Sunday, December 8, 2013
There’s an acronym searchers use when looking for a missing person: PLS. Point last seen. Law enforcement has an another acronym for what comes after point last seen: ROW. The rest of the world.
Organizations on forefront of finding the missing
Two national organizations are on the forefront of helping to find and identify missing people.
NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, is funded by the National Institute of Justice, with the University of North Texas holding the grant award.
Todd Matthews, NamUs director of communications, said it’s unique because it’s a government website with a public interface. “The public cannot review other databases like VICAP (the FBI’s database of homicides and sexual assaults) and NCIC (the National Crime Information Center, also under the FBI) for accuracy, but they can see much of the information listed in NamUs.”
Matthews also volunteers as site owner for DoeNetwork, which “deals with scraps of data — news articles, details that often seem so minute — but when assembled, they have much value.” NamUs uses biometrics — things such as dental records, DNA and fingerprints — to generate leads, as well as physical statistics, geography and chronology.
Missing in Central Maine
Those listed as missing in central Maine on NamUs, DoeNetwork and in recent press reports include:
• Geraldine Largay, July 22-23, 2013: Largay, 66, of Tennessee, was hiking the Appalachian Trail and last made contact with her husband July 22 from the top of Saddleback Mountain. After a weeklong search, the Maine Warden Service said it still will pursue leads but no longer is searching.
• Fay Johnson, Feb. 29-March 6, 2012: Johnson, 62, was initially reported last seen between March 2 and March 6, 2012, in Bethel, where she was moving into a new apartment. Her cellphone was last used March 7, 2012. Her service dog, Sassy, was found in her new home March 12 and taken away by animal control. This past March, her daughter said it could have been as early as Feb. 29, 2012, that Johnson disappeared.
• Ayla Reynolds, Dec. 17, 2011: Reynolds’ father, Justin DiPietro, said he put Ayla, 21 months, to bed around 8:30 that night in their Violette Avenue home in Waterville. When he checked on her the next morning, she was gone. Search locations have included the Kennebec River and Messalonskee Stream. Police have said the three people in the house that night — DiPietro, his girlfriend Courtney Roberts and sister Elisha DiPietro — know more than they are saying.
• George Boardman, October-November 2000: Boardman, 70, who lived in Bingham, told a friend on Oct. 5, 2000, he was going to a doctor’s appointment in Augusta. His car, a 1990 Honda Accord, was found abandoned in the municipal parking lot in Searsmont, 76 miles southeast in Waldo County, on Nov. 6, 2000. His family offered a $10,000 reward, and search sites included Lake St. George, but no trace of him was found.
• Kimberley Moreau, May 11, 1986: Moreau, 17, of Jay, was last seen getting into a white Pontiac Trans Am with two men. One of the men told police that when they were taking her home, she asked to be let out of the car about a half-mile from home on Jewell Street because she was upset about an earlier fight with her boyfriend and wanted to walk it off. She was declared dead in 1993, but her case is still under investigation. Livermore Falls police also have investigated.
• Kurt Newton, Sept. 1, 1975: Kurt, the son of Ron and Jill Newton, of Manchester, was last seen riding his Big Wheel down a dirt road at Natanis Campground in Chain of Ponds Township in northern Franklin County, where the family was camping. The Big Wheel was found about a mile away at a dump site. The ensuing search was considered at the time the most extensive in state history.
Sources: newspaper reports, www.doenetwork.org, www.NamUs.gov
There are a lot of people in Maine who have crossed the divide from the point last seen and into the rest of the world.
Geraldine Largay, the Tennessee woman who disappeared somewhere in northern Franklin County while hiking the Appalachian Trail the week of July 21, is the most recent in a long list who have disappeared into the Maine woods. After searching for more than a week, the Maine Warden Service announced July 28 it is no longer actively looking for her but is open to any new leads.
Also in Franklin County, north of where Largay disappeared, on Sept. 1, 1975, Kurt Newton, the 4-year-old son of Jill and Ron Newton, of Manchester, was last seen riding his Big Wheel on a road at Natanis Campground in Chain of Ponds Township. The Big Wheel was found about a mile away near the camp dump, but the boy never was.
There are also those who didn’t disappear in the woods, but from closer to home.
Ayla Reynolds, the Waterville toddler who was last seen Dec. 17, 2011, at her father’s home on Violette Avenue, is one of the most recent.
The longest-missing person on the Maine State Police missing persons criminal investigation webpage is Douglas Chapman, who disappeared June 2, 1971, when he was 3, from his yard in Alfred. The most recent one is Jeremy Alex, 28, who was last seen running down a road in Northport “in a delusional state” on April 24, 2004.
Those two names may be familiar to Mainers who follow the news, but there are others that won’t ring a bell with anyone.
Jesse Hoover, 54, of Texas, was last seen at the Baxter State Park headquarters in Millinocket the morning of May 20, 1983. She’d come to Maine to hike the Appalachian Trail, but she seemed ill-prepared. Overweight and not in good health, she was dressed in jeans, wore a windbreaker and carried a knapsack. Her sister reported her missing July 11, 1983. And that’s all we know.
The only information that comes up about her in an Internet search are those same facts. Microfilm of the Bangor Daily News, the newspaper most likely to report her disappearance, shows the paper published no story in July and August 1983 about the missing-person report.
The paper did have some other missing-person news, though, reporting July 14, 1983, that George Wescott was back for a visit. The Swansea, Mass., man got lost in the woods north of Greenville during a snowstorm while on a hunting trip in November 1982 and was given up for dead. He walked out of the woods three weeks later.
His story was so astounding — much easier to believe someone will disappear into the woods than walk out after three weeks — that many thought it was a hoax. During his July 1983 visit, Wescott submitted to and passed a state police polygraph to prove otherwise.
The National Criminal Information Center lists 73 missing people in Maine, according to Todd Matthews, director of information for NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
He said Tuesday it’s possible some of those have been resolved but not yet canceled out of the system. “We find that on occasion,” he said. Part of his job is working with the NamUs staff and other agencies to reconcile variances in the numbers.
NamUs lists 19 missing people in Maine. There are 12 on the state police page, which lists those whose disappearance is the subject of an open criminal investigation.
(Continued on page 2)
click image to enlarge
click image to enlarge
click image to enlarge
Courtesy Maine Warden Service