Alex Holden’s body identified in American River

Alex Holden’s body identified in American River

Alex Holden’s body was identified as the one found in American River. Alex was reported missing on New Year’s Day, 2020.

Police have announced that they suspect “no foul play” in the death of a California man who was reported missing over a month ago. Alex Holden, 25, was reported missing on New Year’s Day after he was last seen the night before. The Sacramento Police Department solicited the public’s help in finding answers surrounding his disappearance, which was described as “uncharacteristic” by his family.

Alex is the son of two Missouri Judges. Alex’s father, Judge Calvin Holden, told the Springfield News-Leader, “He has no history of disappearing. It’s very unusual. You know he missed work this morning, which is extremely unusual. He’s very conscientious about his work.” Judge Holden eventually went on to address the lingering question of whether or not his son would take his own life, to which he gave a categorical denial, “It’s not him. He would never do that. He was one of the happiest people you’d ever know.”

Friends and family were struck with confusion because Alex had shared the location of his mobile device with several individuals with whom he was close, but his phone went dead sometime earlier in the evening, so no one was able to ascertain his last known location. He had been in an argument that evening, and had set off on a walk to another location to sleep. He had walked the route before, and was familiar with the area. His girlfriend, Kennedi Perri, indicated that Alex had been drinking before his disappearance.

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, after almost a month since he was reported missing, a body found in the America River was identified as Alex Holden. In a tweet regarding the tragic news, the Sacramento Police Department said, “This is never the outcome we want from any missing person case. Our hope is that this may provide some closure for the family.”

The family has announced plans for a memorial and visitation ceremony in Springfield on Friday, February 7, 2020 so that friends and family can grieve this terrible loss.

Journalist Goes Missing While on Assignment

Journalist Goes Missing While on Assignment

An automotive journalist took a motorcycle for a test drive, and that was the last anyone heard from him…

Davey G. Johnson, a journalist missing on assignment, was on an extended test-drive of a motorcycle in California last week when he fell out of touch with his fiancé on the evening of Tuesday, June 4, 2019. He contacted his fiancé around 2AM on June 5th, apologizing for his radio silence, citing a dead cell phone and hazardous roads. “That part of the Sierra is just stupidly spectacular. Anyway, I’m so sorry I worried you. Yes, I am okay and alive, but I am WIPED.”  By 8:30 that morning, he had contacted a friend, saying he was on his way home from the motorcycle test drive. That was the last anyone has heard from Davey G. Johnson.

A journalist missing in action is not unheard of in their profession, but it is odd that it would happen to an automotive journalist. Davey is a seasoned automotive writer, and a regular contributor to auto publications. The assignment he was on when he disappeared was a piece for Motorcyclist magazine. He was test-driving a Honda CB1000R motorcycle. During the search for the missing journalist, investigators were able to locate the motorcycle at a rest stop off California’s Route 49, near Mokelumne Hill. Davey’s helmet, and gloves were found neatly stored with the bike. The Mokelumne River is located near the rest stop, which is consistent with Davey’s message to a friend that morning stating he was near a creek. That’s where authorities located his backpack, including his phone and laptop. The river was searched with the help of boats and drone air support, but swift currents in the river forced the team to halt the search.

Davey was beloved throughout the automotive media sector, with publications like Jalopnik, AutoWeek, Car and Driver, and Roadshow all publicizing his disappearance in the hope it will unearth leads for investigators from the public. Davey’s fiancé, Jaclyn Trop, is also an automotive journalist. She told CBS News, “”He is so full of life and I’ve just never met anyone like him. There’s just so many questions that we have.”

When people go missing in rural or unpopulated areas, it can be difficult to piece together their last movement before they went missing. There is usually a lack of reliable external security systems that might have shown the journalist’s activity at the rest stop, as well as what direction he headed when he left his riding gear and bike parked. Witnesses are difficult to track down, especially in a transient area like a rest stop where individuals come and go with frequency. Authorities run into similar issues when searching for an individual in a national park.

FA journalist missing is a journalist lost. amily and loved ones of Davey are holding out hope he will be found soon. No evidence of foul play has been reported by authorities. A GoFundMe page has been set up to benefit Calaveras County Search and Rescue, a volunteer division of the Sheriff’s Department, for those wishing to donate.
Anyone with information that could help in the search and rescue efforts is urged to contact the Calaveras County Sheriff at 209–754–6500.

