This is Melissa Ann Page. Take a real good look at her picture.
As the issue of equality/inequality, racism and class warfare come front and center on the national stage, which let’s be honest- many true crime writers like to avoid and just focus “solely on victims and the missing,” we cannot pretend there are some elements of this present in the True Crime Community. Honestly, the word “diversity” is recklessly used so much, it has lost its meaning. It is an excellent talking point and great if you bring in some different faces to create a rich culture, but that means nothing if your goal is simply to “appear diverse” and not function as a diverse unit.
If you look at just about any mainstream or popular True Crime media really any show- be it podcasts, even blogs, message boards etc.. minorities, poor whites and those that may have had mental problems, legal troubles or drug problems are marginalized, significantly. It is what some in the media call, “Missing White Woman Syndrome”.
Even men, white or black are not often covered. How is it that the highest demographic in the nation- those who are most likely to be incarcerated and most likely to be the victims of violent crimes, black men, are disportpotionaly covered?
Now some are in denial that it exists and others say that it is blown out of proportion, perhaps some subjects are, but I think it is pretty clear. Even if you took 100 episodes of any popular podcast, would coverage equally represent the ratio of Americans who are not white, not middle class or women, from a nice suburban homes? No.
And to be fair, it was something I noticed at times, but figured it may only apply to the mainstream media or the 24 hour news cycle.
Recently an excellent podcast, Crimelines, the host Charlie, committed the show to cover the murders and disappearances of Indigenous Women on “Third Thursdays”. Crimelines will be profiling the victims, and suspected victims of The Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
Kamika Powell, is woman of color, often covered on numerous podcasts and blogs due to the bizarre circumstances surrounding her murder, which some argue, is really the driving force behind the popularity of shows.
“It is not so much the person, but the circumstances behind it. Perhaps it is true, maybe because a large percentage of true crime listeners are white, women living in suburbia, the case draw their interest even more as they can relate”, a friend and fellow podcaster told me a few weeks ago, when I explained the situation I encountered with Melissa Ann Page and my upcoming article.
There is no doubt that part of the motivation to listen and read these stories, is for the scare factor.
Then Came Melissa Ann Page…
Recently, we had something bizarre occur with a missing person’s case we covered here at American Crime Journal.
Last year, I had covered a local mysterious disappearance from almost thirty years ago. Melissa Ann Page disappeared from a Lockport, Illinois bar on September 17, 1990, and hasn’t been seen since. One thing I like to do, is go through cases with little to no coverage or information. A friend heard about this case, he knew I like this kind of stuff so I began to research it. I started with the typical resources, NAMUS, State Police Website, etc. Some cases that have received significant press coverage, others do not. Again, there is little to no information I could find other than the basic description of her and where she was last seen. As I checked old newspapers, I found an article, and really disappointed me. It seemed that Melissa Ann Page was missing, majority of her family is gone. She has no one looking for her. So, I put together what little I could, just to at least have her name out, so at the very least, she is never forgotten.
According to the Will County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Patrick Barry, in an official statement to The Southtown Star in 2009, “many of Page’s relatives are deceased or incarcerated”. Likely because of that, they decided to put forth the “word on the street” from former acquaintances of Melissa, that she was, “killed and shredded in a piece of machinery used to grind trees.”
Like Fargo? Is this even serious?
She is loved, her mother is looking for her, she has a LARGE FAMILY in IllinoisAlicia- Melissa Ann Page’s Cousin
A little over a year later, this past October or November, I was contacted by Alicia, cousin of Melissa Ann Page, who informed me that not only is her mother alive, but her father and brother and not only that, but a large family in Illinois. Her mother contacted me quickly, using several different messages and was obviously upset. Mrs. Farmer, Melissa’s mother to this day was looking for her child. They hadn’t heard from the Will County Sheriff’s Office in years. I learned that Melissa Ann Page went missing three weeks after tragedy struck.
Her cousin, Latisha Herrod, 17, was one of the victims of the Plainfield Tornado that killed 29 people and injured 353 on August, 28, 1990.
I personally, remember that day vividly.
In covering these cases, listening to these podcasts, there seems to be the same 100 to 200 cases being covered. Except it is not just podcasters and writers focusing solely on missing white women, it seems law enforcement, like with Melissa Ann Page, the Millbrook Twins, and so many more- just have little to say. Like they are nonchalant, no biggie- ya know?
Obviously we cannot control how law enforcement officers, agencies and spokesmen present these cases and give us updates and keep the case alive with developments. We can do better by properly covering these cases, taking the time to keep these faces in the spotlight, even if there is little to nothing on them. It is about maintaining awareness.
I will be working to getting the correct information out about this case, since the Will County Sheriff’s office and the newspaper claimed that most of her relatives “were dead and incarcerated”. How disrespectful to the Farmer and Page families. How hopeless they must feel that they are disregarded like that, a reporter doing a piece about Disappearances in the area, covers this one, quotes the sheriff’s office saying such a thing. Later I would learn, the same paper had spoke with the family years prior, so they knew how to get in touch.
It is quite obvious from many true crime podcasts, blogs and the national media, that when it comes to minorities, poor whites or individuals who are considered lower class, like drug addicts and prostitutes, the coverage, investigation and awareness is severely unbalanced- if not completely missing for some. Not that it is intentional, perhaps, it is because the popularity and information provided by police and the mainstream media?
Turn the Page’
We seen the handling of the Millbrook Twins, which was and still is a national disgrace. A perfect example of being the lowest standard possible?
It’s just as horrific as shooting an unarmed teenager.
Nancy Grace is much worse. Despite having one of the leading shows in true crime genre, she has repeatedly made false accusations against innocent people based on her “keen powers of observation” and refused to cover the disappearance of Tiffany Whitton, she flat out said “no” to her mother. What folks forget about Nancy Grace, as she was “gracefully” transitioning from the courtroom to TV- she was facing numerous allegations of prosecutorial misconduct dating back to 1990, during her tenure as a Fulton County prosecutor. Even the Supreme Court of Georgia reprimanded Grace for “withholding evidence and for making improper statements” in a 1997 arson and murder case.
Writer Tom Junod makes an excellent case in an Esquire article, how “white women of lower social status” such as Whitton, “a 26-year-old unemployed drug addict who was on parole, do not get much media attention as media outlets are ruthlessly selective”.
He goes on to say, “and they tend to prefer women who are white, pretty, and, above all, innocent.”
We have to do a better job in covering these cases, they are equally important, there are people who love them and miss them- this could be your child, mother, son, brother.
So I have been in contact with the family and want to get best information out- it appears law enforcement in this case won’t even speak with the family- as in their eyes, “most are dead or incarcerated”.