FindCarrie - AGH - Missing & Murdered Person Blog

Information on missing and murdered people and the issues surrounding their cases. ***No material on this site is to be redistributed or rewritten - Copyright Find Carrie Culberson***

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Trail Gone Cold - The Abduction of Vanessa Dawn Smith

Late afternoon on May 31, 1997, 15 year old Vanessa Dawn Smith sat out for a nightly walk in her neighborhood in Winton, California. It was a walk that Vanessa took almost nightly, however on this night, something went wrong.

Once Vanessa was discovered "missing" shortly thereafter and about 200 yards from her residence, Vanessa's walking cane was found. It was clear, Vanessa had been abducted. Who would do something like this and where could they have taken Vanessa?

That is a question that is still being asked nine years later. Vanessa's case is one that you probably have not seen on many shows, although it's as serious as any.
Authorities in an interview with the Merced Sun Star, report that they are still actively investigating Vanessa's case, but do not believe an arrest is near. They claim that probably IF someone had information on the case, that they might be afraid to come forward because they might be targeted for violence. Where does this leave the family seeking information on their child's case?

This case is one that sparked my interest when I learned of it about three years ago when helping with the Kristin Smart case. It's just unheard of that this case is not receiving more air time. This is something I wish I could change if I were in a position to do so. I want all these children and adults to be shown the public because somewhere someone has some information to help. It is a proven fact that the public watches and has an interest in missing person cases. If we could somehow find a way to give each person who is missing a chance to be broadcasted at LEAST three times a year, it might break the case.

If you have ANY information regarding the case of Vanessa Dawn Smith, please call Merced County Sheriff's Department at 209 385-7616. You may also log onto their website and leave an anonymous tip @ Please review Vanessa's spot on the web if you have some extra time. Remember Vanessa, as she's missing today for nine long years.

Additional Links:

Vanessa Dawn Smith Has Vanished

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Missing Now For a Year - Natalee Holloway

Unless you've been living underneath a rock, you've seen something on some news station regarding the disappearance of Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway. Her bright eyes and smile have graced the airways since that fateful May 30th night, when she was last seen at a night club while on her senior trip in Aruba.

In the early stages of Natalee's disappearance, two security guards were detained for possible connection in Natalee's disappearance, but soon were released. Many people thought that the mystery was about to be solved when these two were detained, but soon learned that these guys were not the ones responsible. Their arrest set off a chain of arrests that would follow in the next days and month.
There are four people that are believed involved or have some knowledge of what happened to Natalee the night she vanished. Those people are known as Joran Van Der Sloot, Satish and Depak Kalpoe, and the believed mastermind, Paulus Van Der Sloot. Due to lack of evidence, all four were released.
It is believed that one of the three young men put a date rape drug into Natalee's drink at Carlos N' Charlies. At that point, Natalee became more vunerable to the plan devised by the three. Natalee was taken someplace, possibly the lighthouse, sexually assaulted and then murdered. Some believe that Natalee died accidentially. At what point does an accident become murder? In my opinion, it's when you decide to cover up the crime and change your story three times.

We know that Joran Van Der Sloot initally told authorities that he and the Kalpoe brothers dropped Natalee off at the Holiday Inn where she was staying. It was later found that Natalee never arrived back at the hotel. Only then did Van Der Sloot change the story two more times. He claims that he was indeed with Natalee at the lighthouse that night, but left her there alone at her request. He say's "I now think what an asshole to do that, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time". Yes, you are indeed an asshole (pardon my French), but for greater reasons. The reason of lieing and witholding information to bring Natalee home.
Natalee's mother and father have been vigilant in the search for Natalee in the last year. They refuse to give up and who can blame them. It's becoming very obvious that tourists are in danger in Aruba. Several states here in the US have started a boycot of Aruba to prove their point. The government there seems to work more so for those who are in a more prestigous standing. An example, is the fact that Paulus Van Der Sloot was a judge in training who has some authority. His statement "no body, no crime" is proof that they believe they are above the law, and so far they have been.

With all the searching and all the publicity, Natalee remains missing without a trace. Whether you believe she was taken into human trafficking or she was a victim of Joran Van Der Sloot, you must at some point think of how you'd be if it were your loved one who simply never came home. It's ridiculous and there is a HUGE cover-up.

I realize that some people are sick of hearing about the Holloway case. I know that not all cases are given the same air time. Dave Holloway tells us in his book "Aruba" that he does not know how Natalee's case became so important to the media, but he's glad. The fact is that her case, although publicized more than some, is the same thing - that of a missing person. At some point the media will probably move away from Natalee's case, but her family will never forget. They'll never give up on locating her. I hope that she can be found and brought home. Natalee, just like the others deserves dignity. So today, if you can, say a prayer that Natalee can be found, and that her family can have some peace of mind. They've been through pure hell in the last year.

Additional Links

Natalee Holloway Website

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Decade of Questions - The Disappearance of Kristin

Today across America, we recognize National Missing Children's Day. On one side of the US, there is a family recognizing another type of day. That is the family of Kristin Smart who remembers on this date ten years ago when she vanished without a trace after going to an off campus party.
The last known person to be seen with Kristin was Paul Flores, a shady character who offered to walk her to her dorm that fateful night. The day after Kristin's disappearance, Flores showed up at a basketball game with a black eye. He'd change his account of how he obtained the black eye several times, before he quit talking alltogether. Months later a cadaver trained dog zeroed in on his dorm and indicated the presence of human remains. It was clear that something went wrong the night Kristin vanished, and Flores more than likely knew something, however he wasn't talking. Ten years later, with a continued dark cloud hanging over his head, he remains silent.

Flores has had several brushes with the police since he was suspected by many of being involved with Kristin's disappearance. He has four DUI charges to date. Some have to wonder if his drinking problems are the onset of guilt that comes from that night from ten years ago. Will we ever know what Flores holds deep inside?
On several occasions attorney's for the family of Kristin Smart offered Flores a reduced charge if he'd lead them to Kristin's body, and both times, his counsel refused to respond. This makes so many people believe that he indeed knows something.

Refusing to let things die down, Kristin's family has searched on their own. Along the way, they met Dennis Mahon, a dear friend of mine, who has worked for the last eight years to locate Kristin. He's built the most informative website regarding the case, and has held vigil for Kristin outside the Flores residence until they filed a restraining order to keep him away. Apparently, there is something to hid or there would not be so many measures taken to keep Mahon and others away. Mahon began assisting the Smart family while working on another missing person case, in California, that of Kristen Modaferri. Kristen Modaferri vanished after leaving a part time job and has never been seen again. Mahon tells us all that he cannot abandon these two girls and that he will not stop until they are located. He shares in the theory that someone know something, and for the case to be solved, that one tip needs to be sent in.

With the Kristin Smart case, there is now a $100,000 reward in place to bring Kristin home. It was put in place by a man the Smarts nor Dennis Mahon have ever met, by the name of Terry Black. Black claims he is tired of this, and thinks that someone holds the key to solving the case. He feels that his money would be well spent if it helps find Kristin. I agree with him on this.

A special rememberance walk was held for Kristin on Saturday, May 20, 2006 in San Luis Obispo. More than 250 people showed up to show their support for Kristin. My group was unable to attend this year, but recognized Kristin at our home. You can see that information in a previous blog entry. We feel that Kristin's case is one that needs to be solved. It's one that is very important to my group. We've supported the Smarts and Dennis Mahon from the beginning. I flew to California last year to assist with the rally for Kristin as well as to visit with Kristin's mom, Denise. We just want to find Kristin.

Although it's been 10 years, it's important that we do not forget Kristin, and it's even more important for us to continue searching for her. I believe the answers are right under our noses, but not being shared with us out of fear. Somewhere along the way, someone has made a mistake, and we will find it. Kristin will be found and brought home. We have to keep working until we make the break.

See Also - Son Of Susan

related article - posted in it entirety

Decade passes; pain lingers Missing teen's family continues hunt for answers
SCOTT SMITH Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON - It was 10 years ago today that Kristin Smart, an athletic, tall and vibrant 19-year-old woman from Stockton vanished from a college campus in San Luis Obispo.Her disappearance touched off a nationwide story, and hundreds traveled to help find her. Even more have posted their own theories on Web sites speculating what happened after she left a drunken party at California Polytechnic State University.Still, no arrests have been made, and she has never been found.A decade after this high-profile case, Smart's family and friends still hope to find her. They've hired psychics, searched fields and even acted as their own detectives, interviewing Smart's friends, acquaintances and people who knew the No. 1 suspect."It's a tough time every year when May rolls around," said Smart's father, Stan Smart, who wants justice. "It's really important to find our daughter and bring her remains home."

