Tiktok girl, searching through ponds and other stories

Honestly… it’s been ten days and it’s still very hard for me to take my mind off of the situation or to get much of anything done. I really wish I would not live through any more major historical events; I think I’ve endured more than my share already. But I’m trying, guys. I really am.

Oh, and an update on my Facebook woes: my release date from Facebook Jail has been moved from early February to late January. 6:26 a.m. on January 23 to be precise. I have no idea why and I’m not sure Facebook will honor this release date, since they didn’t last time.

Arizona: They’re still looking for Elizabeth Emma Breck, a 46-year-old teacher who disappeared from the Sierra Tucson behavioral health center in Saddlebrooke in January 2019. She had just arrived a few days earlier for a thirty-day treatment program for PTSD. Nothing significant to report regarding her disappearance, just that the anniversary was this week.

Arkansas: There has been much talk over the last couple of days that a dark-haired girl with bruised eyes in a viral Tiktok video was Cassie Kay Compton, who disappeared from Stuttgart in 2014, at age 15. The FBI says they’ve identified and spoken to the Tiktok girl and it’s not Cassie. They haven’t released her name, but she has been identified elsewhere as Haley Grace Phillips, a Los Angeles woman.

California: They’re looking to see if David Emery Misch, the man recently charged in the 1988 murder of nine-year-old Michaela Joy Garecht, who was kidnapped from a Hayward supermarket and never found, was also responsible for the disappearance of thirteen-year-old Ilene Beth Misheloff from Dublin in 1989.

Connecticut: They’re released an age-progressed image of Vanessa Morales, a two-year-old girl who was last seen in from Ansonia on November 29, 2019. The cops found Vanessa’s mother murdered at home on December 2, with no sign of Vanessa. I’ll add her to Charley soon.

Florida: They’re still looking for Mary Opitz, a seventeen-year-old girl who disappeared from Fort Myers back in 1981. They’re also still trying to solve the murder of Mary Hare, whose abduction and killing may have had the same perpetrator as in Opitz’s case.

Illinois: They’re still looking for Steven Robert Asplund, a 32-year-old tool and die worker who disappeared from Moline on January 9, 1994. The 27th anniversary of his disappearance was a week ago but there’s nothing new to report.

Iowa: They’ve finally canceled the Amber Alert for Breasia Terrell, a ten-year-old girl who disappeared from Davenport in July. She is still missing.

Michigan: Brad Cournaya, the longtime suspect in 34-year-old Krista Robin Lueth‘s 2008 disappearance from Lansing, has been charged with her murder. Her body has never been found.

Mississippi: They’re still trying to identify a little boy whose skull was found in a drainage canal in Sharkey County in 2014. No other remains were located. He was estimated to be between 5 and 7 at the time of his death, which may have occurred up to several years before he found. Preliminary DNA results indicate the boy was black, and probably has relatives from Sharkey County and the surrounding area.

Kansas: Some divers from an Oregon-based organization searched two ponds in Leavenworth County for Randy Wayne Leach and his mom’s car, which have both been missing since 1988. They didn’t find them.

Maryland: They’re still looking for Andre Thompson, a sixteen-year-old who disappeared from Baltimore on June 23. He may be in the Glen Burnie area.

Michigan: They have located fifteen-year-old Gloria Alvarado, who was missing from Taylor for 75 days. She is alive and well, and had run away with a seventeen-year-old boy because her parents would not allow her to date. She has returned home.

New York: They’re still looking for Joseph David Helt, a seventeen-year-old boy who disappeared from Ellenville on January 17, 1987, thirty-four years ago tomorrow.

Nevada: They’re still looking for Cassandra Ayon, a 27-year-old woman who disappeared from Loyal back in October. In particular, the police are asking for public help for info on a red or maroon SUV that may have been on one of the residential side streets near Unity Trailer Court, which is where Cassandra was last seen.

North Carolina: They’re still looking for Ebonee Shanetta Spears, a 30-year-old woman who disappeared five years and one day ago. Nothing new has been reported though.

Also North Carolina: In Winston-Salem, they’re still looking for two missing adults: Lucinda Farris, who disappeared from in June, and Eliseo Ernesto Gomez-Martinez, who disappeared in November. There’s no indication the two cases are related.

Oregon: They’re still trying to identify a child whose body was found near a rest area in Lincoln County on December 10. The little girl had dark brown or black hair and was between six and a half and ten years of age at the time of her death, which occurred at least a month before she was found. Cops have ruled out several possibilities for the girl, including five-year-old Dulce Maria Alvarez, who was abducted from a New Jersey playground in September 2019.

Virginia: The police have reclassified the 2010 disappearance of 19-year-old Samantha Ann Clarke from a missing person to a kidnap/homicide. They have not said whether they have any current suspects in the case, but Randy Allen Taylor, who was found guilty of murder-without-a-body in the 2013 disappearance of seventeen-year-old Alexis Tiara Murphy, has been mentioned before.

Wisconsin: They’re still looking for Daajane Morgan, a sixteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Milwaukee on March 6.

Canada: They’re still looking for Alyssa Turnbull, a young woman who disappeared from Nipigon, Ontario in late March 2020.

Also Canada: Six patients went missing from the now-defunct North Bay Psychiatric Hospital in Toronto, Ontario between 1966 and 2010. They have never been found.

England: They’re still looking for Andrew Gosden, a fourteen-year-old schoolboy who disappeared from London in 2007. Andrew Gosden and another English missing person, Charles Horvath Allen, have both been featured recently on the podcast The Missing.

Trinidad: They’re still looking for Kelly Ann Seerattan, a 25-year-old kindergarten music teacher who disappeared from Princes Town in 2011. The article has some quotes from Kelly’s mom.

Twelve-year-old missing for four months is classified as a runaway, and other stories

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was pretty good. Very quiet of course, cause of covid.

In California: the body of Barbara Thomas, a 69-year-old woman who disappeared hiking in the Mojave Desert in 2019, has been found in the desert near Essex.

In Louisiana: they’re still looking for David Claude Yeager, a seventeen-year-old boy who disappeared from Shreveport in 1971, and there’s little indication as to what happened to him. His cousin has created a Facebook page for him.

In Missouri: they’re still looking for Cheryl Anne Scherer, a 19-year-old girl who disappeared from Scott City in 1979. The article doesn’t have a lot in terms of information, just focuses on her family’s pain and grief.

In New York: they’re still looking for Jaylen Griffin, a 12-year-old boy who disappeared under unclear circumstances from Buffalo in August. The police have this preteen listed as a runaway.

In Ohio: they’re still looking for Mary Jane Vangilder, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared from Willard in 1945. They’re going to check some Jane Does and see if any of them are her.

In Pennsylvania: Justo Smoker, who had previously been charged with Linda Stoltzfoos’s kidnapping, has been charged with her murder as well. Linda, an 18-year-old Amish girl, disappeared while walking home from church in Lancaster County back in June. She has never been found. Smoker was arrested on the kidnapping charges in July.

In Texas: they’re still looking for Patty Inez Brightwell Vaughan, a 32-year-old woman who disappeared from La Vernia on Christmas Day, 1996. She went missing after an argument with her estranged husband, who is the prime suspect in her case, but he has never been charged.

In Virginia: they’re still looking for two people missing from the Richmond area: Stephanie Collette Wallace, a 45-year-old woman who went missing from Richmond in 2005, and Robert Lee Hourihan, a 33-year-old man who disappeared from Palmyra in 2011. They also are hoping to identify a white or Hispanic man whose skeletal remains were found near a vacant apartment in Highland Springs in 2014.

In Australia: they’re still looking for Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who disappeared while on a camping trip in the Wonnangatta Valley in eastern Victoria back in May. They are believed to have been murdered.

In Canada: they’re still looking for Melanie Ethier, a 15-year-old girl who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in her small Ontario town in 1996. Melanie’s birthday is on Christmas Day.

“An Uncertain Future for a Key Missing Persons Program” and other stories

Another article dump (I’ve decided to make a regular thing of this, even after I’m out of Facebook Jail):

This article about the near-defunding of NamUs. Key highlight: “Meanwhile, according to a statement from NIJ, the program could be facing staffing and service cuts, at least in the short-term — and it remains unclear what exactly the longer-term future of NamUs may be.”