Meet Missing Person Expert, Thomas Lauth

Meet Missing Person Expert, Thomas Lauth

LII

At Lauth Missing Person Investigations, we specialize in complex missing person investigations of endangered missing children and adults.

The investigative team at Lauth Investigations has over 40 years combined experience working closely with the families of missing persons, local, state and federal law enforcement, along with national media and missing persons organizations throughout the country and internationally.

Founded in 1995, Thomas Lauth is a nationally recognized Missing Persons and Human Trafficking Investigator and graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, who initially served as Senior Criminal Investigator for Marion County Public Defender Agency located in Indiana.

Lauth has served as both a prosecution and defense witness on numerous missing persons and homicides at the federal and state levels, including being appointed by state and federal courts to conduct independent investigations of homicides, robberies, and other serious felony matters.

In addition, Thomas has attended various U.S. Department of Justice conferences on missing persons, human trafficking, and child abduction. He served as a volunteer Advisor to the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and the National Center for Missing Adults for nearly twenty years.

In addition to working with local and state law enforcement, Lauth has worked cooperatively with Interpol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. State Department, the U.S. Consulate and various foreign embassies.

Lauth is considered an expert in missing persons by national media and has appeared in publications like Essence Magazine, USA Today, Los Angeles Daily News, San Diego Tribune, New York Times and more.

According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as of May 31, 2018, there were 87,608 active missing person cases in the United States.

Missing persons are entered into various categories such as Juvenile, Endangered, Involuntary or Non-family Abductions, Disability, Catastrophe and Other. Though it is not mandated for law enforcement to enter missing persons into NCIC, it is beneficial to both the missing person and the private investigation. Lauth Investigations verifies all missing persons investigated are entered into NCIC making the missing person’s information available to all law enforcement throughout the country to include, medical examiners and Coroners.

By creating more public awareness, it increases the potential for generating leads. Lauth is one of the few private investigators in the country who works every day in locating missing persons, focusing on creating a collaborative effort between various victim assistance organizations, media, and law enforcement to create a successful public awareness campaign.

Lauth Investigations success rate is averaged at approximately 85% over 20 years working with families of missing persons. Every case is unique based on the circumstances of the disappearance and discovery based upon the private investigator’s fact-finding.

When hired, Lauth exclusively focuses on the specific missing person case, ensuring full attention is given to each case. Lauth is experienced in searching for missing persons between the ages of approximately 12-years old to seniors.

Circumstances of disappearances include at-risk children, teens, at-risk adults missing due to foul play, human trafficking, custodial and non-custodial abduction, (including Hague and non-compliant Hague countries), homeless, and those suffering from disabilities such as mental illness or missing persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Following are a few excerpts from letters Thomas Lauth has received throughout the years:

Mr. Lauth’s credentials indicate he has a high success rate of locating individuals and we have also found this to be true. He not only utilizes various resources to help locate individuals, but he frequently follows up with them after they are located to see how they are transitioning.

We will continue to utilize Thomas Lauth’s services in the future. His assistance with this organization and the many families of missing person we refer him to give hope to the possibility these families will once again be able to hold their loved ones in their arms. We highly recommend the services he provides to the families of missing persons.

Erin Bruno, National Center for Missing Adults

At a highly emotional time, I found the contact with Mr. Lauth to be quite reassuring. His experience in investigations of missing persons is quite impressive and without pressure, he outlined the stages of his proposed investigation costs and projected number of days to successfully locate my son.

As Tom predicted, my son was located a day later and was brought to the hospital in very bad shape. I am convinced without his intervention, my son was at extreme risk of death, or trafficked to other major cities around the world.

I am honored to provide a letter of reference for this remarkable man who is such a strong advocate for missing persons. My experience is such that I do not recommend relying solely on a local police department to locate a missing person, particularly with mental illness. The risk of exploitation or other harm is simply too great and hiring an experienced private investigator is more likely to bring a loved one home again.

Liz Mallin, mother of Brandon

Thomas Lauth, an investigator who specializes in missing children and adults, has been one of the most reliable and imaginative investigators we have found to date. Mr. Lauth’s experience with our organization, as well as the work he has done for the National Center for Missing Adults, has proven to be invaluable in the locating of abductors and bringing missing children and adults home.

Mr. Lauth’s impressive list of successes as well as his passion for the “left behind parent” makes him more than qualified to work in the area of child abduction. I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Lauth to any parent who has lost a child. I personally feel that it is Mr. Lauth’s feelings for the children that separate him from so many other investigators.

