Part IX: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person

Nothing new on this investigation, but I did want to share some questions asked of me about the case.
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Case Summary:

Shelia Kathleen "Beany" McBroom has not been seen since October 27, 2008 near her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. On that morning she did not show up for work, but was stopped and interviewed by an Alaska State Trooper who was investigating a reckless driving complaint.

Reportedly, the trooper was the last person to see Ms. McBroom.

Four days later, family members discovered her abandoned truck on a highway south of Anchorage. The vehicle contained her cell phone and other personal items, but offered no sign of Kathleen.

Prior to disappearing, Ms. McBroom was an avid writer and her online journal can be viewed here.


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A reader over at the site Peace4themissing asked me several questions regarding Ms. McBroom's disappearance.

Here is some of that exchange:

Question #1:

In this report, it says she was pulled over by the trooper because she was driving erratically, and yet, in the next paragraph, the spokesperson says she pulled over to take a nap because she was tired. Which is true?



My Response:

The published articles vary on exactly what happened that morning, but here is what I believe:

Citizens, including a truck driver, apparently observed Ms. McBroom driving erratically and possibly striking a guardrail. One or more of them called 911.

The citizens were able to get her stopped and everyone waited until an Alaska State Trooper arrived. The trooper told the citizens he would handle the incident and they the other witnesses left.

The spokesperson for the State Troopers stated that Ms. McBroom passed a sobriety test, was checked through records, and the trooper talked with her for a short time.

Ms. McBroom evidently told the trooper that she was sleepy.

Finding no reason to detain her any longer, the trooper allegedly told the woman that if she felt tired she should take a nap (apparently they were off the road of a well-traveled highway). The officer then left.

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Question #2:

This link has some interesting comments....

This comment particularly stood out to me, from someone in Anchorage, because it was my first gut reaction, also. The Trooper was the last person to see her alive, haven't found the name mentioned in news reports (yet), and sends up a red flag to me:

...Lie: Trooper says he pulled Kathy over morning of 10/27.

Truth: 3 civilians had her blocked (after flashing their lights and getting her to pull off the road) to prevent her from getting back on the highway as they waited for the trooper, after witnessing her erratic driving and confused, odd behavior, one witness even spoke to her.

Trooper also says she was sleeping, yet witness had just talked to her minutes before.

He shouldv'e called a family member to come pick her up. It was absolutely incompetent for the trooper to allow her to drive again. She needed help! That type of driving could've killed someone.

Troopers and detective never contacted witness after she went missing. Witness had to contact them.

Lie: Troopers say they found her truck still there and further down the road doing a welfare check.

Truth: The family found her truck as they searched themselves and were not notified by troopers until that time that a trooper had talked to her the previous Monday.
Why wasn't the family told about what had on 10/27? The family reported her missing Tuesday.

What are the troopers hiding?


My Response:

I was not there and do not know Ms. McBroom's condition when she was stopped. From the statements released by authorities, they argue that their officer had no legal ground to prohibit Kathleen from driving that day.

Thus, the trooper made a judgment call to let Ms. McBroom operate the vehicle again.

It is unclear if a traffic accident report was completed (if Ms. McBroom struck a guardrail), but since it appears that the trooper did not get the witnesses contact information, representatives from the agencies involved (Alaska State Troopers and Anchorage Police Department) had no choice but to ask the public for those with information to come forward for statements—-and they did.

Why the family was not told is simple: it was two different large agencies involved, and representatives had no idea that Ms. McBroom had been stopped there that morning by the police since little or no paperwork was completed due to the trooper’s selected course of action.

Unfortunately, these things happen.

From my perspective, it is not uncommon for a trooper or officer’s name not to be released to the press in cases like this unless there is a proactive media or family representatives involved to push for such.

In this investigation, I don’t see the police as "hiding" something.

I think it could be argued that authorities were concerned of the civil litigation involved in the trooper's decision to let Ms. McBroom go that morning--especially concerning would be if the disoriented woman fell to her death after she was released by police.

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Question #3:

The other thing that's worrisome to me is why her family would have her declared dead so quickly, and how did that happen if Alaska law says 5 years?

My Response:

Alaska law does include a year limit, but an application can be made at any time when there is a strong evidence to believe that the missing person is deceased.

I do not know what evidence was presented that had her declared legally dead.

One reader suggested that the information might be available via public records, and I am researching that possibility.
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More questions and answers from this conversation can be found here.

Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Kathleen McBroom" on the right margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here
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*Photos were used from local media reports.

23 comments:

Eternally Distracted said...

I am unaware of the case but some very interesting thoughts and responses on this one... I will be checking back for more news.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

Very eerie. I believe you are right about the officer instructing her to nap and how that was probably where the confusion stemmed from.

Janna Qualman said...

It's all so very spooky. Do we allow room for human error with this trooper(s)? Or, like you with your experience and skill suggest, dig deeper and demand some serious questions of them?

Thank you for the followup, SD, I think of her often.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

What would they be hiding? Simply that the trooper made a wrong decision???

Stephanie Faris said...

Odd case...I remember you writing about this before and I wondered how she could have gone from barely staying awake to just missing. And if she did hit a guardrail at some point, why was no accident report filed? Or was it?

Javajune said...

This whole case is so bizarre, I don't understand why the officer would have let her go like that and then the fact that he didn't follow up with witnesses when she was reported missing is hard to swallow. I just listened to an interesting case on this american life (NPR) radio yesterday about a case involving a drug adicted couple who murdered their landlord and kidnapped their daughter from grandparents and then fled to mexico, the police were no help so a cilvilian got involved and found the kids but then regreted it. It was an intriguing story. You may be able to find it on podcast but I can't remember the name, it had Baja in the title.
The mcbroom case sounds like the perfect story for unsolved mysteries.
xo-jj

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Thank you for returning to this case and answering some of the questions. This one sticks with me.

It's hard to say what family or legal items were blocked with her being 'missing' as opposed to 'dead'--selling the house, the life insurance, other trust or joint account decisions.

However I still don't like the speed of the probate. Perhaps I am in error, owing to preceding paragraph.

I love reading about this woman. I think partly because her blog did make her very accessible to us.

It's a loss to the world for her to be missing, unexplained. Thanks for trying to fill the gap!

Ann T.

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

Is there any reason to suspect foul play here? It doesn't seem like that is the case. It sounds like she might be a disoriented woman who lost her bearings... which would be a horrible thing to happen, especially in the wilds of Alaska.

~Elizabeth
Confessions From A Working Mom

T. Anne said...

Very scary. I'm sorry this had to happen to her. Hopefully one day the truth will be discovered.

Luisa Doraz said...

It really is confusing how things like this happen in life when there are really no reasons for it! I will stay posted. Have a safe week! :)

BobKat said...

I was wondering when you'd get back to Kathleen McBroom? I'm still considering what you've posted... I think maybe you feel at a loss, but this shows you have quite a handle on this case. Thanks!

tattytiara said...

Wow, so many intriguing questions. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for her loved ones to lose someone under such strange circumstances.

Lipstick said...

Interesting.....I always like your analysis. It's like this lady just disappeared...scary.

Kellie said...

I love reading about these on your blog..even if I don't have any insight at all. It's interesting to me though.. very.

Holly said...

The confusion, the information, the lack of information...I suppose that is what you get when you rely on regular old people and their accounts of life.

 ALH said...

This is a really interesting case. I'm surprised she was able to pass a sobriety test with such erratic driving. It makes me think that maybe she was having some neurological or other sort of health issue? I'm also surprised that none of the witnesses offered to call a family member or to drive her home themselves if they were concerned enough to stop her with their cars and flashers.

J. J. in Phila said...

I'm in general agreement of Ann T.

There could be some legitimate financial reason to declare someone dead so soon, e.g. they would lose substantial pension benefits.

The family might also be aware of health related issues that might have a bearing on that.

pradateufelchen said...

You always have very interesting articles on your blog - always enjoy reading it :-)
and about this certain one - I do have the feeling this puzzle is not solved at all - too many lose ends...

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Not sure if you've accessed the legal filings for the presumptive death action yet:

http://www.courtrecords.alaska.gov/pa/pa.urd/pamw2000.docket_lst?23748888

While the pleadings aren't online--her husband filed the presumptive death action within a month of her disappearance. There would be no reason to do that that I (a probate and tax attorney)can think of unless you KNEW she was deceased and the body was not going to be found.

It went to a jury trial and the jury gave them the ruling they wanted--it must have been very compelling evidence---and it should be public record, copies should be available at the court house and appear to be available by written request per the CourtView FAQs.

Hope that helps.....

Slamdunk said...

@ Anonymous on 9/12/10: Thank you for the excellent guidance on where exactly to go to learn more about the presumptive death action in this case.

I have been troubled by this case since learning about it, and struggle with taking it much farther since I learned about her family's civil action.

I think authorities have labeled efforts in this case as "what's the point" and I am guessing that is what the court records will confirm as well.

I'll have to think about whether or not to pursue a copy of those records. It seems that only her Internet friends have been left without closure.

Thanks again, and I am open to any more of your thoughts on the case (my email address is theslamdunktrove@gmail.com . --SD

Aleesey chan said...

That's just it, the police told us she either fell or jumped into the water that their was nothing they could do and that was the end of that...that no body would be found in the vast ocean. Little was done for my mom's entire case. I've been doing research of my own lately and have found that Israel keyes left alaska only 3 days after her dissapearence. He did these same actions with samantha koenig. While this may be far fetched I can't help but wonder. She was last seen in the type of places he preyed upon. And there is so much the FBI never learned about him. There is a good possibility she is not a victim as foul play was not found but she was vulnerable at the time an could be an easy target...others have guessed this as well one has even reached out to me.

Aleesey chan said...

She didn't have anything in her system but had not been sleeping and was upset.

Aleesey chan said...

The recording of the trooper talking to my mom did not show up until just a few years ago. They nevet handled this case properly. My dad tried to sue them because of this.