Hello, everyone! What a difference a month makes, right? 31 days ago I thought for sure I’d be writing about my upcoming events at Northwestern University and Nova Southeastern University. I thought I’d be writing about how I had done all this practice for my presentations. I’d be writing about how nervous I am. I’d be saying I couldn’t wait to take questions from the students. I’d be wondering what the road trips would be like with my brother Brian.
But nope. I don’t have to write about any of that because none of it is relevant due to COVID 19.
Once again, what a difference a month makes.
Really, since the self-isolation stuff started like two weeks ago, my life really hasn’t changed all that much. I’m a homebody anyway. I, of course, work from home. I don’t see many people in person on a daily or weekly basis. So, I’ve been kind of been in “self-isolation” for the better part of my adult life.
What ARE the things that have changed? No trivia nights. No disc golf tournaments. That’s about it. I’m serious. Otherwise, my life is just as it was a month ago. However, I feel horrible for the people whose businesses have been deemed “non-essential”. I feel horrible for the employees. And I am certainly sad for all the people who’ve suffered from the virus so far, and of course those who’ve died. There will be more pain in the near future, I am sure. But I am also sure there are many better days ahead too. We will beat this.
So, let’s start where we always do . . .
April 3: The Yearly Q & A Episode
April 10: Christi Jo Nichols
April 17: ????????????
April 24: Update Episode V
Other cases we are working on: Kristina Branum/Chris Mittendorf, Christopher Sanders, Charles Thompson, Gregory Howells, Kelly Evans, Fallon Cooksey.
RESCHEDULING OF COLLEGE VISITS
I have 100% confidence that the engagements I had planned will be rescheduled for the Fall—that is, if things get back to normal before September. It very well could be that we are under the same of type of self-isolation program then that we have now. I’m hoping not. I’m thinking not. But you never know.
However, this down time allows me to work on my, uh, “schtick”. It also allows the possibility of contacting other universities about possible presentations. In fact, I have spoken to representatives from both Northern Michigan and the University of South Florida over the past two weeks. I think they are excited about having me on their campuses in the Fall and I am certainly ecstatic about it as well.
So, we’re working on it. The tough part is because all schools in the USA are now essentially closed or education is being done remotely, reaching criminal justice professors is even harder than usual. Why? Because they are scrambling like everyone else. So the last person on their list to talk to is someone who wants to speak at their campus 6 months from now—it’s just not an immediate priority. Which I understand.
Still, we will keep emailing schools because that’s the only way to move things forward. I am absolutely committed to bringing the Unfound message to people whose futures are in law enforcement.
IN MEMORIAM: CRYSTAL MORRISON
I hope you’ve already listened to this episode—I thought it came out really well. I think it’s important to do In Memoriams because I want families to realize these missing, now deceased, people are just as important to us now as they were before they were found. We will NEVER forget these people.
However, I also think these In Memoriam’s are important because it gives me a chance to re-analyze a disappearance to see what I got wrong, what I can learn, and how my analysis can improve in the future. I think what I’m saying is there MUST be something positive that is salvaged from these deaths. We must do this. And one way is to make sure we learn something that can be applied elsewhere. We don’t want these people to have died in vain.
In regards to that topic, and specifically Crystal’s case, I got her disappearance horribly wrong and I talked about that in the summation of the recent episode. I wanted to do that because I don’t want any of you to think I am omnipotent. That I have some ego. That I am above reproach. As I continue to say, I am one of you—I just happen to have the microphone.
Even more so, admitting that I made mistakes opens my mind up to learning even more. By admitting that I don’t know—as I often do when discussing disappearances with listeners, it alerts me that I still have a lot to learn. Which I do. And I think in putting myself and my mistakes upon the mercy of the listeners, it keeps me humble . . . which, dare I say it, many podcast hosts are not.
I believe Crystal’s disappearance is a very important one in the history of Unfound. I think we can all learn a lot from it. And by learning a lot, we can keep Crystal in the forefront of our minds.
LINKS FOR BOOKS
Here are the links for all 6 for Season 1:
Volume 6 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077115520
THE NEW WEBSITE
Nothing could please me more than to announce that Unfound now has a real website. My assistant, Natasha, has done a fantastic job in bringing it back to life. I want to give you the exact address right now:
Now, if you type in the old address unfoundpodcast.com, you may be redirected to the new site. However, there was an issue with the old website address in that it wasn’t secure—never could figure that out. But, I can assure you that eventually the cache in your browser will adapt and immediately take you to the new site.
However, you can avoid all of that by just going directly to THEunfoundpodcast.com.
