Sunday, October 8, 2006

Article spotlights long-term Pittsburgh area missing children

Nicole Bryner has been generating headlines lately, but some of these others have not been talked about in a while. This is a good chance for them to get attention!

On the left are the children around the time they went missing. On the right are age progressions of how they might look today.
Photos from top to bottom: Nicole Lynn Bryner, Jon Michael Dabkowski, Gabriel Minarcin, Toni Lynn McNatt-Chiappetta, Ranee Ann Gregor.
1982 photo of Nicole Bryner from article. Age progression of Toni McNatt-Chiappetta from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All others from the Charley Project.

Article from

Hope lives on for abducted children
By Jill King Greenwood
Saturday, October 7, 2006
Though two women who disappeared as children
resurfaced recently with stories of being held by their abductors for up to a
decade, experts say most missing children are killed within hours.
The two
cases - one in McKeesport and one overseas - spawned screaming headlines,
astonished loved ones who never stopped hoping their children would be found and
inspired hope in others who believe they might get a miraculous reunion with
their long-missing children.
But the case last month of a man charged with
killing a South Side toddler who went missing in 1982 represents the more likely
outcome of heartache and devastation: Families wait for years for a child to
return alive, only to discover he or she is long dead.
"The reality is,
those cases where a child resurfaces after that long are just not the norm,"
said Tarentum police Detective Mark Glogowski, who nevertheless periodically
looks at the case files on two boys -- ages 10 and 11 -- who disappeared
together from Tarentum in 1982.
"You might be able to take a child and hold
them captive for awhile, but you can only do that for so long before someone
around you says something, the child says something to someone, or you trip
yourself up. It's just not logical to think that all these kids are still out
there, being held hostage somewhere."
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
agent Al Danna, who for 25 years has investigated crimes against children, said
44 percent of children abducted by strangers are killed within the first hour.
The statistic rises to 74 percent within three hours and 91 percent are killed
within 24 hours of being abducted.
Within a week of a child going missing,
99 percent have been killed by the abductor, Danna said.
"Sometimes it's a
matter of the abductor knowing they will victimize and kill a child right from
the start, or they'll let them go," Danna said. "Or it's a case where the child
does something that panics the abductor, or the publicity of the child going
missing gets too great, and the abductor kills them to eliminate the witness.
But normally it's planned and not a spur-of-the-moment outcome. Abductors rarely
hold onto children for years."
At the beginning of this year, the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children listed 13 children from Western
Pennsylvania as missing. The oldest case dates to 1977.
Two of those cases
recently were solved. One child resurfaced as a woman. Authorities are looking
for the remains of the other.
Tanya Kach, now 24, disappeared from
McKeesport in February 1996 and surfaced in March. She said she was held captive
in the home of a former middle-school security guard.
The second child,
Nicole Lynn Bryner, 3, was reported missing from a South Side grocery store in
1982. On Sept. 26, Pittsburgh police cold-case homicide detectives charged
Thomas Widman, 51, of Brookline, in Nicole's slaying. This week, detectives and
a cadaver dog scoured heavily wooded, rough terrain in several Brookline
locations, looking for Nicole's remains.
The other case of a long-missing
child who later resurfaced involved Natascha Kampusch, 18, who escaped from a
man she said kidnapped her in 1998, when she was 10, and kept her captive in a
basement in Vienna, Austria. Kampusch was reunited with her shocked parents days after she ran from the man's driveway and banged on a neighbor's door.
Glogowski, investigating the Jan. 14, 1982, disappearances of Jon Dabkowski, 11,
and Gabriel Minarcin, 10, has been difficult. Glogowski was the same age as
Minarcin when the children disappeared, so when he became an investigator for
Tarentum police, he was forced to review old case files. Investigators and
bloodhounds traced the boys' footprints to the frozen Allegheny River.
are three case books -- each more than 4 inches thick -- containing interviews
and information about the boys, who disappeared after they left Jon's house in
Tarentum at 5:30 p.m. to walk three doors to Gabriel's home.
Leah Keeney
gets emotional when she sees the reports of long-missing children who resurface
alive or hears that detectives are using cadaver dogs to search for Nicole's
Keeney's little sister, Toni McNatt-Chiapetta, 14, vanished from a
Clairton intersection in 1981. Keeney said she'll always harbor hope that her
sister -- who would be 39 -- will walk through the front door with an amazing
story of living somewhere, possibly under another name, for 24 years.
want to believe that they're alive and OK out there, because you've seen these
other cases where they were," said Keeney, of McKeesport. "But even though I try
to keep the hope alive, I know in my heart that she's dead and she's an angel in
heaven. You just want answers either way, no matter how devastating the truth
might be. You just want to have a grave to go visit."
Robinson police Chief
Dale Vietmeier checks a few times a year on the case of Ranee Gregor, 16, who
disappeared in October 1977, nine days before her birthday. Vietmeier said
investigators long have believed Gregor is dead. She was last seen on Oct. 21,
1977, at a gas station's parking lot with her boyfriend, who was found dead the
next day in his car in Findlay. Gregor hasn't been found.
"It's an open case
for us, but really, it's a dead one," Vietmeier said. "But it will remain open
until we find out what happened to her, who did it and where she is now."
Jill King Greenwood can be reached at or 412-321-2160.

Nicole Bryner: New search

Article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Dog aids in search for girl's remains

By Jill King Greenwood
Thursday, October 5, 2006
A cadaver dog and his handler walked
heavily wooded, rough terrain Wednesday afternoon in a search for the remains of
Nicole Lynn Bryner, who was reported missing from a South Side supermarket in
1982 at age 3.
City homicide detectives and the Allegheny County medical
examiner's K-9, named "Saber," will return today to the two Brookline locations
that were brought to investigators' attention this week through new information and tips.
Timothy Widman, 51, of Norwich Avenue in Brookline, was arrested
Sept. 26 and charged with homicide in connection with the March 11, 1982,
slaying of Nicole.
Widman lived with Nicole's mother, Melody Thomas, when
the child was reported missing from a Giant Eagle supermarket on the South Side.
He confessed to Nicole's death in June 1986 and was charged with involuntary
manslaughter. Thomas, then living in Texas, was charged with giving false
information to police and hindering apprehension.
Prosecutors dropped the
manslaughter charges a year later because they could not find the child's
remains. At the time, case law dictated that a body was needed to prove
A change in that law and new information from witnesses broke the
case open last week, police said. Widman told investigators he smacked the child
to the floor after she bit his foot while he was napping on the couch. He and
Thomas put the girl to bed and awoke the next day to find her dead, police said.
The couple buried the girl's naked body in a wooded area in Brookline,
Widman told investigators. Thomas then reported her missing from the supermarket
the next day. When Widman was arrested in 1986, he led police to a wooded area
off Dunsten Avenue in Brookline where he said the child was buried. The area was
searched extensively, but nothing was found.
Police plan to search that area
The first site searched yesterday is about 200 yards from the one
Widman led investigators to 20 years ago and the other is about two miles away
next to an abandoned strip mine off Whited Street. The second location was
searched because a family whose back yard abuts the woods there told
investigators they heard someone digging there the night before Nicole was
reported missing.
They were suspicious of the digging noises after they
learned the child disappeared but didn't come forward with the information.
Widman faces a preliminary hearing next Thursday in Pittsburgh Municipal
Court and is being held in the Allegheny County Jail without bond. Thomas died
in Texas in 2001.
Jill King Greenwood can be reached at or 412-321-2160.

Photo from The Charley Project (

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Jamie Thornton now missing 20 years, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

This little cutie disappeared while playing outside his house twenty years ago. However, his family seems to have reason to believe he might still be alive, and below is a picture of how he might look now. If he came home now, he and his family would have a lot of catching up to do, but wouldn't it be wonderful if Jamie Martin Thornton had that chance?
Info and photos from the Charley Project (
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: October 4, 1986
from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: November 12, 1984
Age: 1 year old
Height and Weight: 3'2, 30 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown
eyes. Thornton has a birthmark on his right thigh. His nickname is J. T.

Details of Disappearance
Thornton was last seen playing in the front
yard of his family's residence in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 4, 1986.
He has never been heard from again. Authorities initially believed that Thornton
perished in a flood near his west Pittsburgh home, but he has never been
recovered. Thornton's family believes he may be alive and possibly living in the
New Jersey area. This theory has not been confirmed and Thornton's case remains

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Pittsburgh Police Department

You can also call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
You can print a poster of Jamie here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Missing since Saturday: Mark Murincsak, New Castle, Pennsylvania

It does not look good for this man. Hopefully, though, he will be found soon.
Story from
Published October 02, 2006 09:29 am - Police conducted a fruitless search
yesterday for a missing man whose truck had been found on a Taylor Township
Search for missing man comes up empty
New Castle News
Police conducted a fruitless search yesterday for a
missing man whose truck had been found on a Taylor Township bridge.
As of
this morning, 44-year-old Mark Murincsak of 935 Shaffer Road still had not been
State police said the man’s sister had last seen him at 11 p.m.
Saturday. His truck was found on the Shenango River Bridge on the Route 422
Bypass, around 5:30 a.m. yesterday.
Taylor Township Fire Chief Dave Allegro
said 15 volunteer fire department members assisted in the search.
He said the
police believe Murincsak may have jumped into the river, because his keys were
still inside the truck.
Police initiated a search around 6:30 a.m. with
helicopters and the Taylor Township Volunteer Fire Department. Allegro said no
dogs were used.
However, a state police helicopter flew over the area to try
to locate Murincsak.
The search was difficult because the river was high from
the recent rainfalls, Allegro said, and police called it off around 4:30 p.m.
Anyone who has information about the whereabouts of Murincsak is
asked to call the state police at (724) 598-2211.

Unfortunately no photo was included with the article.

Glenn Pennie now missing 2 years, Polk County, Oregon

You might not have heard of Glenn Pennie. If you have, it was probably a while ago. He does not seem to have made the news for quite some time, yet his family is still waiting for him to come home. Have you seen him?
From the Charley Project (
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since:
October 3, 2004 from Polk County, Oregon
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age: 55 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: Gray hair.

Details of Disappearance
Pennie was reported missing by a neighbor
on October 4, 2004, the day after he was last seen. He was supposed to travel
from his home in the 14900 block of Airlie Road in rural Polk County, Oregon to
Oakland, California to attend a meeting about the sale of an item that has been
in probate since his father died in June 2003. There was a disagreement between
Pennie and other family members about the estate. The meeting was to be held on
October 6; Pennie planned to leave on October 3.
Pennie never arrived at the
meeting and has never been heard from again. His loved ones said it would be
uncharacteristic of him to miss the appointment. His truck, which was packed
with luggage and travel items and business papers for the trip, was found at his
house. His pet cat, which his neighbor was supposed to feed while he was away,
was also left behind. That same neighbor reported him missing.
consider Pennie's case suspicious, but little evidence is available in his
disappearance. He is described as a methodical man; it is uncharacteristic of
him to leave without warning. His case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Polk County Sheriff's Department

Glenn's NAMPN (North American Missing Persons Network) profile is probably short enough to use as a poster, seeing as nothing else seems to be available. You can find it at