Black History Month: Brandon Graves

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Brandon Rodrigues Graves, who disappeared after a night on the town in Sumter, South Carolina on January 30, 2010.

Brandon, 24, seems to have had it together: he had gotten a college degree, he’d never been in trouble with the law, and he didn’t use drugs or associate with drug dealers.

The night of his disappearance, however, he got so drunk that he got thrown out of a nightclub and subsequently left unintelligible voice mails on two people’s phones, probably wanting a ride. Whether he found one, no one seems to know, but those two messages were the last time anyone heard from him.

As recently as last January, on the seven-year anniversary of Brandon’s disappearance, his family appealed for information and had a balloon release for him. They’ve founded a college scholarship in his memory as well.

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Black History Month: Herman Caldwell

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Herman J. Caldwell Jr. (And yes, the clothing description is correct.) Caldwell was 32 years old when he disappeared from Columbia, South Carolina on March 3, 1982.

The cops believe he was murdered and Leroy Nolan is a suspect in his case. Nolan and some other people had robbed and beaten Caldwell in 1978, and Nolan served some time in prison as a result. After his release in 1982 he started threatening Caldwell.

Then Caldwell disappeared, and on the same day Nolan and two other guys kidnapped and killed a woman and her two-year-old son. They weren’t charged until 2004, though, and Nolan died in 2010 without ever being charged in Caldwell’s case.

MP of the week: Kevin McClam

This week’s featured missing person is Kevin Lamont McClam, who disappeared from Goose Creek, South Carolina on March 30, 1997, just days before his fifteenth birthday.

The circumstances of his disappearance are a bit strange to say the least. His clothes were found scattered along the road near a construction site, and a witness reported seeing him walking nearby, wearing only sneakers and boxers, “alone and not under duress.”

As in the Wojciech Fudali case, I just don’t understand this. If I saw a man or a teenage boy walking down the street almost naked, I think I’d call the police or at least ask him if he was okay. But I haven’t found any evidence that the witness actually interacted with Kevin.

There are two suspects in Kevin’s disappearance, both of whom would have been in their teens at the time. The police are pretty sure Kevin was murdered, but no one has ever been charged in his case.

Select It Sunday: Brittanee Drexel

Preston Winfrey, my new web guru, was given the honor of selecting my Sunday case this week, and he chose Brittanee Marie Drexel. Her case has been relatively high profile and bears similarities to Natalee Holloway’s: a beautiful high school student with everything going for her goes off to a resort town and is never seen again. She was seventeen and a junior when she disappeared from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on April 25, 2009. She was from New York and had gone to Myrtle Beach (without parental permission) for spring break.

In 2016, investigators announced they thought they knew what happened to her. The theory is that she was abducted, held against her will and gang-raped for several days. Her abductors planned to sell her into prostitution, but because her disappearance received such widespread publicity, they decided to kill her instead.

This theory is short on evidence, though, and although suspects have been named in the alleged kidnapping, rape and murder, no one has been charged and Brittanee has never been found.

Yay, NCMEC added an old runaway case!

NamUs has the case of Tebble Anita Garrett, with a reasonable amount of detail — tattoo description, several aliases, was pregnant — but there was (and is, as of this writing) no photo on the casefile. In January I was able to get a photo of her from Newspapers.com and so I added her to Charley, but the photo was a few years out of date — Tebble, it seems, had been a chronic runaway, and the photo I had was from an article about one of her disappearances two or three years prior to 1988.

But yay, the NCMEC has just put up a poster for her! With another photo, presumably more recent!

(And the poster, I note, has a different listed date and place of Tebble’s disappearance than NamUs does. Sometimes NamUs gives the date a person was reported missing as the date of disappearance — they’re hardly the only source that does that either. Given Tebble’s status as a chronic runaway, it’s possible her family didn’t report her missing for six weeks because they expected her to return on her own. Or it’s possible they didn’t report her missing at first, then couldn’t quite remember when she was last seen. Or it’s possible she disappeared from Easley, South Carolina on September 7, then was sighted in Pickens, South Carolina on October 18. The cities are only seven to ten miles apart, after all.)

