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Declared Dead: The Disappearance of Joey Lynn Offutt

Kym L. Pasqualini is the founder and former CEO of Nation's Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults.

Joey Lynn Offutt (pictured with her daughter), vanished on July 5, 2007, from her apartment in Sykesville, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of WTAJ TV.

Joey Lynn Offutt (pictured with her daughter), vanished on July 5, 2007, from her apartment in Sykesville, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of WTAJ TV.

The mysterious disappearance of a young mother from Sykesville, Pennsylvania, has haunted her family for over 13 years. The days following her disappearance still leave so many questions.

Joey Lynn Offutt, 33, was last seen at her home in the 90 block of Fugate Drive in Sykesville. Sykesville is a small town of fewer than 1,500 people in the borough of Jefferson County, about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. It is a town that saw zero murders in 2019 up until September. It is not the type of town where a double murder takes place.

Joey Lynn Offutt’s six-week-old son was found dead in the bathtub of her home. Photo courtesy of Help Find Joey Lynn Offutt Facebook.

Joey Lynn Offutt’s six-week-old son was found dead in the bathtub of her home. Photo courtesy of Help Find Joey Lynn Offutt Facebook.

At 4:00 a.m. on July 12, 2007, neighbors heard a loud explosion at Joey’s home and discovered the house was on fire. After firefighters extinguished the flames, they found the body of Joey’s infant son, in the bathtub of the home.

The Coroner's office could not determine the six-week-old child’s cause of death, but they did determine the baby had been dead and placed in the second-floor bathtub prior to the fire.

Investigator’s determined that an accelerant was used to start the fire and deemed it an arson. Reports say a gas can was found inside the residence.

Joey’s purse and identification were found in the burned debris. Police knew that time was of the essence and foul play was likely involved.

Raw hamburger meat was found on her kitchen counter with maggots in it and tests revealed the meat had been out since July 3-5.

Joey had two other children, aged two and nine years old that were not home at the time of the house fire but now their mom was missing.

Joey Lynn Offutt’s missing vehicle was found at Nittany Garden Apartments in State College, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of Nittany Gardens Apartments.

Joey Lynn Offutt’s missing vehicle was found at Nittany Garden Apartments in State College, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of Nittany Gardens Apartments.

Joey’s car was missing from the house and found two days later outside the Nittany Garden Apartments in State College, Pennsylvania, where Joey had previously lived. State College is a little over an hour's drive southwest Sykesville.

Joey Lynn Offutt’s 1994 red Saturn was found abandoned on July 15, 2007, at a previous residence in Sykesville, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of FindJoey.com.

Joey Lynn Offutt’s 1994 red Saturn was found abandoned on July 15, 2007, at a previous residence in Sykesville, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of FindJoey.com.

When her car was discovered, there was no sign that she had been there and no one at the apartment complex remembers seeing her. Her car was parked very neatly, backed into a parking space. Joey’s family told police that Joey was not a good driver and could not have parked it that way.

Before the Disappearance

According to the Charley Project, friends and family describe Joey as very religious, trusting, and naïve. A very loving mother, she never would have left her children intentionally.

Joey Lynn Offutt pictured with one of her daughters. Photo courtesy of Help Find Joey Lynn Offutt Facebook.

Joey Lynn Offutt pictured with one of her daughters. Photo courtesy of Help Find Joey Lynn Offutt Facebook.

Joey suffered from a noticeable speech impediment and developmental disabilities. Several years prior to her death, a psychologist had said Joey had the mind of a 14-year-old.

Joey had been attending Shepherd University in West Virginia but dropped out after a year of attendance. In addition, her family said she had trouble keeping jobs and relationships.

The father of Joey’s two youngest children was Alexis Brolin Jr. who lived about 30 minutes away in Clearfield. The two had a rocky relationship and were not ready to live together so Joey and the children lived in a home her mother had bought her, while he lived in Clearfield.

During early July, Joey had wanted to spend some time with her newborn son, Alexis Alfred Brolin III. She called him Lex. She had her oldest daughter visit family in Virginia while her younger daughter stayed with her father in Clearfield.

A Timeline

According to Unresolved Mysteries, the following timeline is the last account of time leading up to Joey’s disappearance.

July 3: Alexis told authorities he had been at Joey’s house and got into an argument because he did not like her giving the baby a bath in a dirty sink. He claims he proceeded to leave.

July 4: Alexis made several calls to Joey’s house that were not answered, and messages never returned. He said Joey had a problem with handling any sort of critique and would shut down after arguments. He figured she was just giving him the “silent treatment” when he could not reach her.

July 5: Alexis returned to Joey’s house but found no answer at the door. The same day, a neighbor thought he saw her walking in the neighborhood with a stroller. The neighbor told authorities that he greeted her, but she ignored him and kept walking. This was the last sighting of Joey.

July 6: Alexis received a call from a nurse from the state home health agency, who had made an appointment with Joey to examine Lex at her home that day. The nurse told Alexis that she had knocked on the door but received no answer, and Joey’s car was in the driveway. She peeked inside and could see Lex’s baby carrier and diaper bag inside the home.

July 7: Alexis goes by Joey’s house and finds no activity and claims her vehicle was no longer in the driveway.

July 8: Alexis visited the house again, claiming the car was there again but still he received no answer. He left Joey a note.

July 9-10: Alexis and Joey’s mother continue to make continual calls to the house.

July 11: Alexis receives another call from the home health nurse telling him Joey had missed another scheduled appointment. Alexis meets her at Joey’s home, where mail sat at the front door, and Lex’s car seat and diaper bag were still in the same place inside the house. Alexis leaves another note indicating he is calling the police if he does not hear from her.

July 12: Alexis makes a missing person report with the police. Neighbors tell police Joey’s car was in the driveway at 3:00 a.m., one hour before the fire occurred.

The only lead authorities had was prior to her disappearance Joey had been frequently meeting with people she met on the Internet.

Internet Dangers

In 2006, Joey’s mother had discovered her daughter was talking to a man online who wanted her to pose as a model and film some pornography. Sherry feared Joey might be endangering her children’s safety and went to discuss the matter with her daughter. Joey threw a fit when she was threatened that the children would stay with their grandmother. Police responded and Joey was led out of the home in handcuffs.

Joey was court-ordered to undergo counseling before she could get custody of her children again.

After Joey went missing, police found posts on an Internet group for single mothers that she had made dating back to 2005. In the posts, she said Alexis was a former drug addict and felon and that she had filed a “protection order” against him.

Police were unable to determine if her online activity was related to her disappearance.

Despite years of investigation, police are no closer to solving this mystery and a case that has gone cold.

National Exposure

America’s Most Wanted and the Pennsylvania State Police partnered together to spotlight Joey’s case in 2008.

“This is a murder mystery out of Pennsylvania,” the national show correspondent told the Daily Collegian. “This is something we need to figure out. Number one, what happened to this little baby and two, where is his mother?”

America’s Most Wanted generated several leads from the show, but none led them closer to what happened to Joey and her baby.

Joey Lynn Offutt was listed on a national website and fliers generated to distribute nationwide. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missng Adults.

Joey Lynn Offutt was listed on a national website and fliers generated to distribute nationwide. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missng Adults.

Pennsylvania State Police also reached out to the National Center for Missing Adults, who entered Joey on a national website and generated fliers to be distributed throughout the country.

Reynoldsville firefighters respond to the residence of Jody Offutt. Photo courtesy of Reynoldsville Fire Department.

Reynoldsville firefighters respond to the residence of Jody Offutt. Photo courtesy of Reynoldsville Fire Department.

A video of the Reynoldsville firefighters responding and putting out the 3-Alarm fire was also disseminated on YouTube.

The family has done all they could do to promote a $25,000 reward for information. Still nothing.

Keeping Joey's Memory Alive

On the 10-year anniversary of Joey’s disappearance, the family posted on Facebook:

July marks the 10-year anniversary of Joey Lynn Offutt’s disappearance. Joey’s baby boy Lex would have been 10 years old this month. He tragically lost his life and now his mom is missing! Joey left behind two beautiful daughters with broken hearts. Please keep Joey’s daughters and family in your thoughts. Thank you for your continued support on our page! Please keep sharing to keep her story going! We need closure and answers.

Joey Lynn Offutt went missing in 2007 and declared deceased in 2016.

Joey Lynn Offutt went missing in 2007 and declared deceased in 2016.

Joey’s family had her declared legally deceased on June 27, 2016, but continue to ask the public for any information regarding her disappearance and death of her son.

To keep Joey in the public eye, her family set up a website Find Joey and Help Find Joey Offutt on Facebook and pray someone eventually comes forward to provide the answer as to the fate of Joey Lynn Offutt.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Joey Lynn Offutt, please contact the Pennsylvania State Police at 814-371-4652.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Kym L Pasqualini