Natasha has really just executed her own vision while taking some suggestions and tips from me, and put it together on her own. She is updating it almost daily, which I think is very unique in the true crime podcast world. In fact, you will be able to find this newsletter on the website too—that will be happening from now on.
We have some other ideas that are simmering for the website in the near future too. Please look for them!
Within the last week the coroner responsible for the remains of Devin Bond issued a report regarding the cause of death. I have to say—it answered some questions. But it also raised others. What do I mean?
Before I continue, you should know: I have not talked to Devin’s mother since his remains were found. I have sent her a couple messages but she has not responded yet.
The key part in the article is this:
The medical examiner ruled that Bond, who was 16 when he went missing, died of a suspected suicide, but is classifying the death as “undetermined.”
This is a bit of a stumper to me. “Suspected suicide”? Why? I’m guessing it’s because there were no signs of violence on the remains. I should also state we don’t know how much of Devin’s body was recovered. So I’m sure that plays a role in the decision.
However, this is where I want to take you back to the disappearance itself. If you will remember, a gun disappeared from the Bond house at seemingly the same time Devin went missing. The assumption was that Devin took the gun with him—with the belief being he could’ve been suicidal.
Yet, where is the gun? Was it not recovered with Devin? We don’t know. Maybe it was. However, if it was, then would it not make sense that suicide was not just “suspected” but “definite”? Could not that inference be made?
And what if the gun WASN’T recovered with Devin? Then where is it? Then how exactly did Devin die?
There is another side to this as well. If you will check the area where they found the remains, this property is not near Veterans Parkway like everyone thought—at least that’s what I thought when news first got out about the bones. No, this place is well south of there. The area is in between a bunch of houses in kind of an overgrown 3 acres of land.
I think what this proves is Devin WAS NOT captured on video at the school on Veterans Parkway the morning he disappeared. Yet, how did they find his remains in a place where nobody expected to find him? It’s another question that I can’t answer.
If this is all reminding you of Tom Brown’s case, I agree with you. Two fine upstanding young men. No vices. Doing well in school. Yet both had girl problems before their disappearances. Each is found in an area nobody suspected. Suicide is alleged but there is no proof of such according to coroner reports.
And . . . of course in Tom’s case, foul play shades the entire investigation.
But does it in Devin’s? I don’t see any reason to think that. In fact, the big difference is that even Devin’s mother herself realized suicide could’ve been a motive for Devin. However, Penny, Tom’s mother, has never stated that—not back in 2016, and not now.
Why is that? Well, I think the reason is the gun. Had Tom disappeared along with a firearm, then I think Penny would’ve talked about the topic of of suicide when I interviewed her. I’m sure I would’ve asked her about it.
I am NOT saying I think Tom committed suicide. In fact, I think I’ve insinuated much to the opposite over the last almost two years.
What I’m saying is, all it takes is one difference of fact between two very similar disappearances to cause people’s minds to go in opposite directions. It very well may be that Devin was murdered—I don’t know. It very well may be that Tom committed suicide—I don’t know. However, it’s one fact that causes us to view these similar disappearances differently.
I still hope to talk to Heather Bond. I hope she can give me additional insight. And like Crystal Morrison’s resolution, if Heather allows me to pass along more information regarding Devin’s remains, I will do so.
REMAINS FOUND IN SOUTHERN ALABAMA
In early March 2020, so not quite a month ago, someone stumbled across human remains in the Conecuh National Forest. Here is the article:
Lesa Kissoon, Chip Campbell’s sister, first alerted me to this news. She had reason to believe the remains could be Chip’s given the location where he disappeared and where these bones were found. However, we now know they are not his.
Why? Well, officials have now released the gender of the person—female. Not just a female, but a juvenile female. What does this mean?
Well, Unfound has two cases in particular that fit that demographic. First, Danielle Bell. She disappeared from Pensacola during September 2001. Danielle was 14 at the time, certainly a juvenile. The other disappearance? Kemberly Ramer. She went missing from Opp, AL during August 1997. She was 17—on the higher end of “juvenile”.
Furthermore, in both of these disappearances, foul play is suspected. Meaning, these girls could’ve been killed then dumped in Conecuh. Whereas, if there was a high probability of them running away, I think each lived too far away to believe they could’ve made it to the forest alone.
Right about now you may be saying, “What about Tiffany Daniels? Linda Kay Carroll?” Both disappeared from the panhandle of Florida—you’re correct, an area not far from where these remains were found. However, neither of these women could ever be classified as juveniles. Tiffany was 25 and Linda was 24 with two children. So I don’t think the bones are theirs.
Of course, whoever this girl is, she could be someone we’ve never featured on Unfound. Or who has never been reported missing. She may not even be from the USA. We just don’t know yet. But when we find out, I will let all of you know.
