Thursday, September 28, 2006

Nicole Bryner: Mother's ex-boyfriend rearrested

By now, you've probably seen some version of the story below, as it seems to have made national headlines. When I first found out, I was, of course, shocked, but probably in a good way.
This article and photo come from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

New charges in '82 death of 3-year-old girl
Suspect confessed to killing child in '86, but evidence was insufficient
Thursday, September 28, 2006

By Jim McKinnon and Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Two decades after
Allegheny County prosecutors dropped homicide charges against him for lack of
corroborating evidence, a Penn Hills man has been charged with the murder of a
3-year-old girl.
Timothy Widman confessed in 1986 to killing his
girlfriend's daughter, Nicole Bryner, on March 9, 1982. With the child's mother,
the late Melody Childs, he buried the body in a wooded lot in Brookline, he told
police. Police searched unsuccessfully for the body, and without it prosecutors
could not pursue the case.
Mrs. Childs insisted from the day of Nicole's
disappearance that her daughter had been abducted from a South Side supermarket.
Mrs. Childs was charged with hindering apprehension and lying to police in
1986. Her charges also were dismissed. She died in June 2001 following back
surgery in a Texas hospital, her family said.
Until the day she died, Mrs.
Childs maintained her daughter was abducted from the Giant Eagle, Mrs. Childs'
family said.
"I know in my heart my sister could not have hurt her child. If
anything happened it was all because of [Mr. Widman]," Elana LaPaglia, 42, of
McKees Rocks, a sister of Mrs. Childs, said yesterday.
The new case against
Mr. Widman, 51, appears to have been built not on new information, but rather on
case law that has changed since Mr. Widman was originally arrested in 1986.
At that time, prosecutors could not charge someone with murder unless a body
was found.
A 1988 Superior Court decision changed the law
to say that someone could be presumed to be dead after being missing for seven
The law meant police didn't have to produce Nicole's body to
prosecute Mr. Widman based on essentially the same information they had 20 years
It was not clear yesterday why it took so long to apply the new law.
The 1988 precedent means police could have begun Mr. Widman's prosecution
starting in 1995, when the seven years were up.
Mike Manko, spokesman for
the Allegheny County district attorney's office, said the question of the gap
was "one for the police."
Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki, head of the major crimes
unit, said the delay might be because there was no cold-case unit during the
mid-1990s. In addition, the case would have been marked as cleared in police
files because there had been an arrest, even though the charges were later
Cmdr. Stangrecki said the case was reopened this year when a new
detective in the missing persons unit discussed it with cold-case Detectives
Scott Evans and J.R. Smith.
After reviewing the case with the district
attorney's office, he said, detectives began tracking down investigators and
witnesses from 20 years before. Detectives obtained a warrant for Mr. Widman on
Monday and tracked him down at Blinky's Bar on Noblestown Road in Oakwood
Cmdr. Stangrecki said Mr. Widman has been cooperative, as he was
two decades ago. At the time, police searched for Nicole's body based on the
information he provided but couldn't find it. Police are prepared to look again.
"If we get some information," he said, "we will search."
A preliminary
hearing for Mr. Widman is set for Oct. 6 in Municipal Court.
According to
police affidavits from 1982 and this week, Mr. Widman said he was sleeping on
the couch when he was awakened by the little girl biting his foot.
he said he backhanded the girl on the head, knocking her to the floor. He said
he put the child in bed with her mother, went away from the apartment for a few
hours, and returned to find Nicole dead.
He said Mrs. Childs concocted the
story about the abduction to cover up the killing, according to the affidavits.
The newer information includes statements from witnesses who describe
evidence of physical abuse that appeared on the child on numerous occasions.
Mrs. Childs' relatives said they know Mr. Widman abused both mother and
daughter regularly. They said she was terrified of Mr. Widman and he took
advantage of her fears.
"My sister was abused from the age of 5 [by their
father]," Mrs. LaPaglia said.
"She was an adult, but she was always a kid
inside. She was always scared."
Mrs. Childs grew up in Pittsburgh's South
Side neighborhoods, the eldest of five children.
"She used to protect me
from [their father]," Mrs. LaPaglia said. "She was my protector."
At 18,
when a Catholic priest refused to celebrate a wedding Mass for Melody and
Michael Bryner, the couple went to a Methodist minister to tie the knot.
fruit of their union was 3-year-old Nicole.
The marriage did not last and
Mrs. Childs and Mr. Widman got together. Her mother and sister said that was the
beginning of the end for Melody and Nicole.
"Tim threatened Melody from day
one. But she was so blind and in love with this guy she didn't see it," said her
mother, Harriet Persinger, in a telephone interview yesterday from her home in
"She was a young innocent who had the most horrible life that a
child could have, and then she ended up with Tim Widman. It was just downhill
from there for her," Mrs. Persinger added.
After Nicole's disappearance,
Melody Bryner remarried and moved to Texas with her new husband, Jeffrey Childs.
Their only son is in his 20s today and living in Texas, Mrs. Persinger said.
While in Texas, Mrs. Childs was arrested for conspiracy and lying to
authorities here in connection with Nicole's disappearance. She also was charged
with bigamy, having not divorced Mr. Bryner before marrying Mr. Childs.
Persinger said investigators in Pittsburgh unfairly targeted her daughter,
ignoring what the mother believes was obvious duress caused by her daughter's
abusive boyfriend.
When the charges against Mr. Widman were dismissed, Mrs.
Childs returned to Texas where, along with raising her son, she cared for her
father, who was dying of cancer.
Another sister told relatives that Mrs.
Childs suffered a nervous breakdown from the stress.
At one point, Mrs.
Childs was seen in her yard talking on the telephone as though her daughter was
listening on the other end of the line, Mrs. LaPaglia said. She also was seen in
the yard digging up the turf with her hands and calling Nicole's name.

This only reinforces my belief that the truth will always come to light, no matter how much time passes. If only, though, it was news of a happy ending.
At the link, you can also see photos of Timothy Widman and Melody Childs. The photo of Nicole's mother was probably after her disappearance. With a little imagination, she could indeed look like someone who knew the truth and regretted it. Not guilty of murder, exactly, but of keeping silent.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yolanda Bindics' body has been found

The remains were found a week before yesterday, but I did not know until yesterday. They were identified as Yolanda's today.
Article from
Missing Woman's Body Found
Last Update: 9/18/2006 4:38:40 PM
This story is available on your cell phone at
MAYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - Skeletal remains found in a wooded area of Chautauqua
County have been identified as those of a 25-year-old mother of four who
disappeared two years ago, authorities said Monday.
The remains of Yolanda Bindics of Jamestown were found by hunters Sept. 10
on state land in the town of Charlotte.
A coroner did not immediately determine a cause of death, Sheriff Joseph
Gerace said, but foul play was suspected.
Bindics was last seen after leaving work at a Jamestown Family Dollar store
on Aug. 10, 2004.
A day later, her car was found in the parking lot of a nearby fast-food
restaurant and a month later, her purse, wallet and keys turned up in
storm-sewer catch basins.
The FBI has offered a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to
the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for her disappearance.

Message from Yolanda's website,
This is not the end for Yolanda and her Family. The person responsible for
taking Yolanda's life is still out there. This is not Closure, there will never
be Closure. Her body may have been found, but she is still missing! The
mother of 4 little ones is gone, gone forever. Taken... never to hug her little
ones again. These girls are still MISSING their mom. She has been taken away
from all who love her, never to see again. There is a murderer out there,
possibly reading this now, possibly living down the street from you or even your
best friend. One thing is for sure this person will be caught and there will be
justice! We will never give up!

The website lists Yolanda's daughters ages at the time she disappeared. So if you add two years to each one, that means Yolanda's daughters are about 10, 7, 5, and 3 1/2.
So far it seems that police have not stated if they have any suspects.

If you scroll down to the website's update for today (Sept. 18), there is a video tribute of Yolanda. It's a little slow (or at least for those of us who still have dial-up), but worth the wait.

Photo of Yolanda from her website.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Cynthia Day got her articles!

Almost a month ago, I asked readers to help try to get media coverage for a woman named Cynthia Day, who went missing from National City, Illinois, 16 years ago. I had been hoping it would come around the anniversary of her disappearance--August 10--and it seemed like a failure. However, I am now happy to report that she did in fact get media coverage two weeks later. It might not have been due to what we did, as I know her family was going to work on getting her coverage, too, but the important thing is that people in the area have now heard her story.
The two articles have different tones, and both have information I don't remember hearing before.
Article from

Family Still Searching For Answers 16 Years Later
created: 8/24/2006 7:46:16 PM
updated: 8/24/2006 7:50:34 PM

Click to watch Deanne Lane's report.

By Deanne Lane(KSDK) - Imagine a loved one
disappearing and not knowing where they are or even if they're alive or dead.
Imagine living that nightmare every second of every waking day for the last 16
years. A southern Illinois woman has been missing since 1990.
Cynthia Day, 53, was last seen in National City in August of that year. At
the time, her family filed a missing persons report with East St. Louis Police
Department. But the department reportedly never opened the case and never
established a file on Cynthia Day until 2004 when the family demanded
"East St. Louis police say they're not equipped to handle cold cases, so
I'm the cold case investigator," said daughter Melody Day of Dupo.
Melody has written articles about her mother in national publications and
has established a website with an age enhanced photo of her mother.
"Any news, any information would bring us some peace," said Melody.East St.
Louis police say they will contact Illinois State Police when and if they get a
There are conflicting reports as to what happened to Cynthia Day. One
source said she was into drugs and prostitution and was last seen getting into a
Her family disagrees.
They believe she may have gotten into a fight with a boyfriend -- a fight
which ended her life.
If you have any information in the disappearance, contact the East St.
Louis Police Department at 618-482-6767.

The second article is contains the "conflicting reports", giving it a darker tone. It comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Women seek mother missing 16 years
By Denise Hollinshed
Police are seeking the help of the public to find a mother who has been
missing for 16 years.
The woman, Cynthia Day, was living at 206 Bowman Avenue in East St. Louis
at the time of her disappearance, according to police. She was 38, about 5 feet
2 inches, 125 pounds, had blond hair and went by the nickname "Peaches." She had
a hysterectomy scar, pierced ears and a missing eyetooth on the left side.
Day's daughter, Melody Day of Dupo, said she and her sister, Kimberly Day
of Cahokia, reported their mother missing on Aug. 12, 1990. They heard nothing
from the police after the initial report, they said.
East St. Louis police
Capt. Lenzie Stewart said the department's files do not show that a report was
filed in 1990. He said an officer might have asked them to return later with an
older family member.
Melody Day disputed Stewart's explanation but said she did file a second
report in March 2004. A detective was assigned to the case at that time but has
turned up little.
The mother was last seen getting into a semi on First Street and St. Clair
Avenue in East St. Louis, said Melody Day, who added that she also had heard
that her mother may have been a prostitute and used drugs.
Since then, Day has taken on the job of investigating the case herself. She
searched the Internet and ran across stories on the so-called "happy face
killer," a trucker who killed women along the interstate and sent letters to
newspapers signed with a happy face. At this point, though, there is no known
connection between the "happy face killer" and Cynthia Day's
"I'm trying to cover all bases," she said. "It's like we don't know what
happened to her, but just finding her and putting her soul to rest, that's what
we are trying to do."
Day discovered that her mother's ex-boyfriend was in jail and had him
questioned by the head investigator in California's Wasco State Prison. She said
they even gave East St. Louis police permission to come there to interrogate
"I was even willing to buy an airline ticket to fly one of them down
there," she said. "I'm serious. Their excuse is that they don't have a 'cold
case team' down there, but before, it was that they didn't have the money to fly
down there."
Stewart said Cynthia Day's old boyfriend probably needs to be interviewed
again. But, he said, his department lacks the staff and the resources to
properly investigate Day's disappearance.
He said the Illinois State Police has an investigator assigned to cold
cases and the resources to investigate Day's disappearance. Some information on
the case already has been forwarded to the State Police.
Greg Fernandez, a State Police spokesman, said late Wednesday that the case
would be looked at - if there are leads worth pursuing.
Stewart said an old police report indicates that Cynthia Day was staying
with her boyfriend at the Indian Mound Hotel in Fairmont City.
Stewart said the officer who worked the case after the 2004 report was
filed said he had talked to the owner of a tavern, Perry's Lounge in East St.
Louis, where Cynthia Day used to work.
The tavern owner, John Perry, said he couldn't remember the year or date
that he saw Day getting into the semi, according to Stewart.
Perry "said it went eastward, and he never saw her again," Stewart
Anyone with information is urged to call 618-482-6700. In addition, Melody
Day has set up a website called with information about her

You can print a poster of Cynthia at
You can leave messages for Cynthia's family at
Cynthia's family has also set up a MySpace profile to help find her,

Photo and age progression of Cynthia from her website.

Natalee Holloway: Case to be turned over to Dutch

Article from the Dutch news source Expatica:
Aruba asks Dutch to take lead in Holloway case
25 August 2006
AMSTERDAM — Aruba has asked the Netherlands to take over the leadership of the stalled investigation into the disappearance of US school graduate Natalee Holloway.
Dutch minister Atzo Nicolaï has indicated a willingness to help the investigation. "But we still have to look at the precise agreements under which we would work," he said on Thursday.
Nicolaï (Government Reform and Kingdom Relations) made his comments at the end of his official visit to the autonomous Dutch island in the Caribbean. The request for assistance was made by Aruban Justice Minister Rudy Croes.
Aruba has been battered by negative publicity in the US for over a year since Holloway, 18, vanished on the night of 30 May 2005. She was on holiday with friends to celebrate their graduation and was last seen leaving a local tourist venue with three youths.
Police on Aruba arrested a total of 10 people so far in the investigation but all have been released. Dutch teenager Joran van der Sloot, one of the youths with Holloway on the night she disappeared, was the main suspect for many months. He continues to deny harming her in any way.
Holloway's family doesn't believe him. Her mother Beth Twitty has led a chorus of criticism from the US of the way the local authorities have handled the case. There have even been calls for Americans to boycott the popular tourist destination.
Repeated searches of the island have failed to find any trace of her, though investigators said early on they believed she is dead. At one stage dutch F-16 jets, fitted with special cameras, were used in a futile attempt to find her remains.
Aruba's new request goes much further as it proposes giving Dutch officers investigative powers and their own office. They would also be allowed to carry weapons. Croes wants the Dutch national police service KLPD to lead the investigation.
Dutch Interior Minister Johan Remkes, who is responsible for the police, will discuss the matter further when he visits Aruba next week.

For Beth Twitty's reaction, see

I only hope that this will cause some progress, as the case seems to have come to a standstill.

If you know anything about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, please call 1-866-SOS-LOST (1-866-767-5678).
Natalee's website:
A couple blogs about Natalee:

Photo of Natalee from her website.

Tanya Kach: Suspect pleads not guilty

Finally, there is an update on the story of Tanya Kach. One nice thing about this particular article (from is that it not only tells what is happening with the trial, but also how Tanya herself is doing. She will probably have a long road ahead of her, but hopefully she will recover in time.
Man pleads not guilty in decade-long runaway case
Thursday August 31, 2006
Associated Press Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) A man charged in the case of a woman who ran away from home as a teenager and lived with him for a decade pleaded not guilty at his formal arraignment Thursday.
Thomas Hose, who is free on bond and living with his parents, did
not comment on the case after the brief court appearance.
Tanya Nicole Kach, 24, came forward March 21 and told police she ran away from home 10 years earlier and had been living in Hose's house in McKeesport, a Pittsburgh suburb. Kach told police that Hose, who had been a security guard at her school, kept her in a bedroom in the small, two-story home where he lived with his
Hose's attorney, James Ecker, said his 48-year-old client is living
under house arrest, is unemployed and ``might as well be in a prison.''
``Mr. Hose is living the life of an involuntary recluse,'' Ecker said. ``He has done
nothing whatsoever. He can't go shopping. He can't do anything whatsoever. ...
It is not a very pleasant life, but it is better than the alternative, I can assure you.''
Lawrence Fisher, an attorney for the Kach family, called Hose's home confinement appropriate.
``He kept a woman captive in his home for 10 years,'' Fisher said. ``The few months that he's spending there is a cakewalk compared to the prison sentence he's got coming to him.''
Kach, who did not attend Hose's appearance, is making progress, Fisher said.
``She's expected
to get her GED within the month, which is well ahead of schedule. And we hope
that in the spring, she will be attending college,'' he said.
Fisher said he hopes Hose pleads guilty. Ecker said no plea bargains have been discussed with prosecutors.
``We hope that Mr. Hose will accept responsibility for his
actions, do what's right and spare this family the ordeal of a trial,'' Fisher
Hose is charged with statutory sexual assault, three counts of
involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, two counts of indecent assault and one
count each of endangering the welfare of children, corruption of a minor,
interference with custody of children and aggravated indecent assault.
A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Oct. 13.

Previous posts on Tanya: