Monday, July 09, 2001

On Joyce Chiang and Chandra Levy

Research Note: Memo to the File.

I'm calling this collection of links "Research Note: Memo to the File" for at least two reasons. The first is that "Memo to the File" is an expression that has often been used to speak of work that doesn't get done -- more explicitly, File Number 13, or simply "File13" means the wastebasket, trash can or whatever it is in your idiom -- maybe they say "recycle the file" these days -- or maybe they will now.

This isn't meant to be a direct criticism of anyone in particular -- but I don't know -- maybe it should be. I know that so many people "go missing" that the task of figuring out what happened to them is unimaginably difficult. That's not to say that "nobody knows [what happened to them]," though. While speculating on the Chandra Levy case, I recently spoke to a friend as he waited for a bus that serves Dupont Circle and he told me how he had witnessed an unrelated murder, identified all the suspects, but it didn't come to trial because those he claimed were participants essentially "evaporated" -- disappeared without a trace. His point seemed to be, consistent with our conversation, that there are many people who see or know something, but say nothing -- for a variety of reasons that aren't hard to imagine.

Given this, the "presumption of the worst," the dead-end leads and generally the "needle in the haystack" syndrome -- there is a huge amount of information through which to sift, including a lot of distractions such as false reports and factors which may be related, but are eventually discounted, ignored or disregarded -- usually because no connection can be established. I am persuaded by the nature of research and investigation, that while most of the "intelligence gathering" is "leg work," most of the problem solving activities involve "head work," or the tremendous cognitive task of determining which "pieces of the puzzle" are valid and establishing the connections between them. To look at an accumulation of evidence (and a lot of unsubstantiated suspicion like "gut feeling" or "hunches/intuition" and "instinct") and say "this says something to me" is one thing -- to figure out what it says and follow it to a solution is quite another thing -- simply a complicated "thing."

The case for hunches is very poorly made, but can easily be explained as the assembly of scenarios which we constantly and unconsciously "spin" or "weave" from a knowledge of cases that vary only slightly from the mystery at hand. Police are fatigued of uninformed speculation, largely because "jumping to a conclusion" usually leads to a lot of unnecessary work -- the proverbial "wild goose chase." Once a possibility has been established, there is a certain obligation to challenge, contest and verify results -- which means to investigate further -- or to be distracted with more field work, more leg work. In the case of false leads from uninformed speculation, it means either ignoring evidence that is presumed redundant -- yesterday's rejects -- or another frustrating trip "back to the drawing board" to see whether "something was missed" and a line of speculation does indeed merit further investigation.

As a researcher, rather than an investigator or detective, anyone who reads this little essay of mine can benefit from information which has already been gathered. I found 54 links on the Internet, but after writing this much to frame the way in which this information should be "sifted" -- with a "critical eye" -- I won't have time to follow each link just to see whether the search engine delivered me "valid hits," notwithstanding all the bifurcations on which each valid link might lead me. I've decided to post all of them here (1) as a personal reminder to myself, a sort of "tickler" that will allow me to "dispatch" each lead as I have time; (2) to be able to refer to the collection of links when discussing this issue with friends and researchers; and, (3) to allow anyone who stumbles across this page to be able to start his/her own investigation.

I don't want to add to the uninformed speculation with more unsubstantiable theory, but something that has made me curious was that I have heard that both young women were from California. Looking at common elements, we have to consider both region of birth and age range; culture may play a role, as may persons in common circles with the women, and their origins may both play into this connection. My interim question that I can't seem to move past at the moment is "Is there a connection between this case and California?" Another variation on this is "Is there some DC-California connection?"

Something that set me on this line of thinking goes back to the early nineties when some friends of mine were discussing Joyce Chiang's disappearance: One said, "I'm sure this girl is dead, and police haven't been investigating all these prostitute murders because they say that prostitutes are always at risk." The other answered, "But this girl wasn't a prostitute." The first returned, "No, but she was out partying, and how would the [presumed] murderer where she worked just by looking at her." I was inclined to think as well as the spate of taxi-driver murders that periodically seem to plague the area.

This could be a study on search engine hits, too. Anyway, here are the links -- as a "Research Note" -- for myself or anyone else who wants to figure out what is happening to these young women who come to the DC area:

  1. MetroActive.com --- may be a repeat.

  2.  Washington Post

  3.  Washington Post

  4.  Basket Case

  5.  Washington Post

  6.  Georgetown Alumni News

  7.  julen.net

  8.  earthops

  9.  utexas news

  10.  egroups messages

  11.  Fox News

  12.  CNN All Politics

  13.  Fox News

  14.  aagen archives

  15.  Serial Killers

  16.  GPO Access

  17.  Cybersleuths

  18.  tag.aircadet

  19.  CityPaper

  20.  Third World Women List

  21.  tag.aircadet

  22.  Basket Case

  23.  cydom smithie archives

  24.  America's Most Wanted

  25.  LAFN Joyce Chiang Missing

  26.  AsianWeek INS Lawyer

  27.  a.nderson.net smith86 news

  28.  lainet.com personal page news item

  29.  The Hoya News

  30.  Metroactive Papers Saratoga News

  31.  Wellesley Shakespeare?

  32.  nknu Writing?

  33.  nknu Writing?

  34.  smith92 news

  35.  Wellesley Shakespeare again?

  36.  A Canadian College Alumni News

  37.  A California Elementary School Awards Report

  38.  Georgetown Alumni News

  39.  AOL Personal Page Year in Review

  40.  julen.net "mind"

  41.  AsianWeek

  42.  DCWatch Mail

  43.  Egroups List Message

  44.  EChinatown.net Accountants Directory

  45.  aagen.org archives

  46.  DCWatch Mail

  47.  GPO Access

  48.  Cybersleuths News

  49.  CityPaper

  50.  Smith.edu Personal Page Archive

  51.  Third World Women List Archive

  52.  exnet.iastate.edu/files/fs1997/19970324101010.txt

  53.  FreeRepublic.com Forum

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