EastPark John Doe, missing persons events, and other stories

Colorado: There will be two events to honor the May 10, 2020 disappearance of Suzanne Morphew from Chaffee County. (I haven’t added her yet cause it hasn’t yet been a year.) The first will be held at the Poncha Springs Visitor Center at 7010 U.S. Highway 285 in Poncha Springs, Colorado at 7:00 p.m. on April 30. This day would be/have been Suzanne’s fiftieth birthday. The second event is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on May 2, at the Community Garden at 202 East Church Street in Alexandria, Indiana; Suzanne grew up there and many family and friends still live there. I might attend that event as it’s only an hour and ten minutes from where I live.

Kentucky: In EastPark, on the edge of Boyd County, last July, hunters found the badly decomposed remains of a murdered man partially buried. He had been dead for between approximately two weeks and a month. The man was wearing only boxer shorts and there were no personal effects. The man was between 20 and 40 years old and about 5’8 and 140 to 160 pounds, with brown hair between earlobe length and shoulder length. He had been shot, but also had drugs in his system when he died. The place where he was buried, although somewhat secluded, had easy access to the interstate; the dead man “literally could have come from anywhere.” The man has yet to be identified.

Also in Kentucky: Skeletal remains found in Hardyville in February 2020 have been identified as Jacob Lewis Tipton, a 24-year-old man who disappeared from Berea on April 23, 2016. Unfortunately there wasn’t much left of him and they couldn’t establish a cause of death.

Also in Kentucky: They’re still looking for Andrea Michelle Knabel, a 37-year-old woman who disappeared from Louisville on August 13, 2019. A retired homicide detective has taken an interest in the case and believes he’s found a three-hour discrepancy in the timeline of the night of Andrea’s disappearance.

Mississippi: They’re still trying to identify a Jane Doe who were found under a bridge over the Pearl River in Rankin County in 1978. She was nude and wrapped in an old blanket. She had died of multiple blows to the head and may have been killed by serial killer Samuel Little, who died late last year. They’re looking into the possibility that the Jane Doe may be Wendy Susan Byron, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Glendora, California just two days before Jane Doe was found in Mississippi.

New York: They’re still looking for Flossie A. Wilbur, a 75-year-old woman who disappeared from Angelica on August 24, 1985. David Sherk, one of her then-neighbors, confessed to her murder in 2020 and told authorities he had buried her body near the Almond Dam, but the body has never been found. Doesn’t mean the man was lying; the dam has flooded multiple times since 1985. Sherk had terminal brain cancer when he made his confession and I’m not sure he’s still alive now, but he was never charged.

South Dakota: In Rapid City, groups and leaders both from town and from Native American reservations across the state united yesterday to raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous people. Here are some photos of the event.

Virginia: It’s been ten years now since Robert Lee Hourihan disappeared, leaving behind a wife and six-year-old daughter her adored. Foul play is suspected in his case. His wife has never remarried and still hopes every day that he will be found.

Also Virginia: Human remains found in the woods on the campus of Hollins University back in February have been identified as Jessica Darling Dickson, a 30-year-old woman who disappeared from Roanoke on June 1, 2019. Jessica’s death is under investigation, but the police said there doesn’t seem to be any connection to the university and they don’t think the students (it’s a women’s college) are in danger.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada: There’s an interesting article/podcast episode on the systemic failures of Toronto Police and missing persons cases.

New Waterford, Nova Scotia, Canada: They’re still looking for Debbie Hutchinson, 59-year-old woman who disappeared on April 15, 2017 and wasn’t reported missing for twelve days. Her niece found groceries lying on the floor of Debbie’s home, and her car later turned up abandoned and burned.

Remains found in 1979 identified, and other stories

Today is National Missing Persons day. This article has some info about how the new Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act, which was signed into law on New Years’ Eve, will help communities along the Mexican border.

In Alabama: Skeletal remains have been found in Conecuh County, Alabama. Though they haven’t been identified yet, the police think they’re those of Brian Estrada, who disappeared last October. His ID was found near the bones.

In California: They’re still looking for Sydney West, a 19-year-old University of California, Berkeley student who disappeared from San Francisco on September 30. Her parents are offering a $10,000 reward for info leading to her return.

In Colorado: The murder trial of Donthe Lucas in the disappearance of his 21-year-old pregnant girlfriend Kelsie Jean Schelling from Pueblo has begun. Kelsie was last seen on February 5, 2013.

In Florida: They’re still looking for Lemuel Robert Hall, a 79-year-old man who disappeared from Escambia County in 2019. He was last seen in July, but wasn’t reported missing till September.

