Saturday, December 29, 2007

Joey Offutt: Possible remains; house to be destroyed

Update - 1/18/08 - It is now believed that the remains are probably not Joey's. See http://betweenlifeanddeath.blogspot.com/2008/01/body-found-in-somerset-probably-not.html for more details.
Another article (http://www.wjactv.com/news/14931639/detail.html) says that the body has probably been there for six months, which would be the right amount of time if it is Joey. I wonder how long it will take to identify the body.

Article from http://www.tribune-democrat.com/local/local_story_362233345.html:

Published: December 28, 2007 11:33 pm
Body found may be tied to fatal fire
By KIRK SWAUGER
The Tribune-Democrat
SOMERSET — State police are investigating whether
skeletal remains found Wednesday are those of a Jefferson Township woman missing
since her infant son was killed in a house fire six months ago.
Authorities believe the remains belong to a petite, brown-haired woman
between 30 and 40 years old who died during the summer. Evidence discovered at
the scene suggests she had spent time in Raleigh, N.C., and on Interstate
80.
Meanwhile, the Somerset County coroner said foul play might not be involved
in the death.
The description of the body bears a resemblance to Joey Lynn Offutt, 33, of
Sykesville, a Jefferson County town close to Interstate 80 and Route 219, which
passes through Somerset. Offutt is 5-foot-3, weighs 110 pounds and has brown
hair.
She has been missing since July 12, after a fire destroyed her house and
killed her 6-week-old son. Her car, bearing a Virginia license plate, was
discovered shortly afterward in State College.
Sgt. Frank Wolbert, commanding officer of the DuBois state police barracks,
said investigators have been in contact with state police in Somerset.
“There are a lot of similarities. But there are a few things that look like
it’s not her, also,” Wolbert said Friday.
As the remains are being studied by a forensic anthropologist in Erie,
Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller said early indications are that no foul
play was involved in her death.
But her body was so decomposed, Miller said authorities are unable to
conduct toxicology tests on the remains to determine if drugs or alcohol were
involved.
“The way the body was positioned, there wasn’t any indication of a
struggle,” Miller said, declining to elaborate.
State police Cpl. Jeffrey Doman of Somerset said authorities are pressing
to ID the deceased, who was discovered Wednesday afternoon near the Somerset
Industrial Park.
“We have several leads we’re following up on, but nothing concrete yet,”
Doman said.
A nearby resident found the remains Wednesday evening as he was walking on
private property about 50 yards from Industrial Park Road in Somerset Township.
The woods are near the turnpike and end of four-lane Route 219.
Police said evidence found at the scene suggests the woman may have spent
time in Raleigh, N.C., while also traveling on Interstate 80. Authorities have
not disclosed what evidence was discovered, though a source said a faded
prescription bottle provided the link to Raleigh.
The remains are being studied by Dennis Dirkmaat, director of the Applied
Forensic Sciences Department at Mercyhurst College in Erie.
Authorities said the woman was wearing a thin black jacket, white shirt,
black denim jeans and sneakers similar to deck shoes.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact the state police:
445-4104.


(The area code for the above number is 814.)
Joey also made the news a couple days earlier for a different reason. From http://www.wjactv.com/news/14926417/detail.html:
Joey Lynn Offutt's House To Be Torn Down Soon
POSTED: 3:40 pm EST December
26, 2007
UPDATED: 4:12 pm EST December 26, 2007

SYKESVILLE, Pa. -- Back in November, Channel Six News
reported that Joey Lynn Offutt's house could be torn down by the end of this
year, to make way for a church parking lot.
While it may not be razed by the
end of the year, church officials said the house will be coming down soon.
They added that a demolition company will come to tear down the house when
the weather cooperates.
In July, fire severely damaged the house and Joey
Lynn Offutt disappeared.
While investigating the fire, police found a dead
baby in a bathtub.
That baby has never been identified.
Church officials
said that very few people in Sykesville knew Offutt, but her disappearance has
affected residents.
"They have a lot of questions about what happened," said
Father John Mihalco. "But we trust the police are investigating as best as they
can."

Joey's website: http://www.findjoey.org/

Joey's poster: http://www.theyaremissed.org/ncma/gallery/ncmaprofile_all.php?A200705513S


Photo of Joey from her website.

Laura Lynn Thompson: Media coverage!

I am very excited to announce that Laura has gotten some media coverage by two television stations; the article below is from a station in Youngstown, Ohio. (Laura disappeared from New Castle, Pennsylvania in January 1993.)
Before now, Laura had been part of a list of missing children from the Pittsburgh area (some of whom have since been found) about a year ago (see http://www.pittsburghlive.com/images/video//2006_pdfs/GX-Missbox-ch-10-08.pdf)

From http://www.wkbn.com/news/local/12836947.html :

Still Missing

Each year eight hundred and fifty thousand
children go missing. Luckily about ninety-eight percent of them are found, but
Laura Thompson falls into a slim one percent minority which are never heard from
again and leave no sign of what happened to them.
Thompson's case is not
unusual. Officials with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
say they have cases dated back to the 1940's. While the chances of solving them
are not great, it is still possible by keeping the public aware that children
are still missing.
It's up to the family and local law enforcement officials
to keep the case in the media spotlight. Laura's family and the New Castle
police are doing just that.
Laura would be thirty years old right now, and
this is a computer generated image of what she may look like. Any clues to her
whereabouts could help bring closure to this fifteen year old case. Please call
the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

You can also call New Castle police at (724) 658-4741.

To print a poster of Laura like the one above, or just to see her photos close-up, visit http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PubCaseSearchServlet?act=viewPoster&caseNum=777676&orgPrefix=NCMC&searchLang=en_US.

Robert Allison now missing 13 years, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

Sadly it seems like the only thing that has changed in Robert's case since I posted about him a year ago is the URL to his Doe Network page. His info is also featured on the Charley Project (http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/a/allison_robert.html) and Pennsylvaniamissing.com (http://www.pennsylvaniamissing.com/missingmales.html).
Robert Elmer Allison
Missing since December 21, 1994 from Waynesburg, Greene County,
Pennsylvania. Classification: Endangered Missing
Vital Statistics
Date
Of Birth: November 12, 1952
Age at Time of Disappearance: 42 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'9"; 170 lbs.
Distinguishing Characteristics: White male. Brown eyes; brown hair. Fair
complexion. Wears glasses. Allison was suffering from depression at the time of
his disappearance.
Circumstances of Disappearance Allison was last seen
leaving Tri-River Fleeting in Bethel Park near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He left
work where he worked on a river boat and was headed for a bar in the west end of
Pittsburgh. All of this belongings were found on the boat and he has not been
seen since.
Investigators
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Pennsylvania State Police
Waynesburg PAPSP9200
724-627-6151
NCIC Number: M-802378254
Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information
regarding this case.
I haven't found a poster of Robert, but perhaps that profile is short enough that it could be printed out and used as a makeshift one.

Natalee Holloway: recent news

Some of the new evidence is pretty interesting, but apparently it is still not enough yet. Except for the underwater search there doesn't seem to be much happening in Natalee's case right now (it has been closed, after all), so most of this is basically opinions and retrospection.

From http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/12/21/holloway.case/index.html?section=cnn_latest:


