Vanished in Vegas – Amanda Lee Fravel Disappearance

fravel_amanda4 Photo courtesy of The Charley Project

A beautiful young woman disappears from Vegas in 1986. Her roommate seems to have fallen off the map. What happened to Amanda Fravel, and what was her roommate’s real name? You can’t find a guy if you don’t know his name. Maybe that was the plan.


Amanda (Mandy) Lee Fravel, 20 was an all American child of the ’80s. With big hair and an even bigger smile, she loved musicians and rock music. Although her home life was difficult, Mandy found refuge in Las Vegas, NV in the fall of 1985. At first, she moved in with a friend from high school, but Cammi was a newlywed with a new baby, so it was just a temporary arrangement. Mandy stayed about a month, but quickly found a place of her own. She lived by herself for a short time before answering an ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A man named Lew Frank needed a roommate to share expenses. Mandy applied and was approved.

During her time in Vegas, Mandy ran into a musician named Xavier. The couple hit it off and began dating. Soon they found they were better friends, so they parted ways. The two remained close, but not close enough for Mandy to introduce him to her new roommate. It wasn’t until after her disappearance did anyone close to Mandy actually meet Lew Franks. And every one that met the guy was immediately uneasy about him. No one is even sure that is his name, and since no one can find the guy, Lew Frank was likely an alias.

On Friday, June 13, 1986, Mandy Fravel was supposedly last seen by her roommate. She reportedly left the apartment to go to her job at Taco Bell to pick up her paycheck. Then she planned to go to Xavier’s house. This story is corroborated by Xavier who said he had spoken to her on the phone and was expecting her to show up, but she never did. Despite the troubles at home, Mandy’s mother had sent her airfare to travel back to California. No one was sure if it were for a few days, or indefinitely. Xavier waited around for her to show up, but thought nothing of it when the hours past without seeing her. Perhaps she had changed her mind about stopping by. For you millennials out there, this was before the days of cell phones, and this type of thing was common. Xavier never thought anything about it until a few days later when Mandy’s mother called from California saying she never arrived. Mandy was gone.

Mandy’s parents flew in from California to begin searching for their daughter. They spoke to Cammi and Xavier and even visited the apartment Mandy shared with Lew Frank. Mandy’s stepdad, Tom took notes about his visit to Vegas. He was the one who wrote Lew’s name down. He was the person who chose the peculiar spelling. Now, over time, he cannot remember why he spelled it L-E-W. Tom was even put off by the man in his mid-forties. Why was he living with a 20-yr-old, and more disturbingly, why did he randomly mention that he wanted to move to a nearby county and start a brothel? Who says that during a missing person investigation?

When Tom visited the apartment, all of Mandy’s things were packed in boxes by the door as if they were waiting for someone to pick them up. Did Mandy pack them to move back to California? Did Lew pack them to give to her parents? From what I can gather by reading in between the lines, Lew didn’t even know her parents were coming, so how could he pack her stuff?

To make the mystery more unusual, no one has seen or heard from Lew Frank since Mandy’s disappearance. Internet sleuths have gone over all the online records looking for everyone named Lew, Lou, Lewis, and Louis, but nothing has been found. If he were in his late 40’s  – early 50’s in 1986, he would be in his 70’s by now. He may not even be alive. Either way, no one can find the guy. This is where my love of Sherlock Holmes stories really kicks in. Lew Frank doesn’t sound right to me. Who would name their kid Lewis Frank? To me, it seems reversed. What if his name was Frank Lewis? This could provide the reason for the odd spelling of Lew. Maybe I’m wrong, but a quick internet search dug up three different men named Frank Lewis in the Las Vegas area. All the men were mid-late 70’s. Maybe you armchair sleuths out there can keep digging for me, and perhaps we can find Mr. Vanishing Act.

Whether Lew Franks is a suspect or a person of interest, he is still the last person to see Mandy Fravel alive. If you have any information, in this case, please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (702) 828-3111 or 1-800-492-6565.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

Unfound Podcast

Charley Project

Websleuths

Youtube


This Week’s Recommended True Crime Book:

The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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Missouri Missing – Missing Grandmother Betty Alexander

Photo courtesy of the Bring Betty Home Facebook Page

She was a loving grandma living out her twilight years peacefully tending her garden and making crafts. She wasn’t involved in any risky habits or lifestyles, so how did she vanish from her home in Sullivan, MO. Two months have passed since anyone has seen Betty Alexander, and still the family has no answers.


Betty Alexander, 69 was last seen on April 10th, 2019 at her apartment in Sullivan, Missouri. The Sinks Pharmacy delivery driver saw the grandmother on Wednesday, but by the next day, she was gone. By Thursday, she had missed her physical therapy and her Meals on Wheels delivery service. Where was Betty? She wasn’t the type to go off on walks alone, and although she was diagnosed with dementia, she was in the very early stages, and with her medicine, she functioned normally.

