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True Stories of 50 Missing American Teenagers Told In 50 Words or Less: 1980s

Updated on January 20, 2017
Kim Bryan profile image

Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.

Teenagers make up the largest part of missing persons reports. Some of them runaway, while others will take off with friends without telling parents, finding it easier to get forgiveness than ask permission.

Too many, however, vanish without explanation. Friends and family are left wondering what happened to their missing loved one. They often wonder whether s/he is dead or alive.

Maybe someone, somewhere will know the answers for one or more of the following missing American teenagers.

1. Beatrice Villela, 19, from San Antonio, Texas

Beautician Beatrice Villela disappeared on September 28, 1980. She had several appointments that day but failed to show for any of them, including babysitting her niece and nephew. Quite out of character for Beatrice, her family immediately reported her missing. There has been no new information since her disappearance.

Age progressed photo of Kim Marie Larrow to 43 years
Age progressed photo of Kim Marie Larrow to 43 years | Source

2. Kim Marie Larrow, 15, from Canton, Michigan

Kim Larrow had lived in Canton for only a month in June 1981. She moved there to live with her mother, having resided with her father in Dundee for several years. Unfortunately, Kim had a history of drug use and running away but never for long and without personal items.

3. Martin Alan Miller, 18 from Hartford, Connecticut

The last time anyone had any contact with Martin Miller, he had given his employer a two week notice, closed out his bank accounts, and said he was going to California with $600 - all the money he had. Martin's family would not report him missing until 1999.

4. Karen Ann Spencer, 17 from Miami Township, Ohio

On December 29, 1989, at around 3 a.m., Karen Spencer angrily got out of her sister-in-law's car and began walking north on I-275 in Miami Township. A witness later said Karen was picked up by an unidentifed male driving a red car with Kentucky license plates.

Age progressed photo of Shannon Lee Potter to 43 years
Age progressed photo of Shannon Lee Potter to 43 years | Source

5. Shannon Lee Poter, 13 from Baltimore, Maryland

When Shannon Potter sneaked out her bedroom window to go to a party in March 1984, she probably planned on being back before her mother knew but things did not go according to plans. She made it to the party but never made it home.

6. Joseph David Helt, 17 from Ellensville, New York

Joe had attended a party with friends on January 16, 1987 and soon after they had left, their car had gotten stuck in a ditch. Joe agreed to walk the trek into town to get some help but he has never been seen or heard from again.

7. Susan Anne Swedell, 19 from Lake Elmo, Minnesota

A convenience store clerk would be the last person Susan spoke with before she left her own car in the lot and got into a car with an unidentified man wearing a short white skirt, which was odd because of the winter blizzard conditions at the time.

8. Jeffrey Borthwick, 19 from San Francisco, California

Mentally disabled Jeffrey Borthwick vanished without a trace from his San Francisco, California home on April 30, 1982. There is very limited information about Jeffrey's disappearance available to the public.

Age progressed photo of Rachael Elizabeth Garden to age 48
Age progressed photo of Rachael Elizabeth Garden to age 48 | Source

9. Rachael Elizabeth Garden, 15 from Newton, New Jersey

In March 1980, Rachael had plans to meet her friends at a home on Main Street in Newton. On her way there she stopped at Rowe's convenience store, where she purchased cigarettes and gum. No one has seen or heard from her since.

10. Wendy Lynn Huggy, 16 from Clearwater, Florida

In March 1980, Rachael had plans to meet her friends at a home on Main Street in Newton. On her way there she stopped at Rowe's convenience store, where she purchased cigarettes and gum. No one has seen or heard from her since then.

11. Denise Diane Pflum, 18 from Connersville, Indiana

When Denise left her parents' home in March 1986, she said she was going to look for her lost purse at a house where she had attended a party the night before. Her car was found later that day near Indianapolis but there was no sign of Denise.

12. Jennifer Lynn Fay, 16 from Brockton, Massachusetts

Sixteen year-old Jennifer Fay wasn't to be deterred when her date to a party on the night of November 14, 1989, got sick. Jennifer was last seen talking to someone in a car parked along the street where she lived. Police suspect she never left her neighborhood that night.

Age progressed photo of Martha Leanne Green to 40 years
Age progressed photo of Martha Leanne Green to 40 years | Source

13. Martha Leanne Green, 17 from White Bluff, Tennessee

On April 15, 1987, the car in which Martha was a passenger and driven by her twin brother ran out of gas on Highway 46 in Dickson County.. She waited in the car while he ran back to a gas station. When he returned eight minutes later, Martha was gone.

14. Elizabeth Ann Miller, 14 from Idaho Springs, Colorado

Shortly after 10 a.m. on August 16, 1983, Elizabeth Miller went for a jog in a park near here home but she never returned. Witnesses said she was talking to a man in a red truck with a white camper and out-of state plates while at the park.

15. Debra Lee Frost, 17 from Salt Lake City, Utah

Debra Frost planned to start her life over the next day by moving to California. She hoped to leave behind her drug addiction and rocky romantic relationships but the last time Debra was seen was around 10 p.m. on July 9, 1984. The only suspect committed suicide in 1995.

16. Shelley Luty, 19 from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

On the afternoon of August 23, 1982, Shelley Luty said goodbye to her mother and other fellow employees at the diner where she waitressed and walked out to her car. She'd borrowed her father's car that day and had parked it on the street. Shelley has never been seen again.