updated 10:19 a.m. EST, Fri December 21, 2007
Holloway case in 'new phase,' prosecutor
says
ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- The investigation into the disappearance of
Natalee Holloway is not closed but has entered a new phase, as four detectives
continue to look for evidence, Aruba's chief public prosecutor says.
Charges
were dropped against Joran van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe,
prosecutor Hans Mos said, not because he didn't have a case but because he
couldn't be sure of a conviction.
The decision not to prosecute doesn't mean
"there is not a file in which these three people are primary persons of
interest," Mos told CNN.
He said his office remains determined to find the
truth. "We believe justice will prevail one day, but we cannot force that right
now."
Mos on Thursday laid out the evidence authorities have in the Alabama
teenager's disappearance on May 30, 2005.
In an Internet chat shortly after
Holloway vanished, one of the three suspects said she was dead, Mos said.
The chat, retrieved from a computer hard disk, was among new evidence
prosecutors used to justify re-arresting the three in November, he said.
New
technology that was not available in 2005 was used to find that chat and more
between two of the three suspects, as well as others, he said.
Judges,
however, ruled the new evidence was not enough to keep the suspects behind
bars.
In the chat, Mos told CNN's Susan Candiotti, one of the suspects said,
"The fact that she's dead is not good," referring to Holloway.
Other chats
written before May 30 were also found, in which the suspects discussed "picking
up American girls and what they plan to do with them," Mos said. Such chats gave
authorities an idea of how the suspects operated, he said.
But, he said,
authorities did not find any further discussion of Holloway's death or how she
died. "If we had that, we would have been much further [along] than we are now,"
Mos said.
Other evidence against the three included two new witness
statements. In one, a female friend told authorities that one suspect called her
about five hours after Holloway was last seen leaving an Oranjestad, Aruba, nightclub with van der Sloot and the Kalpoes.
The female friend said that she could tell during the conversation that
something was wrong, Mos said. When she asked about it, the suspect -- whom Mos
did not name -- told her that "he didn't want to cause her any trouble, and that
what had happened couldn't be discussed over the phone," he said.
Police
wanted to ask the suspect what he meant by that statement, he said, but after
their re-arrest, all three men exercised their right to remain silent and
refused to speak to authorities. See a timeline of how the case has developed »
A second
witness statement came from a teacher who said that another one of the suspects
exhibited "very peculiar behavior" the day after Holloway's disappearance,
including making or receiving a lot of telephone calls, Mos said.
A fourth
piece of new evidence came when authorities bugged the Kalpoe home in June and
picked up a conversation about what happened that night, he said, but did not
elaborate.
Holloway, 18, disappeared while visiting Aruba with about
100 classmates celebrating their graduation from Mountain Brook High School in
suburban Birmingham, Alabama, and was last seen leaving the nightclub with the
three suspects.
All three suspects were arrested and released in the case in
2005. They were rearrested November 21, with authorities citing new and
incriminating evidence against them.
In freeing the Kalpoes from jail
November 30, judges from Aruba's Court of Appeal wrote that there was no
evidence that Holloway died as a result of a violent crime or that the suspects
were involved in such a crime. Using similar reasoning, a judge released van der
Sloot a week later.
All three have maintained their innocence. The Kalpoes
have told police they dropped Holloway and van der Sloot off near a lighthouse
on the northern tip of the island after leaving the nightclub. Van der Sloot's
mother, Anita, has said her son told her he was on the beach with Holloway but
left her there because she wanted to stay.
What authorities needed, Mos said,
was for at least one of the three to explain what happened that night. That's
why, he said, his office went to the expense of transferring van der Sloot from
the Netherlands, where he is attending college, after arresting him again in
November -- out of hopes that he might talk.
"You never know whether a person
two years later will, yes or no, open up," he said.
Mos acknowledged the new
evidence against the three was circumstantial, and arresting them again may have
been a long shot, but "we had to give it a shot."
"I would never have
forgiven myself," he said, and never would have been able to answer the question
"Why didn't you even try?" given the new evidence.
"And that's exactly what
we did. I'd rather give it a try and not succeed than not give it a try at all.
We gave it everything we got. We cannot torture these three guys and make them
tell what happened."
From http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071222/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/aruba_missing_teen_1:
Defense response to Aruban prosecutors
By MARGARET WEVER, Associated
Press Writer Fri Dec 21, 9:19 PM ET
ORANJESTAD, Aruba - A suspect in the
disappearance of Natalee Holloway never mentioned her death in an online chat,
his lawyer said Friday, contradicting Aruban prosecutors who called the comment
key new evidence in the case.
The chat log fell far short of justifying the
arrest of Deepak Kalpoe, one of three men seen with the American teen the night
of her disappearance, said attorney Ronald Wix.
A court in the Dutch
Caribbean island agreed and quickly released Kalpoe, along with brother Satish
and a third suspect, Joran van der Sloot. Now, authorities should leave the
three men alone, Wix told reporters.
"If they as much as look at our clients
too long, we'll take them to court," said Wix, who also represents Satish
Kalpoe.
The three suspects were seen leaving a bar with Holloway on the final
night of her high school graduation trip to the island.
Aruban prosecutors
detailed the chat log for the first time Thursday, saying it was a key clue that
they hoped would break open the long-stalled investigation. The men did not
speak with investigators while detained and a judge ordered their release for
lack of evidence.
Upon their release, authorities said they had reached a
dead end after two years of pursuing fruitless searches and leads, though they
could still prosecute the men if they uncover evidence.
In discussing the
online chat, prosecutor Hans Mos told reporters that one of the suspects — he
did not disclose which — wrote that Holloway, 18 at the time of disappearance,
was dead. He also said Internet messages among two suspects discussed meeting
drunk American girls in Aruba.
Wix said the prosecution misinterpreted Deepak
Kalpoe's Internet chats.
The 24-year-old native of Suriname in fact told a
friend he was upset and thought it was stupid of him to let Holloway, whom he
called a drunk stranger, get into his car, the attorney said.
Kalpoe then
commented on the death of a tennis teacher who drowned in Aruba almost three
years ago. When prosecutors translated his writing from Papiamento to Dutch,
they substituted 'the death' to 'her death,' and assumed he was talking about
Holloway, Wix said. Most Arubans speak Papiamento, a Creole language that has
absorbed words from Spanish, Dutch, English and Portuguese.
Mos was on
vacation Friday and could not be reached for a response. Another prosecutor, Dop
Kruimel, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
Holloway
vanished May 30, 2005, hours before she was to return home to Mountain Brook,
Alabama. Extensive searches of the island turned up no trace of her, but the
Aruban prosecutors have said they believe she is dead — though without a body
they admit a prosecution would be difficult.
Van der Sloot has said he
dropped Holloway off at the beach and all three suspects have denied any
involvement in her disappearance.
From http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071223/ap_on_re_eu/netherlands_aruba_missing_teen_1:
Holloway case suspect regrets no trial
Sun Dec 23, 6:29 PM ET
AMSTERDAM,
Netherlands - A former suspect in the disappearance in Aruba of American
teenager Natalee Holloway told a Dutch newspaper he regretted that he was not
formally prosecuted for any crime.
Dutch teen Joran van der Sloot, 20, was
re-arrested in Aruba in November for a new interrogation about Holloway's
disappearance in 2005. But public prosecutors on the island closed their
investigation Dec. 18, saying they believed Holloway was dead but they did not
have enough evidence to prosecute van der Sloot or two other former
suspects.
"I would have liked to have seen a trial so that everything could
be out in the open," van der Sloot told newspaper DAG in his first public
remarks since being released on Dec. 7. The newspaper published excerpts from
the interview Sunday. DAG spokesman Bob Witman said the interview was conducted
via e-mail with van der Sloot in Aruba, where he is currently staying.
All
three suspects denied any involvement in Holloway's disappearance.
Van der
Sloot denied there was any new evidence to prompt his arrest again last month,
as prosecutors had asserted.
"There was no new evidence at all," he told the
paper. "Dutch detectives tried to get me to talk for 15 days. They told me that
Natalee was dead."
Prosecutors say their new evidence was a statement by one
of the suspects during a tapped Internet chat in which he said Holloway was
dead. But defense lawyers denied that.
Van der Sloot said he believed his
latest arrest was intended to please American media.
"I've been declared
guilty without any factual evidence and I'm left to prove my innocence," he told
the paper.
Prosecutors said as things stand, the case can be reactivated if
"serious" new evidence emerges. Reactivating the case would be impossible
however if they were to prosecute and fail, due to rules against double
jeopardy.
Holloway was on a high school graduation trip to the island when
she vanished May 30, 2005, hours before she was to return home to Mountain
Brook, Ala. Extensive searches of the island turned up no trace of her.
The
three former suspects, who are the last people known to have seen her, initially
said they dropped Holloway off at her hotel.
After hotel security cameras
disproved that, they were arrested and van der Sloot said he left her alone on a
beach and had no idea how she disappeared.

If you know what happened to Natalee, please call the FBI tipline at 1-877-628-2533.

For more news, don't forget to check out the Search for Natalee Holloway blog at http://nholloway.blogspot.com/. The team will soon be starting the ROV (remote operated vehicle) dives.

Natalee's website: http://www.allpointsbulletin.org/Natalee_Holloway.html
Another blog about Natalee: http://blogsfornatalee.com/

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Julia Shimkus now missing 35 years, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Julia is one of the most recent additions to the index of this blog. Unfortunately there do not seem to be very good photos or descriptions of her, but hopefully that will not make too much of a difference. (No offense to the people who posted her information!)
Maybe you can help fill in the blanks??
From http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/s/shimkus_julia.html:


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: December 20, 1972 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age: 54 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female.
Medical Conditions: Shimkus suffered from depression after her husband's 1965 death, but her family does not believe she was depressed at the time of her disappearance.

