Missing inaction

FAMILY GATHERING | Jamie Boeglin, seated center in white, loved to be part of family gatherings and was especially adamant about her family celebrating her birthday, says her brother John. The fact that Jamie’s 48th birthday passed last July with no word from her to her family heightens John’s fears that Jamie met with foul play. (Photo courtesy John Boeglin)

Jamie Boeglin lived on the fringes of society, and now that she has been missing for a year, her family fears they have lost her forever

RELATED STORY: Recording the injustice

ANDREA GRIMES | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Jamie Boeglin lived in Fort Worth, but she didn’t really have any kind of permanent home to go missing from.

Sometimes she crashed at her brother’s house on the west side or squatted in an abandoned house. She’d spend a night at a shelter here or there, or just sleep on the street.

Many times, she could have listed her address as a jail cell after she’d been picked up for shoplifting or fighting.

Jamie Boeglin did have one place she could reliably be found — the AIDS Outreach Center where she went to refill her medicine.

There, she’d chat up the case workers and get her upcoming medical and mental health appointments in order. She might miss a few of those — could be jail time, could be she’d landed in the hospital — but she always, always came back to seek help from the folks at the AOC.

Except this month, it’ll have been one year since Jamie Boeglin picked up her medication.

No one — not her family, not her doctors, not her counselors — has seen her since May 18, 2010.

Her brother, John Boeglin, says he knows Jamie could be unreliable. But not this unreliable.

“We’ve not heard anything,” says John Boeglin, who along with his four other siblings in North Texas and New Mexico, has been trying to understand how and why their relentlessly “attention-seeking” Jamie dropped off their radar a year ago.

To the Boeglins, however, Jamie is “Jimmy,” their brother, who was born James Martin but began transitioning toward living as a woman in 2008.

Though most people came to know her as Jamie, John Boeglin finds it hard to call his missing sibling anything but Jimmy.

“He’s just always been our brother,” says Boeglin, and despite the family’s many ups and downs dealing with Jamie Boeglin’s homelessness and addiction problems over the years, they’re desperate to find out whether Jamie has run away or if, as John puts it, she’s “a pile of bones under a bush somewhere.”

Even as John Boeglin distributes flyers to area shelters and cruises in vain down Fort Worth’s blighted Lancaster Avenue, looking for any sign of his missing sibling, he knows in his heart that Jamie isn’t the kind of person who’d intentionally go very long without trying to get someone’s attention.

To make things worse, John fears his sibling may have been a victim of anti-transgender violence.

“What if he’s been hauled off by someone who doesn’t like transvestites or transsexuals or transgenders?” John wonders. But he’s so far been unsuccessful in convincing the Fort Worth Police Department that harm may have come to Jamie.

Because they’ve found no clear evidence of foul play, a representative at FWPD says there’s little they can do when an adult does not want to be found.

“We have no reason to suspect foul play,” Fort Worth’s LGBT Community Liason Officer Sara Straten tells the Dallas Voice. As best they can tell, says Straten, Boeglin left town “of her own volition,” based on their detectives’ investigation.

Because Boeglin is listed as a missing person, if she were to be arrested or stopped by police for anything at all, the Fort Worth Police Department would be notified.

“If she’s out there, we’re going to hear about it,” Straten says.

But that’s precisely one of the reasons John Boeglin believes Jamie’s disappearance isn’t voluntary: His sibling has a real habit of running afoul of the law.

In just the first few months of 2010 alone, Jamie Boeglin was cited by Fort Worth police as the victim in a drunken fight that landed her in the hospital with 19 reconstructive pins in her skull. Then, she was arrested for criminal trespass in May, a little more than a week before she was last seen at the AIDS Outreach Center.

In fact, even when the police weren’t involved, it was always some kind of drama with Jamie, remembers her brother — especially around her birthday and on holidays.

John didn’t hear from Jamie last July, which would have been her 48th birthday, and when it comes to holidays, John says Jamie never misses an opportunity for “raising a big stink” about presents and get-togethers.

“Unless he is amnesiac or dead, then there is really no reason that he would not be trying to contact us on a regular basis,” John insists.

But as annoying and dramatic as he says Jamie could be, the most frustrating part of all for John is knowing that, in fact, there is information out there that could help him find out if Jamie is dead or alive. He just can’t access it.

Because of governmental restrictions, John cannot find out whether Jamie’s Social Security debit card has been used in the past year. To do so would require a court order — something he can’t get as long as the police consider Jamie to be absent of her own volition.

If John just had that debit card information, he says, he’d know if his sibling were alright — angry, perhaps, and estranged, but at least alive and well.