Friday, April 12th the Meals on Wheels delivery driver found the woman wasn’t home, but her door was unlocked. The delivery driver left her food on the table and left the apartment leaving the door unlocked. Perhaps Betty had stepped out and would return shortly. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true, and the food would sit on that table until Sunday when Betty’s daughter, Tonya arrived to take her mother on a  pre-planned shopping trip.

Tonya knocked on the door, but no one came. She tried the door, and it was locked, so the concerned woman used her key to unlock the door. Perhaps her mother had fallen. Tonya checked the apartment, but Betty was nowhere to be found. Strangely her glasses were left behind. This worried Tonya. She knew her mother wouldn’t even walk out to the mailbox without them. Where could Betty be? She doesn’t drive and isn’t known ever to leave the apartment complex alone. To make matters worse, Betty never got the hang of how to use a cell phone and didn’t have one.

The police were notified and began searching for the missing grandmother right away. Several different dog teams were brought in over the next few days, but nothing was found. Strangely, Betty’s purse and apartment keys were found in the closet. Although nothing looked out of place in the apartment, some family members noticed some medication missing. Could this poor woman have been targeted for her prescriptions? If so, why were other medications left behind?

It appeared Betty had taken her medication at 7 pm on Wednesday, but her morning medications were still there. It seems the window in question spans from 7 pm on Wednesday, April 10th, and the morning of Thursday, April 11th. Also, it’s strange that Meals on Wheels found the door unlocked on Friday, but the door was locked by the time Tonya arrived on Sunday. Who was in that apartment between Friday and Sunday?

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Sullivan Police Department (573) 468-8001.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all-inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

KSMU

Betty’s Facebook Page

Youtube


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of this page. By purchasing one of her books or using these links, you will be supporting Synova’s work on cold cases and will ensure her ability to continue to give a voice to the victim’s family. Thank you.

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Missouri Missing: Angie Yarnell Case

“Seek, and you shall find”

Marianne Asher-Chapman depends on that. She has been searching for her daughter Angie Yarnell for nearly 15 years. She carries a shovel in the trunk of her car, so she is ready to dig at a moment’s notice. Why would this poor mother still be searching after a man has confessed to killing Angie Yarnell? Why is the killer out of jail? How could our justice system fail so miserably? This is the story of a mother’s quest to find her daughter and help others who are suffering through a tragedy.


Michelle Angela “Angie” Yarnell was last seen on October 25, 2003, in the 3900 block of Ozark View Rd in Ivy Bend, Missouri. Her mother, Marianne Asher-Chapman lived an hour and a half away in Holts Summit, MO. Although they were separated by a 90 min drive the two women were more than family; they were best friends. Marianne heard from her daughter regularly and was expecting to see her beautiful baby girl that day for a birthday party. Angie’s niece was having a party at grandma Marianne’s house. The party was scheduled for 1 pm, but it was after 5 o’clock and Marianne was getting upset. This wasn’t like Angie. Something was wrong. Marianne hadn’t gotten Angie to answer her calls for a few days. She had assumed Angie was out job hunting and would call later, but now after missing a birthday party, Marianne was worried. She called her daughter’s number again, but this time she left a message that would start a bizarre chain of events.

“If you don’t call back, I’m going to drive down and check on you,” was the message the worried mother left on Angie’s voicemail. She would receive a response two hours later, but it wasn’t the one she hoped for. Around 7 pm, Angie’s car pulled up in the driveway and out stepped Michael Yarnell. When Marianne asked about her daughter, he simply replied, “she’s gone.” The man walked in and sat down without saying much of anything. Finally, he told Marianne that he thought Angie had run off with another man. No one believed his story, but no one challenged him either.

Marianne couldn’t believe her daughter would leave without telling her something about this new man, and to make matters even worse, Marianne was battling throat cancer at the time. Angie was helping her mother through this journey. Why would a beloved daughter leave her mother in such a state? Angie wouldn’t. That was the conclusion her family came up with. Something was terribly wrong. Marianne went the next day and filed a missing persons report expecting to find compassion and assistance but found very little.

Initially, the investigators believed that the 28-yr-old was frustrated with her verbally abusive marriage and took off. No one seemed to understand the bond between mother and daughter in this case. Angie had spoken to her mother about the problems with her short marriage to Yarnell. She had been wrongly accused of infidelity by Michael when in fact Michael was having an extra-marital affair. The relationship had broken down to the point that Angie confessed to her mother that Michael was going to leave her. Marianne had this conversation with her daughter several days before Michael’s strange visit.

