For my third post, I wanted to do something slightly different by giving an overview of some missing persons cases that are in my local area, the Capital Region of New York. I plan to cover some, if not all, of these cases more in-depth in future posts, but, to be honest, I just couldn’t decide which one to cover first, so I wanted to give them all a brief summary.
1. Suzanne Lyall
Suzanne Lyall, a 19 year old native of Ballston Spa, disappeared from the campus of SUNY-University at Albany on March 2, 1998. Suzanne was a computer science major at UAlbany and worked part-time at Babbage’s, a software store then located in Crossgates Mall. The night of her disappearance she worked at Babbage’s and left around 9:20PM, boarding a city bus back to campus. At around 9:40PM, she was seen getting off a city bus at the Collins Circle bus stop on the Washington Avenue side of UAlbany’s campus.The next day, Suzanne’s debit card was used at approximately 4:00 PM to withdraw $20 from an ATM at a Stewart’s Shop on Central Avenue, more than two miles from the UAlbany campus. The PIN number entered was a direct hit on the first try. Police checked surveillance footage, but since there was only one camera that was aimed over the cash register rather than the ATM, the ATM transaction could not be seen. The police did interview all customers that could be identified from surveillance in the hour surrounding the ATM transaction; for years, there was one man who was unaccounted for, and he was dubbed “the Nike man” because of the Nike baseball cap he wore in the surveillance video. Eventually, the Nike man was identified and ruled out.Suzy’s boyfriend, Richard Condon, has garnered much suspicion from the family. They claimed that he was possessive and controlling, and kept tabs on Suzy in ways such as connecting their computers so he could see her activity. He also knew her debit card PIN number. There is also some strangeness involving Richard’s father, who reportedly made false tips to police about seeing Suzy in various Capital Region locations.A recent theory that I find intriguing is that Suzy was a victim of serial killer Israel Keyes. If you are unfamiliar with Keyes, he is an especially creepy killer who buried “kill kits” all over the US and killed random strangers while traveling. For more information on Keyes, I would recommend the podcast True Crime Bullshit. Since Keyes’ suicide in 2012, police have been trying to connect his cross-country travels with missing persons cases in order to identify more victims. Suzy has come on the radar as a potential victim because Keyes was known to be in the Albany area at the time of her disappearance, had Googled Suzy’s name on his computer, and because of the ATM withdrawal, as he had used the ATM card of another of his victims.Suzanne Lyall’s case has been getting some recent attention. The College of Saint Rose (who happens to be my employer) has started a Cold Case Analysis Center, in which criminal justice and forensic psychology students, with faculty supervision, investigate cold cases. Suzanne’s case was the first case selected for investigation by the CCAC. In conjuction with the Cold Case Analysis Center, iHeart Radio has sponsored a local podcast called Upstate Unsolved, which is currently also focusing on Suzanne’s case. For anyone who wants more information about Suzanne Lyall and her disappearance, I highly recommend Upstate Unsolved.Suzanne Lyall is 5’3″ and weighed between 165-175 pounds at the time she went missing. She has light brown hair and blue eyes. Suzy has a light brown birthmark on her left calf and a surgical scar on her left foot. If you have any information about the disappearance of Suzanne Lyall, please contact the New York State Police at (518) 783-3236.
2. Craig Frear
Craig Frear was 17 years old when he disappeared from Scotia, NY, on June 27, 2004. Craig, an accomplished soccer player, had told his parents that he was going to be at work at a local Price Chopper grocery store, but his mother found out after stopping there to shop that he had been terminated from the store a few weeks prior. She called around and managed to locate him at a friend’s home. He told her during that phone call that he was on his way home. His friend verifies that he left the Cambridge Manor apartment complex at around 2:00PM and was seen walking around the nearby woods. His father tried to locate him on foot, and found Craig’s car parked at the apartment complex, but no sign of Craig.And that is pretty much all we know about Craig’s disappearance. Craig’s mother Veronica Frear was interviewed for an episode of the podcast Unfound and said that she feels there was something going on with her son that she didn’t know about. She mentions a phone call allegedly overheard at a graduation party during which Craig apparently said, “I can’t believe you would do this to me.” Frear thinks that Craig might have been gay, involved in a relationship with someone who worked at the Price Chopper loading dock, and that whoever Craig was on the phone with at this party was threatening to reveal his sexual orientation. I don’t want to discount his mother’s theory, but she doesn’t have much evidence to back up this theory. That being said, there isn’t much evidence to back up any theory. Accident, foul play, and suicide are all possibilities, but then where is Craig’s body? This is a baffling case in which Craig seemed to really just vanish.When he was last seen, Craig Frear was 5’11” and weighed 190 pounds. He has red hair and brown eyes. If you have any information about Craig Frear’s disappearance, please contact the New York State Police at (518) 783-3236.
3. Jaliek Rainwalker
Jaliek Rainwalker was 12 years old when he disappeared from Greenwich, NY, on November 1, 2007. I actually by chance met Jaliek about a week prior to his disappearance and so this case is especially haunting to me; it is one I will definitely go into further detaill about in a future blog post.Jaliek was born addicted to cocaine and had lived in multiple foster homes throughout his life. He was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder and had behavioral problems coupled with violent emotional outbursts, which made him hard to place in a permanent home. However, he was adopted by Stephen Kerr and Jocelyn McDonald when he was seven years old. The arrangement seemed to have been working out until just a couple weeks before Jaliek’s disappearance, when Kerr called a crisis hotline. Kerr said that Jaliek had threatened to sexually assault another child in his homeschool group and that Kerr wished to reverse the adoption. As an alternative, CPS offered Kerr and McDonald the option of respite care to give them a break. Jaliek stayed with Elaine and Tom Person, who had provided respite care for Jaliek in the past, before being returned to Kerr on November 1, 2007. The Persons said that Jaliek was well-behaved in their care, but expressed concern that Jaliek was not on medications or getting any psychiatric help or therapy. The night that Kerr picked up Jaliek, he and Jaliek apparently stayed in their home alone while Jocelyn was visiting family with their other children.Kerr claimed that Jaliek had probably run away to join a gang. As evidence for this, Kerr cites an farewell note written by Jaliek; however, the Persons say that this note was actually an assignment that Kerr gave to Jaliek for homework and was written while he stayed with them. Pretty much everyone, including law enforcment, considers Kerr a person of interest in Jaliek’s disappearance. Kerr was known to have anger management issues and McDonald says that he had gotten violent with Jaliek in the past, one time dragging him forcibly from the home and dunking him in the nearby creek. Kerr, McDonald, and their children moved to Vermont in 2008 and police are almost certain that Jaliek’s case is a homicide.At the time of his disappearance, Jaliek Rainwalker was 5’6″ and weighed 105 pounds. He is biracial (white and African-American) with brown hair and green eyes. He has a speech impediment, which causes him to pronounce the letter “r” like a “w.” Anyone with information about Jaliek’s disappearance is asked to contact the Greenwich Village Police at (518) 692-9332.
4. Kellisue Ackernecht
Kellisue Ackernecht’s case is another that I have a personal connection to: I live in the town from which she disappeared, often jog by the spot where her car was found, and have a niece who is friends with her daughter. Kelliesue was last seen on September 30, 2008. She worked as a shift supervisor at Rite Aid pharmacy in Amsterdam, NY, about 20 minutes from her home in Johnstown, and was last seen leaving that store around 9:30PM. At around 2AM the next morning, her car was found burning in the Frog Hollow area of Johnstown next to the Rail Trail. The car was totally engulfed in flames when it was found and was completely destroyed by the fire. Neighbors in the area had also called police about possible gunshots being fired around midnight.And, similarly to Craig Frear, that’s pretty much unfortunately all there is aside from theory, speculation, and some weird alleged psychic tips posted on Reddit. There has never been any trace of Kellisue since. Some think she ran away due to an unhappy and possible abusive marriage, but her loved ones insist that she would have never left her daughter, who was nine when she disappeared, behind. Her husband, Jayson, has been the subject of much local rumor. While the general public would consider him a person of interest, police have said that he is not a suspect. This case has not gotten the attention it deserves and has gone unnoticed even in local media. I’ve personally attended vigils on the anniversary of Kellisue’s disappearance in which media, despite having been notified by organizers, are nowhere to be seen.At the time of her disappearance, Kelliesue Ackernecht was 5’10” and weighed 135 pounds. She has brown hair, highlighted red when she disappeared, and brown eyes. Anyone with information about her case should contact the Johnstown Police at (518) 736-4021.