Kristin Denise Smart was last seen on campus in the early-morning hours of May, 25, 1996, after staggering away from a house party in the coastal hill town of San Luis Obispo.Paul Flores, then 19, a fellow student whom Smart first met that night, was to walk Smart to her campus dorm at Muir Hall on the way back to his own dorm.By morning, her roommate - worried Smart hadn't come in - reported her missing. Flores showed up later that day with a black eye when he met friends to play basketball.At first giving police conflicting stories, Flores quickly stopped talking and asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. That's been his stance ever since.Flores and his attorney could not be reached for comment this week in Southern California. Investigators make guarded comments about Flores, saying he's at the center of a "very active" case."He has not been excluded as a suspect. Let's put it that way," said San Luis Obispo County Undersheriff Steve Bolts.Aside from his black eye, cadaver dogs early in the investigation led police to a mattress in Flores' dorm room, but he has adamantly refused to answer questions.He dropped out of college shortly after Smart disappeared and has a drunken-driving record. In December, Flores was arrested in Los Angeles again on suspicion of driving under the influence, and this time he could go to state prison if he's convicted.Asked why Flores hasn't been arrested in connection with Smart's disappearance, Bolts said he couldn't comment."We believe there is knowledge that somehow Paul Flores has, or may have, that he may be willing to share," Bolts said.Stan Smart, frustrated with the faltering investigation, said Flores' attorneys have twice suggested a deal in which Flores would lead them to the body in exchange for a significantly reduced charge. Both offers fell through."It makes me further believe that he's the one," Smart said.
Persistent pressureFamily and friends refuse to let Kristin Smart's memory fade.Over the weekend, about 250 people gathered for the Kristin Smart Hope and Awareness Run near San Luis Obispo, marking a decade of frustration and unanswered questions. The money will help post signs asking the public for information.
Matt Smart, Kristin's brother, who lives in Stockton and sells pharmaceuticals, recalled his big sister as a powerful swimmer whose eyes brightened at the thought of travel. Matt Smart, 26, was 16 when his sister vanished.An online video shows the Smarts playing together on a tropical beach in Jamaica and riding a cruise ship through the icy passages of Alaska. Another scene shows Kristin Smart graduating in 1995 from Lincoln High School.She was in her first year at Cal Poly when she vanished. Smart was declared legally dead in 2002, despite the fact that her body has never been recovered.Gov. Pete Wilson in 1998 signed the Kristin Smart Security Act into law, requiring campus police to report cases involving violence or missing students to local police. Smart's family faulted Cal Poly officers for failing to investigate the case early on.Kristin Smart's death brought together a family that was already close, Matt Smart said.Kristin Smart's mother, Denise, teaches English language learners at Lincoln Unified. Her youngest child, Lindsay Smart, is now 23.Stan Smart recalled driving down to Cal Poly to collect his daughters belongings from the Sheriff's Department and bicycle from the campus dorm where she once lived."You're supposed to bring your child home - not her possessions," Stan Smart said.
Fervent supporterFew have thrown themselves into the hunt for Kristin Smart like Dennis Mahon.The Charlotte, N.C., man isn't related to Smart and never knew her. He learned about the missing Stockton girl while searching for another girl from his hometown who vanished on vacation with her family in San Francisco.Mahon, 45, maintains an elaborate Web site dedicated to Smart. He once held a vigil in front of Paul Flores' family home in Arroyo Grande demanding answers until Flores obtained a restraining order.Mahon, a former homeless shelter manager who now works at Wal-Mart, spent 12 days in jail for continuing to harass Flores. He's agreed to take down the Web site when Flores begins to cooperate with law enforcement."These girls, I'm just not going to abandon them, that's all," he said.There's a good reason cases like Kristin Smart's draws such strong public reaction, said Andrew Edelman, a criminal justice professor for the University of Phoenix in south Florida."Any event that rattles our sense of safety and security gets society's attention," Edelman said. "I think it shocks."Cases like Smart's are alarming because men are expected to protect women and hold them in high esteem. Parents send their adult children to college campuses believing they're safe. Complacency sets in, Edelman said.It's particularly devastating when there's no closure, he said.
What's next?In retirement, Stan Smart said he'll spend time with his family and search for Kristin. He predicts more treks down to San Luis Obispo, like before, when somebody thinks they know where she is. He's done making the talk-show circuit.He's thrashed through the surrounding hills looking for her, too often uncovering the remains of dead animals and never finding his daughter.
"I'm not sure if we ever will. You know, they can't do anything more than what they've done to her. She can't be hurt any longer."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What Happened to Jody Ledkins

Today Jody Ledkins was missing for 21 years. I wrote about her case several months ago and tonight, I will repost that blog entry in the event you missed it before. Today my thoughts and prayers are with Karen (Jody's mom) as she goes through another tough day without answers. She's a dear friend of mine.

On May 23, 1985, Jody Ledkins called her mother Karen to ask for a ride home from a friend's house. Karen was unable to come pick up Jody because at the time she did not have a car that particular afternoon. Jody told her mother that it was no big deal, that she'd begin walking home, because after all it was not far away, and she would be home soon. Jody never arrived. As hours passed, Karen began to become concerned where Jody was. She should be home by now. After calling several of Jody's friend's, Karen still had no answers of Jody's whereabouts. Karen attempted to call the authorities about Jody's disappearance, but she was told that Jody probably was just angry about something, and to give it the weekend and if Jody still was not home, to give them a call back. The weekend passed, and still no sign of Jody.In prior months, Jody had been in trouble at school for skipping school with a few other teens. Jody was a normal teen in that she loved the Dukes of Hazzard and anything with stars. Authorities told Karen that her daughter more than likely ran away, and it was left at that. Karen never believed that her daughter ran away that May afternoon. She believed that something went wrong and nobody was listening to her pleas for help to find Jody.In 1985, there were few resources in place for people who become missing and many people simply slipped through the cracks. Possibly valueable information being lost because the police's inability to act on the situation in time.It is now 20 years later and Jody remains missing. Karen continues to take at least one day a week to dedicate to the search for her daughter. Alive or dead, Karen wants to find out Jody's fate. Karen claims that she was ignorant about what to do when something like this happened back then. How could she know how to handle a situation like that? There is no manual that tells parents what to do when a child becomes missing. What's more disturbing is how authorities can pass off a disappearance as something that is not important.Jody's mother has become a very dear person in my life in the last year. She's shared so many things she continues to do in searching for Jody. What amazes me the most about all of these cases of missing loved ones, is that no matter how long it has been, there is always a mom or dad who refuses to give up. I believe there is someone who knows what happened to Jody that day. I believe that this case can still be solved, even after 20 years. For more information about Jody, visit her website @ www.GeoCities.Com/FindJodyLedkinsJody is still missing but never forgotten.

Original Post Link

Monday, May 22, 2006

When Negativity Surrounds Missing Person Cases

Since October 22, 2005, there have been some wild speculations and accusations surrounding the disappearance of former beauty queen and high school teacher, Tara Grinstead. Messages boards were lighting up like Christmas trees with people wanting to discuss the case. Everyone had one question, "Where is Tara?"
As with many message boards and websites, some of the information has become incorrect and down right ugly towards Tara's family and especially those who have been working on the case. What's so interesting is how people will attempt to pick apart the case by only the facts and information that has been posted with online articles or maybe snippets they've seen on TV. When we everyone learn that not all evidence is given to the media and often times the information is added to or taken away from in order to spin a headline?

