It’s not uncommon for women to jog alone. Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon for women to go missing while jogging or exercising.
Millions of women exercise daily while alone, and most come home safe. However, imagine your friend goes out for a jog or bicycle ride and is never seen again. Women who go missing while jogging are not an isolated event. It may be hard to comprehend, but sadly, stories like this are becoming more common in today’s society.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there are approximately 100,000 people missing in the United States right now. As of May 31, 2018, there were 19,183 women over the age of eighteen listed as missing in NCIC. Many of them go missing while jogging or exercising.
Stories like Molly Tibbets, who was abducted and murdered, make national news headlines, creating fear throughout the country. Women being attacked or kidnapped, or going missing while jogging is a nightmare we cannot run away from and one that continues to haunt families of the missing.
The Disappearance of Rachel Cooke
Our first woman who went missing while jogging is Rachel Cooke. Rachel Cooke, 19, was visiting her parents in Georgetown, Texas, during her winter break from college. No one knew that would be her last trip home. On January 10, 2002, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Rachel went out for her four-mile daily run and was last seen 200 yards from her family home. Somewhere in that short distance, the beautiful young college student with a smile that could light up the Texas plains—vanished.(Northlake subdivision in Georgetown, Texas, where Rachel Cooke vanished while taking a morning run.)
Northlake subdivision is a quiet place, about 45 minutes from Austin, where streets are named after Native American tribes and the only people there are residents and their visitors. The houses are set back on several acres of property with expansive drives. The serenity is rarely disturbed by strangers, making it a perfect storm of cirumcstances to go missing while jogging.
224 Navajo Trail was the Cooke family’s dream home, and they loved its spaciousness and tranquility. Robert and Janet Cooke raised Rachel and her little sister Joann there while Janet taught English at a nearby high school. Robert was a long-time software engineer for IBM and commuted daily to Austin. It was a place where people felt safe going outside alone and kidnapping did not happen—until Rachel.
The Cooke family’s idyllic life came to an end that fateful Thursday, but the day started like any other. Robert and Janet left early to work, and Joann went to her classes at the local high school. Rachel was enjoying her winter break as a freshman at Mesa Junior College San Diego, and her family let her sleep in.
(Rachel Cooke was last seen at her parent’s home in Georgetown, Texas on January 10, 2002.)
When the family left that morning, Rachel was asleep on the living room sofa. Her mother kissed her goodbye.
Authorities believe Rachel got up and left the home at approximately 9:30 a.m. for her morning run. She went missing while jogging that morning.
When Robert got home at 5:00 p.m., Rachel was still not there and had no contact with anyone in the family the entire day. At first, Robert was not that concerned thinking Rachel was out with her friend Shannon, who she had plans with that evening. But, as time went by, Robert began to worry. He called Wildfire, a local restaurant, Rachel sometimes worked at while visiting. To the worried father’s relief, they told him Rachel had worked a shift that evening. However, morning came and there was still no sign of Rachel, so Robert called the restaurant again. To his horror, they told him, in fact, it was another Rachel that had worked the previous night shift.
Rachel was missing—and a sinking feeling overcame her father.
In the days following Rachel’s disappearance, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search with help from hundreds of volunteers. After the initial search efforts concluded, Robert and Janet continued to organize searches on weekends.
“We carried on for nine months, but at some point, we thought we’ve done our best,” Robert told the Guardian. “If they took her 12 miles, there is no reason why they wouldn’t take her 15 miles. We could search the entire state of Texas and still not find her.”
Robert Cooke passed away in November 2014, never knowing what happened to his daughter.
(The FBI erected billboards of Rachel Cooke in the state of Texas offering a $100,000 reward for information.)
In May 2019, the FBI erected billboards throughout Texas offering a $100,000 reward for any information about the whereabouts of Rachel.
As drivers passed Rachel’s smiling face along I-35, it read “Missing but not forgotten,” and placed there on Rachel’s 37th birthday. Janet Cook saw it as a Mother’s Day gift as well. Time has not lessened the mother’s hope of finding her daughter—and at least knowing what happened.
(In 2020, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office released two suspect composites in the disappearance of Rachel Cooke.)
In 2020, for Rachel’s 38th birthday, deputies met with Rachel’s mother Janet and released two new composite sketches of potential suspects in the case.
Her mother had a remembrance ceremony at the campus of Georgetown High School where they planted a tree in memory of Rachel. Sheriff Robert Chody spoke at the ceremony to remind the public his investigators are still working the case.
Janet Cooke, who also spoke, said she is just “seeking closure” on the case. “At this point I just want Rachel and to be able to tell her sister it’s over,” she told the Statesman.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Rachel Cooke, please call the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office at 512-943-5204 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Suzanne Morphew is missing from the small community in Maysville, Colorado, approximately 120 miles from Colorado Springs.)
An avid cyclist, Suzanne was biking near her home in Maysville, a small community in Chaffee County, approximately 120 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Her disappearance has spurred nationwide press coverage and a Facebook page with over 16,315 followers.
There have been reports that Suzanne’s bicycle was found just west of County Road 225 and West U.S. Highway 50. However, the Sheriff’s Office has only publicly confirmed a “personal item” was found that they believe belonged to the missing biker.
(Barry Morphew, Suzanne’s husband, made an emotional plea to the public offering a $200,000 reward for his wife’s safe return. Photo courtesy of Inside Edition)
Suzanne’s husband, Barry Morphew made a dramatic plea offering a $200,000 reward for the safe return of his wife. “No questions asked,” said Barry. “However much they want. I will do whatever it takes to get you back. I love you and I want you back so bad.” Barry, a volunteer firefighter is said to have been 150 miles away in Denver when Suzanne vanished.
(Suzanne Morphew has been missing from Maysville, Colorado, since May 10, 2020.)
Suzanne is a mother of two daughters and a cancer survivor. A former English teacher, Suzanne is described as “happy and active” who was always at the gym, hiking, or biking. She is loved in her community, and fliers dot the windows in the local businesses. Hundreds of volunteers have helped with the search efforts, organized by her nephew Trevor Noel, who has also become the family spokesperson.
“As time goes by, it gives us concern, but we are searching as if she is still alive and we think she could still be alive,” Sheriff John Spezze of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office told Inside Edition. In an earlier interview, the sheriff also said they are not ruling out foul play.
Initially, authorities had seized the Morphew home but confirmed on May 26, 2020, that the house has been released back to the family. Investigators have also searched a local home construction site in Salida, approximately 11 miles east of Maysville, spurring rumors that Suzanne Morphew had been located and the husband arrested. The sheriff’s office issued a press release in response to the speculation.
“In response to the widespread rumors, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office relays that Ms. Morphew has not been located and there have been no arrests in the investigation,” the release said.
Authorities say they have received over 400 tips and continue to encourage the public to call in with leads.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew, please contact the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office at 719-312-7530.
The Disappearance of Amy Bechtel
Amy Wroe Bechtel, 24, vanished on July 24, 1997, while jogging in the Wind River Mountains approximately 15 miles south of Lander, Wyoming.
(Amy Wroe Bechtel vanished on July 24, 1997, while jogging in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.)
Amy Bechtel went missing while jogging in a little hamlet of middle America. Lander, Wyoming is located in Fremont County with a population of under 8,000 people. A popular tourist destination with guest ranches, it is located just below the Wind River Mountains where people go hiking, rock climbing, and backpacking.
That Thursday morning of July 24, Amy told her husband, Steve Bechtel, that she was planning on running several errands in town after teaching a children’s weightlifting class at the Wind River Fitness Center. Steve planned to drive with his yellow lab, Jonz, to Dubois, 75 miles north, to meet his friend Sam Lightner, and scout some possible new climbing areas at Cartridge Creek.
After teaching class, Amy stopped at the Camera Connection, a photo store near her home in Lander, and then stopped by Gallery 331, where she spoke to the business owner about submitting her photographs into a competition. Amy was an amateur photographer, an avid runner, and a marathon hopeful who loved the outdoors and pristine beauty of Wyoming.
(A quaint mountain town, Lander is located in Central Wyoming just south of the Wind River Indian Reservation.)
Steve and Amy lived on Lucky Lane, a hipster community where many rock climbers live, drawn by some of the most difficult mountain walls in the United States. Lander is a quirky town with funky shops and art galleries, old school watering holes, and small home-town restaurants. Steve and Amy both worked part-time at Wild Iris Mountain Sports, a local outdoor equipment store.
The couple had just closed on a new house and were busy planning a move. Amy was also organizing a 10k hill climb scheduled for September 7. She planned that the runners would climb a series of mountain switchbacks not far from town, then jump into the Frye Lake and finish with a picnic. On the day she vanished, Amy’s “to do” list included a run and lifting, recycling, get photo mounted, get more boxes, mow the lawn, and get flyers.
John Strom, the owner of Camera Connection remembers Amy wearing a yellow shirt, black shorts, and running shoes that day. He said she seemed busy and cheerful when she left at about 2:30 p.m.
After completing several of her afternoon chores and leaving the camera shop—Amy’s life becomes that of speculation.
(Steve and Amy Bechtel with their dog Jonz.)
Steve returned from his day out with his friend at about 4:30 p.m. and found the house empty. He had returned earlier than planned and was not concerned but at about 10 p.m. he called her parents to see if Amy had driven to their house on the spur of the moment. She had not.
By 11 p.m. Steve had called the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office who sent two deputies to the house. They alerted the following shift who began to organize a search and rescue team to head out at daybreak. Steve and his neighbor Todd Skinner went to look for Amy’s car on Loop Road, a 30-mile road through the Shoshone National Forest.
(Amy Bechtel’s car was found alongside the road in Burnt Gulch, about 45 minutes from town.)
At approximately 1:00 a.m., Steve received a call that Amy’s white Toyota Tercel station wagon was found alongside the road at Burnt Gulch, about 45 minutes from town in the mountains, so he headed there immediately. Her car unlocked, the keys under her “to do” list on the front passenger seat, along with her sunglasses.
Steve and a small group began searching the woods with flashlights, calling Amy’s name. By the time the official search party arrived, a dozen people were searching for Amy and the site had not been preserved for evidence. Thinking Amy was just lost, no one could have imagined the site might be a crime scene,
For years, evidence remained elusive, and over the last two decades, law enforcement has only developed theories about what happened to her. They believe Amy left the camera shop and then went to scout the location for the 10k.
In recent years, national television and media interest in the case has waned and generated little leads that have been useful to authorities. A $25,000 reward went untouched and was eventually converted into two college scholarship funds in Amy’s name.
Fremont County Sheriff Sgt. Roger Rizor has been the lead investigator and told the Billings Gazette in 2007, that Amy’s case was cold, but it is still an open case. “I believe it was a homicide, and I believe that’s what happened on the day she disappeared.”
(Jo Anne Wroe wanders in the meadows of her log home above Red Lodge to feel close to her missing daughter Amy Wroe Bechtel. Photo courtesy of the Billings Gazette.)
As years passed, Jo Anne stopped marking the anniversaries of Amy’s disappearance with yellow ribbons. She does not have a grave to visit so she loves to meander near the mountain creek among the aspen trees and wildflowers to feel close to her missing daughter.
Amy’s disappearance has deeply affected every facet of Jo Anne’s life and that of her three other children.
“A part of me is realistic, and I’m aware that she is probably not alive,” she said. “I have learned to live with the fact that Amy is gone. But I have not accepted it, and I will not until I know what happened.”
If you have any information about the disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel, please call the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at 307-332-5611.
Kym served as CEO of the National Center for Missing Adults from 1994 to 2010 and advocating for missing persons and their families for over 25 years.
Kym has worked with national media to raise awareness and featured on Anderson Cooper Live, Greta Van Susteren, Montel Williams, the John Walsh Show, CNN, BBC, FOX, L. A. Times, People Magazine, Ladies Home Journal.
Tiffany Daniels, 25, mysteriously vanished on August 12, 2013, from Pensacola, Florida. She was last seen leaving Pensacola State College where she worked as a theater technician.
Pensacola is the westernmost city on the Florida Panhandle in Escambia County. From the pristine beaches and Bay area attractions to day trips and nightlife, Pensacola is a popular tourist destination.
On August 11, Tiffany started her day with a goodbye breakfast with her boyfriend, who had just been accepted into the robotics program at the University of Texas in Austin. Though he encouraged her to come with him, she objected. She said she wanted to continue the relationship and was making plans to visit him in Austin, but she expressed she wasn’t ready to leave Pensacola yet.
After the breakfast, her roommate Gary Nichols recalls Tiffany was a little depressed, but it was mitigated with enthusiasm for a later visit to Austin, a place her friends thought she would easily adjust to if she did decide to move there.
Gary Nichols, 54, was the father of one of Tiffany’s friends who was separating from his wife and wanted to live closer to his job. Tiffany had placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a roommate and Nichols thought it would help both and he agreed to rent the room. Though Tiffany’s parents were not particularly happy with her sharing her place with a man twice her age, they were happy she was with someone safe. They both shared similar interests such as bicycling and eating healthy and got along great according to Gary.
The theater department had Tiffany scheduled to start working on set for an upcoming musical comedy called Spamalot. That evening Tiffany and Gary decided to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a film on which the musical she was working on was based. They both went to their bedrooms after the movie because they were both scheduled to work early the following morning.
Between 3:00 – 5:00 a.m., Gary heard the front door open and close several times and peeked out but did not see Tiffany. Assuming Tiffany had just gone to work early, Gary went back to sleep.
On August 12, Tiffany went to work at the beginning of her shift and began painting the sets. Later, she asked her supervisor if she could leave work early and take off a couple of days following not citing a reason just saying she had a couple things to do. The supervisor approved the time off and she clocked out at 4:43 p.m. as she left the theater.
She returned home briefly after she left work. Her roommate was home but was distracted on the phone with his out-of-state girlfriend, and says he did not see her come in.
That night, Gary became concerned and tried to call Tiffany when she had not returned by 10:00 p.m. Again, he tried to call her the following morning when she had not returned. That evening, he returned the house and found the electricity had been shut off. He assumed Tiffany had forgotten to pay the bill so he called his daughter Noel and asked her if she would contact Tiffany’s mother Cindy Daniels.