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The remains in the Conecuh National Forest kind of does take me to this topic. No I’m not going to get into all the specifics and theories and everything of Gannon’s murder. It’s sad. It’s disgusting. And surely the stepmother should rot in hell for it.
Instead, I want to talk about how Gannon’s remains were found in FL—coincidentally up in the panhandle. Remember, he disappeared from Colorado. Check a map—that’s nowhere near FL. The belief is the stepmother, while driving from CO to SC around Feb. 1, 2020, threw out the suitcase with Gannon in it as she traveled through Florida. It makes perfect sense and I believe it to be true.
However, what this boy’s case shows us is we can never rule out a missing person’s body being found miles, if not hundreds, if not a thousand miles away. Hey, if an 11 year old can be found two time zones away, then anybody can.
I’ve been counseling this point to my guests for quite a while now. Yes, they go on NAMUS and use the database to narrow down the unidentified remains selections there. But they often narrow by area too. So, for example, someone who disappeared in the panhandle of Florida. The family will maybe look at remains found in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, in addition to Florida. Very seldom do they widen the search beyond that.
Whereas, Gannon’s murder teaches us that database searches must include the entire United States. Whether a family believes their loved one was going to commit suicide. Or was murdered. Or whatever other type of scenario.
This may bring another question to your mind: Why isn’t easier to match missing people on NAMUS to the unidentified remains on there? Because I think the perception is you just go in, click on the demographics of the missing person you’re trying to find, then go through the list of unidentified remains, and eventually you’ll make a match sooner or later . . . even if it’s much later. It’s not rocket science.
Yet, we all know—because most of us have done it—that hardly anybody ever solves a missing persons case that way, despite it seeming so straight forward.
Before I answer that question, I want you to know I have NO hard facts on this topic, just suspicions. So, here it goes.
First, we must remember that the NAMUS database, although it being the largest missing persons website in the world, is not even close to complete. There are . . .what? . . . 13,000 cases on there? Maybe more, maybe less? Well, it is well-established that the number of unsolved missing persons cases in the US is like 80 to 90,000. Yes, NAMUS has a long way to go. Thus, this plays a big factor in trying to match Column A with Column B. You can’t match one with the other when one of them is way short of complete.
Second, much of the information on NAMUS is probably incorrect. How do I know? I’ve had multiple people in LE tell me this. That DOES NOT mean the people at NAMUS are doing a crappy job. Not at all. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that law enforcement is doing a crappy job. Not at all, either.
Instead, and this focuses on the unidentified section of NAMUS, many times the heights and weights, and even nationality, of the remains is wrong. How does a coroner accurately predict the height of a person if the coroner only has 30% of the skeleton? Most likely not possible. A guess is the best most can do.
Also, in these times where there are more and more people who are mixed race, determining the race has become harder and harder. As we know, there are distinct skeletal differences between Whites, Blacks, and Asians—the three major races of earth. For a long time, this made it easy for coroners and investigators because races having children together in mass is a relatively new phenomenon—something that should’ve been culturally permitted for a lot longer than it has.
Yet, what happens when remains are found and the distinguishing characteristics don’t match established parameters for those three races? What then? Well, I’ll tell what then . . . officials guess. And that’s what you’re seeing many times when you look at the racial information for unidentified remains on NAMUS: guesses.
Thus, it’s hard to match a missing person who is 25% Latino, 50% White, and 25% Black, if their corresponding information, IF their remains are found, is %50 Black, 25% Asian, and 25% Middle Eastern on NAMUS. You see what I’m saying?
In fact, I’ve been told there have been mistakes such as drastic as remains being identified as 100% African American. But when the case was solved, the missing person attached to those remains was 100% White. True story.
Third, I believe many of the unidentified remains on NAMUS are not US citizens. What is the percentage? I really don’t know. But I wouldn’t doubt that is at least 20 percent.
Whereas, ALL the missing people on NAMUS are US citizens. So nobody should be surprised then when matches don’t happen. You can’t match up some of the unidentified remains with missing Americans because the remains aren’t of an American. And there’s no way to tell if remains are American or not unless there is corresponding information found with the remains –example, maybe the skeleton had money from Europe in its clothing. You can’t just look at a skeleton and say, “Oh yeah, that’s an American.”
Why do I believe it’s such a high percentage? Because of everything we’ve all read regarding immigration over the last 30 years. People sneak into the US—it’s happening right now. People come here for vacations and never go home. People come here on work VISA’s, the paperwork expires, and the person doesn’t go home. People born here to illegals and the proper documentation is never done.
LOTS of reasons. And this kind of stuff happens hardly anywhere else in the world, at least not to this degree. Frankly, people want live here—I don’t blame them. I love living here too.
