Adults have the right to go missing, but do they have the right to go missing under suspicious circumstances? This is a question Alicia Gazotti has been asking herself for nearly a month since she stopped hearing from her daughter Mercedes Clement. Since the disappearance of her daughter, Gazotti has been pursing every possible avenue to get answers for her family. While investigators, family, and friends do their part to search for Mercedes, Gazotti is left wondering what circumstances must have befallen her daughter.
Mercedes Clement, 25, was last seen on October 11, 2020 around 11:00 in the evening, going into the apartment of an acquaintance on Empire Drive in Dallas, Texas. Mercedes was observed on surveillance footage entering the apartment of a male acquaintance. Due to a technical glitch, surveillance was not recorded between 1:30 am and 8am. It wasn’t until she stopped responding to phone calls and text messages that Alicia Gazotti and her family became worried. Mercedes’ car was found abandoned two days later, with her personal effects, including her wallet and keys, sitting on the front seat. It’s a piece of evidence that deeply troubles Gazotti. “This isn’t like all of the sudden she went to a friend’s house and no one can find her,” Gazotti told Lauth. “This is a girl who vanished into thin air. Cell phone’s gone, girl is gone. The car’s been abandoned. This is a different situation.”
When it comes to missing adults, law enforcement has an unfortunate challenge in terms of distributing investigators and resources. After all, persons over the age of 18 have the right to disappear, if they wish. However, it is unclear to Mercedes’ family why she would voluntarily drop off the grid. Gazotti told Lauth that Mercedes had completed her phlebotomy degree and was looking forward to taking additional courses to get more certifications. She had friends and hobbies she enjoyed, like horseback riding. In addition to parents and extended family concerned for her health and safety, Mercedes is also a young mother to a 5-year-old son. While it’s true that some missing adults have made the conscious decision to disappear from their former lives, Gazotti knew that Mercedes would never just disappear and leave behind her child, “She’s a mom. She just missed Halloween. She never misses holidays with her son.”
While Mercedes has experienced difficulties with mental health issues in the past, Gazotti told investigators that in the weeks prior to her disappearance, Mercedes was making plans for the future, both within her family and with friends. “She has a pair of friends who are expecting a newborn baby, and for the last few weeks, she’s been posting all over Facebook that she was looking for a good car seat for them, and she was so excited to give them that gift after the baby was born.”
Mercedes Clement is 5’6”, brown hair, brown eyes, and weighs 120 lbs. She has a C-shaped birthmark on her chin resembling a bruise. She has a thin build and was last seen wearing a black, spaghetti-strap tank top and shorts. Anyone with information can call the Dallas Police Department at 214-671-4268 with report number 191586-2020. You can also call the Lauth confidential tip line at 830-253-4070.
Amid civil unrest and a global pandemic, a community is crying out for help in finding their missing loved one. The people in Chenell Gilbert’s life are coming together on the west side of Indianapolis in search of the beloved substitute teacher who went missing on June 9.
The search party was organized by Danyette Smith, who told RTV6, “We need answers. We want to know where she is and we’re out here to today to look for her and hopefully find something that can give us answers to where she is.”
Volunteers are out pounding the pavement, handing out flyers bearing a picture of Chenell and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance to business owners and even leaving them under the mats outside Indianapolis homes, and sharing her story feverishly on social media—anything to keep Chenell’s face in the media amid a global pandemic and global unrest.
Chenell, a loving mother and grandmother, was last seen in the Sungate subdivision near Rockville and Girl School Roads in the first few hours of June 9. “For her children, her friends, her family—this is so unlike her,” Smith told RTV6. “This is just not her. They are extremely weary. We just need answers…On behalf of her daughters, her daughters truly miss her. They cannot wait until she returns home and each hour, each moment is agonizing and definitely scary for them.”
Chenell Gilbert was last seen wearing a black sweatsuit, with a black tote purse and braided hair. The group is asking anyone with information to contact police immediately so Chenelle can be reunited with her children and grandchildren.
All open missing person cases right now are facing a difficult challenge of maintaining media attention. Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been taking media attention away from vulnerable missing persons. However, “There is a full community, a full force. There’s power behind this and we’re here to use that power to look for her,” said Danyette Smith. Anyone with information on Gilbert’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at 317-327-3811 or Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.
Police arrest estranged husband and his girlfriend in connection with her disappearance…
Jennifer Dulous, 50, was last seen on May 24, 2019. The last time anyone heard from her, she was dropping off her five children at school in her black Chevrolet Suburban. Following that last point of contact, police investigating her disappearance have been following a trail of tangible and circumstantial evidence that paints a picture of a marriage fraught with control and intimidation, followed by an ugly custody battle that may have been the motive for a grisly, violent act.