Cindy and Noel began to contact every friend of Tiffany’s they could think of. None had seen her. By the end of the week, when Tiffany had not yet shown back up, they decided to call the police.
First, Cindy went to Escambia County Sheriff’s Office where they referred her to the Pensacola Police Department inside the jurisdiction of where Tiffany lives. Detective Daniel Harnett met Cindy at Tiffany’s home and searched it. He found no signs of foul play. Her family thought maybe she went camping but the police found her tent inside her room.
Hartnett investigated both Tiffany’s boyfriend and Gary Daniels and found they were not deceptive.
“As law enforcement, we are going to investigate missing person cases as if they are a crime, said Detective Harnett. “The way we work this case it’s as if it’s a worst-case and we hope for the best.”
Theories regarding Tiffany’s disappearance include foul play to accidental drowning. However, based on an anonymous tip and several possible sightings, the family believes she may have been a victim of human trafficking and may still be alive.
Car Is Found Abandoned
The case had been on the local news and family and friends distributed and posted fliers throughout Pensacola.
On August 20, a biker, who was a friend of the Daniels family, recognized Tiffany’s silver Toyota 4 Runner during her morning ride. It was parked at Park West in Pensacola Beach, near Fort Pickens, which is at the western end of Santa Rosa Island.
Tiffany had often hiked the sweeping dunes of Gulf Islands National Seashore, even though her mother warned her not to go hiking alone.
Inside her vehicle, police found her bicycle, purse, cell phone, wallet, clothing, paintings, a jar of peanut butter and a jug of water.
Police impounded the vehicle and towed it to the police garage for further examination and found two fingerprints, one on the door handle and the other on the steering wheel. These prints could not be matched to Tiffany.
A resident at a nearby condo said the vehicle had not been parked there until two days earlier, meaning it had parked there on August 18, six days after Tiffany’s disappearance. This lead could not be confirmed but two other residents told investigators they had seen a man getting out of the car earlier in the day on August 20.
To try to determine a timeline of when the car was driven there, Detective Harnett examined security footage from the toll booths at the Bob Sikes Bridge, the only road connecting Pensacola and the island. The footage showed Tiffany’s car passed through at 7:51 p.m. on August 12, the evening she vanished. However, it could not be determined if she was the one driving the vehicle.
Police also found sand on the bicycle tires, suggesting Tiffany may have gone for a bike ride that evening as the Perseid Meteor Shower was happening at the time.
Hoping someone saw something, family and friends canvassed the area and surrounding residential complexes, but law enforcement received no new leads. KlaasKids, a volunteer organization organized a search party and conducted a search of much of the island with canines finding some clothing and jewelry, but none was determined to be Tiffany’s.
Rodney and Cindy Daniels, Tiffany’s parents, set up a Facebook Page “Help Find Tiffany” that has over 21,000 Likes. The site has generated numerous leads over the years and has been a source of constant support for her parents.
One such sighting occurred in 2014, leading Tiffany’s family to Louisiana and down the winding road of human trafficking.
A woman who worked at a restaurant as a waitress in Metairie, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans, reported she had seen a woman that matched Tiffany’s description come inside the restaurant. She entered with two women who were possibly Latina, one older than the other. Each was nicely dressed. The waitress told investigators, the younger women had both acted oddly and would not look her in the eye, while the older woman did all the talking. Despite the warm weather, both young women had been wearing long-sleeved shirts, with the cuffs of the shirts pulled over their hands. When the waitress told the women that the Caucasian woman looked very similar to the missing woman that had been on the news, the older Latino asked for “to go” bags and the three left.
When investigators talked to the waitress, she was adamant that the Caucasian woman looked just like Tiffany. Sadly, the surveillance from that day had been recorded over so the sighting could not be confirmed.
For two reasons, Tiffany’s family believe it was her that day. First, Tiffany would always put her sleeves over her hands when she was cold. Second, the waitress said she asked whether one of the soups on the menu used chicken or fish broth. Cindy recalled a time she was at a restaurant with Tiffany and she asked the same question, as Tiffany was pescatarian and avoided chicken products.
This sighting prompted Tiffany’s parents to begin researching the horrors of human trafficking. They found traffickers prefer women in their late teens and fear Tiffany’s very trusting nature would have allowed her to fall for whatever ploy traffickers would have used to lure her. In addition, Interstate 10 which is a major trafficking corridor runs from Pensacola through Louisiana.
Though Detective Harnett has found no evidence to substantiate this theory, he is not entirely ruling it out either.
Another promising lead came in during 2018 and steered Rodney and Cindy into the world of the homeless. A mother and daughter in California contacted them and claimed they had watched an episode of Investigation Discovery and saw a woman who looked like Cindy living within a homeless community in California.