Several individuals on some message forums have slammed the efforts of Dr. Maurice Godwin who has been working on the Grinstead case for several weeks now. After reading some of the posts, I can see clearly that these people making these accusations really do not have all the facts of the case, nor have the ever worked on a missing person case. Not to say that I am a qualified person, but judging from the posts, there is a lot these people do not know and are speculating about are WRONG.

Aside from the posts about Godwin, there are posts about Tara's relatives and how they are only on TV to make themselves look good. That's ridiculous too and I know this because I know from my own experiences with one of the family members that this is not the case. They've been put in a position that is not only very uncomfortable but one they are not familiar with.
Where do these people come from? I have an explanation. I wrote about these people in a previous blog entry. It's called short term supporters on high profile cases. The same as those who want to get in the middle of the current issue to get themselves noticed. There's no real understanding or knowledge of the case, just speculation and hopes of that 15 minutes of fame.

This is a very serious matter and it's not to be taken lighly. Words are hurtful, especially when they are incorrect. I offer this piece of advice to those who are posting away on these boards and really do not know every fact of the case. If you cannot say something nice, just don't say anything at all. Thank God you are not being dealt the same cards as the family of Tara Grinstead has been lately. These types of topics and thoughts are best left for tabloid magazines. Maybe if everyone would stop reading that trash, then they'd simply fade away?

See Also - Short Term Supporters on High Profile Cases

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Two Important Rememberances on May 20th

This week my posting has been slow on here. I've had a few things going on that demanded my time and I just couldn't devote as much time to the blog as I should.

This past Saturday, May 20th, there were two important events held on separate parts of the United States for two ladies who remain missing. The first was Kristin Smart whose family held a special run/walk in her honor. On May 25th, Kristin will be missing for 10 long years. The run was to bring awareness to her case and to possibly help bring that one tip that can lead authorities to her.

My group was unable to go this year due to some other obligations that we had. I knew that we had to do something to remember Kristin as well as Brandy Hanna whose family held a special vigil for her Saturday night in Charleston, South Carolina.

Brandy's mom has become one of my favorite people. I met her briefly at the Cue Center for the Missing Conference back in late March, but we've communicated a lot online since then. I felt terrible that I could not go to the one year vigil for Brandy. Donna has searched endlessly for her daughter since she vanished last year. She's also started working with other moms to help them cope with the situation of losing your child.

My family decided that we would release some balloons for both the missing ladies to remember them here where we live. We walked out to the garden and let the blue balloon with a special note for Brandy float into the sky. Next we released the 10 mult-colored balloons for Kristin Smart. We do this frequently when we cannot be at these important vigils or events for those who are missing or murdered. Although it's a small gesture, it makes me feel better knowing we did something to remember these people.

May God bless each of them and help them through this tough time they are going through. Hopefully soon, they will have the answers they need.

Additonal Links

Find Kristin Smart - Son of Susan
Missing Brandy Hanna

News Article Regarding Kristin Smart

Questions remain unanswered in Smart case
By Quintin Cushner/Senior Staff Writer
- Santa Maria Times

Ten years after Kristin Smart's disappearance, no one surrounding her case has felt anything near closure.
Not Smart's family, who remember her as a loving and persistent 19-year-old, excited to be attending college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. They assume she is dead and buried somewhere, but cannot be certain.
Not Paul Flores, a 1995 graduate of Arroyo Grande High School, who was the last person to see the young woman alive and who remains under investigation in her disappearance. Flores is out on bail facing a fourth drunken-driving conviction and continued scrutiny for his actions the night Smart vanished.
Not detectives from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department, who still believe they can crack the case.
And not Dennis Mahon or Terry Black, two men working to keep the Kristin Smart case from fading. Mahon maintains a Web site and has written a book. Black is offering a $100,000 reward to anyone with information leading to Smart.
Each of these lives was altered early on May 25, 1996, after Flores walked with Smart and another student from an off-campus party onto campus.
Flores and Smart apparently met at the party, where both had been drinking. The third student broke off from Flores and Smart about 2:30 a.m.

Flores, then 19, told law enforcement he and Smart parted ways near his dorm, and that she returned to her Muir Hall dorm room alone.
Police say there's no proof Smart ever returned to her room. Her roommate reported her missing May 27. Smart's clothing, toiletries and identification were undisturbed.
Cal Poly police first interviewed Flores on May 28. He sported a black eye from what he claimed was a basketball mishap. A friend of Flores later told police the young man had arrived at the pick-up game bruised.Campus police appear to have made a crucial mistake early in the investigation. Officers failed to secure Flores' room at Santa Lucia Hall until after he vacated the dorm for the term.The Kristin Smart case was soon after turned over to the Sheriff's Department.More than a month after Smart's disappearance, cadaver dogs searching the dorm honed in on Flores' room. Once inside, the dogs zeroed in on his mattress.During a grand jury hearing convened in October 1996, Flores refused to answer questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He has never been charged in the young woman's disappearance.Later searches of Flores' family home in Arroyo Grande turned up nothing substantial. Psychics, national talk show hosts and local media all tried in vain to discern Smart's location.San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Roger Piquet later declared Smart dead as of May 25, 2001, so her family could pursue a wrongful-death lawsuit against Flores.SuspectThat civil case, which alleges “Flores violently assaulted and murdered Decedent Kristin Smart and disposed of her body in an unknown location, presumably in San Luis Obispo,” returns to court June 9.The civil suit has been repeatedly delayed since the Smart family filed it in 2002. The Sheriff's Department still considers its investigation open, and has refused to release any evidence to the Smarts' attorneys.Denise Smart, Kristin's mother, said she has mixed feelings about the criminal case staying open.“As long as it's still open, there's hope,” she said. “But I'm frustrated by the lack of progress.”An educator living in Stockton, Denise Smart said the slow reaction from Cal Poly police damaged the case.“It was way over their head,” she said. “When Kristin's roommate reported her missing, they didn't even go check on her. It was a total failure to respond.”In 1998, Gov. Pete Wilson signed a state law named after Smart, requiring universities and colleges to notify local law enforcement quickly if a violent crime may have occurred.“I know that members of the Smart family have complained that our police did not respond properly,” said Cal Poly Provost Bob Detweiler. “I wasn't here at the time, but I can find no evidence of us handling the case inappropriately. Because of Kristin's disappearance, we have beefed up our emphasis on alcohol awareness and sexual assault awareness on campus.”Since they took over the case, sheriff's deputies have focused on Flores, who is now a 29-year-old living in Lawndale in Los Angeles County.“Paul Flores is the only person of interest that we have not excluded as a possible suspect,” said Undersheriff Steve Bolts. “We've got several avenues we're pursuing that I can't really discuss. The case remains very active.”Bolts said Detective Dave Kenny is spending the majority of his time working on the Smart case. Kenny declined comment.Bolts had no estimate of how many hours have been spent on the case.“It's one of those cases that has the potential to be resolved,” Bolts said. “We are reasonably certain that she's deceased, and we're optimistic that her remains will be found some day.”Bolts would not comment on a specific theory about Smart's disappearance.“There's no evidence to exclude an intentional homicide,” he said.Since Smart went missing, Flores has racked up three drunken-driving convictions and a probation violation. Flores served time in 2000 at Santa Barbara County Jail for driving drunk in Santa Maria, and was sentenced again to County Jail for drinking while on probation.On Dec. 20, 2005, he was again flagged for drunken driving, this time in Los Angeles County. He is free on $100,000 bail while the case works its way through the courts.Flores could face prison time if convicted, said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Paulette Paccione. The case returns to court June 29 for a preliminary hearing.Flores has rejected a plea deal in the latest drunken-driving charge that would have landed him in jail for a year, Paccione said.“He wants to fight the case,” she said.Bolts has several theories on Flores' battles with alcohol.“I think it's reflective of a chemical dependency that may be at the root of Kristin's disappearance,” Bolts said. “It also may be a product of a guilty conscience.”Denise Smart said Flores has negotiated in the past with law enforcement. She is certain Flores knows her daughter's whereabouts.“Do we know what he did? No. Do we know he knows where she is? Yes,” Denise Smart said. “He's kind of making his own prison. But for us there's no punishment we feel would be enough. Where she is is not where she wants to be and it's certainly not where we would want her to be.”Bolts wouldn't comment on any negotiations between law enforcement and Flores.“Even if there were negotiations,” he said, “they are privileged and are not presumed by us to be evidence.”Attempts to reach Flores were unsuccessful. Calls to his criminal and civil attorneys were not returned. His parents, Susan and Ruben, have separated and live in Arroyo Grande.Outside both of their homes is a printed flier with this message:“Notice: Please respect the privacy of the occupants of this residence. They have chosen to resolve their legal matters in the courtroom, not the media.”A man who emerged from Susan Flores' home last week snapped several pictures of a visiting reporter, but declined comment.The activistsDennis Mahon of Charlotte, N.C., has spent years tracking the case. Mahon's Web site,, includes his short book on Smart's disappearance and a log of Flores' legal troubles.Mahon used to park outside the Flores' home in Arroyo Grande and took to photographing Paul Flores during his court appearances.For his diligence, Denise Smart considers Mahon “a saint.”The Flores family sees it different. They have a restraining order against him.“It's a matter of not abandoning Kristin,” Mahon said. “My Web site is geared toward getting Flores to cooperate with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department. The crime is in the cover-up.”Terry Black, a Sacramento investor and political consultant, recently offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the location of the missing woman or her remains.Black, who believes Smart's body could be buried on the Nipomo Mesa, said he has provided police several tips received through his hotline.“I just would like to see closure to the family, and sometimes money is the only thing that motivates people to come forward,” Black said. “My sole concern is retrieval of the body. I'm not in the blame or punishment role here.”PersistenceDenise Smart remembers her daughter's persistence and discipline above all else.An avid swimmer who stood more than 6 feet tall, Smart cared deeply about her health, Denise Smart said.“Before it was cool to be fit, she exercised and watched what she ate,” Denise Smart said. “She never had egg yolks.”The young woman loved Hawaii and even managed to graduate high school early to work as a camp counselor there.Originally accepted at UCSB, Smart decided to switch schools shortly before her freshman year. The prospect of transferring from her communications program into Cal Poly's elite architecture school was a lure.Denise Smart said her daughter also would have been content to work in TV.“She thought Joan Lunden had just about the best job in the world,” Denise Smart said.Ten years later, Denise Smart is still acutely aware of how her daughter's life was cut short.“She was a very loving and compassionate type of person, and it's hard to have lost her,” Denise Smart said. “Her friends are now getting married and having children.”Matt Smart was just 16 when his sister disappeared.“In a moment, your life is turned upside down,” he said. “You go from watching the news on TV to being on the news. From reading the newspapers to being in the newspapers.”His sister's disappearance inspired him to take life seriously at a young age, he said. Matt Smart threw himself into swimming competitions, eventually making it to the 2000 U.S. Olympic trials.Now a pharmaceutical representative, he tries to live well every day. Still, his sister's disappearance lingers.“It's one thing to have a death in the family,” he said. “It's another thing to not know what happened. You can't allow it to eat at you.”Tana Coates, attorney for the Smart family, said she is heartened that police continue to investigate.“I'm sure Denise thinks of this as if it were yesterday,” Coates said. “It's so important to keep the public's interest. It's a terrible mystery. The family would appreciate closure. Let's hope that happens.”Kristin Smart would have turned 29 this past February.

ArtiBrandy Hanna News cle

Daughter's Disappearance An Open Wound
By Brian Hicks - Charleston Dot Net

It has been a year, and still she cannot sleep.Her life has become one long nightmare, a hunt that never ceases. Everywhere she looks, Donna Parent sees her daughter - on the street, in the store. She has to force herself not to follow every passing car with a thin blond woman inside.It's not her, she constantly has to tell herself.The restaurant she manages has become a shrine of missing person posters and well-wishers who come in to eat every day. A year later, and the Alex's Restaurant's reader board still asks 'Where is Brandy?'After work, Parent spends much of her time on the computer, reading about and corresponding with people who are just like her, who have lost someone without a notion of when they may find out what happened. Like her, they try to avoid the unthinkable: that they may never know. So many people out there like her, she realizes with great sadness.Every night as she lies down to attempt sleep, Donna Parent looks at her daughter's picture and asks the same question:Where are you?On Saturday night, nearly 100 people gathered at Alex's Restaurant on Dorchester Road to mark the one-year anniversary of Brandy Hanna's disappearance with prayer and a candlelight vigil. On May 20, 2005, Hanna, then 32, got off from work there on a Friday afternoon with big plans for the weekend.She caught a ride home with a customer and made plans to go shopping that night, to be ready for a trip to the beach. She spoke with her mother once more on the phone. And then nothing.All leads in the case have proven dead ends. The few suspects brought in passed polygraph tests, leaving police stumped. Every day more time passes without answers, without clues.One year later, and all of the sudden Brandy's disappearance is a cold case.'This is a situation that a year ago I never thought I would be in,' Parent says. 'I can't stop looking, because if I stop, who's going to look for her?'Parent has become disillusioned about a lot of things. Mostly, she is upset that no one has found her daughter. When she first reported her missing, it was nearly a week before police would investigate, because adults have a right to be missing.Police departments across the country say they cannot investigate every call that comes in on a missing adult - they would get little else done.There are nearly 2 million people missing in the United States right now, about half of them adults. While there are networks and agencies and Amber Alerts for children who go missing, there is no mechanism ? save for dozens of networks that exist on the Internet and in the kitchens of people who have suffered loss ? to hunt for adults who disappear.'Adult missing person cases are hard. You have the right to be missing, a right to privacy,' says Monica Caison, the founder and executive director of the CUE Center, a missing persons organization in North Carolina. 'I've heard police say they don't want another Runaway Bride story. We've got to stop judging people, and listen when families say someone is missing. If they turn up on a beach drinking pina coladas, so what? Let it embarrass them.'Caison says that if police had looked quicker at Brandy Hanna's last-known whereabouts, they might have turned up a clue. But in this case, there are no guarantees. Because, unfortunately, hers was a trail that went cold fast.North Charleston Detective Eric Jourdan said there has been no new information in Brandy's case since last August, when Caison brought search teams and cadaver dogs to town to search several areas. Police followed up on a few leads from those searches, but they were all dead ends.'What's most frustrating is that she had such a close circle of friends, only four or five people she associated with, and none of them could think of any reason she would want to disappear on her own,' Jourdan says.A boyfriend, as well as a recent ex-boyfriend, were considered possible suspects, but both submitted to polygraph tests and passed. Since then, one of them, Ray McAdams, has died of natural causes.'I check Brandy's Web site all the time, looking for anonymous tips, and I check into all unidentified bodies found in the state,' Jourdan says. 'But there's not a lot we can do without some sort of clue.'Parent has pushed the city to do more, and in February got Mayor Keith Summey to agree to put up billboards with Brandy's face, asking for information in her disappearance.Parent is upset those billboards have not gone up, but Summey said he's at the mercy of charity. MAC Advertising has agreed to put up a city-designed Brandy billboard starting June 1. They will leave it up all summer, moving it to a new location every month.'We've been working with MAC, but we've had to wait until they had space available,' Summey said.On Saturday night, Parent set up a table with Brandy's pictures - as a baby, in the ROTC, at work at Alex's - and the vigil attendees signed the guest book with notes such as, 'We all pray for your safety' and 'You are and always will be my best friend.'Cindy Cornell, who worked with Brandy at Pappy's in North Charleston, said when she first heard the news, she assumed her friend had 'just gone off somewhere.''I hope that's right, I hope she's off somewhere,' Cornell said. 'I just hopes she comes back.'As the people crowded around the shrine to Brandy began to light their candles, a mighty wind blew up where moments before it had been calm. For several minutes, they tried in vain to light a few flames to Brandy's memory on the anniversary of her disappearance.Eventually, Parent said it was no use and asked them to simply hold the candles high above their heads for a moment. There would be no candlelight at this vigil.It was a disappointment for sure, but Parent has had many of them in the past year. This was a small problem, she knows. There is a much bigger one out there, one that has been looming over her entire life for a year now.§ion=localnews

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day Is Not The Same For Everyone

This Sunday we celebrate Mother's Day. Most will begin with family coming over and spending the day together. Others will begin the same but something will be much different. It will be another day without a child who has become missing or one that has been murdered. It could be that your mother is missing and you are searching for her or find justice for her death. Nevertheless, the day will be incomplete and very difficult no matter how long the child or mom is not there.
This is a holiday that most people who've never witnessed losing a child or mom cannot understand and probably won't seek you out to discuss. It always happens to somebody else, and not them.

As Mother's Day arrives on Sunday, I can't help but think of all those who aren't celebrating the holiday with joy and happiness. I think of how it doesn't seem right to have a child die before it's parents OR to lose your parent due to a crime.

They say there is no love like a mother's love. I believe that. I know that my mom loves me no matter what. She'd go to the end of earth for me. She sees only the positive and supports all my ideas, no matter how crazy they may be. She drives me up the wall and is my best friend all at the same time. She's no different from any other mom when it comes to family.

While this next statement applies to most moms - I recognize it may not apply to each and every mother in the world.

When Mother's Day arrives I want to say this to all moms and those who have a mom. If you are a missing person, you know that mom loves you, and she won't stop looking until she locates you. Those who have died because of a violent crime. Your mom loves you, and she won't stop until she finds out who is responsible and brings them to justice. And, if you've lost your mom because she's missing or she's been murdered, mom will always love you and she knows the things you're doing to help her.

Remember to always tell mom you love her and that she's cool even if she still tells you "you're not leaving the house without that being ironed". It's Mother's Day and God bless all the moms out there.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Leads In the Jodi Huisentruit Disappearance

On June 26, 1995, Jodi Huisentruit was headed out the door to her job with the local TV network in Mason City, Iowa, when something went terribly wrong. As Jodi attempted to get into her car at around 3 a.m., someone abducted her. Later authorities would find Jodi's shoes, hair dryer and some other personal items scattered on the ground near her car, as well as a bent key in the car door.
It would appear that whoever decided to take Jodi obviously knew her schedule and that she'd be exiting her apartment around that time. You simply do not stand around at 3 a.m. unless you are up to something strange.

In the days and months after Jodi's disappearance, a local sex offender was considered as a possible suspect. Authorities would rule him out due to the fact his palm print did not match the print that was left on Jodi's car. It is still unclear just who left the print. It could very well be somebody that was not linked in a criminal manner to the case.

Just days ago a man named Duane Arnold came forward to say that he believes he knows where Jodi is after nearly 11 years. He claims that days after Jodi's abduction, that he noticed that the ground appeared to be disturbed and it was a possible burial. He claims that he's gone to the police previously about this information and because nobody is taking his story seriously, and he's hired his own group to work the area with GPR. Since Arnold's crew was hired, the police have fianlly decided to excavate the property as well to see if they can find Jodi.

Reports are coming out across the news and online that the GPR has picked up something that is buried underneath the ground that could be in the shape of a body, however other items are often mistaken with GPR. It is not fool proof.

Although there have been several promising leads in the past concerning the missing news anchor, Jodi Huisentruit, they've never found her. I have to wonder if this will be the lead to finally break this cold case?

For more information on the abduction of Jodi Huisentruit, please visit her new website that her family put up just months ago. There's someone out there who knows what happened to Jodi. Her case has been one I've followed for many years now since it first aired on Unsolved Mysteries. Here's hoping that she's found before the 11th anniversary has a chance to arrive.

Additonal Links:

Find Jodi

News Link - please note the complete article has been posted her due to the fact that some links will go inactive after several days.

Man who thinks he knows where Jody Huisentruit is buried says police will digLISA ROSSIREGISTER AMES BUREAU
May 9, 2006

A Mason City man who has tried to convince police for a decade that the body of missing anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit is buried by a lake near Britt said police have agreed to dig in the area.Duane Arnold, 74, said he's met with Mason City detectives several times in that time period to tell them to investigate an disturbed area of ground near Eagle Lake, where he has a cabin.Now, after hiring an engineering company to study the area, he said police have agreed to dig in the ground to see if there are new clues in the case."It's not a matter if they are going to dig it, it's a matter of when," said Duane Arnold in an interview today with the Des Moines Register.Arnold said he met with officials from the Hancock county sheriff's department and the Mason City police department to talk about the matter today.Police in Mason City and the sheriff from the Hancock county sheriff's department have not returned phone calls on the story, which has generated national media attention from outlets planning on featuring the missing anchorwoman's disappearance.Huisentruit is the anchorwoman for KIMT-TV who vanished from her Mason City apartment in the early morning hours of June 27, 1995.Arnold said he met Huisentruit at a bar in Mason City before her disappearance and has been driven to solve the mystery with her memory in mind. "I had to have closure," he said. "I couldn't let it go. I had to know. I knew I was right. I kept running into roadblocks. I'd go home, get mad, and I'd go after it again. And now it's paying off."In June of 2005 near the 10 year anniversary of her disappearance, the Register reported that police had no new leads in the case

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Second Suspect in Hamlin Case Found NOT GUILTY

Friday, in a Cherokee County Courthouse, a jury found Jonathan Elkins NOT GUILTY for his alleged role in the rape and murder of 15 year old Katie Hamlin.

