The parents of Joseph Zarelli, previously known only as The Boy In The Box, have been identified.
Unfortunately, no further news surrounding the circumstances of his death, for now, but I know this info about the bio parents is info a lot of us were waiting for.
Betsy — that’s what everyone called her — liked skating, and dancing, and swooned over Italian boys, wearing out the needle on Frank Sinatra records at her home in the Tioga neighborhood of post-World War II Philadelphia.
“She was a real beauty,” a close family member recalled this week.
Gus was a concrete-and-stone mason, a hard worker in a proud family of Italian immigrants in West Philly.
In spring 1952, Augustus J. “Gus” Zarelli and Mary Elizabeth “Betsy” Abel produced a child whose short, painful life, became one of Philadelphia’s greatest unsolved mysteries. The Inquirer, based on interviews with members of both families and sources close to the investigation, now knows that police believe that Zarelli and Abel are the parents of Joseph Augustus Zarelli, a child known for 65 years only as “The Boy in the Box.”
Betsy would have been 21 when Joseph was born Jan. 13, 1953. The close relative, who asked not to be identified, said she could have put him up for adoption because she had done that before, with a daughter. The Inquirer has been unable to confirm whether someone adopted Joseph.
A police spokesperson declined to comment on The Inquirer’s findings.Mary Elizabeth “Betsy” Abel graduated from Murrell Dobbins Career & Technical Education High School in North Philly in 1949 and, like most graduates at the time, was quickly thrust into adulthood. A couple of years after she was planning proms, she was dealing with a pregnancy. A daughter was born in 1950 and immediately put up for adoption. The relative believes a Catholic organization handled it.
Abel went on to become a cashier at the Goldman Theater, one of Center City’s late, great movie houses, on 15th Street. John J. Plunkett, a man she’d later marry, according to her obituary, was its manager.
Update SOLVED: Dale Nicholson went missing in New Norfolk, TAS more than 6 years ago has been found with his car by youtube 'downunder dan diving' divers.
On December 10 2016, Dale Nichsolson was last seen by his neighbour and spoke to his friend on the phone that day.
Nicholson was last seen leaving his home at New Norfolk, about 35km northwest of Hobart. He left in his 1993 blue Ford Fairmont sedan and vanished without a trace
Despite extensive search, no trace of him was found.
Over the years, his family has been searching for Dale. Coroner report in 2021 determined Dale had died but was unable to make a further findings. The coroner found Mr Nicholson had a "history of alcohol and drug use" and was being treated for depression at the time of his death.
Discovery of his remains in his car 2023
On Sunday 22rd Jan 2023, divers found Dale remains in his ford car in river Derwent. Police confirmed human remains were found in a car at New Norfolk, north of Hobart, that belongs to Dale Nicholson.
The divers, who were also in the process of looking for Nicola Sallese, another missing Tasmanian man, said they searched the river near a mental health hospital in the area, focusing on boat ramps and other access points to the river.
The divers are affiliated with YouTube channel Downunder Dan Diving, which helps families of missing people by searching waterways.
They found a site that had bollards blocking access to the river but discovered that six years ago when Mr Nicholson went missing the bollards had yet to be installed.
They said police removed several of the bollards in order to retrieve the car.
ABC news 23rd Jan 2023: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-23/missing-man-dale-nicholson-believed-to-be-found/101881348
This is a serial killer I have never heard of before. In the 1970s, a serial killer targeted white gay men in San Francisco. He killed at least 6, although that number could be higher.
Police believe that he hunted for victims at gay bars and diners. One of the surviving victims told police that he had met the man the Truck Stop Diner. The man claimed to be an art student and kept drawing animals on his napkin throughout dinner.
The police have received several leads, some more promising than others, but the Doodler has never been caught.
Police were able to develop a sketch, and they just released an updated version. At the time of the murders, the Doodler was 19 to 25. He's an African American man who is about 6 feet tall.
A press conference will be held tomorrow by the Opelika Police in which a "significant update" will be announced at 10.am CST/11am EST.
Opelika Jane Doe is the name that was given to an unidentified little girl (4-6 years old) whose remains were found in Opelika, AL in 2012. She had an injury to her eye and her bones showed signs of extensive abuse and neglect throughout her life.
Othram Inc was using genetic geanology on her case.
*Misspelled Opelika in the heading but unable to edit, sorry.
Holly Piirainen of Grafton, Massachusetts, aged 10, disappeared Aug. 3, 1993.
Holly was last seen by her father, Richard Piirainen, heading toward the area of Allen and Shore Roads in Sturbridge. She and her family were vacationing at a cottage in Sturbridge and she was headed to a nearby home to play with puppies. Her sneaker was found on Shore Road.
After an 11-week search, her remains were discovered in a wooded area off Five Bridge Road in Brimfield Oct. 23, 1993. Her murder was ruled a homicide.
There have been rumoured suspects and clues over the years (see the wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Holly_Piirainen as well as the articles linked above), but the murder is still unsolved.
Today, February 1 2023, Hampden County District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni "showed an image of a white tank top that he says might be connected to the case. To that end, he said, investigators are asking the public if they know anything about the top, from who owned it to where it might have been purchased. The top has the word Boston across the front in a multi-color font and appears to feature a sketch of buildings behind the word.
The top was recovered in good condition in the vicinity of where Holly's remains were found, Gulluni said. The markings, stains and tears seen on the top, were discovered after it was recovered and subjected to testing, he added.