A week after the missing person’s report was filed, Marianne received a postcard from her daughter. It was posted from Arkansas. Strangely it said Angie was traveling with some guy named Gary and when they got settled in Texas she would call. Investigators immediately took the postcard at face value and stopped looking into the case, but Marianne still had her doubts. Why didn’t her daughter call?

Marianne eagerly awaits the Thanksgiving holiday. Surely her daughter would come by, but Angie didn’t show. After this, Marianne knew Angie wasn’t coming home. She wouldn’t miss the holidays with family. It was a long-standing tradition. Marianne began to examine the postcard and noticed some strange discrepancies in the handwriting. In 2008, a forensic handwriting specialist would confirm that not only did Angie not write the note but that Michael Yarnell was the author of the postcard. They sent these findings to the detectives in hopes of getting the ball rolling on Angie’s case.

A few months later Michael Yarnell was arrested in Biloxi, Mississippi and extradited back to the Show-Me state. He surprised everyone by confessing to killing Angie at their home in 2003. He told investigators that they were having a fight and he accidentally pushed her, and she fell off the deck hitting her head. He said that he sat with her for a while trying to figure out what to do, then he picked her up into a canoe and drove down the road to the boat ramp. He rowed out onto the Lake of the Ozarks and found a small island. He said he planned to bury her on the island. In the process of removing her body from the boat, she slipped and fell beneath the waves. He left her there, rowed back to the boat ramp, and went home.

Yarnell also admitted to forging the postcard and claimed he did it just to give Marianne some peace. In the end, he was given a plea deal that no one could believe. If he would show investigators where the body was dropped in the water, then he could plead to a lesser charge of manslaughter. Even though the investigators couldn’t find Angie’s remains, they still gave her killer the plea deal. Michael Shane Yarnell pled guilty of manslaughter and was given a paltry seven years. He served only four and was released in July of 2013.

To say the family was devastated doesn’t begin to describe the disbelief and the pain caused by such a sentence. It’s a slap in the face to the victim’s family for the killer to walk free. Still, no one knows where to find Angie. Marianne believes Michael is lying about her daughter’s cause of death and that’s the reason why he refuses to disclose the true location of Angie’s remains.

Due to Double Jeopardy laws, Michael Yarnell won’t face another trial even if those remains are found. At this point, Marianne just wants to give her daughter a proper burial. As always, if you have any information about this case, please contact the police. This mother needs to lay her daughter to rest.

In the wake of this painful journey, Marianne has co-founded Missouri Missing. Missouri Missing is a non-profit organization to help support victim’s families and to raise awareness about Missouri’s missing people. Check out their website for more information. Like and share their missing person’s flyers on Facebook and donate if you can.

If you have any information on this case, please contact Missouri Missing. 


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation, or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free. 

Blog sign up

SIGN UP HERE


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of this page. By purchasing one of her books or using these links, you will be supporting Synova’s work on cold cases and will ensure her ability to continue to give a voice to the victim’s family. Thank you.

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UPDATE: Missing CDC employee found

drcunninghampolice-700x420 - atlanta police dept
The body of Missing CDC worker, Timothy Cunningham was found on April 3rd in the Chattahoochee River. The manner of death has not been determined at this time, but the preliminary cause of death is drowning.
Cunningham has been missing since February 12, 2018. After leaving work early due to illness, Cunningham was never heard from again. Family members found his house locked with all of his belongings, including his keys and phone inside the home. His beloved pet was left to fend for himself.
Toxicology reports are pending and the investigation into this strange disappearance continues.

Conspiracy, lies, and strange clues surround the missing CDC worker, but everything leads to more questions.

 

Usually, I would start with the facts of the case, and then throw down a timeline of the last known moments of the missing person. Unfortunately, that is impossible in this case. Very few facts are available, and those are clouded in conspiracy theories, outright lies, and fake news. While everyone is jumping down the rabbit hole of conspiracy, I will try to relate the facts as I have found them. I will leave the conspiracy theories to you. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a good conspiracy. They are intriguing, and make good television, but at the heart of this we need to remember that there is a real man missing.

Timothy J. Cunningham (35) was a Harvard educated epidemiologist who worked as a commander f or U.S. Public Health and Service division at the CDC (Center of Disease Control). His job was in the Chronic Disease Unit. He had recently been passed over for a promotion and was given the reasons behind this decision on February 12, 2018. Sources state that Cunningham called in sick the two days prior to his disappearance, but on the 12th he tried to come in. He only stayed a short while before leaving due to illness. During this time, he had a conference with his superior and received the reasoning behind his missed promotion.

Here is the timeline as we have it:
7 am – Cunningham called his sister. She remembers that he sounded odd but couldn’t give a reason behind her instinct.
9:12 am – Cunningham tries to call his mother, but the call goes to voicemail. He doesn’t leave a message.