Details of Disappearance
Shimkus was last seen in the Esplen section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1972. She left her house in the 200 block of Oregon Street at 5:00 p.m. to walk to work. Shimkus was employed as a cook at the Rockwood Lounge in the McKees Rocks Shopping Plaza at the time. She has never been heard from again. She did not take any personal belongings with her.
The new owner found bone fragments in the crawl space of Shimkus's former home in 1995, but they turned out to be from an animal. Shimkus's husband died of cancer in 1965. In 1972, Shimkus lived with her daughter. Her adult son was married and lived elsewhere in Pittsburgh. Shimkus was on good terms with both of her children at the time of her disappearance and was considering marrying her boyfriend.
There are some indications that Shimkus is remained alive for an extended period of time after she went missing, but there have been no confirmed sighting of her since 1972. Her case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Kentucky State Police
800-222-5555


Or, you can call the Pittsburgh Police Department at (412) 665-4020.

Julia did get mentioned in a 2005 news article about another missing person from Pittsburgh, Patrick Kenney. An excerpt from that (full article at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05136/505176.stm):
Erin Bruno, a case manager at the National Center for Missing Adults, a
nonprofit organization based in Phoenix that provides support and guidance to
the families of missing people, said she creates missing persons fliers and
explains law enforcement procedures to families.
"We're kind of like an
intermediary, a middle man between law enforcement and those families," Bruno
said. "A lot of time, law enforcement has so many things going on, so we're able
to answer those questions for the families."
Joseph S. Shimkus contacted the
organization in November, desperate for a revival of his mother's case.
It
has been 32 years since Julia Shimkus left her Esplen home on a December evening
on her way to her job as a cook at the Rockwood Lounge in the McKees Rocks
Shopping Plaza.
But Joseph is still searching.
Through the years, he's
written letters to the television show, "Unsolved Mysteries," lobbying to have
her story featured on the show, and he's traveled to Atlanta, where he surmised
his mother may have traveled with a male companion, knocking on doors and
talking to local police.
In 1995, the owners of the home where Julia Shimkus
lived when she disappeared, found bone fragments in a crawl space beneath the
kitchen. The family was hopeful they would finally have some closure.
But the
coroner ruled they were animal bones.
"It's been terrible," Shimkus, 63, of
Valencia, said. "I want closure on the darn thing. I take that pic with me a lot
of places when I'm down Florida or vacationing in Canada, I'm always looking.
When I'm on a cruise. I'm always looking."

(See http://betweenlifeanddeath.blogspot.com/2006/02/my-missing-people.html for a list of the still-missing people I have posted about, as well as more cases that I am following but have yet to post. Do not let the date fool you; it is updated continually!)

Amber Carlton: FOUND SAFE!!

Here is some good news that will hopefully warm your heart a bit before the Christmas season.
The local media even did a story about Amber, so we can learn a few details about her recovery.
From http://www.nbc15online.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=9a74f98a-4572-4489-ae79-e9ae4cb71aa9:
Child missing for 3 years is home for good
Reported by: James
Gordon

Email: jamesgordon@clearchannel.com
Last Update: 12/17 6:59 pm
(BAY MINETTE, Ala.) December 17
-- 7-year-old Amber Carlton was taken from her Bay Minette home by her
mother 3 and half years ago. Amber's grandfather says, "We've been
all up New York and Pennsylvania and God knows the places we've been in Texas
and all the lead investigators could come up with and she was always one or two
days ahead of us."
Tanya Reed, the girl's mother lost custody of her daughter after she
divorced Amber's father in 2004. Amber's picture has been on the Missing and
Exploited Children's website until now. It was that picture that helped bring
her home. Baldwin County investigators say the vast majority of child abductions
have ties to a relative.
Major Anthony Lowery with the Baldwin County Sheriff's office
says: "They can be tough, but there is a certain amount of grace because
most of the time the child is not in danger. That's not to say it doesn't
happen."
Fortunately, little Amber is safe, but right now the little girl is only
thinking of the toys she'll play with at Christmas. Her grandpa
says: "She's been passed from shelter to shelter, from one house to
another, and God only knows what she has seen and been through."
Amber's grandparents say the 7-year-old hasn't been to school since
kindergarten. They say she will undergo counseling and settle in with her
father.
Amber's mother Tanya Reed, was arrested in Springtown, Texas. She's
has since been released. Her family hopes she will now enter a drug rehab
program.

Natalee Holloway: The "new evidence", case closed

However, the search effort is still happening! On http://nholloway.blogspot.com/ they posted this message on Tuesday (Dec. 18):
Tuesday, 18-Dec - 1500 hrs:Aruba authorities and prosecutors close the Holloway
case and investigation and said they do not have the evidence to charge anyone.
Prosecutors said they will reopen the case "if new serious evidence were to be
found." The statute of limitations is six years for involuntary manslaughter and
12 years for homicide, they said. Regardless, this announcement WILL NOT affect
the search by the Persistence. This announcement comes the day before the search
team will begin the side scan sonar survey of the newly-mapped area.

There are more recent updates on the search also posted. It talks about the first day of the side-scan sonar (and finding an old shipwreck!) and about using a magnetometer.

Anyway, article (and above photo) from http://www.kitv.com/news/14896880/detail.html :
Suspect During Chat: Holloway Is Dead
Evidence Gathered Over Last Eight
Months
POSTED: 4:35 am HST December 20, 2007

ORANJESTAD, Aruba
-- Prosecutors in Aruba were releasing evidence from the investigation into the
disappearance of an American teen.
The country's chief prosecutor said the
file includes an Internet chat session in which one of the three top suspects in
the case said Natalee Holloway is dead.
The Alabama high school student
vanished during a May 2005 vacation in Aruba with her graduating class. Her body
has never been found.
The prosecutor didn't reveal the identity of the
person who wrote the message.
But he said its discovery helped lead to the
recent decision to re-arrest the three suspects.
All three have since been
released. The Aruba Public Prosecutor's Office said this week it won't charge
them.
Prosecutors said the re-arrests had been warranted by the
circumstantial evidence.
Those include witness statements saying the
suspects had been behaving strangely in the hours after Holloway vanished.
They have said they still believe the trio was somehow involved in
Holloway's disappearance, but can't prove it because no body has turned up.

Ugh, so frustrating! Unless the unnamed suspect was just repeating what most people have been assuming, one would hope that statement alone would have made a difference!
Anyway, if you know what happened to Natalee, please call the FBI tipline at 1-877-628-2533.

Natalee's website: http://www.allpointsbulletin.org/Natalee_Holloway.html
Another blog about Natalee: http://blogsfornatalee.com/

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Billy Smolinski: Ex-girlfriend sues family

I'm not sure how recent of a development this is. This was posted on the columnist's blog, The Brass File, on December 9, and obviously it must have happened this year, but I am not sure exactly when. Anyway, the article is definitely worth reading, especially if you were not already familiar with Billy's story. However, I thought I was fairly familiar with Billy's story, but this included a lot of details I did not know or did not remember. At the original site there are also several photos to accompany the article.
Posted at http://waterburyobserver.blogspot.com/2007/12/punch-in-face.html:

Sunday, December 9, 2007
December 2007 - A Punch In The Face
In A Bizarre Twist, Billy Smolinski's
ex-girlfriend, Madeleine Gleason, sues the Smolinski family, and The Waterbury
Observer
Column By John Murray
How much abuse can Janice and Bill Smolinski take?
The Waterbury Police Department failed them, the political process is
messing with their heads, and now they find themselves trapped in a lawsuit
filed by their son’s ex-girlfriend that amounts to legalized extortion.
This extraordinary story began three years ago when Janice and Bill’s
31-year-old son disappeared in Waterbury. The Smolinskis were unable to get
local authorities to treat the situation seriously, and their own efforts to
find Billy have been thwarted by sloppy police work, bungled science, and a
national missing person network with holes large enough for a herd of elephants
to stampede through.
Everywhere they turned for help they crashed into a wall of incompetence.
Their faith in the system is shattered.
“ Everything that could go wrong in this case has gone wrong,” Janice
Smolinski said. “Everything.”
The Smolinskis are convinced their son was murdered three years ago. At the
time of his disappearance Billy Smolinski was involved in a love triangle with
enough haunting circumstances to launch a Stephen King novel. Billy was dating
an older woman, Madeleine Gleason, who was 16 years his senior. After dating for
more than a year, Billy discovered Madeleine was also involved with a married
Woodbridge politician named Chris Sorensen.
Billy and Madeleine argued, and broke up. Billy left a threatening message
on Sorensen’s answering machine telling him “to watch his back”, and a few hours
later Billy vanished off the face of the earth.
Janice and Bill Smolinski don’t know the details of what happened to their
son on August 24th, 2004, but they believe he was murdered and his body buried
somewhere in the lower Naugatuck Valley.
A tip called into CrimeStoppers, and subsequently released by the Freedom
of Information Commission, fingers Madeleine Gleason’s son, Shaun Karpuik, as
the murderer. The information given to CrimeStoppers was highly detailed and
alleged that Karpuik, with help from at least one friend, strangled Billy inside
Madeleine’s apartment.
Karpuik was a former grave digger in Seymour, and at the time of Billy’s
disappearance Karpuik was working for a landscaping company and had ready access
to heavy earth moving equipment.
Three months after Billy Smolinski vanished, Shaun Karpuik died of a drug
overdose in Waterbury. The FBI seized control of the investigation in August
2006, and earlier this year they excavated several sites in Shelton in an
unsuccessful effort to unearth the remains of Billy Smolinski. The federal
investigation is ongoing.
STRANGE BEHAVIOR
Several days after Billy disappeared the Smolinski family, unable to get
the attention of Waterbury police, launched their own search. They scoured the
banks of the Naugatuck River and combed through all the spots they knew Billy
loved.
The Smolinskis hung missing person posters throughout western Connecticut,
and followed up on every lead that came their way. A month later reports started
filtering in from several towns that someone was tearing down Billy’s missing
person posters. Janice and Bill drove around Ansonia, Seymour and Woodbridge,
and discovered that dozens of posters had been removed.
Eventually a witness in Amity caught a woman standing on the bumper of her
car tearing down a poster and jotted down the license plate number. The vandal
turned out to be Madeleine Gleason, Billy’s ex-girlfriend.
‘That’s when the chaos started.” Janice Smolinski said. “We brought the
information to the Waterbury police department and the Woodbridge police
department and they were both totally disinterested.”
So the Smolinskis set up a surveillance operation and videotaped Madeleine
tearing down the posters. The family would hang them up, and at night Madeleine
and one of her friends would tear them down. In addition to ripping posters off
telephone poles Gleason eventually began slashing Billy’s face on the poster and
spray painting “Who cares?”.
“We couldn’t understand why she was doing this,” Janice Smolinski said.
“Our son was missing and instead of helping us find him, she drove around
slashing his photograph. Why would anybody do that?”
Unable to get any police assistance, the Smolinskis continued the cat and
mouse game for months, convinced that Madeleine knew something about Billy’s
disappearance. The game grew so bold that Janice would hang a poster on a
telephone pole and Madeleine would walk up and rip it down right in Janice’s
face.
In a world turned upside down, the confrontation ended when Janice
Smolinski was arrested by Woodbridge police for harassment. Gleason lived in
Woodbridge and was a school bus driver in town. Sorensen, the other part of the
love triangle, was an elected official in Woodbridge, and a prominent
businessman involved in running a long distance trucking company. Janice had
dared to enter the lion’s den in search of her son, and she was bitten. The
charges against Janice were eventually dropped, but not before the soft-spoken
woman was booked and fingerprinted. She was told to stay out of
Woodbridge.
In March 2006 the Observer published a five page investigative piece on the
case entitled “Gone”, airing out explosive details of the love triangle, and
exposing the inept police investigation into Billy’s disappearance. There were
impossibly strong leads to follow in the case, yet Waterbury detectives said
their investigation had stalled. Deputy Chief Jimmy Egan had the nerve to say
that “Billy was probably having a beer somewhere in Europe.”
Three months after the story was published Madeleine Gleason and B and B
Transportation (her employer) filed a lawsuit against Janice Smolinski, Paula
Bell (Billy’s sister) and The Waterbury Observer for harassment and invasion of
privacy. One month later the FBI took over the investigation into Billy’s
disappearance and the lawsuit went silent for 14 months, until a few weeks
ago.
A judge called the lawyers together on November 15th in a move my lawyer,
Atty. Mark Lee, said was a simple procedure to see where the lawsuit stood.
Atty. Lee and the Smolinski’s lawyer both said we didn’t have to be present, and
I went out of town on a previously scheduled trip to Ohio. I missed the
unexpected fireworks.
Despite our lawyers statements that we didn’t need to be present, Bill and
Janice Smolinski, and their daughter, Paula Bell, went to Superior Court in New
Haven to see what would happen. Madeleine Gleason showed up with high powered
lawyer John Williams, who decades earlier had built a reputation by challenging
police corruption, and defending the Black Panthers in New Haven.
As the proceedings began the judge unexpectedly tried to settle the case on
the spot. Instead of dismissing an outrageous and baseless lawsuit, the judge
asked Atty. Williams what his client needed to settle the case.
The response was $115,000 from the Smolinskis, and $115,000 from the
Observer. After some wrangling Atty. Williams set his clients final demand at
$25,000 for Gleason and $5000 for B and B Transportation. The offer was quickly
refused.
The charges against Janice Smolinski and Paula Bell is a “he said - she
said” story. Gleason accuses the two women of systematic harassment that led to
emotional distress. She has no proof to back up her allegations and Janice and
Paula state the charges are “total lies”.
The charges against the Observer are more specific and easier to decipher.
The paper is accused of invasion of privacy for publishing the sordid details of
Gleason’s life - which are all true - and for publishing photographs of her
tearing down missing person flyers in public.
The charges are ludicrous. For nine months Madeleine Gleason destroyed
hundreds of missing person posters of Billy Smolinski in broad daylight - in
public - having the nerve to tear them down in the face of a grieving and
distraught mother. The Smolinskis have videotape of Gleason stopping her school
bus to tear down flyers. A Woodbridge police report names Gleason as a suspect
in the disappearance of Billy Smolinski. The report said she would remain a
suspect until she took a polygraph test. She has never taken the test, so she
remains a suspect. A document released by the FOI Commission alleges that Billy
Smolinski was murdered in Madeleine Gleason’s apartment.
And Madeleine Gleason is the one filing a lawsuit?
It
reminds me of a case a lawyer friend had back in 1992. She had just been hired
by a local firm that specialized in personal injury law and her first client was
a real slug. Her client had been intoxicated, sped through a red light and
crashed into another car. He claimed damages and wanted to file a lawsuit. My
friend was shocked, but her boss told her to file the lawsuit. The insurance
company eventually settled for $10,000 rather than pay expensive legal fees to
fight the case. It made no sense to her, or to me.
And that’s the situation the Smolinskis find themselves in now. There is no
way Madeleine Gleason could ever win her lawsuit against the Smolinskis, or the
Observer, but that doesn’t matter.
If we fight the ridiculous charges in a full blown trial we are going to
spend tens of thousands of dollars on depositions and legal fees. Several
lawyers estimate that a trial could cost the Smolinskis $50,000 to $100,000. No
lawyer I’ve spoken to believes Madeleine Gleason has a shot of winning a verdict
at trial, but who has an extra $50,000 laying around to pay for that
outcome?
And that’s why I describe this process as legalized extortion. Fighting
this absurd charge will cost you $100,000, but if you pay us $25,000 right now
we’ll settle the lawsuit. Either way you lose. It doesn’t matter about being
right or wrong, about printing the truth or publishing lies. The system forces
people to accept a punch in the face to try and get out of the court system with
their vital organs still intact.
While the lawyers were in the judge’s chamber going over the case, four
people sat quietly in a hallway; Bill Smolinski, Janice Smolinski, Paula Bell,
and not far away – Madeleine Gleason. And when their lawyer came out and told
them they could settle the case for $115,000, Bill Smolinski said he wouldn’t
give Madeleine Gleason one dollar. Their lawyer advised them that if they went
to trial they would spend tens of thousands in legal fees, and if they lost,
they could lose their house and their life savings.
“I was crushed,” Janice Smolinski said. “I always thought we could depend
on the authorities and society to help us out. But the whole system completely
failed us.”
The Smolinskis have already shelled out more than $10,000 in legal fees,
and now trapped in a legal vice, they eventually offered $2500 to settle the
case. That offer was refused by Gleason and B and B Transportation. The Observer
has shelled out $5000 in legal fees, offered $500 to settle, and that offer was
also refused.
Neither the Smolinskis or The Waterbury Observer will offer another dollar
to settle the case. Let the chips fall where they may.
“We are not going to give anyone a dime for false accusations,” Janice
Smolinski said. “We were caught off guard that day in court, but we’ll go to
trial if we have to.”
In the three years since Billy disappeared the Smolinskis belief in the
system has crumbled around them. They not only lost a son, they have lost faith
in the concept of justice in America. “If we weren’t going through this I
wouldn’t believe that all this could happen,” Janice Smolinski said. “We used to
believe that if someone got arrested it meant they had done something wrong. We
used to believe that if somebody was sued they had done something wrong. Nothing
makes sense anymore. I feel like we are in an episode of the Twilight
Zone.”
(For more informationon on the case check out
www.waterburyobserver.com)

If you have any information on the disappearance of William Smolinski, please call the New Haven FBI at (203) 777-6311. You can also email tips to info@justice4billy.com or "snail mail" them to
P.O. Box 123, Cheshire, CT 06410.