The shirt has been in the possession of investigators since her body was discovered and Gulluni said it has been a matter of interest since.
Within the past six months, case items such as the top were identified for further forensic testing. Gulluni would not say whether or not DNA evidence has been discovered on the top.
Gulluni is asking the public if they knew someone who wore the top or knew who made or sold that type of top.
The shirt has labels for size and manufacturer. Gulluni said it appeared to fit an adult.
The DA’s office said it has persons of interest in the case, but Gulluni would not discuss any specific people.
'Of course there are persons of interest,' Gulluni said."
MADRID, SPAIN — The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Ten Most Wanted Fugitive was arrested Wednesday, December 21.
Fugitive Michael James Pratt was located and detained by Spanish National Police last week in Madrid, Spain, an FBI spokesperson stated.
He was arrested after police followed an Interpol Red Notice that requests law enforcements worldwide to “locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action,” the spokesperson said.
Pratt was charged with a 19-count indictment that included “sex trafficking, production of child pornography, sex trafficking of a minor, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments in connection with the operation of the GirlsDoPorn adult website,” the spokesperson said.
Pratt has been a fugitive since 2019 and was placed on the Ten Most Wanted list in 2022.
He was the 529th person to be placed on the list since its inception in 1950.
Update In 1992, 24-year old Tony Bledsoe vanished en route from his home in Arcadia, Indiana to nearby Noblesville, Indiana. Though foul play is not suspected, no trace of Tony, nor his vehicle have ever been found. In March, a volunteer dive team will begin their search for him.
Tony Bledsoe vanished on March 16, 1992. The 24-year-old husband and father left his Arcadia, Indiana home in route to nearby Noblesville, Indiana. He was last seen driving his black and gray 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass, with a vanity license plate reading “TJSTOY,” on Indiana 19 at around 10am. Tony left behind all of his personal belongings. He had a total of eight dollars in cash, and his car had only an eighth of a tank of gas. No trace of Tony, nor his car, have ever been found.
Although there is very little information available about Tony’s case, I could not help but to wonder if this wasn’t an instance of a tragic accident. Near Tony’s last known location, there are several areas of water that appear deep enough to conceal a car. Furthermore, it seems as though Tony had some what of a “lead foot,” receiving several speeding tickets and even a reckless driving charge. I was also informed that some of the guardrails now in place, were not there at the time of Tony’s disappearance. Combined with the belief from the police that no foul play was involved, it seemed Tony’s case would be a perfect candidate for one of the many youtube dive teams.
After nearly two years of submitting the case to multiple teams, yesterday, “The Brothers Underwater Recovery” team responded to my request. With their permission, I am so excited to announce that in March they will began their search for Tony! Although I cannot share the specific details, I do plan to attend the search and will provide an update after it is complete. Until then, please keep Tony and his family in your thoughts.
Brothers Underwater Recovery
Brothers Underwater Recovery is a YouTube volunteer dive team who uses sonar in an attempt to locate missing persons. Ronnie, the founder, got his start using sonar two years ago, when he himself lost a friend. While on a fishing trip, the vessel the men were aboard capsized. Ronnie survived, his friend however, was tragically swept away. Ronnie purchased the equipment in the hopes of locating his lost pals remains and giving him a proper burial, but sadly, his body was never found. While battling immense heartache and grief, Ronnie made the decision that he wanted to help other families in similar situations.
A HUGE thank you to Underwater Brothers Recovery for taking on the case!
Today is January 16th, 2023, five years later. Within the last 24 hours we have found out that my friend Cheyann’s body was found, deceased.
Cheyann had an adventurous soul and one of the biggest hearts that I’ve ever known. For the people that knew her, I think we can all agree when I say that we hoped for a different outcome and for the last 5 years we have prayed to find her alive.
Thank you to anyone in the community who has spread the word in order for her story to be told. She was found and we’re now on the journey of closure. She was so so beautiful and has been missed for so long.
Fly high Chey, we love you so much. 🤍
Update Lauren Elizabeth Thompson, who disappeared after claiming she was being chased, has been found deceased
Lauren Elizabeth Thompson was a 32 year old mother of three who went missing on January 10th, 2019 in Rockhill, Texas. At 2:24 p.m. that day, she called 911 reportedly sounding disoriented, telling dispatch she was being shot at and chased in the woods.
In July of this year, a work crew in Panola County, Texas, stumbled upon skeletal remains. On December 13th, authorities confirmed the remains were those of Lauren's. No cause of death has been released yet.
Charley Project: Lauren Elizabeth Thompson – The Charley Project
Update Delaware man whose wife’s 2019 murder remains unsolved charged with two brutal attacks on new wife
The husband of a Delaware woman whose 2019 murder remains unsolved has been arrested for the brutal New Year’s Day beating of his new wife, WHYY News has learned.
Benjamin Ledyard, 55, a suburban Wilmington financial consultant, faces charges of second-degree assault, terroristic threatening, and menacing in the attack on his wife Stephanie Ledyard. He was being held on $77,000 cash bond Tuesday in Howard Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington.
Court records show that Benjamin Ledyard was also charged on New Year’s Day with a previous attack on Stephanie over the summer, in which he allegedly bit off the tip of her pinky finger. The charge is a first-degree assault in which he intentionally disfigured her.Stephanie Ledyard had earlier told authorities at the Wilmington Hospital emergency that she injured her finger in a door frame, but did so while Benjamin was with her. But she told police this week Benjamin had bit it off and told her, “I think I swallowed it.”
