Murdered and Unidentified

Planned on introducing a missing person from Mississippi today, but going with these two cases instead.  

Case #1: "Beth Doe," found murdered on 12/20/1976, White Haven, PA, NamUs UP# 8913

Playing on the banks of the Lehigh River at around 4:30 pm, then 14-year-old Kenneth Jumper, Jr. made a horrible discovery: the body of a young woman. Also found was her full-term unborn fetus.

The remains had been placed in three suitcases and evidently tossed below to the river from an Interstate bridge. The mother had been strangled and then shot.

Authorities were unable to determine name of the mother, and so "Beth Doe" and "Baby Jane Doe" were buried in a pauper's field not too far from where the remains were found.

Graves of Beth and Baby Jane Doe (Courtesy Norman Houser)

In 2007, police exhumed the body of "Beth Doe" in hopes that modern science would provide additional leads.

Sadly, the identity remains a mystery--the case is unsolved.

Case #2: Jan Cotta, Missing from Wall Township, NJ, 6/26/1973, NamUs #5978

Jan Cotta was 19-years old and pregnant when she was last seen on her family's property in New Jersey. Authorities initially considered her to have disappeared by choice, but have considered multiple theories over the years. Reportedly, she referred to the unnamed father (but did not name him) in a letter prior to vanishing, but police were unable to identify him.

The case of Jan Cotta has remained open for more than 40 years.

  • Females in the appropriate age range 

  • Ms. Cotta was characterized as having poor teeth, while Beth Doe had several fillings and some missing teeth

  • Both listed at 64 inches and having brown hair

  • Ms. Cotta was reportedly pregnant at the time of her disappearance, and though it was 3 years later, the found decedent was pregnant.

  • Both described as having a mole on the left side of face

  • Wall Township, NJ to that part of I-80 in PA is about 141 miles

  • Police believe the suitcases were tossed from the Westbound side of the bridge--consistent with someone driving away from NJ/NY

  • Authorities in the Cotta case believed her baby's father was from NY, and some of the body parts in PA were found wrapped in a NY newspaper

  • Though an article written after the unnamed woman's body was exhumed in 2007 theorizes that she may have been of Polish or Czech decent, the case details on her at the PA Missing site include that she is perhaps of Mediterranean heritage. "Cotta" originated in Spain and Portugal
  • Ms. Cotta's eyes are listed as blue, while Beth Doe's are shown as brown.

  • When comparing Ms. Cotta's provided picture and the various attempts to reconstruct Beth Doe, you don't get the overwhelming feeling of confidence that you are looking at the same person. I do understand that there are lots of variables in play though.
Has the possible connection between Jan Cotta and Beth Doe already been investigated?

Probably, but it is worth an email to the case managers--which I sent.

For other Missing Person Monday posts, go here

And thanks to Norman Houser for allowing me to use his photograph. You can read about his trip to the final resting place of Beth and Baby Jane Doe by going to his blog: The Pennsylvania Rambler

Always Bring this on a Run

Your sense of awareness.

Let me explain...

I don't usually listen to tunes while I am running. I prefer to be lost in my own thoughts, yet still conscious of my surroundings.

Absorbing the sounds of nature to the staccato strikes of my feet.

Likely the result of working with too many crime victims who were accosted while hiking/walking/running on trails or in neighborhoods.

Also, it is beneficial to hear that distracted driving roaring up on you.

But when I do listen to music while pounding pavement, I keep the volume low.

I am not sure if Hong Nguyen had headphones with her when she was running this week, but we as a society owe her a debt of gratitude for being aware.

Ms. Nguyen of Vietnam is on a 5-day trip to see family in Texas, and on Tuesday she decided to go for an early morning run in Houston.

It was her first jog since arriving and she chose what authorities described as route not well traveled.

While running, she heard strange sounds. She stopped and began to look around.

The sounds were cries--like that from a human and not from an animal. The noise was coming from some high weeds in a field near where she was standing.

Ms. Nguyen sifted through the brush and was startled to find 8-month-old Genesis Hailey strapped to a car seat and abandoned. Crying.

Genesis Hailey

Four hours earlier, Houston Police had launched an Amber Alert for Genesis after the vehicle she had been a passenger was stolen from a convenience store.

Two hours after the car theft, police located the abandoned vehicle, but there was no sign of the missing child.

Ms. Nguyen contacted 911 immediately, and Officer Albert Pizana arrived and wrapped the child in his uniform shirt.

Genesis was then transported to a local hospital where she was released in good condition to her mother.

Reportedly, she suffered ant bites during her ordeal (those Texas ants enjoy me too when I am there).

Thank goodness that Ms. Nguyen was there listening, and courageously took action.

My message?

Go outside.

Hike. Bike. Run. Walk.

Listen to tunes or listen to nature.

But, always be conscious of your environment.

You never know when you will be called to save a life.

As Hong Nguyen, 8,000 miles from home, saved baby Genesis on a June morning.


Have a super weekend everyone. 

Uber for Marijuana Delivery

Recently, University of Washington students Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakharia won the "Audience Choice Award" for their entrepreneurial idea at a conference sponsored by TechCrunch.

The students' company is known as Canary, and it is an on-demand service that allows Washington residents with medical marijuana cards to get cannabis delivered to their doorstep.

The concept is also being called: The Uber for Marijuana Delivery.

Customers would be able to select the dispensary of their choice and make transactions using Canary's phone app--they can even add chips and other munchies to their bill.

Canary simply acts as the "middle man" by employing the drivers.

Regarding their proposal, I hope the business plan does not involve delivery vehicles with sleek Canary logos, colors, or labels.

I hope it does not include drivers with quasi-uniforms or otherwise employees being readily identifiable.

Considering the content of their deliveries, drivers and their vehicles should be inconspicuous and not shout: PLEASE ROB ME!

As this idea would seem like a magnet for armed thugs.

In researching the topic, I found that Tullis and Vakharia want the transactions to be completed electronically so drivers will only be caring product and not cash.

Still, what robber would not be attracted to a delivery truck pulling up to a residence with high grade 420 and a seemingly endless assortment of Doritos?

Allegedly, Desmond Pulliam sure was.

Long Beach Police (CA) arrested him in April for a string of robberies targeting marijuana delivery drivers.

And he is not the only one.

With an entrepreneurial idea like this, I would expect the specifics involving security and safety of employees to be a lengthy section in the young men's business plan.

Since they have the munchies angle already covered. 

Honest Politician

As of yesterday I'm back, but battling the "back from vacation syndrome."

Do you mean my current schedule does not include time watching the waves crash with my feet in the salt water?

That can't be the sound of my alarm--is it really time to wake up?

Where is that phone charger? The kids' Kindle plug?

Maybe you can relate.

No surprise in that I did not finish my Missing Person Monday post.

As such, I'll delve into the disappearance of Vickie Ellington in a few days.

While away, a friend sent me a well-written article about the American Civil War, and a quote grabbed my attention.

Simon Cameron was President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War in 1861 and was considered one of America's first political bosses.

If one had political aspirations, Mr. Cameron was a powerful individual who made things happen--interesting that he was orphaned at age 9, had limited schooling, and worked his way to wealth (well working and creating controversy).

Anyway, Cameron had this gem to say about political figures of the 19th century:

"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought."

No matter the time, politicians still make easy targets for humor.


Enjoy your day, and if you see my phone cord laying around, just holler at me. 


Off watching the waves with sand on my feet, and maybe running past some of these fellows. Back in a couple of weeks.

Wild Spanish Mustangs, Outer Banks

Remembering William

I enjoy finding things unknown to Google. In looking over 19th century newspapers for a project at work, I found this forgotten poem.

The author was a 15-year-old girl lamenting the death of her baby brother.

Her full name is lost in history, but she was identified as "Kittie L."

The poem was printed as follows:

In the parlor lone and dreary
Little Willie sleeps tonight
At his side I’ll sit and watch him
By the taper’s flickering light.
He is fair—this baby sleeper—
Auburn ringlets shade his face,
And his dimpled face is radiant
With a smile of pleasant grace.

Willie’s fairy hands are folded
Peacefully upon his breast,
Willie’s dark eyes shine no longer,
They are closed in happy rest.
Strange that little Willie slumbers
In this parlor, cold and dim!
Why not lay him in his cradle,
Murm’ring low some evening hymn?

Here it is so dark and lonely!
When he wakens, he will cry,
Starting up in baby terror,
Finding only shadows nigh:
Wrap him warmly in his blanket.
Bring him to the nursery bright,
Do not leave our pretty baby
All alone, this weary night!

Yet these words are vain and idle,
And my tears fall down like rain,
For I know, by many a token,
Willie can not wake again!
For his sleep is still and perfect
In its deep and silent flow,
As when upon his couch he rested
And his face in healthful glow.

Tiny limbs have lost their motion,
Ruby lips like coral show,
And his eyes are closed for ever
In the sleep we all must know!
Never more shall Willie nestle
In his downy cradle bed,
From this room he goeth only
To the chambers of the dead!

Like a tender little pilgrim
Fleeing from some angry strife,
Yester-night our baby Willie
Yielded up his precious life.
It may be heard the angels
Calling to him from the sky,
“Come up hither, little Willie!
To the heavenly saints on high.”

Thank you for sharing "Kittie," and I am proud to be the one to introduce your work to Google.

In a strange coincidence, I held this poem for several months before retyping it. After finally typing the document the other day, I went back to my history research project and guess what was on page one of my next issue to review?

A second poem about young Willie's death--this time the author was listed as "anonymous."

I'll add the second poem later.

Funny how things happen.  

Homeless Not Worthless

Eric Ledbetter, an employed but homeless man, lives in the woods behind the Woodland Hills Church of Christ in Tennessee's capital city.

A few Thursdays ago, Mr. Ledbetter helped police in Nashville apprehend two burglars:

...As Ledbetter made his way to the church the night of May 15, he noticed someone else had gotten there first. "By the time I got up there, I saw the window was already broken out," Ledbetter said.

"I didn't hear anything, but I saw the window. After a while, I heard some glass moving," he said. "Next thing you know, I see somebody moving around in there."

Burglars had broken in and ransacked part of the building. Ledbetter caught them in the act. He says he grabbed his phone, called 911 and waited until police arrived.

The alleged thieves, police say, are Chelsea Bomar and John Quinton. Quinton admitted to police he has broken into several other churches in the area and a local business. 

At Woodland Hills, the couple allegedly stole a flat-screen TV and a computer monitor and were coming back to take more when they were caught...
Nice catch by a man who sleeps under the stars.

Asked about his plight, the homeless man stated that he had suffered a run of bad luck and had moved to the area from Virginia.

It is often easier to identify people on the streets as "just the homeless" without recognizing that each individual has a story: The homeless population is heterogeneous.

The abused.

Those who made poor choices.

Certainly, mental health and/or substance abuse are often catalysts as well.

And some who suffered their share of bad luck.

But each has a story.

Friend of the blog and health care professional "Monica" recently shared a series of tweets about a young homeless male veteran in her California community.

She and others have been trying to talk him into getting help.

Monica has involved the mayor's office, but the soldier is not currently interested.

They are not going to give-up though.

A working guy down on his luck helps capture two burglars.

A young soldier walks the streets suffering.

The heroin addict lies in an alley focused on his next fix.

A registered sex offender lives in a tent off the beaten path to comply with court-ordered residency requirements.

Each of the homeless has a unique story, and it is important not to forget that.

Vanished: Reny Jose

On March 4, 2014, Rice University senior Reny Jose was reported missing in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Now 21-years-old, the young man was staying with about 20 friends at a rented beach house--part of a spring break trip.

Originally from New York, he has 4.0 GPA and was expected to graduate this May with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Few details about Mr. Jose's disappearance have been released, but here are the key points:
  • He was last seen the evening of March 3 on Front Beach Road and was reported missing at 11:30 am the next day by friends.

  • Officials found his wallet, cell phone and clothes in a trash can near the house.

  • Reportedly, one friend told police that Mr. Jose may have taken LSD and spoke of harming himself. The family disputes this accusation, and police stated they have found no evidence to support a theory that the young man took anything and then drowned in the ocean.

  • It was reported early in the investigation that police had ruled out foul play, but that assertion has not been reiterated in the latest reports. 

  • Comprehensive searches of the area yielded nothing (after his clothes were found).

  • The family told reporters that most of the other young people staying in the beach house left the area within 24 hours of the young man's disappearance--despite having paid for the accommodations for the entire week.
My suggestions for the family, if it were my loved one missing:

1) Hire a Private Investigator
Since the incident occurred in Florida, the witnesses returned to Texas, and the family lives in another state, it makes sense to have someone experienced and advocating for you in Florida.

If reported correctly, it is odd that a group of friends/acquaintances would leave the area without assisting in the search for Mr. Jose.

They had already paid for the house and someone was in need--why not stay and help?

Even if Mr. Jose was just an acquaintance, I can't imagine myself saying "Wow, bummer man. Good luck finding him. I still have 3 days of my spring break to enjoy."

Having someone who is not a police detective attempt to speak to the housemates may put people more at ease and glean new information.

2) Set a Regular Meeting Time with Investigators
Have investigators speak with you on a regular basis about the case. It may be by phone weekly, every 10 days, or whatever. It will be good for everyone to touch base, even if there is nothing really new to share.

3) Create a Separate Internet Presence on the Case
It is wonderful that there is a Facebook page for information on the case, but FB links names and identities to comments. Since the investigation has stalled, there is a need to offer people anonymity in developing new leads. Time is of the essence as with each passing day it will be more difficult for individuals to recall specifics about what they heard and/or saw.

Creating a website or other vehicle clearly separate from the investigating agency that organizes the case information, could encourage people to type an email offering a tip. With the site, contact information for police and/or for anonymous tips can be provided.

There is nothing wrong with giving individuals a place other than the police department to provide information about the case--some people are not comfortable talking with authorities ever.  Any useful details can then be forwarded to investigators.


The family is frustrated with the pace of the investigation. As such, they have been coordinating a petition to request Federal law enforcement assistance for their missing loved one.

My prayers are with Reny Jose and his family during this difficult time.

To read other Missing Person Monday posts, you can click here.