Billy's website: http://www.justice4billy.com/
You can download and print a poster of Billy at http://www.justice4billy.com/Billy_with_Harley_2006_2007.pdf, or print one from http://www.theyaremissed.org/ncma/gallery/ncmaprofile_all.php?A200402022S if you do not have PDF capabilities.

Photo of Billy from his NCMA poster.

Sandra Baker: Children want her declared dead

I did not remember hearing all of these details, such as the possible burial location or the threats against the guards.


Published December 13, 2007 10:20 pm - Sandra Kay Baker has not been seen
or heard from since she went missing 7 1/2 years ago and a judge could determine
that she’s considered dead.
Children seek ruling of Sandra Baker’s death
By Monica Pryts
Herald Staff Writer
DELAWARE TOWNSHIP —
Sandra Kay Baker has not been seen or heard from
since she went missing 7 1/2 years ago and a judge could determine that she’s
considered dead.
Ms. Baker’s two children, who live in Florida, petitioned
the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas to determine their mother’s death, said
their attorney, Ted Isoldi of Mercer.
Ms. Baker’s children want her death to
be officially established so her estate can be processed, for which a death
certificate is needed, he said.
A hearing has been set for Feb. 8 in front of
Judge Thomas R. Dobson, who will look at the facts of the state police
investigation about Ms. Baker’s disappearance, Isoldi said.
The investigation
is ongoing but police have said Ms. Baker is presumed dead. A notice of the
hearing filed by the court said police and the Mercer County District Attorney’s
office believe she was murdered on May 25, 2000, the last day she was seen
alive.
Ms. Baker was 46 and lived in Delaware Township when she went missing.
Her fiancĂ©, William T. Crea Jr., whom she used to live with in his parents’
home, has been named a suspect in her disappearance. Crea, who now lives in
Ellwood City, hasn’t been charged.
Police said Crea reported Ms. Baker
missing May 31, 2000, and that he last saw her May 25 at Sheetz in Pymatuning
Township.
In January 2006, Clifford Stephen Aley Jr., 50, a private
investigator from Ambridge who performed a background check on Ms. Baker for
Crea, was found guilty of lying to police about her disappearance.
Aley was
sentenced in March 2006 to 18 to 48 months in prison and is serving in
Frackville. Aley appealed the conviction but it was denied in February in state
Superior Court. He’s also serving a 4-to-12-months sentence for threatening
Mercer County Sheriff’s deputies and Mercer County Jail guards.
While Aley
was on trial, he testified that on May 28, 2000, Crea told him he strangled Ms.
Baker May 25 after accusing her of having an affair. Crea told Aley he buried
her body in a container where no one would trip over it, about five to eight
miles from his parents’ home at 62 Folk Road, Delaware Township. Police have
searched that area but found nothing.
Aley admitted he lied to police about
Ms. Baker’s disappearance because Crea told him he would have Aley’s children
killed if he told police Crea confessed to killing Ms. Baker.

If you know anything else about what happened to Sandra, please call the Pennsylvania State Police at (724) 662-6162.

Photo of Sandra from her poster.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jean Marie Stewart: newspaper write-up

This is the first media mention I've found about her death. It seems like the reporters were quite thorough.
From http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07347/841307-85.stm:
After 27 years, girl's cold case becomes a homicide
Thursday, December 13, 2007
By Jonathan D. Silver, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The night before she
was to leave, her friends had a going-away party for her. A friend picked her up
to bring her back to the house when she wanted to stop at the convenience store.
The friend went in to make her purchase, as she had already removed her shoes.
He was inside only minutes (there were no other customers), and when he
returned, she was gone. Her purse, shoes and money were all still in the car.
She never returned to the house to get money, ticket or other belongings. Foul
play is suspected in her disappearance.
-- The Doe Network
As a teenager
in Brookline in the 1970s, Jean Marie Stewart was a wild child -- drinking,
skipping classes at Brashear High School and dating an older boy.
"She was
out of control," recalled her father, Robert E. Stewart. "I think I was pretty
broken down, to be honest with you."
In the summer of 1978 when Jean was 15,
Mr. Stewart agreed to what he viewed as a last-ditch plan. He signed paperwork
to allow her to move in with her boyfriend's family in Miami Lakes, Fla. Jean's
mother, Mr. Stewart's ex-wife, Jean Hahalyak, said she argued with her daughter
for taking up with a boyfriend several years older but could not dissuade her
from leaving.
Jean visited home twice the next year. On March 25, 1980, the
eve of what would have been another trip home -- this time to celebrate her 17th
birthday -- she vanished.
That night, Jean attended a going-away party. She
drove home with her boyfriend. They stopped at a convenience store. He went
inside; when he returned, Jean was gone, never to be heard from again.
"She
didn't want to be here," Mr. Stewart, 75, of Mt. Lebanon said this week. "She
wanted to be there with him, all the way until her death."
Date of Death or
Discovery: 1981-04-20. Estimated Age of Decedent: 11-20. Presumed Race: White.
Gender: Female. Location Found: In a remote field at 6001 W. 28th Ave., in
Hialeah. Scars, Surgeries and Other Dental and Medical Information: Complete and
partial root canal. Decedent had an overbite.
-- Florida Unidentified
Decedents Database
Mr. Stewart and Mrs. Hahalyak telephoned police
departments in Florida. All said they had not seen Jean and that, as an apparent
runaway, there was only so much they could do.
Mr. Stewart also contacted
Therese Rocco, then a Pittsburgh police captain who oversaw the bureau's missing
persons squad.
As part of her investigation, Ms. Rocco sent Jean's dental
records to Miami Lakes, nearby Hialeah and other places in the nation that
spring. Nothing came of her efforts.
About 13 months after Jean disappeared,
human remains were discovered in a remote field in Hialeah, a city of about
250,000 adjacent to Miami Lakes. They went to the local medical examiner's
office and became Case No. 1981-01253.
They would go unidentified for 26
years.
In Miami Lakes, another type of investigation began, one much more
informal, by Lauran Halleck, a Brookline native.
It was her mother who took
in Jean. It was her brother, David Nolle, who was identified by Mr. Stewart and
Mrs. Hahalyak as Jean's boyfriend, though Ms. Halleck believed they were only
friends.
Ms. Halleck, 54, an artist who lives in South Carolina, said she was
fond of Jean, whom she recalled as a headstrong, beautiful girl with modeling
aspirations.
"She was a typical 16-year-old. The grass is always greener.
Somebody else's rules were always better. She loved her family dearly," Ms.
Halleck said. "They loved their daughter and wanted her happy. Jean was just the
typical troubled teen in that sense, even with us. We had difficulties getting
her to school. She'd walk in the front door and walk out the back door."
On
the night of the party, Ms. Halleck said her brother chauffeured Jean in their
stepfather's new Cadillac. On the way home, they stopped about a block from
their house to buy cigarettes. Jean, who often didn't wear shoes, could not go
in because she was barefoot.
"He walked in and walked out, and she was gone,"
Ms. Halleck said.
Mr. Stewart said he heard a slightly different story from
Mr. Nolle's mother, that Jean and Mr. Nolle had argued and she ran out of the
car when he stopped to buy cigarettes.
By then, the relationship between the
two had soured, Mr. Stewart said. During a phone call the day she disappeared,
Mr. Stewart said Mr. Nolle made it clear he wanted Jean to move back to
Pittsburgh for good.
Ms. Halleck said her brother called the family
immediately, and she and her siblings -- seven of them in all -- scoured the
area to no avail.
"I was all over the place trying to find her. There was no
Internet. I was calling medical centers, calling hospitals, calling juvenile
detention centers. I mean I covered everything within 100 miles religiously,"
Ms. Halleck said.
A man who answered the telephone at Mr. Nolle's home
yesterday said he was not available and hung up.
Ms. Halleck eventually
became involved with volunteer groups that search for missing persons by
trolling for information and passing it along to investigators. In March 2006,
she started Porchlight for the Missing and Unidentified, a Web site dedicated to
Jean's memory.
"I just couldn't let her go. I felt like somebody needed to be
her voice," Ms. Halleck said. "It started me on a lifelong quest."
"Jean's
parents have given DNA and we are awaiting the results of several different
possible matches. The waiting seems to get harder, not easier ... sigh. Still
searching for you, Jean. No matter what ..."
-- Posting Aug. 22, 2005 by
Lauran Halleck on websleuths.com
Dinorah Perry, a Broward County real estate
agent, has a second job. She runs Missing Children International Ministries, a
group she founded in 2004 to help raise awareness about Florida's missing
children. One of the cases she initially reviewed was Jean's.
"Jean Marie's
background really took my attention because it said a girl on her way to
Pennsylvania, and I said to myself, 'That girl never made it out of Miami Lakes
let alone Pennsylvania,'" Ms. Perry, 45, said.
"I knew in my heart that no
one was working on Jean's case so I just started yelling at every detective I
could find that would listen to me."
The case was reopened by the Miami-Dade
Police Department. Lead investigator Detective Brigitte Robert credited Ms.
Perry for her doggedness.
"Because you know what? If that didn't happen, this
possible match might have just gone into the case files," Detective Robert
said.
In late 2006, as part of a routine look at cold cases, the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement asked Miami-Dade police to track down Jean's
parents and obtain DNA samples. Detective Robert did so. In December, she was
assigned the case.
"Jean Marie Stewart has been Identified ..."
-- Posting
Dec. 5, 2007 by Ellen Leach on Porchlight.
Ellen Leach, 49, of Gulfport,
Miss., works as a night stocker at a store. Her second job -- this one unpaid --
is to find missing people. She worked first with the Doe Network, then with
Porchlight. She has known Ms. Halleck for several years and was familiar with
the story of Jean, that she disappeared from Miami Lakes and had an
overbite.
On Nov. 10, a posting on the Doe Network about unidentified remains
drew her attention.
There was more information on the Florida Unidentified
Decedents Database, a Web site with information from the state's medical
examiners' offices. That information was put online in April.
"It mentioned
the overbite and that's what caught my eye," Ms. Leach said.
She checked the
mileage between Miami Lakes and Hialeah and saw the communities were within a
few miles of each other. She faxed Miami-Dade police. Detective Robert picked up
a phone.
"She called me 45 minutes within faxing of it there. She was excited
about the possible match and was gonna get it checked into," Ms. Leach
said.
Detective Robert contacted the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner
Department and provided Jean's dental records. Police had them on file, but
Detective Robert could not say when they first obtained them.
On Nov. 28, a
positive match was made.
"I was elated," Detective Robert said.
"Thank you
all for looking for Jean Marie all these years. At least we know she is at peace
and she can come home now. She was apparently found just about five miles from
home, and just a year later. She is much loved and greatly missed. A long
journey is now over, and I am brokenhearted."
-- Posting Dec. 5, 2007, by
Lauran Halleck on websleuths.com.
Jean's case is being investigated as a
homicide, according to the medical examiner's office.
Mrs. Hahalyak, 75, of
Greenfield, said she's been told her daughter might have been shot, but she
knows little more than she did decades ago.
"I just figured something bad had
to have happened to her, that her remains were in the ocean or something,'' she
said.
One of her current husband Eddie's late brothers was a Pittsburgh
police detective and another was an Allegheny County police officer, and as the
years passed she drew comfort from their assurance: "Police keep working. They
never give up on anything."
"I've cried and prayed every day she's been
missing. She would have been a nice sister for my other kids."
Detective
Robert and Sgt. Frank Nazario, who oversees the Hialeah police homicide squad,
would not discuss the investigation, except that Sgt. Nazario said two
detectives have been assigned to investigate. He would not say if they have
identified a suspect or comment on past aspects of the case.
Mr. Stewart said
he was glad to be rid "of the great pressure of just not knowing" what had
happened to his daughter. "We want to see them get the culprit no matter who it
is."
Who killed Jean Marie Stewart? That is the biggest question of the
case.
But there is another major question. If police in Florida had Jean's
dental records, if the remains of a young woman with an overbite were discovered
only a few miles from where Jean disappeared a year later, why did it take more
than a quarter-century for a volunteer advocate to put two and two
together?
"It should have been solved in 1981," said Ms. Rocco, who went on
to become assistant chief of the Pittsburgh police and retired in 1994.
"That
was the question we had," Detective Robert said. "What happened? And we don't
have an answer."
Staff writers Bill Schackner and Cindi Lash contributed.
Jonathan D. Silver can be reached at jsilver@post-gazette.com or
412-263-1962.
First published on December 13, 2007 at 12:00 am