In Maine: They’re still looking for Jason D. Reil, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Brunswick in January 2012. He had schizophrenia and was off his meds when he went missing.

In Mississippi: They’re still looking for William Brian McKenzie, a 21-year-old who disappeared in September 2019.

In Ohio: They’re still looking for Nylo Lattimore, a 3-year-old boy who disappeared from Cincinnati on December 4. His mother was allegedly stabbed to death in her home on December 5 and her body dumped, but it wasn’t found for a week. Desean Brown has been charged with Nylo’s mother’s murder, but Nylo has never been found and Brown hasn’t cooperated in the case.

In Pennsylvania: They’re still looking for Robert Scott Baron, who disappeared from his restaurant in Old Forge on January 25, 2017. It looks like he was probably killed in a robbery of the business; they found some blood in his car and a tooth in the restaurant’s sink.

In South Dakota: 9-year-old Serenity June Dennard disappeared from the Black Hills Children’s Home two years ago today. Though the case is still open, the police have suspended the search for now, for lack of any ideas where to look.

In Tennessee: They’re still looking for Shelley Lynn Mook, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Shelbyville on February 28, 2011. Her husband Tyler is a person of interest in her case, but has never been charged.

In Texas: They’re still looking for Joshua Jayvaughn Davis Jr., a one-year-old boy who disappeared from New Braunfels on February 4, 2011 — ten years ago tomorrow. The police seem to think his parents were involved or at least know what happened. I’m not sure. I am a firm believer in the axiom that there’s usually no smoke without fire. But one thing I will observe: Joshua’s parents have talked to the media a fair bit about his disappearance and tried to publicize it as much as they can, which in my observation is inconsistent with people who were responsible for their child’s disappearance.

In Oregon: They have identified remains found at the bottom of Multnomah Falls in September 1979. His name is Freeman Asher Jr.

In Washington: They’re still looking for Sofia Lucerno Juarez, who disappeared from Kennewick on February 4, 2003, the day before her fifth birthday. 18 years ago tomorrow.

In Australia: They’re still looking for Lisa Govan, a 28-year-old woman who disappeared from Kalfoorie, Western Australia in 1999. The police believe she was murdered.

Also in Australia: They’re still looking for Steven James Goldsmith, a 28-year-old arborist who disappeared from Toowoomba, Queensland in 2000. Authorities believe he was murdered. There’s a $250k reward out to help solve the case.

In Canada: They have identified a body that washed up on Gulf Island Beach in British Columbia in 1972. The name of the man, who was 41 when he disappeared from Coquitlam in 1967, has not been released.

Also in Canada: They’re still looking for Ben Tyner, a ranch manager who disappeared from Merritt, British Columbia in January 2019.

In Belgium: A car was found in a canal in Bruges; it turned out to belong to Ronny Lateste, a 39-year-old man who disappeared in 1990. His body was inside it.

I gotta wonder what’s going on at Pine Ridge

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has a population only around 30,000 or so people, but it’s larger than Delaware and Rhode Island COMBINED. It’s also one of the poorest places in the entire country, with 80% unemployment and a per capita income lower than Namibia’s. As I’ve written about before, the statistics are just horribly depressing:

demographics

And the number of missing people from the reservation that are on Charley? Four. I added a new one today. Plus, NamUs has three more: Vincent Steve Little Dog and Robert Anthony Kills Enemy at Night, who disappeared together and aren’t on Charley yet cause they haven’t yet been missing a year, and Perry Ray Robinson, who isn’t on Charley yet and whose life and disappearance will probably take some considerable time to research and summarize.

So, seven missing people. That I know of. And this in a place with a small-town population. And this is not counting Larissa Lone Hill, who was FROM Pine Ridge but apparently disappeared from Rapid City, a city off reservation.

This number is likely to grow, in large part because the MMIW (missing and murdered indigenous women) epidemic has caused information to come out about previously unreported or forgotten-about missing persons and homicide victims who were Native American.

I know there must be a lot of reasons for the disappearances: the poverty, the rampant, alcoholism, the extremes of weather and terrain (that part of South Dakota is called the Badlands for a reason), etc.

But it’s still just… shocking. It’s shocking and depressing and horribly wrong and indicative of a number of very serious, systemic problems that aren’t likely to be solved anytime soon.

The people I have on Charley from Pine Ridge are:

  1. Lori Lee Jealous of Him, 13, missing since 1989
  2. Neil Little Eagle, 49, missing since 2017
  3. Delema Lou Sits Poor, 12, missing since 1974
  4. Alejandro Pilar Vasquez, 24, missing since 2015

All are Native American.