“At least we’d know he’s alive and doesn’t want to be contacted,” says John, who says he wouldn’t even care to know where the card has been used — just that it has been. “That’s probably the most frustrating thing.”

But pain and frustration are recurring characters in Jamie Boeglin’s life story.

While homelessness, substance abuse and other catastrophic life events can happen to anyone, transgender people especially lack the help and resources they need from law enforcement, social services and medical professionals. A survey on discrimination against transgender people (See Sidebar) released earlier this year by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force details just how maddeningly common Jamie Boeglin’s situation is.

According to the study, “Injustice At Every Turn,” transgender people are nearly twice as likely to be homeless than is estimated for the general U.S. population, which correlates with the fact that they are also very likely to be incarcerated or suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.

And when it comes to HIV, says Mara Keisling, executive director of the NCTE, transgender people have a “hugely disproportional” infection rate — four times the national average — due in large part to economic marginalization.

“[Jamie] has got to feel fairly discarded by society,” says Keisling, whose her research has made her a difficult person to shock when it comes to stories like Jamie’s. The possibilities Keisling sees for Jamie are many — and none are very positive.

“She’s more likely to be disrespected by the medical community and law enforcement,” says Keisling, which could prevent her from getting help in a crisis.

Keisling added that it’s “fairly common” for transgender people to be victims of violent criminals who “often will look for the most marginalized people.”

These kinds of possibilities weigh on John Boeglin’s mind, especially because he admits that over the years, he’s wished Jamie would stop being such a nuisance in the family.

“He’s done something to alienate every one of the siblings,” says John. “But when it’s like this, we want him to be around.”

Even their tumultuous family life hasn’t broken the bond of blood, and John dwells on the times he and his siblings wished for Jamie to leave them alone: “For a long time we really wished he would disappear, and now he has. We wish we’d never had those moments of thought.”

—  John Wright

Nearly 1 year after lesbian Lisa Stone vanished, case to be featured on CBS’ “48 Hours Mystery”

Sherry Henry

Thursday will mark 11 months since Dallas lesbian Lisa Stone’s unsolved disappearance. On Saturday at 9 p.m. Central time, CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery will air an hourlong episode about the case.

The 48 Hours episode, called “The Facebook Detectives,” will focus on Stone’s friends use of the social media site to keep the search for her alive. Watch a promo for the episode below.

The episode also includes an interview with Stone’s former partner, Sherry Henry, who is the only “person of interest” in her disappearance. Dallas police have long believed the then-52-year-old Stone met with foul play, but say they don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.

Sgt. Eugene Reyes, of DPD’s special investigations unit, told Instant Tea today that he was surprised to hear about Henry’s interview with 48 Hours, given that she hasn’t been talking to other media or cooperating with police.

“We have nothing new, and some of the DNA tests that we were waiting for just didn’t pan out, so we’re back to square one with only one person of interest,” Reyes said. “Everything’s circumstantial. There are plenty of pointed fingers, but it’s not going to be enough to get a conviction. … Some of these cases go on forever and ever.”

Reyes said he hopes the 48 Hours episode leads to a break in the case, but he isn’t counting on it. The show’s producers have told him not to expect any major revelations, and he noted that a billboard advertising a $10,000 reward for information about Stone’s disappearance generated zero tips.

But Stone’s friends remain optimistic.

“We will find answers and justice for Lisa soon!” Tina Wiley declared on her Facebook page today, after announcing that she’s canceled her birthday plans so she can fly to New York this weekend.

Wiley said after the 48 Hours broadcast, she’ll appear on CBS’ Early Show this coming Monday. But first, Wiley will appear on the the Channel 11 News, at 10 o’clock tonight.

—  John Wright

Gay co-producer of ‘Narnia’ films dies at 39

Perry Moore

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Perry Moore, a co-producer of The Chronicles of Narnia film series and the author of an award-winning novel about a gay teenager with superpowers, was found unconscious in his bathroom and died later at a hospital, police said. He was 39.

His father, Bill Moore, told The New York Daily News newspaper in Saturday editions that an initial autopsy was inconclusive. “I have no clue what happened. The examiner said he was in good condition,” Bill Moore said. His father and friends said he suffered from chronic back pain.

Moore was found unconscious in the bathroom of his Manhattan home Thursday, and doctors couldn’t save his life, police said. The cause of death will be determined by the city’s medical examiner, but no foul play was suspected.

Moore had a varied career in television and in film, as producer, screenwriter and director. His 2007 novel, Hero, won the Lambda Literary Award for best novel for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children or adults.