If you have any information on who killed Jean Marie Stewart, please call the Miami Dade Police at (305) 418-7200.

Karen Adams missing from Independence Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania

I first found out about Karen on the Porchlight International message boards. She has been on the index of this blog for a little while, but this is my first post on her. She has started making the news again!
From http://kdka.com/local/Missing.Beaver.County.2.609601.html:


Dec 12, 2007 9:48 pm US/Eastern
FBI Probes Case Of Missing Beaver Co Woman
BEAVER (KDKA) ―
The FBI i is now involved in the case of a woman from
Beaver County who disappeared without a trace nine months ago. Karen Adams was
last seen in March when she left her home in Independence Township apparently on
her way to Mountaineer Gaming Resort in West Virginia.
There has been no
activity reported on her cell phone or credit cards since she went missing.
She lived with her brother, John Adams, who fears the worst. He says she
would have never left her beloved dog Amy behind.
"When I'd take a vacation,
she'd take a vacation just so the dog wasn't left alone for a long time. I just
don't believe that she left on her own, that something, somebody got her," he
tells KDKA.
When they last spoke the night of her disappearance, Adams
pleaded with his sister to stop blowing money at the casino. He holds out hope
that he will speak to her again someday.
"You know, I just say a little prayer and say, you know, maybe, 'Hope come on home, me and Amy miss you,' and that's it," he said.
Crews from the Independence Township Police Department
and the Hancock County Sheriff's Office launched another search for the missing
woman – this time using a helicopter in their efforts.
The search centered around New Manchester, West Virginia – which is just across
the Beaver County line.
Investigators say it's still an open case.


The most recent update on the search from http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07347/841305-57.stm:
Chopper searches for missing Independence woman
Thursday, December 13,
2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With the help of a state police helicopter,
authorities in Independence searched for evidence in the disappearence of a
Beaver County woman nine months ago.
Karen Adams has been missing since she
left her Independence home in March to go to the Mountaineer Race Track &
Gaming Resort in West Virginia.
Local police have found no activity on her
cell phone or credit cards since, and now they are hoping the FBI will help with
the investigation, Independence police Officer Lance Malobabich
said.
Yesterday, police traced the routes Ms. Adams could have taken on the
way to the casino to see whether her maroon car or any other evidence could be
spotted.
"They thought they'd see if maybe she went over a bank somewhere,"
Officer Malobabich said. "But they didn't find anything."
First published on
December 13, 2007 at 12:00 am

Another article with description and contact information (http://www.wtrf.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=32534):
Authorities Search West Virginia for Missing Pennsylvania Woman
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007 ; 09:00 PM
Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2007 ; 09:19 PM
Read description below
and call police with any information.
Story by Leigh Ann Towne
CHESTER -- Local sheriff's deputies aided Pennsylvania
authorities on Wendnesday in searching for a woman who was last spotted in
Hancock County, West Virginia, according to Hancock County 911.
911 added, a
helicopter was used in an aerial search and some deputies even searched a wooded
area on foot.
Authorities are looking for Karen Adams, 54, of Pennsylvania.
Adams was reported missing earlier this year. She was last seen at
Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort, driving a four-door maroon Suzuki with
license plate number ETD5587.
Adams is described as a white female with
green eyes, brown hair. She is 5'4" and weighs 120 pounds.
The search on
Wednesday turned up nothing. If you have any information please contact
Independence police at (724)378-7774.

According to an older article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Karen was seen leaving the casino on surveillance videos at 4:00 AM on March 12. Someone also accessed her cell phone voice mail at 4:35 AM.