David Thelen, CEO of Committee for Missing Children, Inc.

I wanted to take this opportunity to formally commend and recommend the services provided by Thomas Lauth at Lauth Investigations. My family and I recently worked with Thomas regarding my sister and nephew who had been missing for almost two years.

Tom was the second investigator that worked the case. Based on the excellent service we experienced, I sincerely regret that we did not work with him initially.

I found Thomas to be extremely knowledgeable, professional and emphatic. I immediately felt comfortable confiding in him. In response, Thomas offered a complete plan, with accurate cost disclosures and regular substantive updates.

Most importantly, Thomas did exactly what he promised to do, on time and within the estimated budget we initially discussed. Thanks to his efforts, we were able to speak with both missing parties for the first time since 2003.

Tom is an absolute gem. I strongly recommend him to anyone who may find him or herself in the unfortunate circumstance of losing contact with a loved one.

Andrea D. Townsend, Attorney at Law

Recently, my son was missing, and we had nowhere to turn until we found you. He had taken off for work and never got there. No one knew where he was, and police couldn’t help because he was of age.

If any parent is in our situation, I highly recommend they call you. You were so helpful and kind to us. You understood just how worried we were.

You met my husband in Massachusetts, where we finally figured out where he was. You stayed there until he was found and let us contact him. Your kindness and professional manner were of great comfort to us in our time of need. It is so hard not knowing where your child is. Anyone going through these hard times needs to know there is an organization out there that cares and handles the problem for you.

You don’t know what you gave back to us. My son means the world to me and getting him back made my world complete again.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope that anyone else missing a child will call you. You are the best!

Donna Post, mother of a formerly missing son

Missing Americans in Jamaica

Missing Americans in Jamaica

jamaican flag

Rarely do you hear on the news of an American missing in Jamaica. Most missing person cases usually involve tourists who come to visit the island on a cruise, typically docked in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay, and never make it back to the ship once it’s time to depart. Typically, at the end of the investigation, the missing persons are normally found visiting a relative or staying in a nearby resort, claiming they simply wanted to spend more time on the island.

A recent example of such a case happened this past February. Three U.S. nationals, 24-year-old Tricia Forrester, 35-year-old Glen Triston, and 42-year-old Clinton Hill, boarded the Carnival Sensation Cruise in Miami, Florida. They were reported missing on the February 28th after the cruise docked in Ocho Rios. According to Nationwide Radio Jamaica, all three nationals were accounted for three days later, safe and sound, the last one being found in Montego Bay. According to the Head of the St. Ann police, Senior Superintendent Michael Smith, the three were visiting family members when they were reported missing. The passengers stated they were going to deliver luggage to their family members who were to meet them in Ocho Rios. However, when it was time for the cruise to leave it was discovered their rooms were empty and so they were reported missing.

Another similar case occurred on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, when an American woman, 41-year-old Marjan Ehsani, was reported missing in Kingston. Reports from the Half-Way-Tree police station state, “She checked into a hotel in Kingston on the 4th and was last seen at a gas station in the area. All attempts to get in touch with her were fruitless.” In a surprising twist, she was located only days after in a guest house in Kingston. She was reported to be in good health and returned to The United States shortly after being found.

Desiree Gibbon, 26

Although there are the above scenarios with positive outcomes, there have been a couple unsolved cases over the past decade. The most recent case: A twenty-six-year-old aspiring model and documentary filmmaker, Desiree Hyacinth Gibbon, from Queens, New York, went missing in Jamaica in late 2017. According to the local police, Desiree went to Jamaica on the 20th of October and was given three months to stay on the island. Investigators say she was looking for employment. However, her mother, Andrea Cali-Gibbon, has been reported saying Desiree went to Jamaica with the intention of shooting a documentary. “She wanted to travel to different countries, try new things and experience cultures,” her mom said. Desiree’s father is Jamaican and her grandmother owns a hotel on the island, where she stayed during her visit. At the time of her disappearance, Desiree was visiting Jamaica for possibly her eighth time.

Unfortunately, in December 2017, Desiree’s body was found with her throat slit and her legs, torso, and wrists covered with bruises. She was discovered in the bushes along the roadway of Anchovy, St. James. Local authorities identified her body after taking a photograph of her to the same hotel which her grandmother owns, where she was identified by her Uncle Claude.