In July of 2002, Katie Hamlin's badly burned body was found as a passerby saw a fire burning near a creek bed. Later tests would prove that Hamlin had been sexually assaulted and then set on fire to cover up the crime.
There were two young men arrested in connection with her murder, one of those being Jonathan Elkins. Just last December, a jury found Jamerson Mangrum GUILTY of rape, murder, and attempting to cover up a crime. Mangrum told fellow inmates that Katie died while trying to break free from being held down. He claimed that Jonathan Elkins was there and that he helped him. The most damning evidence against Mangrum was the DNA found on Katie's body connecting him to her.
The jury felt as if Jonathan was not involved in the murder. I have to wonder how they determined he was not there when it was apparent that Katie had been held down by someone as Mangrum assaulted her that night. Even if Elkins did not have sex with Katie Hamlin, isn't he guilty of something?

Wouldn't be wrong to stand there and watch a crime being committed and not tell police? There was someone else there that night, and I think they've been let go to never have to answer for this crime.
While Katie's family may never know the full story of what happened that night to their 15 year old daughter, I guess they can find some comfort in knowing that main culprit is behind bars.
You may read the past blog entry from late December regarding the Mangrum trial by clicking HERE.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Blood Evidence - The Disappearance of Scott Dunn

It was May 16, 1991 when Roger "Scott" Dunn vanished without a trace. It would be nearly two weeks before his family would be made aware of this. Scott was living in Lubbock, Texas, separate from his family.
Scott's father, James Dunn would receive a midnight phone call from a girl who claimed to be Scott's girlfriend. Her name is Leisha Hamilton and she has a questionable past, even before the mystery of Scott's disappearance began. Leisha Hamilton would tell Scott's dad that she was unable to find Scott after leaving him home to rest because he was sick. She claimed that after she returned from her job that Scott was not at the apartment and has yet to return. Pressing Leisha for more information regarding his son's whereabouts, James Dunn began to notice that Leisha's demeanor changed. This was only the beginning of a long road of lies and deceit.
After a missing person report was filed by Scott's family, authorities would visit the apartment Scott had been sharing with Leisha Hamilton. What they found was disturbing. It appeared that carpet had been cut and patched up with duct tape. Beneath the duct taped carpet, the floor had dark red stains, and they appeared to be blood. When questioned further about the carpet and the stains, Leisha Hamilton claimed to have never noticed them, although the dishelved carpet was very obvious. Leisha was more concerned about who was going to take Scott's vehicle, more than finding Scott.

Further testing with Luminol would reveal that someone in the bedroom where Scott Dunn was last known to have been suffered a violent attack. There was blood spatter on the walls and ceiling. Although it had been cleaned up, the Luminol told a more sinister tale. Months later, the blood found in the room was determined to be Scott Dunn's and the amount found was said to be more than any human being could lose without dieing.

Scott's parents would later learn that Leisha Hamilton was seeing another man named Timothy James Smith who lived in the same apartment complex at the same time she was seeing Scott Dunn. Letters would reveal that Smith was deeply in love with Leisha Hamilton and he felt as if Scott Dunn was coming in between their future.

With all this information and it being clear that Scott was more than likely murdered, justice had to be found for those responsible, and Scott's body had to be recovered. It would take nearly six years before Leisha Hamilton was arrested and charged with Scott Dunn's murder. Subsequently, her boyfriend, Timothy James Smith was arrested shortly thereafter. A jury would find Leisha Hamilton GUILTY of murdering Scott Dunn. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sadly, Timothy James Smith was found GUILTY as well, but due to the fact he had no prior criminal record, the jury allowed him to walk out with 10 years probation. To date, Scott Dunn's body has never been found.

Scott's dad, wrote a book regarding his son's disappearance and murder. He wants the world to know about what their family went through trying to find Scott and trying to find some justice for him. The Dunn family still continue to search for Scott's body to give him a proper burial. There is an empty grave in Lubbock Texas that belongs to Scott, although he's not there.

I had the opportunity to meet James Dunn at the CUE Center for the Missing conference this past March. He's a great dad but he's broken. He needs to find his son. Something I will never understand is how people can hold something like that in forever. Just call in a tip and give us what we need to find them.

On May 16th, Scott's family will endure another anniversary since Scott vanished. Some agencies have Scott listed as missing on the 31st, but it was the 16th when this nightmare began for the Dunn family.

On Tuesday, May 16th, AETV will be reairing the segment regarding Scott's case. Everyone should watch it if they have some extra time. I also recommend "Trail of Blood" By James Dunn. It is a full account of the case and a father's search.

I'll always remember Scott and hope that he too can be found.

AETV will Reair Blood Trail on Cold Case Files @ 1 PM EST and again @ 6 PM EST on Tuesday, May 16, 2006.

Purchase Trail of Blood From Amazon Dot Com

Scott Dunn Information Site
The Charley Project Case File

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