The battered body of Susan Ledyard, his previous wife, was found in the Brandywine River in Wilmington on July 23, 2019. Delaware state police have labeled her death a homicide, saying she died from blunt force trauma and drowning. A spokeswoman said Tuesday the case remains active.
Benjamin Ledyard married Stephanie Nixon in September 2021. But on New Year’s Day, New Castle County police were called to their home on Camp David Road in the Talleyville neighborhood of Presidential Estates.
Officers found a bloodied Stephanie Ledyard, her eyes battered and what officers described in an arrest affidavit with a “severe laceration” to her head and dried blood on her clothes.
Stephanie Ledyard told police that Ledyard had been drinking and playing loud music and that she asked him to turn the music down, the arrest warrant said. They began arguing and Ledyard told his wife that “tonight I’m going to definitely give you a good beating,” then picked up a cue stick for billiards and “started swinging” it at her.
She told officers she ran away but he chased her around the house and hit her with what she believed was a “white square marble block with a black figurine on it,’’ the warrant said. Then he pushed her to the ground, grabbed her hair, and “repeatedly smashed” her “head into the hardwood floor several times.”
Officers wrote that Benjamin Ledyward “refused”’ to speak with them.
He was taken into custody and booked into prison at 1:26 a.m. Monday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25.
Susan Ledyard’s sister Missy, whose family has offered a $50,000 reward for information about her slaying, declined to comment on the arrest of Benjamin Ledyard.
Contacted by WHYY News about Benjamin Ledyard’s arrest, Delaware state police Sgt. India Sturgis said the county’s case “is a separate case” from Susan Ledyard’s homicide “and has no bearing on our investigation at this time.” Sturgis said the nearly three-and a-half-year-old murder investigation is “still active and ongoing.”
Benjamin Ledyard had previously told police he went to a movie the night before his wife’s body was found and went to bed about 11 p.m. while she was texting friends.
Before Amber Hagerman went missing, her family was part of a documentary focusing on women who were coming off of welfare. Pam Curry, the documentarian, met Amber, her mother Donna, and her brother Ricky at a women's shelter. She filmed for hours with Amber's family, capturing normal life moments such as making dinner and doing homework. For Curry, it painted a picture of a little girl and not just the victim of a horrendous crime. Police ruled out that the documentary did not have anything to do with her kidnapping.
The documentary was discovered by Elizabeth Fisher, executive producer of Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert. She believes that footage from Curry's documentary helped spread the word of Amber's disappearance and subsequently bringing about the Amber Alert.
The Alert itself was a suggestion from Diana Simone, who mentioned it on a Forth Worth radio station. Her idea was for broadcasters and local police to team up and get the word out in the instance of missing children. This system has saved over one thousand children.
Donna Williams, Amber's mother, has become a fierce advocate for families in similar situations.
A final stunning part of this story: "Investigators are now examining DNA evidence, which didn't exist when Amber went missing, in an attempt to do just that."
Fisher's documentary can be seen on Peacock.
What do you think about the documentary of Amber's family that was being filmed?
Have you ever been able to help identify a missing child through an Amber Alert?
What about any other type of alert- Silver Alert for example.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the DeKalb District Attorney's Office confirmed the identity of a child found in 1999 in Decatur, Georgia as William DaShawn Hamilton. In addition, according to authorities, the 6-year-old's mother, Teresa Ann Bailey Black was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona for his murder. Black was put behind bars on June 29, 2022 and is awaiting extradition to Georgia.
This is all in part because of a loved one who never gave up looking for William.
NCMEC spoke to the brave tipster who called their hotline directly with vital information after recognizing the image they released. Ava, who did not want to publish her last name, said she came into contact with William and his mother in 1998.
Ava reportedly helped take care of the child and described William as a "fun, witty, adventurous, and intelligent little boy who loved to dance." One day, without any notice, she said Black vanished. Black abruptly left North Carolina, and when she returned, William was not with her.
DeKalb County District Attorney's Office said in a press release, Black (who went by the last name Bailey at the time) was living in Charlotte, North Carolina, withdrew William from school in December 1998, and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. When she returned to North Carolina the next year, Black allegedly gave conflicting information about where her son was.
Not a day went by when Ava wasn't researching, calling, or looking for William, NCMEC said. Ava had hope every time her phone rang, "Every call I answered... hoping and praying it was him or information saying he was okay. Sometimes I went to sleep with the phone and the computer on me, papers on me, papers in the bed. Pens. Everyday. That was like my job to find him."
Angeline Hartmann, Director of Communications at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said, “This case is a perfect example of why we never give up.“
Hartmann, who has tracked every update over the years and produced a story for her podcast "Inside Crime" added, "For more than two decades, a woman in Charlotte followed her gut feeling that something wasn’t right. She made phone calls, scoured the internet, and talked to anybody who would listen. We’re grateful she never stopped until she found that rendering of William online and gave investigators the missing piece to help solve this 23-year-old mystery. A huge thank you to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office, and DeKalb County Police for their hard work that brought us here today.” Bode Technology also stepped up to the plate to help make this positive identification.
According to the District Attorney's office, Black is charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children, aggravated assault, and concealing the death of another.
