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January 5th, 2015

Black and Missing Update

I posted about the Black and Missing Foundation a couple of years ago. It was established in 2008 by sisters Natalie and Derrica Wilson to address the under-reporting and overall lack of attention given to missing persons cases involving minorities. I just came across a piece titled, 64,000 Missing Women in America All Have One Important Thing in Common by Zak Cheney-Rice.

From the article: “The numbers: Despite representing 12.85% of the population, black Americans accounted for nearly 226,000 — or 34% — of all missing persons reported in 2012. According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, the comparison with other racial groups is unfavorable: Whites and Hispanics are a combined 80.1% of the population, but account for 60% of missing persons.”

I’ve posted before about the horrible ambiguity of missing persons cases. In some ways it’s worse than cold cases involving a murder. I’m glad this organization was started and is still in operation.

The picture below is from the NYPD’s photo unit archives.

Lost Children NYPD Photo Archives

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November 28th, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I post this picture every year, even though the Towers in the background makes it a little sad. But there is always a bittersweet side to every occasion, if you think about it. I envy this Santa though. That looks scary but fun!

Happy holidays everyone.


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September 8th, 2014

The Women Survivors of Homicide Movement

I just learned of The Women Survivors of Homicide Movement, which is led by Mary Franklin. I read about them in a Boston Herald article. From the article:

“A group of “women survivors” whose sons, husbands and other relatives are among Boston’s hundreds of unsolved murders are planning to pack the T next week to press police on diversifying their homicide unit and highlight the stunning number of cold cases.”

Franklin is quite right to push for more people of color in the homicide squads. I found that in New York you’re twice as likely to be murdered if you’re black, and your case is four times as likely to go cold. The Herald reports finding that in Boston “black men were killed at 10 times the rate of white men over the 10-year span, but only 38 percent of their killings were solved compared with 79 percent for white men.”

(Also, they have 335 unsolved murders from 2004 – 2013. My most conservative estimate of the number of unsolved murders for the same time period in New York is 1,650.)

Their event, called Turning the Orange Line Purple, is scheduled for Saturday, September 20th. They hope to line “one side of a T car from Forest Hills to the Oak Grove T station and back.” (With pictures of their murdered friends and relatives.) It’s not clear if they plan to line one car or the whole train. I also wonder if they plan to Livestream it? I’ll try to find out, and I’ll update this post if I do.

Update: A video of Mary Franklin speaking about the movement.

This photograph by Stuart Cahill is from the Boston Herald article I’ve linked to.

The Women Survivors of Homicide Movement, Boston Massachussetts

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August 12th, 2014

The Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber

The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases by Deborah Halber
I just heard about a new book that I’m sure will be of interest to readers of this blog. It’s called
The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases and it was written by freelance journalist Deborah Halber.

Among Halber’s many accomplishments, she was the editor for the magazine of my alma mater, Tufts, and a science writer for MIT (envy!).

The Skeleton Crew is getting great reviews, and here’s just one, from Sue Grafton:

“The Skeleton Crew is a carefully crafted account of an intriguing new opportunity for arm chair sleuths. Thanks to the Internet, anyone with a computer, curiosity, patience, and a passion for justice can enter the dark world of missing persons and unsolved homicides. It’s fascinating to learn how such matches are made and heartening to witness the growing cooperation between law enforcement and ordinary citizens whose persistence can sometimes crack the code in cold cases that have languished unresolved for years. I loved it.”

I know from experience how passionate these arm chair sleuths are, and how effective they can be. Their very existence and persistence helped bring the national databases (of missing persons and unsolved murders) into being, and I’m very glad their story is being told.

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