Anyway. I’m so happy they added her. Tebble’s been missing for almost thirty years now and I really LOVE IT when the NCMEC adds new-old cases. It makes my day, actually. Especially new-old cases I haven’t heard of before. Recently they did Henrietta Geck Cruz Avila, and I was able to get some additional info from the Newspapers.com archive (I LOVE THAT ARCHIVE, thanks for paying for the subscription, you-know-who-you-are) about her case. It reminds me a bit of Beverly Sharpman‘s.

Anyway. Thanks, NCMEC.

Sigh… my old friend Contradictory Sources reappears

Tonight in my updates, for Emmanuel Cornelius Quarles, the various sources I found were giving his age as anywhere from 24 to 28 and claiming he was last seen in either a red car or a white truck. I think the vehicle discrepancy may be related to the unconfirmed sighting after he left Pendleton but I’m not sure. I’d love to get his actual date of birth from somewhere. NamUs said he was 26 to 27 years old, and I picked 27, because of the age of his older son, who was eight years old when he disappeared. Though it is by no means unheard of or even terribly uncommon for 24-year-old to have an eight-year-old child. Who knows? Not me.

Meanwhile, for Cynthia Ramirez Rico, her NamUs page says she disappeared on June 30, 1987, but the Abilene Crime Stoppers page listed the year as 1983. That issue was settled when I looked at the “investigating agency” section on NamUs and it said her case got entered into the computer on February 23, 1987 — that is, before her alleged date of disappearance. 1983 it was, then. But her age was a bigger mystery, because Crime Stoppers said she was 20 but NamUs said she was 25 to 26. Even given the date discrepancy that didn’t make sense. However, both NamUs and Crime Stoppers give her current age as 53, which would make her year of birth 1963 or 1964. To this end I decided to list her age as 20, because that would make sense with the 1983 year of disappearance.

Cynthia Rico disappeared from a group home for mentally disabled adults. It’s likely that she lived there, meaning it’s likely she was mentally disabled, but because I don’t know that for sure, I didn’t say she was. I just explained about the group home and left readers to draw their own conclusions.

A New Year’s miracle

As several people have already told me, Kamiyah Mobley has resurfaced alive and well in the small town of Waltersboro, South Carolina. After EIGHTEEN YEARS. She is, I believe, the youngest person profiled on the Charley Project; she was abducted from the hospital in Jacksonville, Florida only hours after birth, on July 10, 1998.

It’s much like the story of Carlina White: Kamiyah was raised under the name Alexis Manigo, and thought her abductor was her mother. A couple of months ago, “Alexis” started to suspect there was more to the story, and DNA testing has just verified her true identity.

The abductor, 51-year-old Gloria Williams, has been arrested and will be extradited to Florida to face kidnapping charges. Her prior criminal offenses include welfare fraud and writing bad checks. If convicted of kidnapping, she could get a life sentence. (Carlina’s kidnapper got twelve years.) If you ask me, in cases like this, the abductor ought to have to serve AT LEAST one day for every day the child was missing.

From what little has come out so far, Kamiyah/Alexis grew up in poverty and moved around a lot across several different states. She was able to graduate high school, though. It says Williams is married, but I don’t know whether she was married to this man when Kamiyah was taken or whether he was complicit in the abduction.

I am delighted for Kamiyah’s family, though I feel very sorry for Kamiyah herself; she must feel absolutely torn to bits right now. The sheriff was quoted as saying Kamiyah/Alexis “appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman” who is “taking it as well as you can imagine.” A neighbor said, “She wasn’t an abused child or a child who got in trouble. But she grew up with a lie for 18 years.”

Maybe Carlina can offer some advice to Kamiyah. I know Elizabeth Smart reached out to Jaycee Dugard after the latter was found alive.

A few articles: