MP of the week: Amber Cates

This week’s featured missing person is Amber Elizabeth Cates, a sixteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Maury County, Tennessee on April 11, 2004. She’d had a bit of a chaotic life and had spent time in foster care, and was living with her older half-sister at the time of her disappearance.

She disappeared after going out with a male friend, who said he left her with another friend, who said he dropped her off and never saw her again.

Initially she was thought to be a runaway due to her age and background, but she’s been missing now for as long as she was alive beforehand, with nothing on her driving record, Social Security number, anything. It doesn’t look good.

Added my fourteen-thousandth case today

Today the number of Charley Project cases (both active and in the resolved section) went up over 14,000. The “lucky” case number 14,000 is Taquila Sherell Hayes, a nurse who disappeared sometime after clocking out of work at a Memphis, Tennessee hospital a year ago today. She was 41 years old.

Taquila’s disappearance wasn’t reported missing until August because her husband Carl did various things to make it look like she was still alive and well. She was a responsible person, though, and kept in regular touch with her loved ones. Pretty soon people began to sense that there was something wrong. Finally her family, who had grown increasingly suspicious, notified the cops, and Carl’s story quickly fell apart.

He’s been charged with his wife’s murder, but her body has never been located and it’s not clear what happened. I’m guessing forensic evidence will come up at the trial; Carl replaced the carpeting in three rooms in the house and in Taquila’s car, and also repainted the house.

A bad photo is better than none at all (and other thoughts on recent updates)

Just added Amanda Elise Southern to Charley. The 28-year-old woman disappeared from a nightclub in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana 26 years ago. Unfortunately the only photo I could find of her is absolutely terrible, but what can you do?

Reading the articles about how her ex tried to SELL THEIR KIDS (albeit to their grandparents) after her disappearance, I was struck by how much confidentiality and privacy norms have changed in the past few decades.

I can understand publicizing the kids’ information because for awhile they were missing. (When Amanda’s parents refused to pay for custody of the children, the dad took off with them and was on the lam for over a month.) But then when in the articles talking about how they were found, there was all sorts of information about the children and what they had been through, including the fact that they were believed to have been sexually abused. That kind of thing would not be published in the newspaper today.

I hope the kids are all right. I think Amanda’s parents got custody of them after they were found with their father. It seems super unlikely that she would have just walked away, what with one of the kids having disabilities, her parents living out of state and the children’s father overseas.

Some other random thinking-out-loud stuff:

  • I am not sure that Courtney Corrinna Holden is really white. She is pretty dark-skinned and looks more likely to be Hispanic or maybe Native American. Certainly I’ve seen mistakes in this area before. She is adopted, but one article mentions that she was in touch with her biological brother, so it seems like this is something the police should know for sure. Shrug.
    In any case, her story is incredibly sad. Especially the details about her family nickname “Cinderella” and her son calling his grandmother “mom” and his uncle “dad.” The articles I read said her son even did this before Courtney went missing. I cannot imagine how sad and scared and trapped Courtney must have felt, and I doubt she’s alive today.
  • The guy Melissa Ann Jordon was last seen with is SERIOUSLY bad news. Judges see a lot of crazy stuff and I was stuck by that judge saying Mr. Nesbitt was one of the most violent and dangerous criminals she’d ever encountered in her career. The “felon in possession of a firearm” thing was something he pled down to, by the way; the original incident involved him breaking into his ex-wife’s house and holding her at gunpoint.
    Given how long his sentence is, I wonder if the authorities have ever tried to sit down with him since he was imprisoned, pointed out he doesn’t have much to lose, and asked him to tell what happened to Melissa. I’m sure he knows.
    (Melissa’s NamUs photo, btw, is a high school yearbook photo and almost ten years out of date. That’s why I didn’t use it, as I found a more current pic in Newspapers.)
  • I dunno what I would do without Facebook as a source for recent cases. Okay, I do know what I’d do, I’d put up the cases, but there would be a lot less info. The case of Melissa Rose Ann Garrett is a great example; her daughter posted a bunch of photos of her and more info about her disappearance. Sad story. The daughter seems to suspect Melissa’s boyfriend may have been involved. Anne Marie Hubbert is another case where most of the pictures and some of the other info came from Facebook; Anne’s page and her daughter’s.
  • Shakeeta Young disappeared just a few months after her nineteen-year-old son died. I found a few “RIP” posts on Facebook from some of the young man’s friends but no mention of a cause of death. I wonder if Shakeeta’s disappearance is in some way related. It’s very sad for their family, just bad luck all around there.

MP of the week: Alice Mae Sullivan

This week’s featured missing person is Alice Mae Sullivan (I’ve also seen it as Alicia), a twenty-year-old African-American woman who disappeared from Nashville, Tennessee on August 28, 1986. She was a sophomore business major at Tennessee State University and lived with her boyfriend and three-year-old son. She was last seen at a friend’s dorm room on the TSU campus.

Alice’s boyfriend is a person of interest in her case; I don’t know if it’s just by virtue of him being her boyfriend, or if there were some other indications. Another person of interest is the maintenance man at their apartment complex, who had a friendly relationship with Alice and was later convicted of rape and murder.

In the unlikely event she’s still alive, Alice would be 53 years old today.

Articles about other kids in the wake of Jayme’s recovery

As often happens when a high-profile missing child is found, especially when they’re found safe, news agencies are dusting off their local missing kid cases and being all like, “Hey, you know how Jayme Closs was found? Here’s some kids missing in YOUR area and their parents hope they’ll get found too.” So far we’ve got:

I highly doubt Adji or Diana is alive. Adji is a special needs child and if he was abducted, I don’t think the abductor could have kept him long without attracting some attention. As for Diana, a suspect has been charged with her murder.

Native American Heritage Month: Ricarda Tillman-Locket

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 Ricarda Tillman-Locket, a 22-year-old woman who disappeared from Memphis, Tennessee on February 19, 2007. She is of mixed Native and African-American descent and was born on the Winnebago Reservation, but I don’t know her tribal status.

Ricarda, or Rica as she was nicknamed, was estranged from her husband, Lou Lockett, at the time of her disappearance and living in a domestic violence shelter with their infant son. I suppose it goes without saying that Lou, who was the last person known to have seen her, is considered a suspect in her disappearance.

That concludes Native American Heritage Month. I’ll probably be back for more next year.

MP of the week: Latrice Armstead

This week’s featured missing person is Latrice Shay Armstead, a 38-year-old woman who disappeared from Memphis, Tennessee on July 28, 2012. A few days later, her car was found abandoned and burned in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

It seems likely that Armstead’s estranged husband was behind her disappearance. They were in the process of a divorce and she had a restraining order against him, but he was seen twice with her on the day she disappeared.

Pride Month: Charles Toliver

In honor of Pride Month I’m featuring a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer missing person every day for the month of June. Today’s case is Charles Lee Toliver, a gay man who disappeared from Oak Ridge, Tennessee on February 4, 2000. He was 30 years old.

Toliver’s disappearance is suspicious and his former roommate seems pretty sketchy, but it’s really not clear what happened.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Soon Hwang

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Soon Chon Hwang, a 44-year-old businessman who disappeared from Memphis, Tennessee on September 5, 2006. He owned a grocery store there.

Hwang was at a wholesale grocery shopping, presumably buying stuff to resell at his own store, when he got a call and left in a hurry, leaving his shopping behind. He was never seen again and his truck was found in West Memphis, Arkansas (just over the state border, about twelve minutes from Memphis) that same day.

I couldn’t find any news about this case; the only thing I could find was some court filing where Hwang was listed as a defendant in a lawsuit. The document notes that the sheriff couldn’t serve him because he’d been “missing F/2 yrs.” In fact, by then he’d been missing for three and a half years.

Sweeeeeet….

I have stumbled across a new collection of MP cases, put together by the National Park Service. This list is by no means exhaustive, I’m sure, but it’s a start, and I see several names I don’t recognize, as well as nuggets of information I didn’t have for cases already on Charley.

For example, it turns out that Trenny Lynn Gibson‘s real name is Teresa. Who knew? Even the NCMEC lists her as Trenny.

Anyway: woo! I hope they keep it current.