Select It Sunday: Cayce Lynn McDaniel

Bridget B. asked me to profile Cayce Lynn McDaniel‘s case for Select It Sunday; the 21st anniversary of her disappearance was last month. She was fourteen when she disappeared from Milan, Tennessee on August 16, 1996. She attended a church party and then someone dropped her off at home, which was unoccupied at the time. Cayce’s mom arrived home in the early hours of the next morning and found her daughter gone. She had had time to change clothes, grab some milk and cookies and turn on the TV before she disappeared.

I did a search and found this 2017 article about the case, but it doesn’t say anything new. A 2010 article says the police believe Cayce is dead.

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Strike that, reverse it: murder-without-a-body cases

It has been brought to my attention that Walter Shannon Stevenson, whose case I resolved yesterday, has not been found after all. This article, from which I got the original information, has issued a retraction. A suspect, Jeffrey May, has been charged with his murder, but Walter’s case is currently a no-body homicide.

I hope the body turns up soon. In the meantime, I’ll remove the resolved notice and put up Walter’s casefile again with the next update (probably today).

And speaking of murder-without-a-body cases, it looks like the only indicted suspect in Katherine and Sheila Lyon‘s 1975 disappearances is about to plead guilty. Some articles:

This isn’t the end of the story — there’s another suspect who is also believed to have been involved — but it might be the beginning of the end.

As of this writing, the Corpus Delicti section of Charley — my three lists of murder-without-a-body cases currently on the website — has approximately 615 names. (I saw “approximately” because a few names are on more than one list due to multiple defendants and multiple outcomes. I wish I could find the outcomes for more of those cases on List Three, which surely must have been resolved by now.)

For more details about murder-without-a-body cases, I highly recommend you check out Tad DiBiase’s website (particularly this PDF) and book.

MP of the week: Anna Leatherwood

This week’s featured MP is Anna Francis Leatherwood, one of my older cases. She’s been missing for over 50 years. Anna disappeared from Sevierville in eastern Tennessee on May 20, 1966, at the age of 45. For reasons that should be obvious from the casefile, her husband is the prime suspect in her disappearance and presumed murder.

Let’s talk about it: Zaylee Fryar

Zaylee Grace Fryar would have turned seven years old in January, assuming she’s still alive. She’s been missing from Millersville, Tennessee since the age of three and a half months.

Late in the evening May 1, 2011, Zaylee’s mom, Shauna Fryar, took her out, supposedly to go to the store, but probably to buy drugs. Shauna can’t have planned to stay out long, because she left everything behind, including Zaylee’s diaper bag — I’m given to understand that’s a kind of essential item when you’re dealing with an infant. In any case, mother and daughter never returned.

(I need to insert a word here about Shauna’s domestic situation: she was married and the mother of eight children, but most of them, including Zaylee, weren’t her husband’s. They both saw other people and were on more of a friendship basis with each other. Shauna’s husband was at the hospital when Zaylee was born, and invited them to crash at his place as they were homeless. Zaylee’s biological father was in jail at the time Shauna and Zaylee disappeared.)

Five days later, Shauna’s body was pulled out of the Cumberland River in Nashville, less than twenty miles south of Millersville. For a very long time the cops had nothing to say about her death, the cause, anything. It wasn’t until 2015 that they finally disclosed she’d been the victim of a homicide and they thought she’d been killed in Millersville and dumped in Nashville. They also said they had suspects. They haven’t said anything more since then.

So what happened to Zaylee? No one appears to know.

Usually, in circumstances like these, the women are killed FOR their babies. Andre Bryant‘s is a good example of that; two women lured his mom away with him, killed her and vanished with the baby. In homicides where the woman just happens to have her baby with her, the killers tend to either leave alive it at the crime scene or abandon it alive somewhere. (I’ve got a couple of cases where women have disappeared and their babies turned up abandoned: Norma Morales, Kimberly Palmer, etc. I tend to assume if that happens there’s a very good chance the woman is dead.) Rarely do they also kill the baby; I mean, it’s not like it would be able to testify against them in court.

Shauna’s drug habit and the circumstances of her disappearance would seem to indicate her murder was probably drug-related, but I have no idea whether there’s any actual evidence to support this because, like I said, the police haven’t said much. It’s possible Shauna was killed for an entirely different reason. But even if it was a drug-related homicide, that doesn’t mean Zaylee isn’t still out there, perhaps having been sold for drugs. I mean, she was adorable, and healthy infants do have some street value.

Sadly, I think it’s also possible she could have been put in the Cumberland River with her mother. Three-month-old girls tend to weigh only 12 to 14 pounds. A body that size would be easy to miss.

So what do you think happened to Zaylee? Is it likely that she’s still alive? Let’s talk about it.

Select It Sunday: Matthew Pendergrast

Chosen by commenter Alpha75, Matthew David Pendergrast disappeared from Memphis, Tennessee on December 1, 2000. He was 23 years old and within weeks of graduating from Rhodes College when he dropped off the map.

From writings Matthew left behind when he disappeared, it looks like he might have had a nervous breakdown of some kind. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder both usually develop in a person’s late teens or early twenties. However, the cops don’t seem to be buying into the mental illness theory and are focusing on possible foul play instead.

Disturbingly, Matthew’s journal said something about going into the water, and they found his vehicle and the clothes he’d been wearing near a swamp. Whatever happened to him, he was probably naked or nearly so.

I did find this long feature article about Matthew’s disappearance in Memphis Magazine.

NamUs question

I have a question about NamUs that I’ve wondered about for a long time and I wonder if someone who reads this blog can answer for me:

When you search for something on NamUs — say, the first name “Sharon” — and come up with a list of results, and click on one of the cases on the list, it has two numbers at the end of the URL. One, I think, is the actual case number, which never seems to change. Sharon Kay Leinart (missing from Tennessee since 2013), for example, has the number 20176. But after that case number is a / symbol and another number. Like, I just searched for the first name “Sharon” and clicked on Sharon Leinart’s case among the results, and it lists the second number as 22. So her entire URL (as I write this; I’ll get to that in a moment) is https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/22.

It seems to make no difference what the second number is: if you change that number to 23, or 21, or 1985, the MP you come up with is still Sharon Leinart. And if you remove the second number altogether, it also makes no difference: the URLs https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176 or https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/ still produce Sharon Leinart and no other person.

The second number also seems to be different every time I search. I have learned to remove the second number when I bookmark NamUs cases for my “to add” folder, because otherwise, https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/23 and https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/22 or https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/anyothernumber come up as separate bookmarks when they all point to the same MP. My bookmark for Sharon Leinart is therefore https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176.

My questions

  1. What does that second number mean?
  2. Why does it change every time you perform a search for that person?
  3. Why is there at all, since it’s not necessary for people to see the casefile?

This is not a big deal, it’s just a curiosity of mine. Can anyone familiar with the workings of the NamUs database, or computer databases in general, enlighten me?

MP of the week: Jason Wilson

This week’s featured missing person is Jason Baker Wilson, a young man who’s been missing nine and a half years now. He disappeared mysteriously from Nashville, Tennessee, the city he’d lived in his whole life, at the age of 29. He was scheduled to appear in court the following month — as a witness or a defendant or what, I don’t know — but missed it. I don’t know if they issued a warrant for him at this time, but in any case the cops don’t believe Jason is running from the law. Rather, they think he was the victim of a homicide.

Jason has some pretty distinctive scars and tattoos. I haven’t been able to find any news on his case, which isn’t surprising, since missing black men never get much press attention. If he is still alive, he would be 38 today.