On June 1st, police arrested Jennifer’s estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, charging them with tampering/fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution. The evidence cited in the arrest warrants includes blood spatter found in Jennifer’s garage, where police believe she was violently attacked. In nearby Hartford, police found Jennifer’s blood on clothes and sponges in multiple trash cans. Surveillance footage shows a man and woman arriving in a car, then the man dumping the clothes and other items into different bins. The description of both the man and woman match descriptions of Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis.
As far back as May 2017, police were able to confirm through court documents that Jennifer and her husband were in the grips of an ugly custody battle at the time of her disappearance. During those custody proceedings, Jennifer alleged that her husband had presented with growing “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior,” and raised a concern for the physical safety of both herself and her children. This fear was only compounded by the fact that as early as June 2017, Fotis Dulos made threats that if Jennifer did not adhere to his terms of their divorce, he would kidnap the children. Fotis now denies that he ever said those things to Jennifer. Jennifer also added that Fotis had bought a gun, which he now claims was purchased legally and only for the purpose of home security. On June 3, 2017, Jennifer Dulous said, “I am afraid of my husband. I know that filing for divorce and filing this motion will enrage him. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way.”
More court transcripts with quotes from Fotis Dulos seem to corroborate that perceived rage. During one of the divorce proceedings, he is on the record saying to the judge, “Your Honor, I am sorry, but why do I always get the raw end of the stick? I really want to see my children. I have spent 2 percent of the time with them since January. I’m not Charles Manson.” That proceeding was in March, just months before Jennifer disappeared. Initially, Jennifer and Fotis were sharing custody of their children, alternating weekends and complying with other orders in the agreement, such as an order to not expose the children to any romantic partners of either parent. When Fotis Dulos violated that order by allowing the children to spend time with his girlfriend, sole custody was transferred to Jennifer. While some supervised visitation with his children was eventually restored, the children were still not to have contact with Traconis.
There was another factor in the Dulous’ rapidly deteriorating situation that might bring new context to these charges. In addition to the emotional toll Fotis Dulos cited after prolonged separation from his children, there was also a mounting pile of debt accumulating to facilitate the costs of waging the custody battle. In addition to legal fees for personal counsel, Fotis was also staring down the barrel of costs for a court-appointed guardian for all five children ($175,000), a child psychaiatrist that wrote the report entered into evidence ($40,000), a family therapist, three psychologists, and court-approved monitors who supervise Fotis’ visits with the children.
Both Dulos and his girlfriend have been released on bond. Norm Pattis is the defense attorney of record for Dulos seems to be playing his cards close to the vest—so close in fact that both he and his client failed to appear at several official proceedings, such as a deposition last month, and another court appearance earlier in June. Pattis commented that the description of the evidence recovered from the trash cans in Hartford “was a very awkward set of facts,” and has yet to reveal his client’s alibi for the time frame in question when his estranged wife disappeared. “There is an explanation, but we’re not going to give it,” Pattis said, going on to say that they would wait until it was time to present the case to a jury before releasing that information to the public. Pattis further incurred public outrage by stating publicly that Jennifer has likely pulled a “Gone Girl,” making reference to the Gillian Flynn novel and film of the same name, in which a wife deliberately stages her own disappearance with the intent to implicate her husband. Author Flynn responded to the theory, “It absolutely sickens me that a work of fiction written by me would be used by Fotis Dulos’ lawyer as a defense and as a hypothetical, sensationalized motive behind Jennifer’s very real and very tragic disappearance.”
The search for Savannah Spurlock is entering its 6th
week, as law enforcement continue to reconstruct the events that led up to her
disappearance. On January 4th, after spending some time with her
mother, the 23-year-old had decided to go out with friends. It would be her
first return to her social life since recently giving birth to twins. Her
mother, Ellen Spurlock, was glad to see her daughter getting out to have fun
again. She told the Lexington
Herald-Leader, “I thought she needed a little break. She hadn’t done
anything for months since she just had the twins.” The next time Ellen heard
from her daughter was 2:30 AM on January 5th, when she FaceTimed her.
“…she said, ‘Everything was fine. I’m just having fun with friends. I promise I
will be home later this morning.” Six hours later, Savannah’s phone was turned
off, and her mother has not heard from her since.
