Thursday, July 4, 2019

List Series: Unsolved Mysteries on American Holidays

Eight unresolved mysteries that occurred on holidays commonly observed/celebrated in the United States.

The Murders of Amina & Sarah Said
Amina and Sarah Said were murdered by their father, Yaser Said, on New Year's Day 2008.
Teenage sisters Amina Said (18) and Sarah Said (17) were murdered by their father Yaser Said on January 1st, 2008. While the perpetrator in this case has been determined, it unfortunately remains classified as unsolved because Yaser has been on the run ever since the murders occurred. It is believed that Yaser murdered his two daughters because he felt they had dishonored their family by refusing to adhere to the traditional standards of their Egyptian culture.

Amina and Sarah grew up in Irving, Texas. Friends in their inner circle were well aware of the struggles they were having at home with their father. In addition to being abusive towards the two girls, Yaser was abusive to his wife/their mother Patricia as well. During late 2007, the two girls and their mother were offered help by the family of Amina's boyfriend. After Christmas 2007, Patricia, Amina, and Sarah fled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to stay with Amina's boyfriend's relatives. However, on New Year's Eve, Patricia told the two girls that it was the anniversary of her mother’s death, and she wanted to bring the girls to East Texas to put flowers on her grave. Sarah reluctantly agreed to go with her mother, while Amina refused. Eventually, though, Patricia told Amina that her father had forgiven her and wanted both her and Sarah to come home. Amina eventually gave in and went with her mother and sister.

The following day, Yaser told Amina and Sarah that he wanted to take them out to lunch to celebrate the new year. He brought them to the taxi cab he drove after telling Patricia to stay home as he wanted to talk to his daughters alone. He then drove the girls back to Irving, Texas, where he shot them both inside the car. Amina died instantly, while Sarah managed to call 911. She told dispatchers that her father had shot her, but she unfortunately died before paramedics arrived. 

Yaser immediately fled the scene and has yet to be apprehended by police. It is believed that he is still in the country and he is on the FBI's most wanted list. [read more]

The Disappearance & Murder of Adrienne Salinas
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Adrienne Salinas (left) did not show up to a Father's Day celebration in 2013. She was found deceased 2 months later.
Rick Salinas (pictured above on the right) reported his 19 year-old daughter Adrienne Salinas missing on June 16th, 2013, after she did not show up to celebrate Father's Day with him. Rick stated that this was very out-of-character for Adrienne, as the two of them were very close and they planned to spend time together that day. Once Adrienne was reported missing, the events of the previous evening were uncovered by investigators. It was learned that Adrienne vanished during the early morning hours of the 16th, while she and her roommates were hosting a party at their apartment in Phoenix, Arizona. Adrienne is believed to have left her apartment to drive to her boyfriend’s house at approximately 3:40am. About one block from her apartment, she crashed her car into median and blew out two of her tires. A witness to the wreck called 911 to report it at around 3:45am.

Adrienne herself did not report the crash—instead she abandoned her car and returned to her apartment on foot. Her roommates and friends were still partying. At 4:32am, she called a cab to drive her to her boyfriend’s house and asked the driver to meet her at a nearby convenience store. At 4:53am, her cab driver called her to tell her that he was at the store. She answered and told him she was on her way. However, Adrienne never showed up at the convenience store and was never seen or heard from again.

On August 6th, 2013, Adrienne’s partial remains were found in a creek bed 30 miles from where she disappeared. An autopsy was unable to confirm a cause of death and police have not publicly named any suspects or persons of interest in her case. Both Adrienne’s boyfriend and the cab driver who was supposed to pick her up that morning have been cleared of any involvement in her disappearance. The FBI is continuing to investigate the case. [also on the 'Unsolved Party Mysteries' list]

The Disappearance of Erica Hunt
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Erica Hunt vanished without a trace on the 4th of July in 2016
20 year-old Erica Nicole Hunt has been missing since July 4th, 2016. The previous day, Erica attended an Independence Day celebration at her family’s home in Opelousas, Louisiana. Family members said Erica was acting normally at the celebration—she talked about applying for housing and seemed excited about her upcoming 21st birthday.

The morning before she vanished, Erica visited her sister and brother-in-law’s house and asked for money to buy cigarettes. It is unknown if she left their home on foot or if somebody picked her up. Erica was later seen behind a local restaurant on Hirsch Alley sometime between 11am and 1pm. She has not been seen or heard from again after that.

Erica’s disappearance is considered suspicious. It is not believed that she voluntarily missing—she left a two year-old daughter behind, which is very uncharacteristic of her. Erica’s family has said that there are no new leads in her case, and they are desperately hoping for a break soon. [read more]

The Disappearance of Lelia Faulkner
Lelia Faulkner never returned home from a 4th of July celebration in 2016
Lelia Faulkner has been missing since July 4th, 2016. That evening, the 29 year-old woman left her daughter at her parent's Troy, Alabama home while she went out with friends to celebrate the holiday. She never returned home for the 4th of July festivities and has never been seen or heard from again. Her family members reported her missing two days later.

While investigating Lelia's disappearance, detectives learned that the last person Lelia communicated with before she vanished was her ex-boyfriend Blane Gralheer. Lelia and Blane had broken up two days prior, and they were not on the best of terms at the time of her disappearance. In fact, just hours before she disappeared, Lelia wrote a Facebook post that accused Blane of being gay, and that he left her for another man. Blane denies this, and he also denies any involvement in Lelia's disappearance. He has still not been completely cleared; as he allegedly failed a polygraph and refused to take another one. Despite this, Lelia's mother has stated that she does not believe Blane is responsible for Lelia's disappearance, but she does believe that Blane knows something about it. Lelia's disappearance remains unsolved today. [read more

The Disappearance & Murder of Jabez Spann
Jabez Spann vanished after a Labor Day celebration in 2017. He was found deceased in February 2019.
14 year old Jabez Spann vanished during the early morning hours of September 4th, 2017. He was last seen around 1am with two other boys around his age. Jabez and the two boys were seen on a road called MLK Way in Newtown, Florida, where Labor Day festivities were being held. He was reported missing the following day after he did not show up at school.

Almost two months after Jabez disappeared, a man named Reginald Parker approached Jabez’s family during a search for the young boy. He claimed that he knew why Jabez was missing. According to Reginald, he and Jabez witnessed the fatal shooting of Travis Combs in Sarasota, Florida on August 28th, 2017–just days before Jabez vanished. Reginald said that the suspects saw Jabez witness the shooting, and are also likely responsible for his disappearance that occurred just days later.

Nearly a year and a half later, on February 16th, 2019, a man fixing a fence in a rural area off of Interstate 75 spotted human remains. Three days later, those remains were confirmed to be that of Jabez Spann. Investigators have not yet disclosed where exactly the remains were found, but they did say the area was not a place that Jabez frequented and it is not believed they he went there voluntarily. This investigation is still unfolding and a connection to the murder of Travis Combs is still being looked into. [read more]

The Disappearance & Death of Jenny Herum
Jeanette 'Jenny' Herum vanished after giving birth on Thanksgiving Day 2012. She was found deceased in 2016.
29 year-old Jeanette “Jenny” Herum gave birth to a baby boy at the Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center in Santa Cruz, California on November 22nd, 2012. It was Thanksgiving Day when Jenny gave birth. Just a few hours after the birth, Jenny walked out of the hospital without her newborn baby and never returned. There is no known explanation as to why Jenny left the hospital, and she was never heard from again after that.

Despite the fact that Jenny vanished under seemingly suspicious circumstances, her family did not report her missing until 2014—two years after she was last seen. Her family said that they were initially not concerned when Jenny first came up missing; she had disappeared for stretches at a time in the past and they were used to going a long period of time without hearing from her. When Jenny was finally reported missing, authorities classified her as voluntarily missing. News about Jenny’s disappearance was not distributed to the media until 2015. 

Months later, in early 2016, a couple taking a walk spotted human remains and notified the Santa Cruz sheriff’s office. In March 2017, the remains were identified as those of Jeanette Herum. Authorities are calling Jenny’s death suspicious, and it is still being actively investigated. [read more] [also on the 'Disappearances with Reporting Gaps' list]

The Disappearance of Ben Coffey
Ben Coffey vanished on New Year's Eve in 2012.
Ben Coffey mysteriously vanished at the age of 27 on December 31st, 2012. The young man lived in Gloucester, Virginia, and he was last heard from that evening around dinnertime. Although it was New Years Eve, Ben told a friend over the phone that he was tired and was going home for the night. He has never been seen or heard from again.

The following day, on January 1st, 2013, police in Tappahannock, Virginia responded to a report of a disabled vehicle abandoned on Route 698. When officers went to investigate, they found a full-sized Dodge van registered to Ben Coffey. Ben’s dog and many of his other personal items were found abandoned inside the van. Two days later, Ben’s parents were notified about the vehicle being found. They immediately knew something was off when they learned the dog had been inside the car, and they reported him missing shortly thereafter.

Ben’s family and friends are baffled by his disappearance. The location where his car was found is around 45 miles away from his home in Gloucester, however cell phone records confirm that he was in Gloucester when he called his friend on the evening of December 31st. This means that Ben’s car ended up Tappahannock at some point after that phone call. It is unclear if Ben has any ties to that area. Investigators conducted a search in the surrounding area, during which a blood hound traced Ben’s scent to a swamp, but then lost the scent. Other than that, there have been very few clues and leads in Ben’s case. [read more]

The Disappearance of Marina Boelter
Marina Boelter vanished on New Year's Eve in 2014.
18 year-old Marina Boelter disappeared in Bloomfield, Indiana on December 31st, 2014. That evening, Marina finished her shift at the Bloomfield IGA grocery store at 6pm and was spotted talking to a man in the store’s parking lot. After chatting for a minute or two, witnesses said that Marina got into his car. Marina’s ex-boyfriend, DJ Lockhart, along with three mutual friends, pulled into the parking lot around the same time. DJ told police that they showed up to ask Marina to join them in their plans for the night, but Marina declined. Witnesses said that DJ drove off in one direction, and the man drove off in the opposite direction, towards Marina’s apartment. The driver (who police are not identifying) told police Marina did not want him to know where she lived, so she asked him to drop her off at a closed down pizza restaurant nearby her apartment. This is the last known sighting of her.

Marina had plans to go to a New Year’s Eve party that night, at the home of an older married man whom she had been seeing. However, Marina apparently did not show up. The next day, that man went to IGA grocery to look for her. While there, he encountered Marina’s manager, who told him that Marina never showed up for work. The two men subsequently reported her missing. Marina remains missing today and there are no publicly known suspects or persons-of-interest in her case. [read more]

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