Norinko Hanasaki Cases 1-10
In January 2017 I heard about a middle-school girl who disappeared from a moving bus that was passing through the Santa Monica Freeway tunnel that bridges the Interstate 10 to the
Pacific Coast Highway. I searched for
more information on the case but found only empty trails that led nowhere. I
decided to take a different approach. I would study the history of the tunnel
itself, and ask readers of my blog if they had information or new leads I could
follow. By February 2017, the Norinko Hanasaki Investigative Cases began. To
date, the Servante of Darkness Blog has posted Ten cases related to the
Hanasaki disappearance, directly or indirectly. I figure as long as I continue
to dig into any information that comes my way, a kernel of truth may emerge,
and from that kernel, we may perhaps reach more people who can shed some more
light on the information we’ve gathered.
I’m happy to say that this approach has proved fruitful. We now have contacts with friends and family of young Norinko, have discovered names involved in the original investigation by law enforcement, and found the newspaper man who has been sitting on the original article that was never published (more on that in Part 11). Because the project has grown so much since January, I have added an editor in Coralie Rowe, and an assistant editor in DS Scott. Rowe and Scott are covering the historical and conjecture cases, basically separating conspiracy theories from facts that can be traced, while I have been tracking the more recent cases and maintaining contacts.
Before closing out May and entering June 2017 with further research and emails, I summarized Parts 1-10 for new readers and confused old readers. I hope this helps to clarify the haphazard order of the cases to date.
We begin with:
Part One: The Strange Legacy of Leland Stanford
The origins of the McClure Tunnel (aka the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel) begin with the construction of the railroads in the 1800s. We learn that the Hanasaki name has ties to Leland Stanford, for Stanford worked with the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company (OOSC), where he secured Chinese workers (
Part Two: Betrayals and Massacres
The greedy railroad barons hired gunmen to throw settlers off the ranches that stood in the way of the railways. There were many violent confrontations between these hired killers and the ranchers, but the one incident that the Press covered to show the cruelty of the railroad barons was the Mussel Slough Massacre, where 7 settlers were killed by the hired assassin and outlaw Walter Crow. Newspaper reporter Tom Thumb (pseudonym) contacted the blog to allege that there have been reports of strange sounds, voices, and screams heard in the McClure Tunnel by motorists. He further implies that there is a curse on the tunnel associated with the misdeeds of the gunman Walter Crow.
Part 3 Contact with Witnesses
We first meet Bridget, one of Norinko's friends who was on the bus with her the day she disappeared. Her email to the Anthony Servante blog offers some insight into the events unfolding in our cases. She also mentions “Suzie” in the email, another friend of Norinko’s. It seems this trio was a close unit at the school.
Part 4 The Folklore of Missing Children
The Folklore of Missing Children addresses the possibilities of finding truths in myths from different countries. We learn that there many explanations for children going missing, from kidnapping to running away, and that Norinko’s disappearance may be tied to the hidden truths in these tales as much as the myths themselves.
Part 5 An Email from Suzie
Suzie emails her complaint to me about my writing about the folklore in connection to Norinko’s disappearance. I apologized for seeming disrespectful, but explained that even these research cases highlight some truths about the case that need to be considered.
Part 6 Bridget’s Email: A Ride Through the Tunnel
Bridget emails her own apology for Suzie’s overreaction and mentions the Buddhist beliefs of Norinko and Suzie’s families before summarizing the chronology of the events on the school bus leading to Norinko’s disappearance. This is our first glimpse into the bus that day, June 13, 2016.
Part 7 An Email from Suzie: The Tokidoki Connection
Suzie emails the blog some information about the Tokidoki Cactus Friends, Norinko’s favorite characters. At once, both cute and creepy, these friends and pets wear cactus costumes to ward off Evil and Death. We also learn that Norinko purchased a Cactus Friends notebook to use as a journal for her own characters, the Plumage Pvnks. Suzie also shares a poem that Norinko wrote.
Part 8 Homeless in the Tunnel
When police were notified by a motorist that he saw people coming out of a false opening in the tunnel wall, the police investigated and found a group of homeless people living in the cavern behind the wall. This recent development casts doubt on Tom Thumb’s assertions about the ghostly presence of Walter Crow in the tunnel. Most likely, it was the voices, shouts, and arguments of the homeless group resounding acoustic echoes through the tunnel. However, it was also reported that the local activist group of churches and temples were supplying the homeless in the McClure Tunnel with food and medical supplies. It was just one more coincidence that the temple where the Hanasaki family attended services was one of the groups who were helping the homeless.
Part 9 The Files of Tom Thumb
After learning of the possible explanation for the strange noises in the tunnel, I tried to contact Tom Thumb at the Santa Monica Local Newspaper where he used to work. I spoke with Marie Mayatowski, a co-worker of Tom Thumb’s. At first she didn’t even know who I was talking about before realizing I was talking about W. Chris Dubois (Tom Thumb’s real name), the reporter who covered the Norinko Hanasaki disappearance. She shared with me Chris’s flashdrive files from the Hanasaki investigation. Together with the Bridget account, we have a clearer picture of what happened that day June 13, 2016.
Part 10 A Suzie Email: The Plumage Pvnks Universe
Suzie emails an explanation of the Plumage Pvnks, and although she and I disagreed once again, we get a look into the world that Norinko was creating with these bird characters. Suzie also includes three drawings by Norinko, each depicting Norinko herself, Bridget, and Suzie in Plumage Pvnk costumes. We also get an explanation for what “Buzzkill” means, as this word has come up in the poetry that Dubois shared in Part 9. Then, most briefly, Suzie recounts the events at her school when the detective in charge of the case, Detective Wu, and the “fat” reporter Dubois (not mentioned by name—my assumption) were visiting the school asking questions and then they suddenly stopped.