Claude said the police officers told him they were looking for two women who they believe may be connected to the crime. The mother insists Desiree would never go out alone and believes this wasn’t a random senseless act, but a crime of passion. “My belief is it was a cold, calculated, planned out murder… It wasn’t a random act of violence. It is somebody she knew, somebody she trusted, and somebody who betrayed her,” Andrea Gibbon, the distraught mother, said. As the case stands, no one has been arrested or charged.

Another unsolved missing persons case dates as far back as May 2012 and involves forty-one-year-old Robert Durbin of Lemay Street, Hartford, who went missing in Kingston. According to the Matilda’s Corner police station, Mr. Durbin was last seen in Jones Town, Kingston 12, carrying out charity work in the community.

Robert Durbin

Robert Durbin

Robert visited Jamaica to teach law, lecturing part-time on the weekends through a University of London international program. According to the Hartford Courant, he was a councilman of the West Hartford Town Council and the reason for his visits to the island was to learn about the heritage of Jamaican and West Indian constituents. Durbin said he got a close view of how local services work in Kingston.

“I’m living and volunteering in a low-income development down here. It’s a very up-and-coming, low-income area, so it’s a nice opportunity to work with some social workers. Obviously, this area is a lot different from West Hartford… but my work here in the community will contribute to my service on the town council.”

Some months after, Robert resigned from town council following controversy due to his part-time move to Jamaica and an arrest on charges of interfering with an officer. According to the Hartford Courant, Robert had followed police to a distress call of a domestic disturbance and persistently offered his services as a criminal lawyer to the residents whom he claimed to know. The residents, however, stated they hadn’t known Mr. Durbin, nor had they summoned anyone for legal aid. Durbin was charged with interfering with an investigation and first-degree criminal trespass.

With his political career finished and his divorce processing, Robert decided to go back to Jamaica to do charity work in Jones Town, a peculiar destination as their reputation hasn’t been the best, and can actually be considered a dangerous part on the island. Fast forward to 2018 and Robert Durbin has yet to be found.

In closing, there aren’t many reports of Americans going missing in Jamaica because it is not a regular occurrence. Tourism is one of Jamaica’s main sources of foreign exchange, accounting for over 50% of the total amount. The tourism industry is responsible for about one-fourth of all jobs on the island. As such, the locals treat foreigners like royalty, but just like everything in life, there are a few exceptions.

Scammers Use Phone Ruses for Fake Kidnappings

Scammers Use Phone Ruses for Fake Kidnappings

Kidnapping

You receive a phone call and hear the voice of someone you don’t recognize. They tell you they have your child and will kill them unless you pay a ransom. They direct you not to call police or you will never see your child again.

What would you do?

You tell the person on the other end of the phone not to hang up. You don’t want to disconnect with the one person that can reunite you with your child. You plead for your child’s safe return. “Please don’t hurt her. I will do whatever you want,” you cry.

They demand you go to the bank and wire a ransom of several thousand dollars. Do you call the police? Do you pay the ransom and hope some thug will return your child to you safe?

A child going missing is every parent’s worst nightmare. For those who do have a missing child, living with such ambiguity is said to be the most traumatic of human experiences.

Sounds like a situation that only happens in the movies, right? Or, something only happening to the wealthy.

According to Newsweek, the Seattle Police Department is issuing warnings to parents advising scammers are targeting parents and demanding a ransom in exchange for the safe return of children they kidnapped . . . well, virtually kidnapped. Police throughout the country are following suit.

kidnapped child

On March 8, 2017, in Ravensdale, Kings County, approximately 30 miles southeast of Seattle, a mother drops her children off at the school bus. Shortly thereafter, she receives a phone call from a man who threatened to kill her child if she didn’t pay a ransom.

The mother was able to reach out to the school to make sure her children were there. The school confirmed they were safe.

King’s County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News, this was the first reported incident in their jurisdiction.

In another case, a woman called a father “hysterically crying” claiming to be his daughter and stating she had been kidnapped. A man then got on the phone and told the dad if he didn’t pay a ransom, he would hurt his daughter.

Officers in Denver have responded to several reports of kidnappings. In a press release issued by the Denver Police Department, police say the caller demands a monetary payment in exchange for the release of the victim’s child. The caller dials the parents in the afternoon and demands the ransom to be wired to a bank.

After investigating the recent incidents in Denver, they determined the kidnappings were false and all children involved in the incidents were found safe.

Virtually Kidnapped Daughter

On Monday, April 16th, Sean Hollister was at his residence in Longmont, Colorado, about 15 miles northeast of Boulder, and received a frightening call from his 11-year old daughter who he thought was at school.