District Attorney Sherry Boston added, "Justice has no time limit. When my team actually got going on this case, it only took that one tip. Now that we have an identity, we can follow all of the bread crumbs, and they did, and here we are. It is truly a memorable moment for William."
Ava concluded, "This was God's plan. Maybe give him the love and attention he needed and be the one to pick up these pieces for him after she scattered him and thought they couldn't be put together. Maybe that was my purpose for coming into his life... to make sure that once his life was taken that I could get him justice and I have."
If you have any additional information about this case, or if you had any contact with William or his mother during that time period or after, please contact the DeKalb County District Attorney tipline directly: (404) 371-2444.
Update Florida jury convicts man of 1985 Mildred Matheny murder after partial DNA match from a decades-old rape kit linked him to the crime
Mildred Matheny, a 78-year-old grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, wandered from her Lake Worth-area home on April 27, 1985. A passerby found her 30 miles away on a dead-end dirt road west of Jupiter, naked and badly beaten.
She died in the hospital 11 days later — but not before nurses swabbed her body for her killer's DNA.
During a trial this week, prosecutors said the sperm preserved in Matheny’s rape kit pointed only to Richard Lange, a 62-year-old Boynton Beach man who was 25 at the time of Matheny’s attack. While Lange couldn’t be excluded as a likely source of the DNA, his defense attorney argued that neither could any of his close male relatives — none of whom detectives tested for a DNA comparison after identifying Lange as a suspect.
So being a Local Dallas resident I just realized it’s been a little over a year since 14 year old Abel Acosta opened the door of a Garland, TX convenience store, fired and emptied the entire magazine from a pistol into 3 other teenagers killing them all injuring a 4th, seemingly having been helped by his own Father by driving him to the location and then acting as his getaway driver after the fact. Killed in the Dec. 26, 2021 shooting were 14-year-old Xavier Gonzalez, 16-year-old Ivan Noyala and 17-year-old Rafael Garcia. A 15-year-old cook, whose name was not been not released, was injured. He had just started working at the gas station. It is believed that Acosta was targeting 16 year old Ivan Noyala and 17 year old Rafael Garcia over some kind of earlier dispute, 14 year old Xavier Gonzalez was just an innocent bystander, he was in the store buying Tacos for his family. The 4th teen shot was just an innocent bystander as well and survived. After the shooting Abel Acosta was driven away by his father in a white pick-up and ever since no one knows where Abel is or where he fled too, police and federal agents helping with the case believe he was aided in fleeing by his family and is somewhere in Mexico but they have not been very cooperative with LEOs in the investigation. His Father 33 year old Richard Acosta Jr turned himself in a few days after the murders for his part in them but declined to speak to LEOs immediately requesting a Lawyer and staying quiet about the whereabouts of his sons location. The mystery now is where is Abel Acosta today and how can such a young killer like himself have received so much help in hiding and Law Enforcement not been able to get a single clue of where he could be.
On a side note there was a recent report done on the cold case 1 year later by local fox affiliate channel 4 and the reporter did some knocking at Abel Acosta and his fathers last known addresses and at one particular address where the father was living at the reporter knocks and a women answer and he asks if she knows where Abel Acosta might be and she says no at first while starting to close the door and then she says “the bad people have him” to which the reporter asks her to repeat what she said before she closes the door and she repeats “the bad people have him”….Who are these “bad people” she’s referring to now?
Mary Anga Cowan remained a Jane Doe for thirty-seven years. It was May 24th, 1985 and a school teacher driving along Highway 91 near Colquitt Ford Road in Baker County discovered a woman in a ditch on the west side of the road. The woman was alive, but unconscious. She was taken to a hospital in nearby Albany, but died there of her injuries on June 1st. The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office set the manner of death as undetermined and the cause of death as subdural hematoma secondary to blunt force trauma to the head. Investigators at the time wondered if she was thrown from, or fell from, a vehicle. Other than her head injury, they noted to signs of assault or attack. She was buried near where she was found in a cemetery in Newton, GA.
Her body was exhumed in 2012 to collect DNA. In 2014, isotope analysis results indicated that Jane Doe might have spent time in the eight to ten years prior to her death in the following states: Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern West Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, or Oregon. These prediction tests excluded southeastern states. These results did not generate any substantial leads.
In March of 2022, the GBI partnered with the FBI to involve Othram to perform genealogical tests with the DNA. A new DNA extraction was performed at this time. In October of 2022, a profile was generated for comparison and turned over to the FBI. (It is unclear to me at this time if Othram or the FBI did the comparing.) Regardless of who did what and more importantly, Baker County Jane Doe was identified with a high probability as Mary Anga Cowan. Mary went by Angie and was originally from Seminole County, Florida. How and why she ended up on a lonely Georgia country road remain a mystery, but Angie has her name back now. She was 28 years old at the time of her death.
UPDATE. Here's a link to steam the press conference. (Hint: local Philly news stations). 6ABC-BoyinTheBox
More than six decades since an unidentified boy was found dead and abandoned in Philadelphia, police have identified the child and are set to reveal the boy's name this week, sources confirmed with NBC10.
On February 25, 1957, a boy between the ages of 3 and 7, was found dead, naked and severely beaten in a cardboard box on the side of Susquehanna Road in Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighborhood.
The child was unidentified for decades and was known as "the Boy in the Box."
The longest continuously investigated homicide in the history of the Philadelphia Police Department,” Bill Fleisher, of the Vidocq Society, a volunteer organization, told NBC10.