So then, it’s no wonder that remains are found that will go unidentified, possibly forever.
Those are my top three reasons.
And Gannon Stauch, RIP.
Although there is no new news regarding her or her disappearance specifically, something happened just recently with a person mentioned prominently during my interview with her sister-in-law last year. Mike Mearan has been charged with . . . something. This happened not too many days before the publishing of this newsletter so there aren’t a lot of details. But . . .
If you will remember, Mike Mearan is a notorious lawyer in Portsmouth, OH. Lots of tales about him pimping out women. Being involved in sex trafficking. And it is certain that he and Megan did know each other.
And the stories about him exist going way back to the 1990’s. Yes, really. Yet he has never, ever been charged with anything. Lots of stories written about what Mike has allegedly done. Lots of charges made against his close associates, some of whom have gone to jail.
But Mike? Never has seen the inside of a jail cell.
How is that possible? That’s a good question. I was asking myself that last year when Unfound covered Megan’s disappearance, and I still don’t have a good answer today.
It’s easy to believe Mike is just so well-connected that he’s avoided anything. Or, he has blackmail information on the people who could throw him in jail, so they stay away from him. And other people? They believe Mike when he says he is totally innocent of everything bad ever leveled against him.
What do I believe?
I’m inclined to believe Mike Mearan is a very bad guy. Do I believe he is involved in Megan’s disappearance? There was nothing presented during the interview that leads me to believe so. However, the reason Kadie mentioned him during the interview is because Mike had a horrible reputation and knew Megan.
Frankly, though, I can’t help but think there has been some exaggeration going on regarding what Mike has done both back in the 1990’s and more recently. There could be a “piling on” effect. In addition, the people bringing their stories forward are not exactly pillars of society. Moreover, many of them have ZERO proof to their claims. Does that mean all these women are lying? Of course not. Certainly some of them are telling the truth. Uh, either that or Mike Mearan is the most misunderstood man in the history of the world.
What led to law enforcement putting him in handcuffs and searching his place last week? I don’t know. I hope to find out. Frankly, I never thought anything would ever be done to him. That this is happening is welcomed news. Yet, all of this still doesn’t mean he’ll ever spend a day in jail or that it will be proven he had something to do with Megan’s disappearance.
ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA
In the middle of this past month, we had the opportunity to cover the disappearance of David Hardy Jr.–a 78 year old from Eunice, LA. His daughter joined me on the program to talk about the facts regarding her father’s case. If you’ve listened to that episode, you know there are quite a few possibilities as to what happened.
However, covering David’s case, it alerted me to something I hadn’t realized: Until that point, Unfound had not featured a disappearance where Alzheimer’s or dementia could be a factor. I was really stunned by this.
Why was I stunned? Because several times a week, when I go through Google reading about very, very, very recent disappearances, I always come across disappearances in which an elderly man or woman with either of those diseases has gone missing. Without exception. Every week I read at least one.
However, it took us over 170 episodes to cover one.
Why is that? I’ve had a few weeks to think about it and I’ll give you my theory in a moment.
It’s not like we screen disappearances—we’ll talk to anyone. Unfound’s episode are random samples, meaning it’s not like we necessarily try to cover certain cases at certain times. It’s not like we’re biased against older missing persons—not at all.
I was even trying to think if there were maybe some Alzheimer’s disappearances in which I had talked to a family then we just couldn’t get together for an interview. That’s possible. But nothing really jumps out at me right now in my memory.
My best guess is that the reason we don’t cover many Alzheimer’s/dementia disappearances is because these people don’t stay missing for very long. What do I mean by that? Well, my perception is that when I read about these types of people going missing, it’s usually a “walk away”. Meaning, they were at home or in a care facility and they simply walked off.
Well, you can understand how in those situations, these people would be much easier to find quickly. How far can a 75 year old walk? Moreover, these people usually live with others who are looking out for them. So the word gets out fairly quickly, meaning these people who walk away don’t get very far.
Thus, bringing it back to David’s disappearance, his case isn’t anything like your typical Alzheimer’s/dementia one. He was in his car. He was far from home. He was much more independent than the people in these other Alzheimer’s/dementia disappearances—and really, I think that is why David’s case is still unsolved almost 3 years later. In other words, his played out much more like a non-Alzheimer’s/dementia disappearance than an actual one, leading it to be unsolved long enough that Unfound could cover it.
Whereas, as you know, we don’t cover disappearances that only last a few days, which I think is how long most, but not all, mental incapacity cases last. So, we never get a chance to cover them because they are solved long before the “year rule” comes into play that we have for Unfound.
Just a guess, though.
THANKS FOR READING!!!!!