I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
Born on March 3rd, 1955, Janice Marie Hannigan was the oldest of seven children. When she went missing, she was 16 years old, and she was 5’0" and weighed 105 pounds. Janice is Native American, has black hair and brown eyes, and is part of the Yakima or Yakama Nation. She has a mole on her chin and pierced ears. She liked cooking, beadwork, and watching football. She lived in Wapato, Washington, on the Yakama Reservation.
Janice Marie Hannigan was born on March 23, 1955, in Toppenish, Washington, to Martin James Hannigan Sr. and Linda Sallie George Hannigan. She was the eldest of seven children.
Her family was well known and well liked in the area as her mother, Linda, would throw dances to help keep the teenagers off the streets. Janice went to White Swan High School and was a sophomore at the time she disappeared. She was also a candidate for Queen of the Intertribal Veterans Day Ceremonial in Toppenish in November of '71. She and the other candidates got an article in the local paper and had a photo taken. All were smiling and happy, wearing their best regalia. To become Queen, you needed to sell the most tickets, and the Queen of the Veterans Day Ceremonial would wear a new beadwork crown with an insignia on it.
This was shortly before Janice went missing.
Before Janice went missing, her parents had separated. Her mother, along with her six younger siblings, moved to Buena, Washington, while she stayed behind to take care of her father. The separation of her parents was said to have been hard on her, and she was struggling to deal with it.
Janice was admitted to a hospital on December 21st for numerous contusions and bruising on her head and chest. She was discharged on Christmas Eve after the doctors determined there was no long-lasting damage, and she was cleared to go home. Unfortunately, a lot of her medical records and case files have gone missing as well, so it’s unknown how she got these injuries or even what hospital she went to.
After she was released from the hospital, she was never seen again. Police initially suspected she was a runaway due to being upset over her parents' recent separation. When she didn’t return home after a long period of time, they changed their minds to it being a suspicious disappearance.
The police had initially labeled Janice as missing and dead on March 1st, but this wasn't correct as she was in the hospital on December 21st. It isn't known why they wrote down this incorrect date.
Janice’s younger sister, Trudi, who is in her 50s now, was only eight years old when Janice disappeared. Trudi is now leading the search for her sister after both of their parents died. Realistically, she knows her sister is probably dead, but she’s still hopeful Janice could be alive somewhere. Trudi said that, after Janice went missing, their mother was distraught; she would think about Janice all the time and would get her hopes up every time someone said they saw her. One witness came forward saying they saw Janice living with a woman in Seattle under the last name of George, but this lead went nowhere.
The authorities at one point thought her father might have been involved, but Trudi denied this, saying he had nothing to do with her sister's disappearance. Trudi believes her sister might be buried close to the old family home. They have since rented out their land to farmers, but Trudi still tries to talk the police into getting cadaver dogs out on the property to look around. This has never happened.
More Family Tragedy
In 2017, Trudi’s niece, Linda Dave, 39, was shot and killed. Her body was found under the Marion Drain Bridge. Her body went unidentified until March of 2018, even after her family provided dental records to the authorities shortly after the body was discovered. The person who killed her has never been identified.
The sad truth of this is that these women suffered the same fate as many other Native Americans. From 1980, there have been at least 32 missing person reports and mysterious deaths on the reservation. Very few, if any, of these cases have been solved.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of or what happened to Janice Marie Hannigan in 1971, please contact the Yakima County Sheriff’s office at 509-574-2500.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Lorna Lamon on April 29, 2020:
Such a beautiful young women with so much to give to the world. This case is heartbreaking and even more so when cases like this do not seem to be given the same attention. Behind every missing person is a family who care and mourn the loss, and who desperately need closure. I hope they eventually find peace.