Moore, who was gay, said in an interview on his website that in writing the novel, he had wanted to tell the story of his father, a Vietnam veteran, “and his son.”

“Like most young people, I grew up feeling alienated and different — for very specific reasons in my case — in a place that didn’t value differences,” he said. “I also have this borderline-crazy belief in the power of literature to change the universe. So I’d always wanted to tell this story.”

Moore was an executive producer on all three hugely successful Narnia films, and authored a best-selling illustrated book for the first film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He directed a 2008 drama with Sissy Spacek called Lake City and co-directed a documentary about children’s book author Maurice Sendak with Hunter Hill and Spike Jonze. He scored a “Sexy Man of the Week” rating by People Magazine in 2007.

But it was his novel about a super-powered teenager that seemed to focus his passions. With Hero, he said he hoped to create a gay superhero who was not, he said, a supporting character, victim or token. “I decided I would write the definitive coming-of-age story of the world’s first gay teen superhero,” he said.

It was the death of one of the first prominent gay heroes in the Marvel Comics universe, Northstar, at the hands of X-Men‘s Wolverine, that spurred him to finish the book. He slaughtered the X-Men‘s token gay hero,” Moore said. “I found this story be disturbing, to say the least.”

—  John Wright

Vigil to mark 6 months since Lisa Stone vanished

The first vigil, outside Stone’s home in July.

Last week we reported that Dallas police say they have “nothing to go on” in the disappearance of 52-year-old Lisa Stone, a lesbian from Dallas who’s believed to have met with foul play.

Over the weekend one of Stone’s longtime friends, Tina Wiley, sent along word that a vigil will be held this coming Friday, Dec. 10 to mark six months since Stone vanished.

“The first vigil was held in the heat of summer on July 4,” Wiley said. “With heavy hearts over our missing friend and the long wait for justice, we are now holding a Christmas prayer vigil for Lisa. Please join us in a show of support for our fellow classmate and beloved friend.”

The vigil will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday outside the home Stone shared with her partner, in the 3300 Block of Truxillo Drive in Dallas.

For more info, visit the Facebook page.

—  John Wright

DPD investigator denies rumors that arrests are ‘imminent’ in gay Dallas woman’s disappearance

Lisa Stone
Lisa Stone

On Tuesday afternoon we reported that Lisa Stone’s friends believe arrests may be “imminent” in the six-month-old disappearance of the 52-year-old gay Dallas woman.

But Sgt. Eugene Reyes of the Dallas Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit told Instant Tea this morning that those rumors are simply untrue.

“I have no idea who we would be arresting and what we would be arresting them for,” Reyes said. “You blindsided me.”

Reyes said he had no new information about DPD’s investigation into Stone’s disappearance. He’s said previously that investigators believe foul play is “very likely.”

Reyes acknowledged that DPD recently contacted America’s Most Wanted, which posted a story about Stone’s disappearance on its website last week. Asked whether this indicates that authorities are desperate, Reyes said: “We’ve been desperate since day one. As soon as [Stone's longtime partner] Sherry [Henry] quit talking, what else is there? We have nothing to go on. It’s another way to generate publicity, keep it out there.”

Reyes added that the America’s Most Wanted story hasn’t generated any tips in the week since it was posted. He said investigators continue to believe that even if Henry wasn’t somehow involved in Stone’s disappearance, she knows something about it.

“Either Sherry is not telling anyone or if she did they’re not sharing that information,” Reyes said.

—  John Wright

Yet another gay teen suicide?

Alec Henriksen

Another teen who may have been gay has taken his own life — and this time he was from Utah, where a Mormon apostle just a few days ago called same-sex attraction “unnatural” and “impure” and said it can be changed.

We’ve long been saying on this blog that those in positions of power who spew homophobia have the blood of gay teen suicide victims on their hands — and we can only hope the reality of this will finally take hold in the mainstream.

PrideInUtah.com reports that 18-year-old Alec Henriksen, a Utah native who was a student at Earlham College in Indiana, was found dead on Sept. 30:

Alec Henriksen was a brilliant young computer programmer. And while suicide is always a terrible idea, I want to use his death as a call-to-action for anyone who cares for these young people. Please, help them. Love them for who they are. Put them in touch with the Trevor Project if possible.

PrideInUtah.com adds that the website from which it obtained the information about Henriksen’s suicide — and presumably about his sexual orientation — has since been taken down.

However, Instant Tea found this statement on the Earlham College website confirming Henriksen’s death. The statement says his body was found on property belonging to Earlham Cemetery, and that no foul play is suspected. We also found Henriksen’s obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune.

