Wednesday, May 22, 2019

List Series: Small Town Mysteries

Ten mysteries--murders or disappearances--that occurred in a town with a population of 2,000 or less. Most of these towns are considered quiet communities with relatively low violent crime rates, which is what makes these mysteries especially eerie. Additionally, due to the small residency numbers, these cases cause many to question whether or not there is a killer lurking amongst their inner circles. These mysteries all remain unsolved today. 

10. The Disappearance of Melvia Roarx from Horse Branch, Kentucky (Population of 1,280)
Melvia Roarx vanished at the age of 28 on June 4th, 2013. She left her Horse Branch, Kentucky home that day to go to a convenience store to buy drinks and cigarettes. Surveillance cameras captured Melvia arriving at the store, making purchases, and...

Melvia Roarx vanished at the age of 28 on June 4th, 2013. She left her Horse Branch, Kentucky home that day to go to a convenience store to buy drinks and cigarettes. Surveillance cameras captured Melvia arriving at the store, making purchases, and then leaving. Her car was headed in the direction of her home when she left the store, but unfortunately she never made it home. Melvia has never been seen or heard from again. 

Melvia’s car was later found 80 miles away, at a gas station in Bullitt County, Kentucky. There was no sign of her at the scene, and her family members cannot think of a reason that Melvia would drive there. However, they did notice that the car’s driver seat was pushed all the way back--indicating the likelihood that somebody other than Melvia drove the car last. 

It is not believed that Melvia is missing on her own accord. Before she left the house, she said she planned to be back in a few minutes. Her family also does not believe she would voluntarily leave behind her four children. She remains missing. [read more]

9. The Murder of the Short Family from Bassett, Virginia (population of 1,100)
Mary and Michael Short with their daughter Jennifer
The Short family was known as an average, everyday family living in a quiet small town of Bassett, Virginia. Michael (50) and his wife Mary (36) owned a mobile home moving business and they had a 9 year-old daughter named Jennifer. The trio was described as a private, but happy family. According to acquaintances, the Short family tended to be on the quieter side, and they were not known to cause drama. Due to all of this, community was incredibly shocked when Michael and Mary were found shot to death at their home on the evening of August 15th, 2002. The police were called that evening after a co-worker who drove by the Short’s home spotted Michael laying in a pool of his blood inside their enclosed carport. One police arrived on the scene, they found Mary shot to death in the couple’s bedroom. Their daughter, Jennifer, was nowhere to be found. An Amber Alert was issued, and a search for the young girl quickly ensued.

All of the searches by professional search teams unfortunately came up empty. Then, over a month later, on September 26th, 2002,  a gruesome discovery was made. A man’s dogs found human remains in a creek in Rockingham County, North Carolina. The remains were located approximately 35 miles away from the Short’s home in Virginia. The remains were sent to the lab for forensic testing and were later confirmed to be that of Jennifer Short. She had also been shot in the head. It was clear at this point that the Short family had been executed—but so many questions remain, such as: who would want the Short family dead? Why was Jennifer taken to a different location? Was she held captive for a period of time before she was killed? Perhaps the most haunting question, though, is the motive. Why did someone kill this entire family? [read more] [also on the Unsolved Home Invasions list]

8. The Mysterious Arson Case in Flora, Indiana (population of 1,981)
Gaylin Rose and her 4 daughters, who were unfortunately killed in a house fire. Gaylin was the only survivor.

On November 21st, 2016, a devastating fire broke out at the home of Gaylin Rose in the small town of Flora, Indiana. Gaylin lived in the home with her four daughters: Keyana (11), Keyara (9), Kerriele (7), and Kionnie (5). The four girls were trapped inside the house when it caught fire. Gaylin was able to make it out, and was immediately rushed to the hospital. Firefighters were unable to save the girls from the home, and unfortunately they passed away as a result. 

Two months later, an investigation concluded that the fire was caused by arson. However, the initial incident report was unclear. It was first reported that investigators found accelerants in numerous places all throughout the house, but it was later revealed that the accelerants were actually only found in one place. This means the fire could have only been started in one area of the house. Additionally, this information was released by a private fire investigator rather than the state department--which led many to believe that the state was not properly investigating the case. 

No suspects in the case have been named, and a motive for harming this family remains unclear. [read more]

7. The Mysterious Death of Todd Geib from Casnovia, Michigan (population of 222)

Todd Geib (22) went missing from a party in Casnovia, Michigan on June 12th, 2005. The town of Casnovia itself only has about 222 residents, and on this particular night, about 100 people were at this party in a rural, marshy area. Shortly before 1am, Todd called a friend and told him that he ‘had enough’ of the party and was ready to leave. He made a few more phone calls to his sister after that, but neither of them were able to make out what the other was saying. Todd was never seen alive again after that.

Nearly 3 weeks later, Todd's body was founding standing upright in Ovidhall Lake. The initial autopsy concluded that Todd died of accidental drowning, however his family and friends do not believe this to be true. About four years later, Todd's case was re-examined--and it was concluded that Todd had only been dead for 2-5 days at the time he was found, despite the fact that he had been missing for 3 weeks. Additionally, it was concluded that Todd did not have any water in his lungs at the time of his death, which rules out drowning as a cause of death. Despite these findings, though, police have still not re-opened Todd's case.

Todd's case continues to baffle investigators. Not one of the 222 residents of Casnovia reported seeing Todd at any point from the time he went missing until the time his body was found.  [read more]

6. The Disappearance of Brandon Swanson from Porter, Minnesota (population of 176)

19 year-old Brandon Swanson disappeared during the early morning hours of May 14th, 2008. He vanished after driving his car  into a ditch while on the way to his family’s Marshall, Minnesota home after a night out with friends. He decided to head home around midnight. At some point shortly thereafter, Brandon accidentally drove his car into a ditch. He was not injured in the accident, but his car was stuck. He called his parents around 12:30am and told them that he had gotten his car stuck near the town of Lynd. Brandon’s parents immediately headed out there to pick him up, but they were unable to locate him. Brandon called his father back and told him that he could see the lights from the town, and he was going to walk towards it and meet them there. He remained on the phone with his father for the next 45 minutes as he walked towards his destination. Brandon and his parents continued to look for each other to no avail. Then, shortly after 2am, Brandon’s father heard Brandon abruptly shout “oh shit!” before their phone call was disconnected. Brandon’s parents continued to look for him for a few hours before finally calling the police at 6:30am.

Police looked into Brandon’s cell phone records later that day, which revealed that Brandon had actually called his parents from the city of Porter; a small town with a population of less than 200 residents. Porter is located over 25 miles away from Lynd. Police then went to that area, where they found Brandon’s car stuck a ditch in nearby Taunton County. It is unclear if Brandon was aware that he was not actually in Lynd. [read more]

5. The Disappearance of Megan Foglesong from Alden, Kansas (population of 145)

Megan Foglesong (21) was last seen in the very small town of Alden, Kansas in late November or early December 2015. Despite living in a very tight-knit community, Megan's family members stated that she lived a ‘spontaneous lifestyle’ and it was common for her to be out of touch every once in a while. Due to this, she was not reported missing until February 10th, 2016—over two months after she was last seen.

Prior to vanishing, Megan was in a relationship with an older man named David Madden. The two had a very tumultuous relationship; Madden was both physically and emotionally abusive. In fact, Megan had previously told her friends that if she ever went missing, Madden would likely be the one responsible. Megan and Madden apparently broke up several times, but kept reconciling. It appeared that the two were together shortly before Megan’s disappearance. Megan’s last Facebook activity was on November 30th, 2015, when she messaged a friend and mentioned that she was at Madden’s house. The following day, Madden told a local sheriff that he caught Megan stealing from him and that they got into an argument and she left.

Another seemingly disturbing aspect about Megan and Madden’s relationship is that Madden was previously in a relationship with Megan’s mother, Pam Lewis. Madden apparently began to pursue Megan while he was still dating Pam. Despite this, Pam and Madden still seemed to be on friendly terms after their breakup. After Megan was finally reported missing, Madden told Pam that Megan left for Colorado with one of his friends. Pam does not think that Madden is responsible for Megan’s disappearance; she believes that his unidentified friend is to blame.

Megan remains missing today, and authorities have not named any suspects or persons of interest. [read more]

4. The Disappearance of Derrick Tenorio from Steamboat, Arizona (population of 284)

Derrick Tenorio was only 21 years-old when he vanished on August 5th, 2011. Derrick is a member of the Navajo Nation tribe, and he lived in small community of Steamboat, Arizona prior to his disappearance. He was last seen between 11pm and 12am on the day he disappeared, walking towards the Steamboat Hill area to visit his girlfriend. Derrick never arrived, and has never been seen or heard from again.

Derrick left behind two toddler children, and his girlfriend was pregnant with another child at the time he disappeared as well. His family members do not believe that he is voluntarily missing. In fact, three months after Derrick’s disappearance, his sibling Mercedes Tenorio wrote a letter to the Navajo Times that stated that Derrick was badly beaten by people he trusted on the night he vanished. The individuals who allegedly beat Derrick have not been publicly identified and it is unclear if the incident is related to Derrick’s disappearance. Authorities believe that there are numerous people in Steamboat who are aware of what happened to Derrick. Despite this, Derrick remains missing today. [read more]

3. The Murder of Matthew Leroy Grant from Browning, Montana (population of 1,026)

Matthew Leroy Grant (21) was murdered on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana. Despite having barely one thousand residents, this particular reservation is considered one of the larger reservations of the Blackfeet Tribe. Still, the community is tight-knit and Matthew was well known around his neighborhood. He was last seen alive on December 15th, 2016. After he failed to return home, family members used social media to spread awareness about his disappearance. They also pleaded for Matthew’s safe return. Unfortunately, on December 31st, 2016, Matthew’s body was found in an alley between the College Homes and South Glacier Homes neighborhoods in Browning.

Matthew’s death was classified as a homicide, however investigators have not released Matthew’s exact cause of death. According to Matthew’s aunt, “he had frozen ice in his hair. Snow covered. His shirt was partially pulled up like someone lifted him out of a vehicle and just tossed him there.” How Matthew ended up in the alley still remains a mystery—no arrests have been made in the case and very little information about the investigation has been released. [read more]

2. The Disappearance of Karlie Gusé from Chalfant, California (population of 651)

Karlie Gusé vanished from her family's Chalfant, California home during the early-morning hours of October 13th, 2018. The 16 year-old lived in the remote Chalfant community with her father, stepmother, and brother. The night before her disappearance, Karlie went into town with her boyfriend and a few friends. While out, the group smoked marijuana, which caused reportedly caused Karlie to react strangely. She asked her stepmother Melissa Gusé to come pick her up, and when she did, Melissa noticed that Karlie was acting paranoid. Melissa stated that she attempted to calm her stepdaughter down—she even slept in Karlie’s room with her that night to make sure she was okay. However, when Melissa awoke the following morning around 7:15am, Karlie was nowhere to be found. 

There were possible sightings of Karlie walking through her neighborhood that morning, however the sightings have never been confirmed and she has never been seen or heard from again. Karlie also left behind all of her personal belongings, including her cell phone. Many pondered if her reaction to marijuana caused her to leave the home in a disoriented state, but according to her boyfriend, Karlie smoked marijuana on a regular basis and has never had a reaction like that before. Her boyfriend insists that it was only marijuana that they were using that night--and it wasn't laced--but Karlie's father stated that he believes Karlie was on a different drug that night. 

As months have passed without any sign of Karlie, suspicions have begun to build against her stepmother and father. A common theory is that Karlie died of an overdose at home, and that her stepmother and father panicked and hid her body. This theory has not been substantiated, and Karlie's father and stepmother have adamantly denied it. Karlie's birth mother, however, believes this is what happened to her daughter. Karlie remains missing today. [read more]

1. The Disappearance and Murder of Lindsey Baum from McCleary, Washington (population of 1,691)
Lindsey Jo Baum was only 10 years old when she disappeared on June 26th, 2009. The night before she vanished, Lindsey told her mother, Melissa Baum, that she was frightened that something bad was going to happen to her very soon. When Melissa asked... 

Lindsey Baum was only 10 years-old when she vanished from McCleary, Washington on June 26th, 2009. McCleary is described by many as a small, quiet town. Lindsey's mother was comfortable allowing her children to walk around the neighborhood. On the evening of Lindsey's disappearance, Lindsey walked to a friend's home located approximately 5 blocks away. The two friends hoped to have a sleepover that night, but her friend's mother said no. Lindsey began walking back to her home around 9:15pm--leaving her just enough time to make it home in time for her 9:30 curfew. However, Lindsey never returned home that night. After searching around the neighborhood, Lindsey's mother reported her missing by 11pm that night.

An immediate search provided no sign of Lindsey, nor did it provide any clues to her whereabouts. Her case grew cold over time. There was a brief investigation into a man who potentially made "inconsistent" statements to police about Lindsey's disappearance, but said man has never been charged with anything related to the case. There was another search at the home of semi-local sex offenders, but no arrests were made after that, either. 

During September 2017, a hunter found human remains in a remote area of Eastern Washington. News about these remains were not spread in the media. At that time, it is unclear if investigators even pondered the idea that the remains belonged to Lindsey, due to the fact that they were found in a place that is a 3 hour drive away from Lindsey’s home in McCleary. The remains were sent to Quantico, Virginia for forensic testing. Months later, on May 10th, 2018, investigators announced that the remains had been positively identified as Lindsey Baum. Her case is being investigated as a homicide, but at this time no arrests have been made in the case. [read more]


The Abduction & Murder of Cynthia Carver from Newsoms, Virginia (population of 299)

Cynthia Carver was reportedly abducted from her home in Newsoms, Virginia on February 21st, 2019. The small community of Newsoms only has a population of 299 residents, and many members of Cynthia's family lived in Newsoms as well. In fact, Cynthia was discovered to be missing by her mother, who drove by Cynthia's house around 1pm the following day. As she was driving by, she noticed the front door was open. Cynthia's mother explained, “I stopped and came in, and when I came in I saw blood and stuff in the house. [The blood was] right here at the door and in the living room, and there was a knife lying in front of the sofa.” Cynthia’s mother then called the police to report her daughter missing. Once investigators arrived on the scene, they determined that Cynthia likely did not leave her home voluntarily. From that point forward, Cynthia's disappearance was investigated as a kidnapping.

In March 2019, Cynthia's body was found in Suffolk, Virginia. She died of multiple sharp force injuries. The Medical Examiner's Office ruled Cynthia's death as a homicide. In June 2019, a man named James Goodwyn was arrested and charged with Cynthia's murder. [read more] [also previously on the 'Unsolved Home Invasions' list]


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