02-02-2008, 09:12 PM #1Former Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
James P. Higham (16) - Youngstown OH, 2002
Missing Since: January 3, 2002 from Youngstown, Ohio
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: December 3, 1985
Age: 16 years old
Height and Weight: 5'10, 160 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Biracial (Caucasian/Japanese) male. Black hair, brown eyes. Higham spoke Japanese and limited English at the time of his disappearance. He may dye his hair red. Higham has a mole on his right cheek near his nose. His nickname is Jimmy.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A black shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes.
Medical Conditions: Higham is mentally disabled; he has the learning capacity of a fourth-grader and suffers from emotional and developmental problems. He is supposed to take medication to ease his conditions, but he was off his medication at the time he disappeared.
Details of Disappearance
Higham was living with two guardians, David Sharpe and Jennifer Lynn Snyder, in the 20 block of Manchester in west Youngstown at the time of his disappearance. Sharpe and Snyder had been granted temporary legal custody of him in April 2001. Higham's mother lives in Japan; Higham himself spent most of his early life there. His father was unable to care for him due to a drug addiction. Snyder is Higham's father's ex-wife's sister. A photograph of Sharpe is posted below this case summary.
Higham's guardians stated that they last saw him at their home on January 3, 2002. He has never been heard from again. In March 2002, Sharpe and Snyder were charged with child endangerment in connection with Higham's disappearance. The charge is due to the fact that they did not report him missing for twenty-eight days. There has been speculation that the reason for the delay was that Snyder and Sharpe were receiving benefit checks from the government for Higham's care and the benefits would have ceased if anyone realized he was no longer living with them. Snyder and Sharpe told several contradicting stories about their care of him; for instance, Snyder claimed she was homeschooling him, then admitted that this was not true.
Higham's loved ones claim Snyder and Sharpe did not permit anyone to see or talk to Higham for months prior to his disappearance, and they suspected that there were problems between him and his guardians. They stated that his guardians had a history of drug abuse and violent behavior and that Higham was seen many times with bruises on his body. Prior to his disappearance, Snyder and Sharpe had a dispute with Higham's doctors and stopped giving him his medication as a result. Higham's loved ones claim they made many abuse reports to the county social services office, but the office lost his casefile after his disappearance so it is impossible to determine what, if any, investigation was made.
No one has seen or heard from Higham since January 2002, and no one besides his guardians claims to have seen or heard from him since August 2001. His case remains unsolved. Sharpe and Snyder reported Higham as a runaway, but his relatives and the police suspected foul play was involved in his case.
In 2007, while Snyder was serving a year in prison for probation violation in an unrelated case, she went to authorities and stated Sharpe had drowned and dismembered Higham. She was charged with child endangerment, permitting child abuse, gross abuse of a corpse and evidence tampering related to Higham's presumed death. Several months later, Sharpe was charged with murder, tampering with evidence, endangering children, permitting child abuse and gross abuse of a corpse in connection with Higham's case. Authorities stated Higham had been drowned and dismembered on or around June 15, 2001.
Snyder could have faced 23 years in prison if convicted of all the crimes she was charged with. In December 2007, she pleaded guilty to child endangerment and abuse of a corpse and was sentenced to four years in prison. She stated she planned to testify against Sharpe at his trial and that she was afraid of him. There is little or no physical evidence to support the drowning story, but prosecutors believe they can prove their case against Sharpe.
Investigators are searching for Higham's remains. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Mahoning County Sheriff's Office
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