If it turns out that Henriksen was not gay, our point remains. And if he was gay but someone is trying to cover it up, it would be typical of how Mormon culture deals with gay teen suicide — which is a big problem in Utah.

If Henriksen was gay, his death would bring to at least six the number of gay teen suicides that have been reported nationwide in recent weeks. Of course, it’s safe to say the real number is considerably higher.

—  John Wright

The search continues

Police acknowledge foul play likely in disappearance of Lisa Stone; friends fighting to keep investigation alive

WATCH VIDEO OF LISA STONE’S FRIENDS TALKING ABOUT THE CASE

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

GARLAND — Dallas police for the first time this week publicly acknowledged that they believe foul play is likely in the disappearance of Lisa Stone, a 52-year-old lesbian who’s been missing for more than three months.

However, Sgt. Eugene Reyes of DPD’s special investigations unit said detectives won’t formally reclassify the case as a homicide until Stone’s remains are found, and he stopped short of identifying her longtime partner, Sherry Henry, as a suspect.

“Every time there’s a body found, we’re hoping it’s Lisa,” Reyes told Dallas Voice in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Sept. 14. “Not that we’re hoping she’s dead, but at least that will bring closure and get us closer to a suspect. It’s not like her to be out of touch this long. I think foul play is very likely, yes, because it’s out of her characteristics.”

Stone’s friends, who’ve long said they suspect foul play in her June disappearance, expressed frustration with DPD’s handling of the case and said they recently hired a private investigator. But Reyes insisted that investigators have tracked down every lead, including sending 70 officers to search a wooded area of Hunt County in July. Police also searched the home Stone shared with Henry and are awaiting results from forensic tests, Reyes said.

“I am just as frustrated as they are, but we’re bound by the Constitution, and there’s only certain things you can do without violating that, and if we violate them then what good is it if we go to court and everything gets thrown out?” Reyes said. “Whoever did this told someone. All we need is that someone to step up.”

Stone’s friends, many of whom have known her since they attended Mesquite High School together in the 1970s, have held several vigils outside her home on Truxillo Drive in Northeast Dallas. Their Facebook page, “Looking for Lisa Stone… help us find her!,” has almost 2,000 fans. They’ve also set up another website, www.ForTheLoveofLisa.webs.com, and rented a billboard in Garland.

Standing beneath the billboard at LBJ Freeway and Northwest Highway this week, two of Stone’s friends said that while they may be growing increasingly desperate, they’re not about to give up until they obtain both closure and justice.

“It’s very frustrating at this point to have brought all this evidence to the police, and now feel like we don’t know what’s going on,” said Lyndi Robinson, one of Stone’s gay friends. “That’s probably the most frustrating part of the whole thing, is we feel like nothing’s happening, so we’re to the point where we want to scream. I don’t know what we need to do. We need to raise a ruckus, because we want to know the answers.”

Tina Wiley, one of Stone’s straight friends, noted that a $10,000 reward is being offered through Crime Stoppers, and that another vigil is planned for Sunday evening, Sept. 19 at the site of the billboard.

“I know without a doubt she’d be doing the same thing for me, and I basically have no choice,” Wiley said. “I cannot go to sleep at night if I don’t feel like I’ve done everything I can, and I don’t feel like I will ever rest until I feel like I’ve done everything I can.”

Henry, Stone’s partner, isn’t cooperating with police or communicating with her friends. According to both Reyes and Stone’s friends, Henry has left the state and may be staying with relatives in Missouri.

Shortly after her disappearance, one of Stone’s friends witnessed Henry discarding some of Stone’s personal items in a Dumpster, including her birth certificate and the last effects of her late gay brother, Dennis. Henry has also filed a stalking complaint against Stone’s friends and threatened to sue them for harassment, they said.

Stone’s friends questioned why given that they were together for 17 years, Henry isn’t actively assisting in the search for Stone.

Police questioned Henry when they searched the home in July but released her later the same day. Henry couldn’t be reached for comment.

Robinson, who was close friends with Stone’s brother Dennis who died from AIDS in 1997, said she promised him before he passed away that she would look out for Lisa.

“Any one of us, especially in the gay community, could be the last of their family, and your friends are your family, and we’re here to say we’re not going away until we find you, Lisa, and we bring you home,” Robinson said.

Anyone with information about Stone’s disappearance should call Crime Stoppers at 877-373-8477.  Sunday’s vigil will be at 7 p.m. at the site of the billboard, 2010 Eastgate Drive in Garland. For more info, e-mail fortheloveoflisa@aol.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens