Monday, November 7 – Thursday, November 10

At least I had an excuse for exhaustion

This week at my main job was another rare case in which the second week of a two-week work cycle was harder than the first, so much for the learning curve. Each day I had to stay about 30 to 45 minutes after normal quitting time despite taking a very brief lunch break. Fortunately, the next cycle is going to be much easier, I checked, and in any event between now and the first of the year I have only three work weeks remaining. There’s a week off for Thanksgiving week, then back for two weeks, then off for three. It’s been that way for all the time I’ve been at the job, and while it does mean less money, the break is quite appreciated. Especially this year, with all the hours I’ve been working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.

Speaking of the MHIR, Wednesday was my only shift there, which is tougher than it sounds because I had been up very late on Tuesday watching the election returns (why is Michigan so slow?) One thing that helped me make it through the shift is that I was back in garden for the first time in over a week. I really don’t know how I could have handled working the lot. Oh, I also got my annual raise … suffice to say I won’t be in the market for a new Mercedes, even with my extra money.

I made it to the gym on Monday and Thursday. Both were successful visits, I’m back to making slow but steady progress. What with a heavy MHIR work schedule I probably won’t be able to make many visits until Thanksgiving week, but that’s okay.

Today’s longform mystery: The storm, the reading glasses, and the disappearance of Leigh

On the morning of August 27, 1992, the remnants of Hurricane Andrew were lashing Tupelo, Mississippi with high winds, lightning and rain. At 13 years of age Leigh Occhi was terrified of lightning, so scared that she had spent the night in the same bed as her mother, 36-year-old Vicki Yarborough. Vicki and Leigh’s father, Donald Occhi, had been divorced for many years. Donald was a sergeant in the Army and lived in Virginia. He maintained a good relationship with Leigh. Vicki’s second husband, Barney Yarborough, had moved out several weeks earlier though he and Vicki were still married. Everyone seemed to get along well, although Leigh supposedly had told a friend that her mother and stepfather “weren’t treating her very well.”

Vicki left for work around 7:35 in the morning, arriving about 15 minutes later. As school hadn’t yet started for the year Leigh remained home. Surprisingly, given that she was certainly old enough at 13, Leigh had never been home alone before for any length of time. At 8:30, Vicki called home to see how Leigh was doing, but got no answer. This so unsettled her that she left work right away and returned home at 8:45.

Vicki found a terrifying scene. The garage door was opened and the front door unlocked, and Leigh was nowhere to be seen. What was present was a significant amount of blood of Leigh’s type. Enough blood to indicate a very serious injury though not necessarily death. A pool of blood on the carpet suggested that Leigh had laid there for a short time before being moved. There was evidence that the attacker had tried to clean himself off in the bathroom sink. As best as Vicki could determine the only missing items were Leigh’s shoes and reading glasses, some of her underwear, and a sleeping bag. Police figured that the attacker used the sleeping bag to remove Leigh’s dying or dead body from the house.

Massive searches failed to find any trace of Leigh, though the heavy rain rendered tracking dogs largely useless. The case took a bizarre turn about two weeks later, when a large envelope containing Leigh’s reading glasses arrived in the mail. This was weird enough by itself, but two things only added to the mystery. The envelope was addressed to “B. Yarborough,” Leigh’s stepfather Barney, even though he had moved out weeks earlier. It also had been postmarked in the town of Boonville, about 30 miles north. A few days after the disappearance a girl fitting Leigh’s description had been seen with an adult man in Boonville, although the police had located both the man and the girl and cleared them.

A possible suspect came to light several years later when a man whom Leigh and Vicki knew, a man in a “position of trust” at the church they attended, was convicted of kidnapping and raping a girl around Leigh’s age. Police have been unable to connect him to Leigh’s disappearance, although Vicki points out that if he had come to the door on the fateful morning Leigh might well have let him in because she knew and trusted him. Vicki herself has come under some suspicion, as no one but her would have known that Leigh was home alone, and she might have been blaming Vicki for ruining her second marriage. Police do not consider her a suspect, however, and also have exonerated Barney and Donald.

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Published in: on November 17, 2016 at 1:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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