Brooke Wilberger: Suspect sentenced in another case, can now be extradited

Brooke's case finally seems to be moving ahead a bit; now if only she could be found!
Article from http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2007/12/12/news/community/5aaa02_courtney.txt:

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Last modified Tuesday, December 11, 2007 11:58 PM PST
DA works to move Wilberger
suspect to Oregon
BY MICHAEL BOOTH
Gazette-Times reporter
Sex offender sentenced to 18 years by New Mexico
judge
Joel Patrick Courtney, the man indicted in the abduction and death of
Brooke Wilberger, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Tuesday on an unrelated
case in New Mexico.
But if Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson
has his way, Courtney, 41, will be returned to Oregon within 90 days.
“Our
focus is to bring him back to Benton County to face charges,” said Haroldson,
who was in Albuquerque on Tuesday to attend Courtney’s sentencing and to testify
if Courtney attempted to delay sentencing.
Courtney faces multiple charges here in connection with the 2004
kidnapping, rape and murder of Wilberger, a 19-year-old Brigham Young University
student from Veneta who was spending the summer after her freshman year of
college with her sister in Corvallis when she disappeared. Wilberger’s body has
never been found, but Courtney has been charged with aggravated murder,
kidnapping, rape and sodomy.
“The Wilbergers and the state of Oregon have waited a long time for
Courtney to face these charges,” Haroldson said
Courtney pleaded guilty in September to kidnapping and sexually assaulting
a University of New Mexico student in Albuquerque.
Although Haroldson said he is optimistic the extradition process will run
smoothly, it is not without potential delays.
Haroldson said he will submit a request today for a governor’s warrant to
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who would forward an extradition warrant to the
governor of New Mexico. Courtney could fight the extradition in a number of
ways.
“The main challenge I’d anticipate is a challenge to the governor’s
warrant,” Haroldson said. “There are more obscure things (Courtney) can do also.
… He can be cooperative or he can decide to fight it all the way.”
Extreme attempts to stall extradition can take up to a year, Haroldson
said.
Haroldson’s expectation that Courtney will mount some challenge during the
extradition process is based on Courtney’s prior actions. While the New Mexico
case moved through the court system, Courtney at various points refused to
communicate with his attorney, refused to enter a plea and refused to respond to
a plea deal offered by the prosecutor — all apparent stalling tactics, Haroldson
said. Courtney waited until after jury selection had been completed, then agreed
to accept a plea bargain.
During sentencing on Tuesday, Courtney’s attorney filed a motion to
withdraw the guilty plea and then asked to withdraw from the case. Both motions
were denied.
The sentence handed down on Tuesday was for 18 years in prison and up to 20
years on parole.
An agreement between states, called an interstate compact, used to quickly
transfer a criminal defendant from one state to another, was one option for
Haroldson. However, he said he chose the formal extradition process for a
specific reason.
“Provisions in the statute (interstate compact) can create issues, with
regard to the prosecution, in death-penalty cases,” Haroldson said. “In this
case, I will be seeking the death penalty.”
Assuming the extradition goes through, there is no possibility that
Courtney would be allowed to serve his sentence in New Mexico before facing a
trial in Oregon, Haroldson said.
“The defendant has the right to a speedy trial,” Haroldson said. “If there
is a delay with the state, it may provide a basis for the criminal charges to be
dismissed. ... It is incumbent upon us in the D.A.’s office to have no
delays.”
Haroldson said Benton County’s investigation of Courtney is ongoing.
“In certain respects, there is the criminal investigation, as related to
the charges, then the investigation in regard to finding the body of Brooke
Wilberger,” Haroldson said. “It’s certainly an important objective to find her
body.”

If you know anything about Brooke's disappearance, please call the Corvallis Police Department at (541) 766-3522 or the Portland FBI at (503) 224-4181.
You can print a poster of Brooke at http://www.theyaremissed.org/ncma/gallery/ncmaprofile_all.php?A200401499S.

Photo of Brooke from her poster.

FOUND SAFE: Vanessa Schultz

A copy of her recovery notice from http://fromwhisperstor.6.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=17396:
Dear Poster Partner:
Vanessa Schultz missing from Erie, PA, has been recovered. Please
discontinue dissemination of this poster. Your participation in this program has
made a valuable contribution to this recovery.
Please remove and discard any posters on this case that you have placed in
public view.
Thank you for your support.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Visit our web site at www.missingkids.com.

An update on her being found has also been posted on her MySpace page. Her mom posted a comment confirming this on December 10; however, people had heard she had been found since at least December 6. There are some rumors about how she was found, such as that she was in Florida, that she was found by the FBI, and that she was with her boyfriend and his family. However, others say her boyfriend was still back in Pennsylvania.

This also means that the unidentified young woman found dead in Kilgore, Texas, is not Vanessa, even though several people have remarked at the resemblance.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Natalee Holloway: Joran van der Sloot released; case could close

Article from http://www.wsfa.com/Global/story.asp?S=7467937&nav=0RdE:

Dutch Suspect in Holloway Case Freed After Judge's Ruling
Updated: Dec 7, 2007 6:59 PM EST

A judge Friday ordered the release of the last of three suspects
re-arrested last month in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway. He
ruled the evidence was not strong enough to continue holding Joran van der
Sloot.
He had been in custody since November 21st along with two other
suspects, brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, who were released from jail
December 1st following a similar ruling.
A prosecutor said the 20-year-old
Van der Sloot was ordered freed because the judge found the investigation has
not resulted in more direct evidence than before that Holloway died as a result
of a violent crime against her or that the suspect has been involved in such a
crime.
Van der Sloot walked out of jail, accompanied by one of his
attorneys.
Chief prosecutor Hans Mos said the men did not divulge any new
information under interrogation, leaving the investigation in the same place it
was before the arrests.
Prosecutors say they have evidence that Holloway,
who was 18 when she disappeared in May 2005, is dead.
No trace of the
Mountain Brook teen has ever been found despite extensive searches.
More sad news from http://www.woio.com/global/story.asp?s=7469804:
Prosecutor in Natalee Holloway Case Ready to Drop Investigation by Month's End
Posted: Dec 8, 2007 03:26 PM EST
Updated: Dec 8, 2007 03:26 PM EST
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Aruba's chief prosecutor says officials need to
find strong evidence in Natalee Holloway's disappearance by the end of the
month, or he'll close the case.
Hans Mos tells The Associated Press that he
has promised the suspects that after December 31st, his office will not pursue
the investigation.
The probe has revolved around three suspects who were the
last people known to see Holloway before she vanished.
Mos says he and the
Holloway family feel pursuing a minor charge serves no purpose. No one has been
formally charged in the two-year-long probe.
He won't comment on the kind of
evidence his office is reviewing. But he says he doesn't anticipate finding
Holloway's remains and prosecuting a case without them would be very hard.

My hope is that the new deep-water search will turn up something that will be enough to either solve the case or at least keep it open.

If you know anything about where Natalee might be, please call the FBI tipline at 1-877-628-2533.
Natalee's website: http://www.allpointsbulletin.org/Natalee_Holloway.html
A blog covering the search: http://nholloway.blogspot.com/

Another blog about Natalee: http://blogsfornatalee.com/


Photo of Natalee from her website.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Found deceased: Jean Marie Stewart

Update - 12/07/07 - Word of Jean's death has been posted on her website, http://www.freewebs.com/searchjeanstewart/index.htm.
As I was perusing Websleuths for updates, I saw that there were recent posts on Jean's thread (http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18097&page=3). Curious, I clicked on it, and I was in for a bit of a shock: The second to the last post mentioned about Jean now being "at peace" and being able to come home. At peace? That is usually used when people are dead! I scrolled up a little more and saw that yesterday someone posted that he/she had heard from Jean's foster sister that an unidentified body found in Florida in 1981 has been identified as Jean's.
So, is it true? Well, a Google news search on her name did not bring up anything, and searching just "jean stewart" only brought up other people with the same name. So I searched on regular Google. One thing I found was that she had been removed from the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, so that could have been significant.
Finally, I found it! I saw that she had been removed from the missing females list on pennsylvaniamissing.com, and finally I found her at the bottom of their "In Memory Page" (http://www.pennsylvaniamissing.com/homepage/inmemory.html):
Jean Marie Stewart - 16, a Pittsburgh native, disappeared from Miami Lakes, Dade
City, FL on March 25, 1980. Her remains were located in a remote field at
6001 West 28 Avenue, in Hialeah, FL on April 20, 1981 but she was not identified
until December 2007.

An update was also posted at the North American Center for Unidentified Persons & Unsolved Crimes (http://missingme.2007.angelfire.com/stewart_jean.html):
Update
On April 20th, 1981, Jean Marie Stewart's body was found in a field
off West 28th Avenue, in Hialeah, Dade County, Florida, a remote area not far
from where she disappeared. She remained unidentified until December 2007, when
a volunteer for the website Porchlight International made the match and
submitted it to law enforcement. Dade County officials have confirmed the match
through dental records.
No cause of death has yet been released, and the
investigation is ongoing.