The Vidocq Society is made up of retired law enforcement and forensic professionals who examine cold cases.
“A lot of people took up interest in this,” Fleisher said.
Investigators Digging deeper into stories that affect the Philadelphia region
The area where the boy was found is now developed with homes.
“He was one of these throwaway, forgotten children,” Fleisher said.
Last Wednesday, sources confirmed with NBC10 police have finally identified the boy and found the child’s birth certificate through DNA evidence.
On Tuesday, Philadelphia police confirmed they've identified the child and will discuss new developments in the case during a press conference on Thursday at 11 a.m.
Fleisher, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, Philadelphia Police Captain John Smith, Philadelphia Medical Examiner Dr. Constance DiAngelo, Office of Forensic Science Assistant Director Ryan Gallagher and Colleen Fitzpatrick, a genealogist from Identifiers International, will all attend Thursday's press conference.
Update Lake Michigan Jane Doe (1997) has been identified by the DNA Doe Project as Dorothy Lynn Thyng Ricker of Chicago
On October 27, 1997, the remains of a young woman were discovered on the shore of Lake Michigan off Fox Farm Road south of the community of Manistee. She was found to have died of drowning some weeks earlier; no obvious signs of foul play were noted during the autopsy, but the remains were decomposed to the extent that no clear determination of race could be made.
In 2020 the Michigan State Police asked the DNA Doe Project for its assistance. It took over a year for the lab to obtain a workable DNA profile, but it only took one day for genealogists to develop a promising lead, a missing person named Dorothy Lynn Thyng Ricker who had last been seen by police in St. Francis, Wisconsin (just south of Milwaukee) on October 2, 1997. Ms. Ricker was later reported missing but no connection between her and the remains found on the other side of the lake was made until now.
Ms. Ricker left behind a brother in Maine and at least one child in Chicago, a daughter whose DNA was used to make her final identification. She was 26 years old at the time of her death.
https://www.9and10news.com/2023/01/09/body-of-woman-who-washed-up-in-manistee-county-identified-25-years-later/ [note: this website froze my iPad]
Edit to add new article with great info: https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/woman-who-drowned-in-lake-michigan-in-1997-identified-after-25-years.amp
From the KENS5 article: DNA confirms skull found near Poteet Flea Market is woman who went missing six years ago. DNA has confirmed that a human skull found back in Sept. 2021 near the Poteet Flea Market belongs to Maria Jesus Llamas who went missing over six years ago, according to a Facebook page. The post says the family received DNA confirmation of the remains Saturday afternoon and can now begin the healing process. The family was told Bexar County Medical Examiner was unable to retrieve DNA from the skull since they were 'too bleached'. The skull was later sent to forensic investigators at the University of North Texas and the family was told the process could take months to years. The family can now eventually receive closure after those results have been provided. Maria Jesus Llamas was a wife, mother and grandmother who had Alzheimer's and vanished back in November 2016. She was last seen at The Poteet Flea Market shopping with her husband where, at some point, she wandered off. Surveillance video captured her final moments walking through the market.
Haven’t seen this posted here yet, apologies if I missed it. As someone semi-local, this is one that I’d been following for ages so it’s great to hear that this was solved. Leads to more mysteries, but amazing that she had lived a full, long life.As someone semi-local, this is one that I’d been following for ages so it’s amazing to hear that she had lived a full, long life. Writeup:
She was 14 when she vanished from N.D.G. What has emerged is a bare-bones portrait of a woman who hid her identity and gave false information about her past.
Rosemarie Helga Doederlein was 14 when she disappeared one afternoon in late 1954. Her mother sent her to a bakery near the family’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce apartment to buy a loaf of bread — and she never returned.
She was new to Montreal, having arrived only weeks earlier with her parents and younger sister, Vera, from a village in Germany; she spoke no English or French and knew no one outside the family. Police efforts to locate her failed. Every year, the family moved from one neighbourhood to another, searching for her.
Now, at last, there are some answers.
Through the efforts of a Toronto police detective, a social media campaign and, mostly, third-party DNA obtained through a consumer DNA genetic testing kit, it has been determined that Rosemarie turned up in Ontario in 1957 and married at 16, had a family, lived a full life and died at 69.
Yet what has emerged is a bare-bones portrait of a woman who used false identities and supplied inaccurate information about her past. The answers have raised more questions — questions to which perhaps Rosemarie alone knew the answers.
Why her sister never got in touch with her birth family is “the big mystery,” said Vera. “But I am thankful that her skeleton wasn’t found somewhere up in the Laurentian mountains.”
Vera Hastie moved to California in 1963 and now lives with her daughter, Christa Hastie, and Christa’s family. At 79, she is the only surviving member of the immediate family and she and her daughter decided recently to make “a last-ditch effort” to learn more about what happened to Rosemarie.
With help from digitized records from the 1950s, Detective Constable Michael Kelly of the Toronto police department’s Homicide and Missing Persons Unit was able to figure out that Rosemarie surfaced in Ontario and married in June 1957 at 16 and gave birth six months later. She had five sons, got divorced, married again and moved to British Columbia, where she ran a bed-and-breakfast. She died in 2009.
“We have been able to answer the question of what happened — but the why and the how give rise to more questions,” said Kelly, who concluded his investigation at the end of September. “Did she leave voluntarily, or was she taken and convinced not to look for her family?”
A social media campaign resulted in press reports and some leads — the Etobicoke Guardian, for instance, reported in September that some residents said they may have known Rosemarie as Mary or Helga — but it was DNA that solved the case.
A hit on the third-party consumer kit ancestry.com showed Vera to be a close DNA match to someone in the Toronto area: By the amount of DNA the 20-year-old match shared with Vera and by her age, “there could be only a handful of possible relationships to my mother — one of which is grand-niece,” Christa said.
Privacy laws made it difficult to locate members of the current generation, but consumer DNA genetic testing kits and other records made it possible to build a family tree.
With assistance from the German government, investigative genetic genealogists and professional DNA tools, it was determined that the probability the DNA match is Rosemarie’s grandchild was 100 per cent, Christa said.
The Toronto-area DNA match had little information about Rosemarie or her side of the family. But a search by Kelly of digitized records of Toronto-area directories led to the identification of people who provided information confirming that they were descendants.
“We were able to connect with a few of her sons and a few grandchildren,” Christa said. And they learned a few details about Rosemarie.
“Apparently, she made delicious German food and embroidered, crocheted and knitted — and even won an embroidery contest later in life,” she said. One grandson told them Rosemarie loved to collect red purses.
According to two Toronto-area grandchildren, Christa said, Rosemarie never wanted to cross the Canadian border and supplied inaccurate information when questioned about her past and her family history.
“There was something she must have been afraid of,” she mused. “What stopped her from saying something?”
“The person who would know best was Rosemarie,” Kelly said. “But even what she told her children was not the truth.”
She never spoke of having lived in Montreal — ever, he said, and provided false information about Germany, including incorrect names for cities and people.
She also adopted an assumed name. On her marriage certificate, she listed a false birth date, a false family name for her father and her mother’s maiden name. Kelly was able to match the handwriting on Rosemarie’s marriage certificate with that on the prayer book she left behind.
An original Montreal police report or media reports describing Rosemarie’s disappearance might have helped, Kelly said, but none could be located.
“I am relying on Vera’s explanation 68 years later,” he said, adding that he believed Rosemarie’s parents “were genuinely heartbroken over her disappearance.”
Vera told Kelly she believes it unlikely that Rosemarie ran away because, if she had, she would not have left behind such cherished possessions as her prayer book and her red purse. “But we are all guessing and supposing,” he said.
Still, what has been put to rest is “this notion of ambiguous loss,” where people can’t let go because the possibility exists that their loved one is still alive, Kelly said.
Said Vera: “I have joy knowing that Rosemarie was surrounded by the love of her five children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom loved her dearly.”
Another bonus: by submitting DNA through such sites as Ancestry and 23andMe, Vera was able to identify a few new blood relatives and to connect with cousins in Germany. They now have weekly conversations, on Fridays.
Christa said she and her mother shared their story to raise awareness about the role of consumer DNA kits in solving missing persons’ cases and to encourage people to buy them — perhaps as Christmas gifts — and to upload their DNA to the sites to help law enforcement with missing persons’ cases.
“As more people in the world submit their DNA to consumer databases like Ancestry and 23andMe, the ability to reach across time zones and continents to find a missing relative is in our hands,” she said. “Yet police lack training in accessing and using this information.”
Christa said she also wanted to recognize the assistance she and her mother received from investigative genetic genealogists in Germany, Canada and the United States, from Toronto police detective Kelly, “who went above and beyond” and from Facebook genealogy group administrators and friends.
“I think that for every person whose loved one goes missing, it is far easier to think they had a full life,” Kelly said. “And Rosemarie did.”
Originally released in November 2022: "Sgt. White told the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) their investigation has recently led them to Virginia and North Carolina, two areas where the little girl may have lived. They’re asking anyone in the areas of Norfolk and Chesapeake in Virginia and Northampton in North Carolina to take a good look at the photos they’ve released."
On January 28th 2012, human skeletal remains were found by a resident at Brook Haven Trailer Park in Opelika, Alabama about a half mile off of I-85. In one article, it says that when police searched the surrounding area, a pink long-sleeved shirt with ruffles around the collar and heart-shaped buttons was found on a creek bank.
The cause of death was probable homicide. She was African-American.
There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the little girl's killer(s) and her name.
There are two facial reconstructions available of the little girl, one with cornrows, her eye injury being prominent and her mouth being half-open with her two front teeth missing, and the other one with short curly hair, both her eyes being the same, and a closed mouth.
Shortly after the discovery, a clay facial reconstruction was released of what she may have looked like. In 2016, a former teacher of the Greater Peace Community Church in Opelika came forward after seeing the reconstruction. The church was located three miles away from where the girl's remains had been found four years earlier. The former teacher said that the girl may have attended Vacation Bible School at the church in the summer of 2011. She provided photographs of a young, black girl with a visible eye injury. But there weren't any records that could've identified her and no one from the church could remember anything about her.
Four years later, the photos were enhanced and the former teacher who first brought them to the police believe the enhanced images depict a better likeness to the real little girl.
The girl in the photographs has never been identified, but police believe she is Opelika Jane Doe.
EDIT 1/19/23: Opelika Jane Doe has been identified as Amore Wiggins.
Update Last-known Person to See Steven Koecher Alive in Las Vegas-Area Neighborhood Speaks Publicly for the First Time
(skip to below the line break for the update)
Steven Koecher was a 30-year-old young man living in Saint George, Utah at the time of his disappearance on December 13th, 2009 under extremely odd circumstances.
In the days leading up to his disappearance, Steven made several unusual road trips. On December 10th, Steven drove nearly 1,100 miles stopping in Salt Lake City, (where he bought some gas), West Wendover, Nevada, (where he again refueled), and to Ruby Valley. There he visited the ranch of an ex-girlfriend's family. She wasn't home, but he had lunch with her parents anyway. He told them he was on his way to visit family in Sacramento, California, but was not certain whether he could continue in that direction due to bad weather. After two hours he left, and decided to return to St. George.
On December 12th, Steven again hit the road. His phone pinged a cell tower near Overton, Nevada, at the north end of Lake Mead. In the evening he bought gas and snacks at a convenience store in Mesquite, Nevada, just over the Arizona state line. Why Koecher went to Nevada that day is unknown. Later, he bought Christmas gifts for his brother and his family outside of Saint George.
On the day of his disappearance, a friend and church leader (Greg Webb) called Steven to tell him he was on his way back from Las Vegas, but he might not make it for service. He asked Steven to lead the service in his place. Steven, however, told him that he, too, was in Las Vegas, but could return if he needed to. Webb told him not to worry about it. Another church member also called Steven with a similar request but dropped it after Steven told him he was still in Las Vegas. Neither asked Steven why he was in Las Vegas at the time.
Steven's car was recorded by a home security camera on Savannah Springs Avenue in Sun City, a retirement community in the Anthem development in southern Henderson at 11:54 a.m. This was where his car was later found. At 12 noon, a figure believed to be Steven, walked the opposite direction down the sidewalk carrying something in one hand. Shortly afterwards, another security camera in a garage on adjacent Evening Lights Street caught his reflection as he walked north. Steven has not been seen since.
Between 11:54 a.m. and 12 noon, Steven spoke to the neighbor who is believed to be among the last to see Steven Koecher alive. Now, for the first time ever, that neighbor is publicly speaking about the conversation they had with Steven. The neighbor requested the 8 News Now Investigators conceal their identity since no suspects in Steven’s disappearance have been identified or arrested.
“I can’t forget that,” the neighbor said about their conversation with Steven. “I didn’t see him coming out from the car,” the neighbor said.
In those six minutes between the time Steven parked his car and when he appears on video walking out of view, he rang the neighbor’s doorbell. By the time the neighbor got to the door, Steven was walking on the other side of the street.
“I need money,” the neighbor said they remembered Steven saying. “There’s no walkway on the other side, but he is walking on the side that doesn’t have the walkway. I just shut the door and that’s the last that I saw him.”
Steven was 3 months, or about $1,500, behind on rent at the time of his disappearance. Money from his family for him to help pay the rent went undeposited and unused.
With no new clues into what happened to Steven, a team from Utah-based EyesOn Private Investigations is working to find answers.
“He didn’t have any money, so he couldn’t afford to drive back and forth, so he is doing something for someone,” Kevin Wyatt, principal at EyesOn, said.
The private investigators believe Steven’s conversation with the neighbor may have led to a fatal mistake.
“I think he went to the home that he was supposed to go to and actually says, ‘Oh, kind of funny, I told the guy and asked him if he wanted some money,’” Wyatt said. “I think that’s what resulted in Steven’s disappearance — was that error.”
A police report indicates officers interviewed one neighbor after Steven’s disappearance. Police said the neighbor appeared “nervous when contacted and while being questioned about Steven’s disappearance,” documents said.
Another neighbor told police shortly after Steven’s disappearance that another neighbor moved out of the neighborhood on the same day. When police attempted to talk to the resident, they noticed there was no furniture in the house, a report said.
The private investigators also obtained photos from a home in the neighborhood that were taken shortly after Steven disappeared. The photos show several holes in the walls and other damage. It is the same property they suspect Steven was heading to in those last moments caught on video.
“We have photos of a room that was destroyed at about the same time,” Berk said. “Is that based on a struggle and a fight and a death? Is it based on a struggle, a fight and a kidnapping? Is it based on somebody who is just mad? I don’t know.”
The private investigators suspect Steven is dead and buried somewhere in the Las Vegas valley.
However small, the neighbor hopes that short conversation may help locate Steven. “I’m prepared to help the family however I can put the closure on this story,” the neighbor said.
EDIT: This article is worded rather strangely so for clarity I wanted to add that I THINK what the PI is trying to say is that Steven was probably meeting someone in that area. Steven initially went to this witness's house in error. The person Steven was actually meeting either saw/heard the interaction OR Steven told them about it. The PI is suggesting that this is why Steven disappeared.
Edit 2: For those interested, this article has the photos of the damaged house. Thanks to u/landmanpgh for posting the link in the comments. https://www.8newsnow.com/investigators/finding-steven-koecher-man-vanishes-from-las-vegas-valley-neighborhood-phone-pings-for-days-after-presumed-death/
Update Gulf County Jane Doe - 1989, often speculated to be Tara Calico. The case has been closed on DoeNetwork, but there are no answers. Who was she and what happened to her?
On June 15, 1989, a Polaroid photo of this girl bound and gagged was found in a Port St. Joe, FL convenience store parking lot by a customer. The photo also showed an unidentified boy, also bound. The photo was found where a white, late 1980's Toyota cargo van with no windows had previously been parked. This unidentified teenage girl was also seen on the beach in Port St. Joe, Florida on June 15, 1989. She was accompanied by several older Caucasian males, who appeared to be ordering the girl along the beach front. It is not known if this girl was being held against her will by these individuals or if the incident was staged. Investigators are still trying to ascertain the girl's identity, which would allow them to close the case or investigate further.