“I was in the area and assisted them with some of the searching and the person that they found was not Tiffany because she didn’t have the tattoos on her feet,” said Rodney. “However, it led me to have a firsthand look at homeless people and how they attempt to survive, and it really grabbed us by the heart. It absolutely did.”
Though the family has not yet received the lead they need to find Tiffany, the Daniels did disclose that another witness had come forward regarding the day Tiffany vanished. They said they saw a man in his thirties wearing red shorts and no shirt opening the tailgate of Tiffany’s truck. A witness sighting that corroborated the other two witnesses that came forward early in the case. The man said he remembered this incident because the car had been parked facing oncoming traffic, in an area that was strictly reserved for wildlife.
Tiffany was born March 11, 1988, in Dallas, Texas. Early in her life, her parents Cindy and Rodney moved to Pensacola where Tiffany would grow up, along with her two sisters.
Tiffany went to high school and took many extracurricular classes and would receive multiple scholarship offers. Tiffany attended both Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida.
Tiffany became an exceptional artist and a skilled painter. She loved to dance and often held dance parties at her home. According to friends of Tiffany’s friends, she is fun-loving and free-spirited and would light up a room when she walked in.
Always wanting to adventure, Tiffany was drawn to picturesque places and people who shared her love for art.
“Everybody loved Tiffany. Tiffany is a light and that the best way I can describe her,” Said her sister Candice. “When you are around her you just feel light, everything gets brighter, more colorful, more beautiful.”
When she was not working Tiffany could be found biking, surfing, hiking or camping. Tiffany’s father described his daughter as a “butterfly girl” saying, “She would be talking or doing something and if a butterfly would come by, she would take off and follow it.”
Tiffany’s spontaneous nature would often lead to long bike rides or hiking just to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Often a loner, Tiffany loved to commune with nature, it was her way.
Tiffany is an adventurous young woman who seemed to be achieving her dreams, but there was a dark side. Tiffany had financial troubles.
In July 2013, her parents took notice. In the previous months, friends and roommates that Tiffany had found on Craigslist were moving in and out. Some had taken advantage of Tiffany’s kind nature and had not paid their shares of living expenses. “Most of the time she was too nice,” Cindy said. “Most of time she did want to ask for the rent, utilities when they were due. So, we found out she was paying for things upfront and later trying to collect money from the roommates later.” When she went missing, Tiffany was approximately two months behind on her utility bill.
Tiffany would often find herself broke which led to Gary, who was financially stable, moving in.
But things had changed before Tiffany’s disappearance; she was not her bubbly self and she had drifted away from friends. Police wondered if she might have left on her own or committed suicide because life had just become too much. However, her friends and family said suicide was not even a possibility that Tiffany would consider.
Tiffany’s cell phone had been out of minutes for days prior to her disappearance, making her activities hard for police to track.
Police continue to search for Tiffany, and while the Daniels also continue to search for their daughter, they have also found themselves consumed with wanting to help others. When asked what’s next? “We do continue to work as advocates for families,” said Rodney. “When a search is going on, we stay with the family while the teams are out searching.”
With a lifelong career in fire and emergency services, Rodney now speaks to law enforcement nationwide, educating them on the signs of human trafficking.
As so many families of missing loved ones find themselves, they become experts in the field of missing persons. The Daniels have found that working with other families of missing children and adults gives them the strength to continue searching for their own child. To not only bring her home but to ward off the feeling of desperation and accompanying depression that can be all-consuming.
Tiffany’s parents face the ambiguity with courage and determination and have dedicated their lives to bring their Tiffany home no matter what the ending. “Every family with a missing person’s case needs closure because you fall into that gray area and you don’t know which is worse,” said Cindy.
It is Cindy and Rodney’s hope that keeps them going while daily they wait for some word. “Until someone brings me a body or a piece of her body, I’m never going to give up that she’s alive and that she will come and show up at our door,” said Rodney.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Tiffany Daniels, please call the Pensacola Police Department at 850-435-1900.
Summary: Tiffany Daniels, a free-spirited young woman, vanished from a beach in Pensacola, Florida. Tips would lead her parents into the underbelly of human trafficking. What happened to Tiffany Daniels?
The coronavirus has reportedly killed more than 1000 Chinese residents since the outbreak of a new coronavirus, restricting travel and forcing the quarantines. The Chinese government is under immense pressure to solve the crisis, and scientists are racing to find a way to contain the unnamed virus before it has global repercussions. In another disturbing, yet not altogether surprising, turn of events, persons who have been critical of the government’s handling of the virus outbreak are starting to disappear.