What’s going on at Pine Ridge? A lot apparently.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Stay safe people, wash your hands and for heaven’s sake, if you’re not an essential worker STAY HOME.

Native American Heritage Month: Andrew Lufkins

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Andrew Jon Lufkins, a 23-year-old Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate man who disappeared from Sisseton, a town in the northeast corner of South Dakota, on April 7, 2010.

It looks pretty obvious what happened. Lufkins was in a bar fight and was carried, seriously injured and unconscious, from the bar. He was never seen or heard from again.

His disappearance reminds me of Star Gail Boomer‘s. Star, a white woman, also disappeared after getting into a physical altercation at a bar and is presumed to have been murdered. Two suspects were charged, but the charges were dropped after “over a dozen witnesses to the alleged crime refused to testify against the defendants.”

Lufkins would be 32 years old today. But I think he’s still 23.

Select It Sunday: Sharon Baldeagle

This week’s Select It Sunday is Sharon Baldeagle (often named as Sharon Bald Eagle), chosen by Fluttergirl. She was twelve when she disappeared on September 18, 1984, and her case has for some reason fascinated me since I started getting interested in MPs, back when I was the same age that Sharon was when she was taken. I actually blogged about her once before, exactly three years and one week ago.

Sharon and a fifteen-year-old friend ran away from Eagle Butte, South Dakota, which is on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, the fourth-largest reservation in the U.S. Sharon was Native American, presumably Cheyenne River Sioux, and probably her friend was too. They were hitchhiking in Casper, Wyoming, almost a six-hour drive from home, when they got picked up by Royal Russell Long, a truck driver who took them to his house in Evansville. There he attacked them, raping the older girl and beating Sharon. Sharon’s friend escaped and went for help, but by the time the authorities arrived at the scene, Long and his other captive were gone.

Long wasn’t arrested until the following year; by then he’d gone to New Mexico. He claimed Sharon was alive and well the last time he saw her, but let’s face it, what are the chances of that? He was convicted of two counts of kidnapping — that of Sharon and her friend — and died in prison 25 years ago.

Long was probably serial killer; he’s also a suspect in the cases of Carlene Brown, Christy Gross, Deborah Rae Meyer, Jayleen Dawn Baker, Charlotte June Kinsey, and Cinda Leann Pallett, who ranged in age from ten to nineteen. Carlene and Christy disappeared together from a rodeo in Rawlins, Wyoming in July 1974, and Deborah and Jayleen disappeared, nineteen days apart, from the same area in August of that year. Cinda and Charlotte from a fair in Oklahoma in 1981 — Long was actually charged with their murders, but the case was dropped for lack of evidence. Only Christy and Jayleen’s bodies were ever found.

I think it’s pretty obvious what must have happened to Sharon; I only wish her family had answers. Her father was alive as 2013 and still hoping to find her — he looked all over the country for her. I’m not sure if he’s still living as he had cancer in 2013, but I can’t find an obituary for him.

I wonder if anyone’s ever written a book about Royal Russell Long. Serial killers are a popular topic in literature, after all. If someone has, I’d love to read it.

Flashback Friday: Sharon Baldeagle

Unlike with many of my Flashback Friday cases and Charley Project cases in general, it’s pretty obvious what happened to Sharon Baldeagle.

This twelve-year-old girl ran away from her home in South Dakota, accompanied by an older friend. They made it to Wyoming, where they were picked up by Royal Russell Long, a probable serial killer. He took them back to his house and attacked them. Sharon’s friend was able to escape and go for help, but by the time the police made it to Long’s residence, he and Sharon were long gone. Although Long got picked up several months later in New Mexico, Sharon wasn’t with him. He claimed he put her on a bus for Dallas. Likely story.

If anything good came out of the disappearance of Sharon Baldeagle and the rape of her teenage friend, at least it got Long off the streets for good. Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, he was sentenced to life behind bars and died in prison in 1993. He’s a suspect in no fewer than four other disappearances of teen girls from Oklahoma and Wyoming, and as a truck driver, he could have picked up victims from all over the country and possibly Canada too.

Sharon’s case is one of those where an Amber Alert, had they been in place back then, might have saved her life. Certainly it fits the criteria: she had been kidnapped, they knew who did it and they had a description of his truck.

Her disappearance was one I was fascinated by when I first got interested in missing people over fifteen years ago, although I knew little about it at the time. She doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of press; being Native American, a runaway and probably poor didn’t help. But her father is still alive and wants to find her.