“My daughter was in tears, sobbing,” Hollister told the Times-Call. “I thought she was in trouble or something. She said, ‘Dad, I’m sorry I let this happen,’ which is exactly what she would say,” Hollister said.

“I said, ‘What’s wrong,’ and I offered up her name, so he knew my kid’s name,” Hollister said a man got on the phone and told him, “I got your daughter in a truck. She is on her way to Mexico.”

When Hollister told the man he was calling the police, the girl came back on the phone screaming. “Daddy, they are cutting me. Don’t call 911.”

Hollister was able to call police on his cell phone. “The caller told Hollister to get his wallet and identification and promptly leave the house.

Victims of “virtual kidnapping” describe the incident as traumatic.

Victims of “virtual kidnapping” describe the incident as traumatic.

Hollister’s postman was in the yard when he walked outside. “I’m mouthing ‘Help me,’ and he is freaking out,” said Hollister.

Longmont police showed up at his home fast and they took over from there and the caller hung up. Officers quickly determined Hollister’s daughter was safe.

The traumatized father would later find out the callers were trying to pull off a “virtual kidnapping” scam.

“The gap between the cops getting there and finding out my daughter is okay was terrifying,” said Hollister. “Who would think someone would be that cruel?”

Hollister’s caller had a Mexico number, but police say it is possible the caller was local and hijacked the number to appear like the call was made from out of the country.

In yet another case, a woman received a frantic call her brother had been kidnapped, injured and bleeding out, demanding thousands of dollars through a wire to return him safely. She was able to reach her brother on another phone and never paid any money, but a clear sign anyone can be a victim of this type of horrific scam.

According to FBI kidnapping expert, Agent Eric Arbuthnot, several organizations use these scams regularly to make money.

“Thousands of dollars in ransom,” said Arbuthnot. “And you’re talking about a criminal organization that is capable of doing more than one kidnapping at a time.”

According to Arbuthnot many of the cases have been happening on the West coast and along the border involving criminal organizations from Mexico, some claiming to be members of the cartel.

The FBI has seen recent increases in California, Nevada, New York, and Texas.

Monroe Police Department in Connecticut said by using social media, scammers can identify a victim, look up relatives, and reference names of family members and friends to make the call appear legitimate.

FBI Supervisory Agent Christopher Johnson said his office in St. Louis, Missouri deals with these types of crimes. “Scammers will often mention specific facts about the parent or victim, likely from information they were able to obtain online.”

Authorities say about one in five kidnapping cases are successful resulting in the criminal getting their ransom and not getting caught. While extortion has been around for decades, virtual ransom kidnapping calls are increasing around the country.

FBI Special Agent Glenn Milnor warns parents about virtual kidnapping.

FBI Special Agent Glenn Milnor warns parents about virtual kidnapping.

With this emerging scam, the FBI has launched a nationwide campaign to warn parents to fight back against “virtual kidnapping.”

If you receive a virtual kidnapping ransom call…

Unlike traditional kidnapping schemes, a “virtual kidnapper” has not actually kidnapped anyone. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if you receive a call from an individual demanding a ransom for the safe return of a kidnap victim, it is suggested you quickly evaluate the following to determine if you are receiving a legitimate ransom call:

    • Caller insists you stay on the phone.
    • Call does not come from your child’s cell phone.
    • Caller tries to stop you from contacting the kidnap victim.
    • Call includes demand for ransom to be paid via wire transfer.
  • Ransom amounts may decrease quickly.

Knowing what to do

Police say it is best to hang up the phone; however, if you continue the conversation pay attention to the following:

    • If you engage the caller, don’t call out your loved one’s name.
    • Deliberately try to slow the situation down and ask to speak to your child directly.
    • Ask “proof of life” questions like, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
    • To gain confirmation if your child is an actual kidnapping victim, ask questions only your child would know such as the name of a pet.
    • Listen very closely to the voice of the person speaking. If possible record the call.
    • Have someone else try to call your child’s cell phone, school, text, social media, etc., to confirm their safety.
    • To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand or tell the caller you need time to make arrangements.
    • Don’t agree to pay a ransom: by wire or in person.
    • Don’t deliver money in person.
  • Immediately call your local FBI office and police.

According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), as of March 31, 2017, there were 86,618 active missing person cases in the FBI database, with 8,792 entered as involuntary.

Experts agree an actual kidnapping with a ransom demand is quite rare but all experts urge parents to be vigilant.

To read the FBI warning, please click here.