 
These calls were standard for Cunningham. He lived alone but kept in contact with his family daily. After not hearing from their son for two days, the concerned parents drove the 900-mile trip from Maryland to Georgia to their son’s home. His door was locked, but inside were all of Timothy’s belongings including his phone, wallet, and his keys. Tim was nowhere to be found. The police combed through the wooded areas near his home but found nothing. All of his personal possessions and his vehicle were at home. Nothing was missing.

 
After searching phone records, they confirmed that Tim hadn’t used a taxi service or Uber. Where did he go? Why were his keys in the house if the door was locked? What the family found even more disturbing was the fact that he had left his beloved Mr. Bojangles. Tim loved his dog and would go out of his way to see that he was taken care of if Tim was going out of town. But now the dog had been left unattended for two days.

 
The house held no signs of a struggle, but two upstairs windows were left open. Terrell Cunningham found this odd but couldn’t give a reason why his son would refrain from opening the window. This wasn’t the final odd clue to turn up in this case.

 
Viviana Tori was Timothy’s next-door neighbor and she quickly came forward and gave a startling interview with CBS.

 
The day before the disappearance, she claimed her husband told her that Tim had told him to have his wife erase his phone number from her phone.

Wow that’s hard to even type in a grammatical way. So basically, she said that he said to her husband who said. Yeah, you get my point.

I watched her interview clip online and found it rather odd. It felt more like she wanted attention, than anything else, but that is merely my opinion. I would love to have a psychologist review her video. To me it seems her facial expressions, her body language, and the overall manner of her interview seem strange to me. I won’t claim that she is lying, but I will say it is unusual.

 
So, if Cunningham had asked his neighbor to delete his phone number, what does it mean? People online jump to the conspiracy theory which I will get into shortly. Some have indicated that they believe this meant he knew that he was leaving. I find my instincts lead me in another direction entirely. Could Timothy Cunningham have had row with his neighbors? Was Mrs. Tori harassing him? Could there have been a fight that escalated to the point of his disappearance? Who knows?

 
Atlanta Police Major, Michael O’Conner said, “There’s no evidence suggesting anything.”

 

That is the problem. There are too many holes in this case. We don’t have a clear timeline of his movements. We don’t have any details into his relationship with his neighbors. All we have are a few scattered clues and one giant conspiracy theory.

As promised, here is the conspiracy:
I’ll be honest the conspiracy was the reason I first became interested in this case, however after researching it further, the conspiracy falls apart.
YourNewsWire.com ran this headline on February 22, 2018

CDC Doctor, Who Claimed Flu Shot Caused Outbreak, Missing, Feared Dead

Afterwards they use this quote and claimed that it came from Timothy Cunningham back in January.

 
“Some of the patients I’ve administered the flu shot to this year have died. I don’t care who you are, this scares the crap out of me.”

 
Ok, now this sensational headline coupled with this quote would sound like every American should be worried, but after researching it there is no way this quote came from Timothy Cunningham. Below I have copied his bio straight from the CDC website.

Timothy J. Cunningham, ScD
Team Lead, Division of Population Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Timothy J. Cunningham, ScD, is a team lead with CDC’s Division of Population Health. Dr. Cunningham trained with CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer. His research has been oriented towards understanding health differences related to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and geography. Dr. Cunningham has also deployed for numerous public health emergencies, including Superstorm Sandy, Ebola, and Zika. He is an active member of the American Public Health Association and the American College of Epidemiology. Dr. Cunningham received his S.M. and Sc.D. from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

 

Cunningham was a scientist, his doctorate degree was not a medical doctorate. He hadn’t administered flu shots to anyone. He was research scientist making a six-figure income with the CDC. This quote was also debunked by Snopes.com and Timothy’s own father.

 
Now I’m not validating the flu shot in any way, I personally don’t get one. However, if someone from the CDC wanted to warn the media why would they go to a disreputable site that has a history of fake news? Why didn’t they bring some sort of evidence with them? Where are the statics, and the research studies?

Final thoughts:
Although conspiracy theories are fun, and sometimes real, this one seems unlikely. And while everyone is running about claiming the government is killing us with flu shots, there is a very real case here. A 35-year old man is gone. No one knows why, or where. This man was a high achieving individual that set goals and accomplished them. He was a son, a friend, and was working to make the world a better place. Shouldn’t we be concerned in his disappearance?

How can you help?
Share. His story needs to be spread everywhere in hopes of generating leads for the Atlanta Police Department. Yes, Cunningham was upset about missing a promotion, but was he taken from his home against his will? We won’t know until he is found. Please share his story.

 
A $10,000 reward is being offered in hopes of generating leads, and the family has set up a GoFundMe page to help. If you would like to donate, I have included the link.

https://www.gofundme.com/Dr-Tim-Cunningham