From Alaska: four Native people disappeared this fall after visiting the city of Fairbanks, and they are all still missing. Their names are Willis Derendorf, Frank Minano, Debbie Nictune and Doren Sanford. Police don’t think the cases are related.

From Florida: Ashley Lucas disappeared in September, a few months after traveling from her home in Texas to the Florida Panhandle for work. She was hospitalized and has not been seen since her release at the end of the month.

From Massachusetts: it’s coming up on the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Sabrina Lee Hatheway from Worcester.

From Mississippi: they’ve installed Crime Stoppers kiosks in Walmarts in Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula to help find missing people from the area.

From Nevada: A body found in 2004 has been identified as Aldo Araiza, who disappeared in 2000 at the age of 20.

From North Carolina: the police are still looking for two people missing from Shelby: Kenneth Jamison, missing since 2017, and Walter Vernon McCraw, missing since 2018.

From Ohio: Brian Rini, who surfaced in Cincinnati in April 2019 and falsely claimed he was Timmothy James Pitzen, who disappeared from Wisconsin in 2011, has been sentenced to two years in prison for identity theft as a result. But because he gets credit for 20 months of time served, he’ll be out in four months. A year of probation follows his release.

Also from Ohio: the police are still looking for Jeffrey Hayes Pottinger, who disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2009 from Warren County.

From Texas: the police are still looking for Orville Seaton, who disappeared from Navasota two days before Christmas in 1997. He was 71 at the time and would be 94 today.

From Virginia: Ronald Roldan, recently charged with the kidnapping of Bethany Anne Decker, has now been charged with her murder as well. Bethany has been missing since 2011.

From Wyoming: Angela Laderlich disappeared from Casper on September 25 and is still missing.

From England: they found some human bones in Solihull, which were thought to possibly be those of thirteen-year-old David Spencer and eleven-year-old Patrick Warren, who disappeared the day after Christmas in 1996. However, it turns out the bones are over a century old.

From Nigeria: in an all-too-familiar story, the terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 330 boys from a government-run boarding school in Kankara.

From Pakistan: despite promises to end the practice, security forces are still regularly abducting, torturing and murdering people. Thousands of victims are still missing.

From Scotland: A review of missing people from Glasgow.

MP of the week: Miller Harlow

This week’s featured missing person (which I forgot to add yesterday, sorry) is Miller Smith Harlow, a 62-year-old man who disappeared from Gordonsville, Virginia on August 28, 1991. He was last seen standing in front of a funeral home in town, possibly on his way to a local restaurant where his cousin was supposed to pick him up.

He was retired, lived alone, had never driven a car and would get around on foot, on his bike or by getting rides from people. He had very regular habits and because of this the police thinks something bad happened to him.

If still alive he’d now be in his nineties.

MP of the week: Sarah Hill

This week’s featured missing person is Sarah Ashley Hill, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared from Stuart, Virginia on June 6, 2018. After her disappearance, her car was found abandoned in a store parking lot. She had some substance abuse issues and lived a somewhat transient life.

There was actually an article published about Sarah’s case the other day but it didn’t have much in the way of new info, just that they did another search in late July. If still alive she’d be 35 today.

I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly sheepish I feel right now

So forget everything I said a little bit ago. Turns out the “device for detecting DNA in soil” is a lot of hooey.

Had it NOT been a lot of hooey, it WOULD have been a game-changer, and I’m afraid I got so excited about the possibility that I didn’t actually bother to investigate what this thing consisted of.

This is me right now:

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Gina Hall’s sister clearly believes in it, and posted a comment (at the bottom of this page that I linked to before) defending Dr. Vass and saying he found Gina. But now I wonder if that scrap of bone that they found and said was Gina’s was ever actually scientifically confirmed to be hers. Based on what I’ve read about this device, it probably was not.

And I’d already resolved her case and everything.

I cannot emphasize how much of a game-changer this is

So, I found out today that Dr. Arpad Vass, a forensic archaeologist I’d heard of, has invented a nifty little widget that detects buried human DNA.

I have no idea how much it works, but it’s already proven its effectiveness: they found Gina Renee Hall‘s DNA in EIGHT PLACES along a river valley FORTY YEARS after her disappearance, as well as a piece of Gina’s bone (making her Charley Project case resolvable, which I have done), as well as DNA from someone else entirely: Angela Mae Rader, a girl who disappeared with her friend Tammy Lynn Akers in 1977. The girls (who were fourteen at the time) have been missing even longer than Gina.

