Saturday, May 4, 2019

List Series: Missing Far From Home

It is a family's worst nightmare to have a loved one go missing. When a beloved person suddenly vanishes, those who care for that person are likely to experience fear, anxiety, and extreme stress. Those feelings are likely to be intensified when a person goes missing while in a place outside of their own hometown--especially if that person is not particularly familiar with the area. This impacts family's ability to aid in the search for their loved one as well--especially if they live in a completely different location and are unfamiliar with the places their loved one might have gone. Below is a list of 7 such cases of individuals who have unfortunately gone missing while away from their hometowns. All of these cases remain unsolved today. 

7. Kat Hammontre

Kat Hammontre and her dog Tootsie vanished while hiking near San Felipe in Baja California, Mexico on April 11th, 2019. The 68 year-old woman is originally from Seattle, Washington, but on the day she vanished, she was visiting the California/Mexico border for a hiking trip with her husband, daughter, and a group of other hikers. According to the group she was with, Kat hurt her foot or ankle about 10 minutes into the hike. She told the other hikers that she was going to wait for them to come back from their hike, which was supposed to be relatively short. However, when the group returned from their hike, both Kat and her dog Tootsie were nowhere to be found. Kat’s husband, Warren Sundquist, told police that he waited for Kat at their car, but she never returned. She has not been seen or heard from again.

Although Kat’s residence was in Seattle at the time of her disappearance, she had previously lived near the area where she disappeared in Mexico for about 20 years. Since she was familiar with the area, her friends and family believe she was comfortable waiting by herself while the group finished their hike. Kat was reportedly not showing any signs of extreme physical distress, either. After she was discovered missing, local search-and-rescue crews and Mexican military helicopters searched for Kat and Tootsie, but unfortunately no trace of them has been found. The group of people Kat was with has been questioned, but it is unclear if police believe that they had anything to do with her disappearance. [read more]

6. Lori Dee Wilson

Lori Dee Wilson (30) was staying in a rehabilitation facility to treat her drug addiction when she vanished on March 24th, 2016. Originally from Dillingham, Alaska, Lori Dee was receiving inpatient treatment hours away in Juneau. According to family members, her first few weeks at the facility were going well, which is why they were shocked to learn Lori Dee snuck out of the facility through a ground floor window on the night she was last seen. 

Lori Dee's main reason for going to rehab was because she needed to receive throat dilation surgery, but she could not get the surgery unless she was clean. The surgery was needed in order prevent scar tissue swelling in her esophagus from constricting her throat. When Lori Dee was younger, she accidentally drank from a glass of detergent that she mistook for juice. This caused burning in her throat at left her with lifelong injuries to her esophagus. Her family is concerned that Lori Dee is now unable to eat or even breathe. She was scheduled to have the surgery in August 2016, but she never showed up. Since her disappearance, her father has traveled numerous times from Dillingham to Juneau to search for her, but unfortunately she still remains missing today. [read more]

5. Brittanee Drexel

Brittanee Drexel vanished at the age of 17 while on a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on April 25th, 2009. Brittanee is originally from Rochester, New York, and at the time of her disappearance, she took this trip to Myrtle Beach without her mother’s permission. In fact, when Brittanee originally asked her mother if she could go on the trip, her mother said no and the two got into an argument. Brittanee ended up telling her mother that she was going to spend the next few days with her best friend at her house across town. In reality, Brittanee instead traveled to Myrtle Beach with some older new friends. At some point during the trip, Brittanee began to clash with some of the girls she traveled with. On the evening of April 25th, she opted to go hang out with some male friends at a different hotel. However, shortly upon arriving there, Brittanee received a text from one of the girls, demanding that she return a pair of shorts that she had borrowed. She began to walk back to her hotel at that point, but unfortunately she never made it there. She also abruptly stopped answering all of her calls and texts. After time passed without hearing from Brittanee, her worried boyfriend eventually called Brittanee’s mother to tell her that she had gone to Myrtle Beach. Her mother immediately reported Brittanee missing and traveled to Myrtle Beach to begin the search for her.

While Brittanee's disappearance made national news, the case seemed to go cold quickly. Years later, on June 8th, 2016, the FBI held a press conference, stating that they had finally determined what happened to Brittanee. They announced that Brittanee was taken from Myrtle Beach to the McClellanville area, where she was held captive and trafficked for a period of time against her will. Eventually, she was killed. When asked how the FBI came to this conclusion, the lead investigator said: “there has been an exhaustive amount of evidence in this case. The investigators are certain that this is what happened and I can’t give you the exact details on that, but we are certain.” The FBI then appealed to anyone in the McClellanville area to come forward with information on Brittanee’s whereabouts. 

Years have passed since the FBI made this announcement in Brittanee’s case but Brittanee still remains missing. McClellanville local Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor has been named as a suspect in the case, but he denies all involvement and there have still been no arrests in the case. [read more]

4. Bethany Markowski

Bethany Markowski was only 11 years-old when she vanished on March 4th, 2001. She disappeared at the end of a days-long visit with her father Larry Markowski at his new home in Gleason, Tennessee. Larry and Bethany's mother Jonnie Jo Carter had recently gotten divorced, and Bethany was primarily living with her mother in Nashville. On the day of Bethany's disappearance, she was supposed to return to Nashville. Larry agreed to drive Bethany to Waverly, Tennessee to meet up with her mother. On the way there, Larry stated that he stopped at Old Hickory Mall in Jackson, Tennessee. They stopped around 3:30pm, and at that point, Larry claimed that he took a nap in the car while Bethany went inside the mall to shop. She reportedly never returned, and has never been seen or heard from again. 

Investigators have questioned Larry's story from the beginning; as they looked at the mall's surveillance footage and at no point was Bethany captured entering or exiting the mall. Larry has denied being involved in his daughter's disappearance and authorities have ultimately been unable to rule out a stranger abduction. However, Larry has also not been cooperative in the investigation and he is still considered a person of interest. [read more]

3. Caitlin Denison

Caitlin Denison (19) has been missing since January 10, 2018. The teen is originally from Reno, Nevada, however she was last known to be in Midland, Texas. Six months prior to her disappearance, Caitlin met a man from Midland in Reno. Their relationship reportedly progressed, and on January 9th, 2018, Caitlin and the man flew from Reno to Texas together. Caitlin never told her family members the man’s name or what he looked like; only that she was traveling to Texas with him. The day after she arrived in Texas, Caitlin called her sister from a Wal-Mart in Midland. During said phone call, Caitlin reportedly said “this man makes me scared for my life.” This is the last time Caitlin’s family spoke to her, and she has never been seen or heard from again.

The unidentified man Caitlin was reportedly with has never been identified. Caitlin’s family members do not know the airline she took or the flight number. Due to this, investigators have been unable to check airport surveillance footage. Caitlin remains missing today. [read more]

2. Corinna Slusser

Corinna Slusser (19) went missing in New York City on September 20th, 2017. The teen had just recently moved to the city from her hometown Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Her close friends and family members were all living in Pennsylvania or Massachusetts; so nobody who Corinna truly knew well was in the area. Corinna's mother began to worry about her about a month before her disappearance, when she received an order of protection that was addressed to Corinna at her home. The order was actually filed by Corinna herself, it was against a man named Yhovanny Peguero (32). It was alleged in the order that Yhovanny choked Corinna. However, when Corinna's mother asked her about it, Corinna allegedly downplayed it, as if it was not a big deal. Shortly before her disappearance, though, Corinna told her mother she wanted to move back home to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Corinna never showed up and has never been seen or heard from again.

Once Corinna was reported missing, investigators later announced their belief that Corinna had been trafficked. In fact, in November 2018, a man named Ishi Woney (23) was arrested and charged with trafficking and sexually exploiting young women. One of those women was confirmed to be Corinna Slusser. Corinna was actually last known to be living with Ishi and another female victim at a motel shortly before her disappearance. The day she vanished, Corinna and the other female victim got into an argument over their relationship with Ishi, which prompted Corinna to move to another hotel in Queens. Her last known whereabouts are at said motel, but investigators believe it is possible that Corinna has been sold or trafficked elsewhere since then. She remains missing today. [read more]

1. Jasmine Moody

Jasmine Moody (18) vanished while visiting Detroit, Michigan on December 4th, 2014. She is originally from Texas, and at the time of her disappearance, Jasmine was enrolled as a freshman at Texas Women's University. While at school, she met another young girl named Brittany Gurley. The two girls grew close, and eventually became a couple. When Brittany invited Jasmine to spend Thanksgiving 2014 with her and her family at their home in Detroit, Jasmine gladly accepted. She arrived in Detroit on November 25th, 2014, and she planned to return home on December 5th--the day after she vanished.

On the evening of December 4th, Jasmine and Brittany reportedly got into an argument over something Jasmine and Brittany allegedly got into a heated argument over something Brittany saw on Jasmine’s Facebook. Brittany’s mother, Sonia, claims that she witnessed Brittany storming out of the house to blow off steam during the argument, and then a few minutes later, she witnessed Jasmine storming out of the house as well. Sonia states that Jasmine had her belongings with her, which suggested that she intended to leave. Brittany, who was still outside, claims that she encountered Jasmine and encouraged her to come back inside—stating that it was dangerous for her to be wandering around Detroit since she was unfamiliar with the area. In an effort to get Jasmine to stay, Brittany claims she grabbed Jasmine’s belongings from her and headed back to the house, expecting Jasmine to follow. However, Brittany claims that Jasmine did not follow her and that when she returned outside, Jasmine was nowhere to be found.

Jasmine’s mother, Lisa, does not believe Sonia or Brittany’s stories. Lisa maintains that it does not make sense that Jasmine would attempt to leave the night of the 4th when she was already scheduled to fly out the next day. She also does not believe that Jasmine would wander the streets of an unfamiliar city by herself. Lisa does believe, however, that Sonia and Brittany know what happened to Jasmine on that night and have not been forthcoming to police. Jasmine remains missing today. [read more]

Further Resources:

A few books have been written about Brittanee Drexel's disappearance, which can be found here and here. Her case was also featured on Investigation Discovery's 'Disappeared'--which is available on Amazon Prime. 

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