A Porchlight thread on the identification: http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t26306.htm (A little more digging led me to something else I probably heard but forgot: Porchlight was actually started by Jean's foster sister!)

Natalee Holloway: Appeal denied

Well, I guess for now this aspect of the case is another disappointment. However, as far as I know, Joran van der Sloot is still in jail.
Article from http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-12-05-aruba-missing-teen_N.htm:

Aruba court denies appeal in release of Holloway suspects
Posted 18m
ago
ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) — A judge on Wednesday refused to overrule the
release of two suspects in the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee
Holloway, the prosecutors' office said.
The suspects, Surinamese brothers
Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, were released from jail on Saturday after a judge
ruled the evidence was not strong enough to continue holding them on suspicion
of involvement in Holloway's death.
Prosecutors challenged the decision at a
closed session Tuesday, but were rebuffed by the appeals court, said John Pauly,
communications consultant for Aruba's prosecutors' office.
The Kalpoe
brothers — Deepak is 24, Satish is 21 — were arrested for a third time in the
case on Nov. 21 along with a third suspect, Joran van der Sloot, who remains in
jail pending a hearing Thursday. Prosecutors said the latest arrests were
justified by new evidence.
Holloway, of Mountain Brook, Alabama, was last
seen leaving a bar with the three suspects on May 30, 2005, hours before she was
scheduled to return home with fellow high school classmates celebrating their
graduation on this Caribbean island. She was 18 at the time.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Aruba Natalee Holloway Satish Kalpoe
All three have denied any role in the disappearance.
An attorney for Deepak Kalpoe, Hose Figaroa, said his client "is trying to get his
life back to normal" and hopes that "finally this case will stop haunting him."
No trace of Holloway has been found despite extensive searches and uncertainty hangs over the case.
"Notwithstanding expensive and lengthy investigations on her disappearance and on people who could be involved, the file against the suspect does not contain direct indications that Natalee passed away due to a violent crime," the ruling said.

I also checked the blog about the search (http://nholloway.blogspot.com/), and currently they have removed the information that they posted until it can be reviewed. They also are keeping the exact search area "classified". I suppose this is probably a good idea--maybe sometimes we are told too much about some cases. (One of the risks of being "high-profile"!)

Anyway, if you know anything about where Natalee might be, please call the FBI tipline at 1-877-628-2533.
Natalee's website: http://www.allpointsbulletin.org/Natalee_Holloway.html
Another blog about Natalee: http://blogsfornatalee.com/

Photo of Natalee from her website.

FOUND SAFE: Shane Lee

A copy of the notice from http://fromwhisperstor.6.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=27237:
Dear Poster Partner:
Shane Lee missing from Lemont Furnace, PA, has been recovered. Please
discontinue dissemination of this poster. Your participation in this program has
made a valuable contribution to this recovery.
Please remove and discard any posters on this case that you have placed in
public view.
Thank you for your support.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Visit our web site at www.missingkids.com.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

FOUND SAFE: Erika Hildenbrand

I couldn't help thinking, "Wow, that was fast." But I guess not all missing persons cases drag on for months and years and decades. Sometimes they might be resolved pretty quickly.
A copy of Erika's found notice as posted at http://fromwhisperstor.6.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=27345:
Dear Poster Partner:
Erika Hildenbrand missing from Pittsburgh, PA, has been recovered. Please
discontinue dissemination of this poster. Your participation in this program has
made a valuable contribution to this recovery.
Please remove and discard any posters on this case that you have placed in
public view.
Thank you for your support.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Visit our web site at www.missingkids.com.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Norma Allen had been found

After I posted the articles I had found on From Whispers to Roars yesterday, one of the other members was kind enough to dig this up. This means that Norma had been found about two and a half weeks before I posted her on here.
From http://news.yahoo.com/s/wtae/20071105/lo_wtae/14509201:
Police Find Missing Indiana Township Woman
Mon Nov 5, 7:33 AM ET
A woman
missing from Indiana Township since Friday, Nov. 2 has been found alive.
Norma Jean Allen, 74, was discovered at a home in Pittsburgh late Sunday
night. She went for a walk from her residence on Cove Run Road in Indiana
Township around 1 p.m. Friday and did not return.
A Pittsburgh Police
supervisor said Allen was not hurt.

Still, I think this is only about the second time that I've posted on someone after they had already been found, so I suppose that's a pretty good track record! And, well, we can also rejoice that the person has been found.

Natalee Holloway: Kalpoe brothers released

This is disappointing. Hopefully Joran van der Sloot will continue to stay in prison a little while longer. Another article (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g03xmlbMM0BjGFGrLokyvroCO6FwD8T888001) said that prosecutors have three days to appeal regarding the Kalpoe brothers' release; hopefully they will have a compelling reason to do so.
From http://www.myeyewitnessnews.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=e31d41e4-6258-4b5f-82ee-9fb26cae0a37:

Brothers Released in Holloway Probe
Reported by: Adrienne Phillips
Email: aphillips@myeyewitnessnews.com
Last Update: 5:12 pm

Joran Van Der Sloor (top) Satish and Deepak
Kalpoe were taken into custody, Aruban prosecutors say. Two brothers arrested in
connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway have been released. CNN is
reporting the release may be due to lack of evidence.
Holloway went missing in Aruba while on a senior trip in 2005. Deepak and
Satish Kalpoe were arrested earlier this week, along with Joran Van Der Sloot.
Prosecutors thought all three were connected to Holloway's presumed death.
Joran Van der Sloot is still behind bars.
Investigators say he and the Kalpoe brothers were the last people to
see Holloway before she disappeared. They were taken
into custody before as suspects in Holloway's disappearance. Van
Der Sloot's lawyer says his client is frustrated about his return to jail.

If you have any information on Natalee's whereabouts, please call the FBI tipline at 1-877-628-2533.

Natalee's website: http://www.allpointsbulletin.org/Natalee_Holloway.html
A new blog covering the new deep-water search: http://nholloway.blogspot.com/
Another blog about Natalee: http://blogsfornatalee.com/
Photo of Natalee from her website.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tanya Kach: Hairdresser sentenced to prison

Well, it seems that this case has almost wrapped up, at least when it comes to courts. (There is still the lawsuit.) After that, perhaps, Tanya can continue trying to lead a normal life again.
From http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/14712703/detail.html:
Pittsburgh Hairstylist Who Helped Disguise Runaway Tanya Kach Gets Jail
POSTED: 7:48 am EST November 28, 2007
UPDATED: 5:32 pm EST November 28, 2007

PITTSBURGH -- A woman accused of helping a 14-year-old girl change her looks so she could run away and live with a McKeesport man was sentenced to jail time on Wednesday, even though she said she didn't deserve any.
Judith Sokol, 59, of Duquesne, pleaded no contest to aiding and abetting statutory sexual assault, corruption of a minor and related offenses. Allegheny County Judge John Zottola gave her a six- to 23-month sentence on Wednesday morning.
Police said that Sokol, a hairdresser, helped alter Tanya Kach's appearance by cutting and dyeing the teen's hair in February 1996, and that she knew about and facilitated sexual encounters between Kach and Thomas Hose.
Sokol's actions helped Kach live undetected for years with Hose, who was a security guard at Kach's middle school, prosecutors said.
Last year, at age 24, Kach left Hose and told her story to a local business owner, who notified police.
"It's absurd," said Sokol's son, Brandon. "They twisted and turned everything on her."
In September, Sokol said she didn't deserve to go to jail, and that her side of the story would come out after sentencing.
Sokol had no comment for reporters while being led out of the courtoom in handcuffs on Wednesday.
Before handing down Sokol's sentence, Zottola told her attorney that Sokol "has some explaining to do" because she acknowledged what she had done when police interviewed her but denied it to probation workers in a presentence report.
The defense attorney said Sokol has short-term memory loss and has been hospitalized in the past for health problems and sometimes gets confused.
"She cuts millions of people's hair. She doesn't ask for name, rank and serial number. I'm not even knowing that she cut her (Kach's) hair," said Brandon Sokol.
Kach's attorney, Lawrence Fisher, said Sokol may have pleaded no contest but she never apologized.
"It's one thing to say, 'I think I'll be found guilty.' It's quite another thing to say, 'I'm terribly sorry for what happened,'" said Fisher, who represents Kach in an ongoing
lawsuit against Hose and various McKeesport officials.
Hose, 49, is serving a five- to 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related offenses.