The first news of Savannah’s disappearance came on Monday through the Richmond Police Department. In a tremendous investigative find, law enforcement obtained a surveillance video of the young mother, dressed in a black, sleeveless top, a maroon skirt, and high heels, leaving The Other Bar in Lexington in the company of two men. “Savannah Spurlockwas last seen leaving the bar with an unknown black male and an unknown white male. The Richmond Police Department is seeking the identity and whereabouts of these two individuals. The white male was seen leaving the area in a black, Chevy S-10 pickup” Police broadcast the surveillance footage, asking the public to help identify them. The footage is a crucial find for investigators, not only because it contextualizes Savannah’s movements in the moments before she went missing, but it contains other vital information, such as an accurate physical description and manner of dress for missing person bulletins, a description of the last people to have contact with her, a time stamp for her last known whereabouts, and a description of the vehicle they left in.
In addition to law enforcement and other investigators, the Cajun Coast Search and Rescue Team joined the search for Savanna Spurlock on January 27th. They’re K-9 unit specializes in missing person investigations and assists in missing person investigations all over the country. Despite their best efforts, having covered miles in their search, as of February 3rd, they had not uncovered a trace of Savannah. Just when it seemed the trail might go cold, police announced a break in the case. They confirmed that they knew the identities of the men Savannah left The Other Bar with, but did not release any names. They also confirmed that she was driven to the residence of one of these men in nearby Garrad County. They secured the vehicle she left in for forensic testing, but will not be releasing those results to the public. One of the most compelling details released by police was that there was no indication Savannah knew the men before that evening. Police were unable to corroborate an account of one of the men, who claimed Savannah left the home later that morning, but could not explain how. The Cajun Coast Search and Rescue team searched an area near the residence where they knew Savannah Spurlockhad been taken. The K-9 unit lead investigators to some discarded clothing items, “We found some jeans and a t-shirt that somebody tried to burn,” team leader, Tony Wade, told Radar. The damaged clothing was turned over to law enforcement, who were quick to point out that the clothing did not match the description. Wade further explained of the K-9 unit, “They’ll hit on clothing with blood. A month or so out, it gets hard. So much of the evidence is gone.”
Concerned pleas for information leading to Savannah’s safe return continue pouring out from friends and family. After the first 11 days of the search, Ellen Spurlock said of her daughter’s disappearance, “I’m lost.” The overwhelming support from the community and the rest of the public garnered appreciation from the family, but the fear and worry grows for them daily. In a video posted to the Missing Savannah Facebook page, her aunt, Lisa Thoma said, “Waiting is hard, not knowing answers to questions is hard…when you’re living it and breathing it, it can be crippling. If you know anything, we beg you, come forward and call the Richmond, Kentucky Police Department. If you heard something, if you saw something, I don’t care how small it was—what if that one thing is the piece of the puzzle that they’re missing? What if you hold the key to bringing her home?”
Ashley Carroll Summary of Disappearance
Ashley Carroll, 24, was reported missing on May 6, 2010, from Albany, NY. Ashley was allegedly supposed to be traveling to New York City that weekend to meet some friends. She was last seen at 1st Street and Quail Street in Albany, where she was dropped off by her friend Courtney Deaton. It was reported that Ashley had been fighting with her boyfriend, Jermon McLean, the morning of her disappearance. The area where Ashley was dropped off is a neighborhood known to be frequented by her boyfriend.
It was believed that Ashley’s plan was to meet with McLean, pack some of her belongings for her trip, and then head to NYC where she was going to stay with some friends. She intended to return on May 9, which was Mother’s Day. Ashley had left her one year old daughter, Arionnah, with a friend while she went away. Reports say there is no indication that she ever made it to the city. Her family questions whether or not she ever even left, as her jewelry was still at her apartment.
Background on Ashley Carroll
Ashley was in-between jobs at the time of her disappearance. Her family states that this is out of character for her, as Ashley would never leave her daughter or her family without notifying anyone.
Description of Ashley Carroll
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Hazel
Defining Characteristics: Last seen at 1st and Quail St in Albany, NY on May 6, 2010 wearing a black t-shirt, light colored jeans and flip flops; Tattoo right arm: “Arionnah”, tattoo left hand: “Steve” – red & black, tattoo right foot: rosary with cross “Maria”, tattoo left side of neck: “Steve”, tattoo lower back: tribal, tattoo on calf: tiger cub, tattoo right wrist: “What goes around comes round”, tattoo right calf: tiger, tattoo right thigh: cat paws.
If you have any information about Ashley, you’re asked to contact either the Rensselaer Police Department at (518) 462-7451 or Albany Police Department at (518) 458-5660. You can also contact Ashley’s mother Margaret at 518-334-1680.
Alexis Mills is a Volunteer for the MissingPersonsNetwork.org and a recent graduate of Purdue University