Connections?  Are there connections between the handful of women who are reported missing in the tristate?  That's the question that the experts have been asking all week.  That's the question that people like me are asking.  And that's precisely why I have spent the week pouring over the details, police reports, news accounts and Facebook feeds of the tristate women who have vanished, without a trace, over the last four years. Yesterday, I posted a blog in which I tried to connect the dots between these women.  And, apparently, I am not the only person paying to attention to those dots.  I have received many emails and messages about my article from folks and observers just as concerned, bewildered and intrigued as I am.  And some responders have provided me with additional information that adds to the storylines.  For instance, there is another missing woman who truly fits the alleged victim profile and there are details in some of the other cases that give them even stronger connections to their missing counterparts.    As I did yesterday, I will preface this blog by saying that I am, in no way, a forensics expert.  I am no expert in crime scene investigation.  However, I have spent my life fascinated by serial crime or what appears to be serial crime.  I am a research hound.  And, in this instance, I am an observer who has spent hours and hours researching, combing every single detail I have access to.  Those details, to me and thousands of you, paint a picture that suggests we have women in the tristate who could have been specifically targeted, preyed upon and abducted.  Whether stalked in advance or whisked away into the night by chance encounter, they are gone.  And we are left to try and put the pieces together to determine where they went.

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I put these photos side by side yesterday and still cannot shake the fact that they look identical.  The striking similarity between Kristy Kelley and Brianna DiBattiste cannot be denied. Those two girls are practically the same and both are missing under very mysterious circumstances.

The woman on the left of the photo is Kristy Kelley.  She was last seen at the VFW Post in Boonville, Indiana and there is surveillance footage, grainy at best, of her vehicle after leaving the lot.  Kelley is 27-years-old, 5'5" and weighs roughly 135 pounds.  She has brown hair and blue eyes.

Brianna DiBattiste (pictured on the right) has been missing since June 16th, 2014, nearly a full month longer.  She is 25-years-old, 5'4" and weighs approximately 110 pounds.  She has brown hair and hazel eyes.  DiBattiste, as I reported yesterday, has a history of drug use and authorities near Dunkirk, Indiana quickly attributed her disappearance to some sort of drug-related crime.  Those theories never led to an arrest.  Brianna's family maintains, that no matter what her internal struggles were, that she would never intentionally lose contact with them.  That said, they haven't heard from her and friends and family are posting her missing poster daily on social media.

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This is Joelle Lockwood, a 30-year-old mother from Evansville, Indiana.  Joelle was last seen, on foot, July 9th, 2014.  Authorities admit there are some eerie similarities between Joelle's case and Kristy's.  Each is the mother of two and the ladies most definitely have a similar body type.  Joelle is 5'3", weighs 125 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes.   But Joelle shares those same characteristics with Brianna DiBattiste as well.  Three women, all from Southern Indiana or Central Indiana, have gone missing in the last month and they, for all practical purposes, look alike.

July 3rd, 2014.  Megan Nichols, a 16-year-old teenager from Fairfield, Illinois was reported missing.  Authorities believe and maintain that Megan is a runaway.  I said this in my previous blog and it remains true.  Megan doesn't quite fit the profile of the other women.  She is 5'6" and she weighs a mere 111 pounds.  That seems about right.  However, she was blonde at the time she was reported missing. This was relayed to me, via Facebook, by someone close to the family and story.

However, as I initially mentioned, when I was combing through the Facebook page dedicated to Megan I saw this . . .

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Megan, in a few of the photos above, is shown with dark hair.  This collage was circulated to let the general public know what Megan would look like if she colored her hair.   And that, I'm afraid, just may be the point we're missing here.  Megan, with the exception of her hair color, actually does fit the body type of the other missing ladies.  Hair color is a relatively minor detail and one that can be changed quickly.

It was March 18th, 2014 that 23-year-old Ashley Higgs of Owensboro, Kentucky was last seen.

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Ashley definitely has physical characteristics similar to the other missing ladies.  She's 5'5", a little heavier at 220 pounds, but has brown hair and blue eyes.  Police have stated they suspect no foul play in the case . . . but she's gone.  No one has heard from her.  No one has seen her.

There's one interesting fact that links Ashley Higgs to Brianna DiBattiste.  Ashley is the first woman of the the latest group to be reported missing.  At the time of her disappearance, Ashley was living (according to authorities) at the Cadillac Motel on 2nd Street in Owensboro.  Nearly three months later to the date, Brianna DiBattiste was reported missing near Muncie, Indiana and guess what?  The initial police investigation included sweeps of motels in that area.

But it's the geography involved in DiBattiste's disappearance that proves so interesting. Yesterday I mentioned that there were three other women from the Indianapolis area who have been reported missing in the last couple of years.  I was wrong.  There are four.  Here's the one I didn't know about until some of you tipped me . . .

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This is Ashley Morris Mullis of Muncie, Indiana.  She was last seen on September 19th, 2013.  She is 5'6", weighs 115 pounds, has brown hair and brown eyes.  As you can see, she undeniably shares features and characteristics with the other missing ladies.

It's here that I have to share with you a Facebook message I received this morning on the WBKR Facebook page.  The message, in reference to my blog, read . . .

These connections are ridiculous. I look like those girls. ... The average girl looks like those girls. Only the first two look alike, because they are smiling with similar hair. The weight ranges from 110-220, height from 4'11-5'6, hair blonde and brown, eyes hazel and blue . . .


I suppose this reader has a point.  But here's the one problem with dismissing the fact that these women actually do share some significant physical characteristics.  Serial offenders typically target a type.  And these women definitely represent a certain type.  Yes.  There may be some variation in weight and minor variations in height, but these women have way more physical similarities than they do differences.  And at night, those differences may not even be noticed at all.  Again, serial offenders (and this is assuming that's what we are dealing with here) usually prey on a type.  And, to my naked eye, there is a distinct mold here.  And the next young lady fits it perfectly.

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It was April 15th, 2013 that Jessica Masker was reported missing.  Like Kristy and Joelle, she was a young mother of two.  And this is information that I didn't include yesterday.  Jessica was last seen leaving the hospital where she had gone to visit her premature infant.  She is 5'2", weighs 95 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes.   She, like the majority of others, also has visible tattoos.

I mentioned this in yesterday's post and it bears repeating.  Tattoos are a common theme among these women.  Joelle Lockwood has tattoos.  Briana DiBattiste has tattoos.  Ashley Higgs has a tattoo of a pistol on her abdomen.  Jessica has visible tattoos (arm, wrist).  Ashley Morris Mullis has the name "Ashton" inked on her upper left arm and a small butterfly on her right leg.  If there is truly a pattern here, tattoos may be a significant part of it.  Tattoos seem to be a part of the type.

To my knowledge, there are no cases of missing women fitting this profile/type in the entire year of 2012.  So, why is that?  Did the tristate area just get lucky that year?  Or was the person responsible (if there is someone responsible) just off the grid for a while: laying low, out of town, in jail, working contract labor out of state?

While 2012 was quiet, there were two unsolved missing person cases from 2011 and both victims lived near Jessica Masker in Central Indiana.

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Sarah Kilgore was last seen on October 15th, 2011.  She's 31-years-old, stands 5'7" and weighs between 120 and 130 pounds.  She has brown hair and blue eyes.  And she has tattoos.  She has the name "Patrick" on her lower back and a Tweety Bird tattoo on her right leg.  She was last seen walking in her neighborhood and then . . . she vanished without a trace.

But, as you know, Sarah wasn't the first young lady in this region to completely disappear.  That's Lauren Spierer, an IU student who went missing on June 3rd, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana.  20-years-old, 4'11" and 100 pounds.  Interestingly enough, Laura did not have brown hair.  She was a blonde.

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I mentioned this yesterday and it's important.  Investigators initially suspected three college men that Lauren was allegedly seen with earlier in the evening.  But questioning of those men and follow up on over 3,000 other leads all proved to be dead ends.  Over 3,000 leads.  Now imagine that.  3,000 leads!!  And not a single one panned out.  No one ever solved Lauren's case and her file is still active.  She is still listed a missing person.  Could she have been the very first victim in a string of tristate abductions?   Could Lauren Spierer be Victim Zero?

Here's what I learned from someone who wrote to me about Wednesday's blog . . .

Lauren Spierer  . . . had gone home to her apartment building @2:30am, when her male companion carried her out, to his apartment. Two of his friends at his apartment building also spent time with her; one says she walked out alone @4:30am, no shoes, no phone, no key, black eye from falling. Police are still investigating, and no person of interest has been eliminated. There have been no warnings of a kidnapper in her case. Most following believe something else happened. 

But what?  What else happened?  She disappeared from the street just like Joelle Lockwood, just like Jessica Masker. She disappeared . . . off the grid . . . just like Kristy Kelly.  Just like Brianna DiBattiste and Sarah Kilgore.  Maybe these women aren't stalked after all.  Maybe they are taken after a chance occurrence.  Maybe, for the perpetrator, opportunity knocks.  A woman walks into a bar.  A teenager hits the streets to run away from home.  A college coed wanders onto the street at 4:30am.

As I mentioned previously, when I initially read over the details of Lauren's disappearance I honestly didn't think there was any correlation between her story and the others listed above.  And, on the surface, there wasn't.  But there are three details about Lauren's disappearance that are nearly mirror images of the facts surrounding Kristy Kelley, the most recent victim.  A day after writing my original story, this is what really sticks with me.  To me, the case of potential Victim Zero echoes many of the details with the most recent victim.  Victim Nine.  That is startling.

Lauren was last seen near Kilroy's Sports Bar in Bloomington on June 3rd of 2011 . . . a Friday night.  Remember, Kristy Kelley was last seen at the VFW in Boonville on August 15th, 2014, a Friday.  Police reports indicate that Kristy Kelley left her cell phone behind at the VFW.  Lauren's cell phone was found inside Kilroy's.  And I have to interject this as well.  Megan Nichols, our 16-year-old teenager from Fairfield, left her cell phone behind.  And that cell phone, according to reports, was "wiped clean."

The third shared fact between Lauren's case and Kristy's is the one that actually suggests that these two could represent some sort of pattern . . . or ideal target image.  Both, at the times of their disappearances, were wearing tank tops.  In fact, they weren't the only two.  Joelle Lockwood of Evansville disappeared wearing a tank top and blue jean shorts.  Kristy Kelley of Boonville disappeared wearing a tank top and blue jean shorts.  Lauren Spierer disappeared wearing a tank top.

Some folks have responded to this story and asked "What girl doesn't wear a tank top in the summer?"  That's a fair question.  However, my answer goes back to type.  These ladies, if they have indeed been abducted like so many believe, were targeted because of type and fitting some sort of twisted mold.

The saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."  The photos of the ladies above are telling a much more powerful and mysterious story.  While there don't seem to be clues as to where these women are . . . there have to be.  And I think we, collectively, are starting to piece together parts of this puzzle.  I think it's possible that there are indeed dots in place and we're starting to connect them.

But here's what I know for sure.  These women have vanished and their stories are in limbo.   We have no idea how the remaining chapters will read.  However, whether they share connections are not, a dialogue has begun and we are giving these women voice.  We are telling their stories.  We are rallying for their return.  We are hoping for happy endings.