Many Chinese residents have taken to social media to
document how the virus is effecting their communities and how those communities
are effected by the government. Chen Qiushi is one of those citizens, a lawyer
who has been at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan. He started posting
about the virus on January 25 after the Chinese government locked the city down
in order to contain the virus. Chen Qiushi’s remarks regarding the government
and its handling of the outbreak have been—in a word—critical, citing lack of
medical supplies, crowded hospitals, and accusing the Chinese government of
incompetence and suppressing freedom of speech in discourse regarding the
Chen Qiushi’s latest update was last Thursday, February 6,
and no one has heard from him since. In a recent tweet, Chen’s friend Xu
Xiaodong, stated that Chen has been “taken away to quarantine by force.” He
went on to say that Chen has not had access to his personal cell phone. This is
interesting, because Chen’s Twitter account still appears to be active despite
his disappearance. In a statement
released by the Human Rights Watch, they stated that friends and family have
applied for an audience to speak with Chen, but their queries have not been
Another Chinese “citizen journalist” has also gone missing,
just days after the disappearance of Chen Qiushi. Fang Bin, a Wuhan-based
businessman, has also been documenting the devastation in his community via social
media. He had reportedly dared the Chinese government to come seize him for his
comments regarding their handling of the virus on the same day that he posted a
12-second video of a paper that read “resist all citizens, hand the power of
the government back to the people.” Authorities used the fire brigade to break
down his door and arrest him.
In China, government focus appears to be split between
containing the spread of the virus, and controlling the narrative surrounding
the containment. Yaqui Wang, a Cinhese researcher for Human Rights Watch,
commented on the government’s repeated pattern of censoring or controlling
narratives that concern disasters or pandemics, “authorities are as equally, if
not more, concerned with silencing criticism as with containing the spread of
American watchdog organizations and lawmakers have called for the Chinese government to account for Chen Qiushi’s and Fang Bin’s whereabouts. Steven Butler, the program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists stated, “Authorities in Wuhan must disclose whether they are holding journalist Chen Qiushi. If they are, then he should be released immediately. China does not seem to have learned the clear lesson that bottling up the truth about a spreading illness will only make matters worse.”
Law enforcement is remaining tight-lipped on the subject of a case that has mystified the town of Placerville, California. Eleven-year-old Roman Anthony Lopez was last seen at the family home on Coloma Street, January 11, 2020. Later that same day, the boy’s body was reportedly discovered. In a Facebook post, the Placerville Police Department said that the body was found. They also reported at a press conference that they discovered the body following a search of the area, and were investigating his death as “suspicious.” Little else was disclosed, however, leaving the community with devastating news, but no answers.
The radio silence from law enforcement officials has led the
public and the press asking questions, but maybe none so fervently as Roman’s
biological mother, Rochelle “Shelly” Lopez. Lopez is a military veteran, who
unfortunately developed an addiction to pills following an injury she sustained
while deployed in Iraq. Because of these circumstances, it was his biological
father, Jordan Piper, who was awarded primary custody of Roman. According to
Lopez, Piper had relocated several times over the past few years, and had made
it difficult for Lopez to see her son.
One of the most tragic aspects of the case so far is that Lopez learned of her son’s death through an online news article. Lopez told KOVR, “Why didn’t anybody let me know? Why didn’t they even know I existed? People in that town didn’t even know that I was his mother. There are so many things that are wrong with this situation and don’t add up and don’t make sense.”
There were seven other children in the home where Roman was
last seen. Those children were reportedly moved into protective custody
following the onset of the investigation. A spokesperson for the family told
Oxygen.com, “The Rochelle Lopez family has full confidence in the law
enforcement agencies investigating Roman’s death and know there will be resolve
and closure.” The family has offered no other comment as the family prepared to
travel to California in order to mourn the loss of Roman Lopez.
On January 16, the Placerville Police Department issued a
statement, “We realize that the press and public are looking for answers and
mourning the loss of Roman. The police department has also been affected, and
has been working tirelessly to complete the investigation. The complexity of
the case will require time and patience.” They went on to say that a pathology
report regarding the boy’s cause of death will not be available for about a
Investigating authorities have encouraged anyone with information regarding Roman Lopez’s death to call Detective Luke Gadow at (530) 642-5210, ext. 116.
In March 1993, Tricia Lynn Reitler, 19, was a freshman psychology major at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. Teachers described Tricia as a beautiful and brilliant student with a high grade point average. Her future was bright until . . . she vanished without a trace.
During the early evening of Tricia’s disappearance on March 29, 1993, she was writing a term paper and decided to take a short break to walk to Marsh Supermarket, approximately half a mile from the university campus. According to investigators, while at the store, she purchased a root beer and a magazine leaving the store to return to her dormitory in Bowman Hall. She never made it back.
Her disappearance has been a jigsaw puzzle that has kept investigators baffled for 26 years. After extensive searches, police discovered Tricia’s bloodstained jeans, shirt, and shoes in a field near Seybold Pool and the Center Elementary School. Also, police found small droplets of blood on an earring on the sidewalk about a quarter mile between the store and the campus.
Tricia was a runner. In fact, she had taken two runs that unseasonably warm Monday in March. Her father, Garry Reitler believes her flexibility and fitness contributed to the difficulty the canine tracking dogs had. During the search, her scent was all over the place in the area where the abduction had occurred.
One More Day
Tricia’s disappearance results in parents without a daughter, siblings growing up never knowing their sibling, and a town still looking for answers 26 years later. Still, many questions remain.
“It’s unbelievable, I mean you walk around kind of like you are in a daze,” said Donna Reitler, Tricia’s mother. Donna has spent decades coping by carrying on for her husband and other three children. But moving on hasn’t been easy because she feared “moving on” meant leaving Tricia behind and she just couldn’t do that.
Donna told the Chronicle-Tribune, “You tell yourself, ‘Oh, just one more day. Just one more day,’ and here you are 26 years later.”
Both parents have coped differently, but have managed to keep their marriage together, defying all odds. “Somebody says they saw her, or they found something,” said Garry. “It’s a struggle but as a father, you have to go out and look, you have to exhaust all of those leads.”
Garry has often worked alongside law enforcement in the search for his daughter.
Their daughter has appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, Dateline, even The Jerry Springer Show. People have written books and even a movie made for television but that doesn’t matter to Garry and Donna — they just need answers.
Law Enforcement’s Frustrations
“It’s a case that’s been worked by multiple agencies for years. It’s still difficult, there’s no doubt about that,” retired Marion Police Detective Jay Kay. “I’ve always tried to stay positive. I’ve always believed sooner or later; the answers will come forward.”
Though the investigation may seem at a standstill, according to Marion County Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey as of March 2019, police are reviewing new DNA samples in the case. Dorsey says police want to put Tricia’s abductor in prison, but also want to find Tricia to ensure she is returned to her family where she belongs. It’s something Donna and Garry admit they need too.
“Still this whole thing of going over and over different scenarios that could have happened or maybe we didn’t think of this or maybe we should have gone here or this or that; like I said that does not stop,” Donna said. “To be able to bring her home and put her to rest; it’s not going to change the outcome. Tricia will still be gone, but I think for our family we will be able to move on to a certain degree.”
The Reitler’s and police have followed up on hundreds of leads over the years and one person keeps coming up. “We’ve had a number of suspects over the years, one being Larry Hall, however, we don’t have any evidence that puts Larry into the mix of Tricia being missing,” said Dep. Chief Stephen Dorsey of Marion Police Department.
A Serial Killer?
Larry DeWayne Hall is currently serving a life sentence at a medium-security federal psychiatric prison in North Carolina for the 1993 abduction of Jessica Roach, 15, near Georgetown, Illinois, a short distance from the Indiana border. Her body was later found in the fall of 1993, in a cornfield near Perrysville, Indiana.
Jessica was last seen at approximately 3:30 p.m. on September 20, 1993, riding her bicycle near her home in Georgetown.
Hall was never charged with Roach’s murder because police could not pinpoint where she was killed. According to federal court records, Hall signed a written confession that he kidnapped and killed Jessica Roach, but he has since recanted. Some believe Hall is responsible for killing up to 40 women and girls.
Christopher Hawley Martin, author of Urges: A Chronicle of Serial Killer Larry Hall describes Hall as being bullied as a child and as a juvenile bedwetter. Martin writes that Hall traveled the country in his van as a Civil War reenactment buff.
Raised in a big house on a cemetery in Wabash, Indiana, identical twins Larry Hall and Gary Hall’s father was the sexton (gravedigger) at the cemetery. Both brothers were Civil War reenactors who kept to themselves, traveling to many states in pursuit of their pastime.
During the research for his book, Martin began traveling the country and researched disappearances and unsolved murders of women around each of the Civil War reenactment event that Hall was known to have ventured. The picture that emerged was frightening — there were many.
Martin began corresponding with Hall in prison and was able to obtain information on other missing and murdered girls.
Laura Jean Depies, 20, worked a shift at Graffiti store at Fox River Mall in Appleton, Wisconsin. At approximately 10:00 p.m., Laura and a co-worker locked the store and walked to their cars in the mall parking lot. Depies was going to her boyfriend’s home and headed east on College Avenue in her 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit. She pulled into the Town of Menasha parking complex (now Fox Crossing) and parked. Her friends can remember hearing her pull in, but she never arrived at her boyfriend’s apartment. Once they realized time had elapsed, they immediately went outside and started searching while calling the police. The only physical evidence found at the scene was Laura’s drinking cup left on the hood of her car.
Hall told Martin he stalked mall parking lots, plazas and stores looking for victims. Hall then claimed he spotted Laura Depies at a store and followed her to the apartment parking lot where she was chloroformed and abducted. He then assaulted and killed her at a remote location, claiming he dumped her body in a wooded area.
According to Fox 8 News, during the investigation of Jessica Roach’s murder, police found notes in Hall’s van that said “Lori” and “Fox River.” Investigators then concluded that Hall attended a Civil War Reenactment in Kaukauna the weekend before Depies vanished.
Hall has never been charged with the potential abduction and murder of Depies because there is a lack of physical evidence to support his confession. Due to red-tape, Wisconsin law enforcement has been unable to get Hall to Wisconsin to show them where he claims to have dumped Laura’s body.
Mark Depies, Laura’s father, doesn’t believe Hall.
“I’m not buying that much at all,” Depies said. “especially without a body or anything to go on other than he confessed.”
However, Menasha Police Department have said Hall knows things about the abduction only the killer and police would know.
“The unfortunate thing is I only have memories of her first 20 years,” Laura’s mother Mary Wegner told ABC News. “I don’t know that you can ever really have closure . . . there are still some loose ends that I feel need to be followed up, including finding the remains of my daughter.”
Martin decided to question Hall about the abduction of Paulette Webster missing from Chester, Ill., pm on September 2, 1988.
Hall claimed Paulette was taken from the main east/west roads through Chester which is where she was, in fact, walking home from her friend’s house at approximately 11:00 p.m.
He also claims to have picked Paulette up near a mobile home park, which again Martin found was true. Hall then said he took Paulette to a remote location where she was kept and sexually assaulted for several hours. Hall said he either threw her in the Mississippi River or buried her.
Letters from Jail
In the letter to Martin, Hall goes also claims there are several girls buried in the Mark Twain forest in Missouri. This information has led some to believe he may have abducted Stacy McCall, Suzanne Streeter, and Streeter’s mother Sherrill Levitt. Known as the Springfield Three, they were all abducted from their home on June 7, 1992, in Springfield, Missouri.
Halls claims to have begun murdering young girls and women in the summer of his high school graduation in 1981. While Hall’s stories and admissions are compelling, law enforcement is still at a standstill without any of the bodies to pursue any murder charges.
Thomas Lauth of Lauth Investigations International headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a 25-year veteran in the field of missing persons and missing person private investigator who believes there is some credence to Hall’s claims, however, he also points out there are other serial killers out there too. “The FBI estimates as many as 50 serial killers operating in the United States at any given time,” said Lauth. “When we are talking that serial killers can average 30-40 victims during their lifetime (if not more), that is not a small number of victims when combined.”
Meanwhile, the parents of Tricia Reitler, Laura Depies, Paulette Webster and the many others Hall has admitted to abducting wait through heart-wrenching and never-ending days for answers that will enable them to finally bring their daughters home.
The family of 63 year-old Kenneth Wayne Jimson is still
waiting for answers in his mysterious disappearance from Shelby, North Carolina
almost two years ago. When he was reported missing back in December of 2017,
authorities issued a Silver Alert for Kenneth because they believed that he was
coping with a cognitive impairment. Like many other missing individuals with
cognitive impairments, case progress has been stalled because of the transient
nature of missing persons with those impairments.
According to the Shelby
Star, the last confirmed sighting of Kenneth was in the vicinity of Care
Solutions on East Grover Street in Shelby, North Carolina. He underwent a minor
outpatient medical procedure that was performed the day he disappeared. His
wife reportedly called a cab to pick him up after he was discharged from Atrium
Health in Shelby. However, Kenneth never caught the cab. The last confirmed
sighting placed Kenneth headed in the direction of a local Bojangles.
At the center of this frustrating search are Kenneth’s loved
ones, who only grow more desperate for answers in his disappearance. His
sister, Lauree Butler, told the Shelby Star, “It’s hard not knowing if he’s
alive or dead.” A few months after Kenneth was reported missing, there was a
ray of hope when witnesses in the southern region of the county reported seeing
a man who fit his description. However, authorities were not able to follow
through on the lead while it was still active. They failed to catch up with the
tip, and the trail once again went cold. “Every time the police would show up,
there would be nothing,” Lauree Butler told the Shelby Star. “He had been in a
wreck…His mind wasn’t what it should be.”
According to the family, Kenneth had wandered off once
before, and he was located headed in the direction of Gaffney, South Carolina. As
of March, 2019, authorities said that they believed Kenneth could be in that
same area, and have been working with his family in order to determine where he
might have gone.
Kenneth Jimson is 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs around
200 pounds. He has short back hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing
black jeans and a black jacket. Kenneth has a dent in his forehead from a
previous medical procedure. Anyone with information about Kenneth Jimson should
call the Shelby Police Department at 704-484-6845.