’t want to be in touch with his family. At least they can close the case and know he’s alive. From what little I know about his disappearance, he COULD be Ruben. But, frankly, this person sounds like a con artist who wants to get his hands on an American Social Security number at the expense of torturing Ruben’s family.

(Fun fact: Ruben might not actually have an SSN. I know they didn’t used to automatically give them out when babies were born, not back then, and often you didn’t get one until you got a job. When I was six years old and at the university with my father, some student of his kept asking me questions and was amazed that I could answer them all correctly. She finally said, “What’s your Social Security number?” I looked at her blankly and she laughed at me. Then Dad said, “Actually, she doesn’t have one.” He explained that I had not gotten one when I was born and as far as he was concerned, there was no reason for a six-year-old to have one. Maybe I didn’t get assigned one right away because I was born at home and not in the hospital. Of course I have one now. And no, I’m not telling you what it is.)

Some more international MPs

I just did blog entries about MPs from Iceland (via Oregon) and Norfolk in the UK. I thought I’d write about a few more international ones.

There’s a “coronial inquiry” (not sure what that is; the equivalent of an American grand jury investigation maybe?) going on, investigating the disappearance of Linda Davie. She was born in New Zealand, but living in Sydney, Australia when she went missing. On April 6, 1980 she went to visit her boyfriend, who was hospitalized, and this was the last time anyone saw her. A few days later he got a letter saying she was going away for a few days but would return and visit him again. She never resurfaced, and she left all her stuff behind at her apartment.

Also in Australia, they’re investigating a new lead in the disappearance of 14-year-old Eve Askew, who vanished from Tasmania on November 17, 1991. The cops have released a sketch of a person of interest in her case. Eve has a pretty distinctive appearance: in addition to flaming-red hair, she’s got unusual thumbs that apparently look like they were pushed down and never grew back up. Sadly, according to this article Eve’s parents are both dead now (a car accident in 1996) and, of her five three siblings (she is the youngest), her two brothers and one sister are estranged. The sister and one of the brothers still live in Australia, but the other brother lives in the UK now and they all haven’t spoken to each other in years. You might view it as another lottery family here.

In East Yorkshire, UK, the cops are re-investigating the disappearance of Russell Bohling on March 2, 2010. He was 18 when he vanished and his car was later found abandoned on a clifftop. His family attempted (without success) to file a lawsuit against the police, saying they had botched the investigation. The Daily Mail said Russell’s parents had given him £300,000 (that’s around $463,000 in American money) to help him start his own company, and they are afraid he was killed over the money.

Many of you have probably heard of Jakadrien Turner, a 14-year-old runaway (not on Charley) who was mistakenly deported to Colombia. After she ran away she was arrested and gave a false name, Tika Cortez. Unfortunately, Tika Cortez turned out to be a real person, a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Colombia with outstanding criminal charges. Jakadrien, who never ‘fessed up to the truth, was put on the next plane to Colombia, found a job, stayed there nearly a year, and got pregnant. Eventually her searching grandmother found her on Facebook. ICE is still trying to sort it out; Jakadrien was fingerprinted before she was deported, and this should have proved her identity, or at least proved that she wasn’t the person she claimed she was. Also, she’s black and doesn’t speak Spanish.

Well, now Jakadrien is back in the US (CNN; MSNBC; WFAA-TV; Fox News) and has been reunited with her family. A lot of people are making nasty remarks directed at both sides: stupid ICE for screwing up, stupid girl for running away and lying etc. What I wonder is this: what was she running from that was so terrible that she was willing to get herself deported to a third-world country to stay away? I have never heard of anything like this, although I know of another runaway girl, the American-born child of Polish immigrants, who was ALMOST deported to Poland before she admitted to her true identity and was returned to her family.

In Australia, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared along with sex offender Augustine Winter Miller was found alive (along with Miller) in the outback several days after they went missing. Unfortunately, the child (unnamed in the press reports) was very dehydrated when she was found — as might be expected, given that she’d spent several days in the Australian Outback smack in midsummer. She was in such poor condition when the rescuers located her that she died only a short time later.

It’s not really clear whether there was any foul play involved in this. Miller, whose sex offense was a consensual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, had permission to take the child on a hunting trip. (The woman who had custody of the girl was his live-in girlfriend. Some articles say the custodial carer was a relative, but this one says she wasn’t a blood relation) Maybe he intentionally “got lost” so he could harm the child in his care, but it sounds like they were just on a real hunting trip and really got lost. Miller was also in pretty poor shape when they were found and had to be hospitalized. He has been charged with possessing an unlicensed firearm and is now out on bail as the case is under investigation. This article has a picture of him. Miller says he is afraid for his life because he thinks the girl’s relatives might attack him.

Bryan Dos Santos Gomes’s father to be deported

Three-week-old Bryan Dos Santos Gomes was kidnapped at knifepoint from Fort Myers, Florida in 2006. Three and a half years later, the police don’t seem to know anything more than they did right after it happened. In the investigation it came out that Bryan’s parents are both illegal immigrants from Brazil (although Bryan was born in the US and is therefore an automatic American citizen), but nothing was really done about this, presumably because of the sympathy for their plight and also because Bryan’s mom was a witness to the abduction and her testimony will be needed if they ever catch who did it. The Dos Santoses now have two more children; I believe Bryan was their firstborn.

Well, now it looks like Bryan’s dad, at least, will be deported. He was arrested in November for driving without a license and now the ICE has plans to ship him back to Brazil. Bryan’s mother does not seem to be facing deportation, but she says in this article that if her husband is sent back to Brazil she will have no choice but to join him there. There’s some hope that Bryan’s father will be eligible for something called a U Visa, which allows illegal immigrants who were victims of violent crime to stay in the US for four years.

It’s a very sad situation no matter where you stand on the immigration issue. And I might add that many of the comments on those articles are disgusting. Some people have no compassion at all.