Rather than thinking this means the guy who killed Gina (whose identity is known; he’s Stephen Epperly and he’s serving life in prison for her murder) must have also killed Angela, I think it’s more likely that both girls’ bodies coincidentally ended up somewhere in the same river valley and probably the same body of water. (DNA from Tammy was not found, but it seems likely that she’s somewhere in the same river valley.)

I haven’t resolved Angela’s case, since they only found DNA, not an actual body or even a piece of bone like with Gina. But I’m hopeful that her and Tammy’s cases can still be resolved, even after 43 years.

Dr. Vass’s invention could wind up leading to answers in a LOT of missing persons cases. This is really exciting.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Kianna and Gunnar Berg

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 actually two cases, the missing siblings Kianna Joanna Berg and Gunnar David Berg.

The children, who are half white, half Japanese, were abducted by their mother, Naoko Numakami, from their Fairfax, Virginia home and taken to her native Japan. They were eight and nine years old at the time.

Naoko told Kianna and Gunnar’s father that she was just taking the kids to Japan for a vacation, but once in that country she refused to return them. He hasn’t seen them since.

Unfortunately for the kids’ father, it’s probably going to stay that way. I don’t know if there are ANY cases where the Japanese government actually agreed to return an internationally abducted child. I don’t think family courts, as such, really exist there.

Both kids are now over eighteen and could choose to go back to the US on their own if they like, but my guess is that like many family abduction victims, they’ve been alienated against their left-behind father.

Melissa Brannen’s abductor to be released

See the article here: Melissa Brannen’s abductor, Caleb Hughes, will be freed from prison after 29 years.

Hughes was only convicted of abducting five-year-old Melissa Lee Brannen, not of killing her, though I’m sure he killed her as well. It’s just that they never found a body or other physical evidence of death, or any witness to a killing, or a confession.

There was some blood on tissues in Hughes’s car that was possibly Melissa’s, but forensic testing at the time could only narrow the source down to 40% of the population. The fiber evidence, as detailed in the casefile, was solid, but all it proved was that Melissa had been in Hughes’s car. If they had tried to get him for murder, he most likely would have been acquitted.

So he was sentenced to 50 years for the kidnapping, but barring some unforeseen event in the next four months, he will be set free after just 29 years.

And before you start railing against stupid parole boards, this is not the parole board’s fault. The parole board has tried their best to keep him behind bars; they denied him twice. What is going to happen with Hughes is mandatory release, not parole. Per WaPo:

Under Virginia law before the abolition of parole, there are four classes of “good conduct allowances.” For particularly exemplary prisoners, 30 days of credit is given for every 30 days served, meaning a prisoner could cut their sentence in half…

Hughes has been in custody since January 1990, meaning he will have served 29 years and seven months if he is released in August 2019. That is about 54 percent of his total 54-year sentence, meaning Hughes must have been classified as an exemplary prisoner for much of his term.

: he’s been an exemplary prisoner and accumulated enough “good time” credits that they have to let him go. The law says so.

And before you start shouting about how we have to change this stupid law: it’s already been changed. But the change can’t be applied retroactively.

So Hughes is getting out and there’s no help for it. He will, I hope, get registered as a sex offender anyway, though the article has not said so.

Where’s Melissa, Caleb? He has no incentive to tell us, because they could still get him for murder if her body is ever found.

Black History Month: Mary Harrison

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 Mary Everette Harrison, a 31-year-old mother of four who disappeared from Hampton, Virginia on October 6, 1982. She vanished from her home during the night, while her children were asleep, leaving all her belongings behind.

It looks like she ever left with the intention of returning shortly, or left with the intentions of never coming back. Harrison was a single mom, had a drug problem and sometimes dropped out of sight for days at a time. Her sister thinks she might have just walked out because of the stresses in her life, but her daughters think she’s dead. Those two theories are not, of course, mutually exclusive.

I think she’s probably deceased, as there’s been no paper trail since 1982. If she is a Jane Doe somewhere, one distinctive thing about her is how tiny she is — well under five feet tall.