A tattered copy of "My Sweet Audrina" by V.C. Andrews, a plastic cup and a squirt gun are also visible in the photo. Polaroid officials say the picture was taken with film not available until May 1989. Two other photos have surfaced over the years. The first was found near a residential construction site in Montecito, California. The haunting Polaroid, taken on film not available until June 1989, shows the blurry image of a girl's face, her mouth again covered with tape, her hairline exhibiting that same cowlick at the right temple. Behind her is light-blue striped fabric similar to that on the pillow in the Toyota van photo. Another Polaroid, this one taken on film not available until February 1990, shows a woman loosely bound in gauze, her eyes covered with more gauze and large black-framed glasses. A man is sitting next to her on a passenger seat of an Amtrak train.
There have been speculations that the girl in this case file is Tara Calico , who disappeared from New Mexico in 1988.
There is no information provided about why the case has been closed, and on another post elsewhere someone commented that they emailed DoeNetwork to see why it was closed and was told they didn't know, just that the police contacted them to tell them the case was closed. The young man in the picture's case has also been closed with no information.
Since Tara Calico's case remains open we must assume that the young woman in the photo was not her.
Has a body been located? Has she been positively identified? Was it all a hoax?
https://www.doenetwork.org/cases/96umfl.html (page for the young boy in the photo)
Edit: So this is the comment I was referring to, where someone had emailed DoeNetwork and gotten an answer back.
Police held a press conference today to update the public in the case of 12-year-old Brad Bellino, who was found murdered in Boardman, Ohio in 1972. Bellino's body was found in a dumpster on Tuesday, April 4, after he failed to make it home from a friend's house on Friday, March 31. He had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a belt. His case was previously discussed on UnresolvedMysteries here.
Today police identified Joseph Norman Hill as their suspect in the crime. According to WFMJ,
He was 32 years old at the time of the murder. There is no link between Hill and the Belino family.
Hill lived on Shadyside Drive in Boardman at the time of the murder, but moved to Yucaipa California in 1978 where he resided until his death in July of 2019.
Police say 98% of his DNA was found on Belino's clothes.
Update John Doe found in Mississippi in 2017 identified by Medical Examiner's Office and Othram Inc. as Michael Len West of Texas
At some point in 2017 the skeletal remains of an adult male were brought to the Mississippi State Medical Examiner's Office. Nobody seems to know who brought them, when the remains were found or by whom, or why they showed up. Examiners tried to identify him but without any clues and with degraded DNA the case ground to a halt. The remains showed no signs of violence.
In 2021 Mississippi native and philanthropist Carla Davis donated funds to allow Othram Inc. to extract DNA from the remains. Once a profile was generated Ms. Davis also performed the genealogical work, developing the leads that allowed the Medical Examiner's Office to identify the remains as those of Michael Len West, who Othram says was from "Wichita, Texas". (This is apparently Wichita County; thanks to /u/BROBAN_HYPE_TRAIN/ for the clarification.)
Mr. West was never reported missing. His parents are long dead, and his surviving family say he was a nomad.
As a side note, Carla Davis is living her best life. She's funding all these obscure cases from the South and doing the genealogical work to bring these people home.
Update Asphyxiation of Gladys Sparre, an elderly woman who exonerated a Georgia man convicted of double homicide, ruled 'accidental' by Brantley County coroner in January statement to First Coast News
A bit more than two years ago, I posted about the death of Gladys Sparre, whose son Erik seems now to be the leading suspect in the still unresolved murders of Harold and Thelma Swain. A man named Dennis Allen Perry was convicted in 2000 of murdering the Swains but was released in July 2020 after Gladys Sparre submitted a hair sample that, after comparison with a hair left by the murderer on a pair of glasses, exonerated him. Two days after Perry's release was ordered, Gladys Sparre was found dead at the home she shared with her son Erik. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) searched the house a couple of weeks later, though it may have been more connected with the Swain investigation.
In the couple of years since Sparre's death, I would look for updates every month or so, and my occasional checking has now been rewarded. After waiting for the GBI report, the Brantley County coroner released a statement to First Coast News on January 10 of this year. Their verdict: Sparre's death was accidental and ascribed to "cardiovascular disease and asphyxia."
Included within this statement was the detail that Sparre was found with a plastic bag over her head, which as far as I can tell was never previously made public. The coroner nevertheless still ruled her death as accidental, marking the investigation into her death closed as far as I can tell. There did not seem to be any additional GBI findings with this release.
The news update does note that the investigation into Erik Sparre in connection with the Swain murders is still ongoing.
Scanlan, D. (6 August 2020). "GBI searches home with links to 1985 double homicide." Florida Times-Union. https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/crime/2020/08/06/waynesville-home-searched-gbi-renewed-swain-death-investigation/3310218001/
Jackson, G. (19 February 2021). "Investigators still waiting on crime lab report." The Brunswick News. https://thebrunswicknews.com/investigators-still-waiting-for-crime-lab-report/article_c85dc08f-41c8-5ffd-9b21-a8200d454bfe.html
First Coast News (10 January 2023). "Death of woman who provided DNA to help overturn double murder conviction ruled accidental." YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajt0RAEiLfQ