17. Melody Ann Jones, 19 from Earlsboro, Oklahoma

On May 4, 1983, Melody spent the day fishing with her brother, who then dropped her off at home. The next day, her husband was found stabbed to death and Melody was no where to be found. She'd left behind her purse and eyeglasses, without which Melody is legally blind.

18. Susan Renee Riedling, 18 from Shepherdsville, Kentucky

On June 23, 1986, Susan and her husband were hosting a bon fire party at their home on Roe Hill Road in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Friends of the couple at the party told police the pair had gotten into an argument and Susan disappeared. She has never been seen again.

19. Timothy J. Guy, 18 from Forsyth, Georgia

On Friday, February 6, 1987, around 9:30 p.m. Tim Guy said goodbye to his co-workers at Sleepy Fox Farm on and said he was going home to his parents house for a couple of days. He got into a Chevrolet Impala driven by a man known only as Jeff.

20. David Lovely, 19 from Fort Bridger, Wyoming

David Lovely's Yahama motorcycle was found with half a tank of gas, key in the ignition, and in proper running condition abandoned on S. Baxter Road in Rock Springs on August 5, 1985. David was last seen in Fort Bridger the same day in the vicinity of County Road 201.

21. Karen Dean Evan, 18 from Anchorage, Alaska

Karen Evan's family always talked with her by telephone several times each week. She and her sister in Canada were eagerly planning for the sister's upcoming visit to Alaska. But suddenly, without explanation, the calls stopped. No one has seen or heard from Karen since May 1980.

22. Laronda Marie Bronson, 18 from Portland, Oregon

Although LaRonda "Bird" Bronson was last seen at a bus stop in Portland, Oregon, because of her history of prostitution in Seattle, the King County Sheriff's Department is investigating her disappearance as they believe her past is relative to her disappearance on November 19, 1982.

Age progressed photo of Barbara Louise Cotton to age 47
Age progressed photo of Barbara Louise Cotton to age 47 | Source

23. Barbara Louise Cotton, 15 from Williston, North Dakota

At first, police dismissed Barbara as a runaway in April 1981, but had to reconsider when it was learned she had taken none of her personal items, including a recent paycheck. A former boyfriend was considered a suspect in her disappearance but he has since died and her disappearance unsolved.

24. Mary Jo Burnett, 18 from Rockford, Alabama

Mary Jo "Joe" Burnett's case is classified as an endangered runaway. Her family did not report her missing until 1989 and then could only estimate her date of disappearance. Detectives were able to trace her to Atlanta before the trail went cold. They believe she was traveling with a man.

25. Myron Timell Traylor, 13 from Phoenix, Arizona

According to his mother, she and Myron were walking to his grandparents home in south Phoenix on July 27, 1988, when he stopped to get a drink at a fast food restaurant. He was expected to catch back up to his mother soon after but he's never been seen again.

26. Richard W. Powell, 18 from Fort Worth, Texas

The last time anyone seen Richard Powell was on or around March 22, 1984. A few days later, his vehicle be found abandoned in an Irving parking lot. Neither friends or family have heard from him in more than 30 years.

Age progressed photo of Carla Rebecca Corley to age 48 years
Age progressed photo of Carla Rebecca Corley to age 48 years | Source

27. Carla Rebecca Corley, 14 from Birmingham, Alabama

A month before she vanished in the middle of the night, Carla Corley claimed she had been abducted by a group of unidentified men, taken to Lake Purdy, and raped before being returned home. Detectives will not confirm whether they believe the incidents to be related.

28. Ilene Beth Misheloff, 13 from Dublin, California

Thirteen year-old Ilene Beth Misheloff was walking along Valley Boulevard the last time anyone seen her in Dublin, California. She was carrying a dark blue backpack, which was later found abandoned in a dry creek bed in John Mope Park. There have been a few suspects but no arrests.

29. Richard Wayne Sammons, 19 from Mesa Arizona

Richard's fiance had not heard from her boyfriend in a few days and couldn't find him at home, so she asked his parents if they knew where he was. Detectives noticed his apartment was tidy and Richard had left behind his car, checkbook, and clothing.

30. Toni L. McNatt-Chiappetta, 14 from Clairton, Pennsylvania

Lea Rae Keeney promised her dying mother she would never stop searching for her sister Toni Lynn McNatt-Chiappetta, even though she knows it's most likely she is dead. Detectives have long suspected Toni's father was sexually abusing his daughter and murdered her on the afternoon of November 5, 1981.

31. Mary Collette Rawlinson, 19 from San Diego, California

On October 30, 1985, Collette told her roommate she would be right back, walked out of their apartment and never returned, leaving behind all of her personal property. Strangely, but not considered related by police, her roommate would be murdered and decapitated four months later.

Age progressed photo of Laureen Ann Rahn to age 46 years
Age progressed photo of Laureen Ann Rahn to age 46 years | Source

32. Laureen Ann Rahn, 14 from Manchester, New Hampshire

Laureen Rahn's friend, who was staying overnight on April 27, 1980, said Laureen grabbed a blanket and pillow and said she was sleeping on the couch. When Laureen's mother came home, her daughter was gone. There were no signs of a struggle and she had taken none of her things.

33. John Mitchell Kinsora, Jr., 17 from Phoenix, Arizona

John Kinsora Jr. was last seen around 3:00 a.m. on Friday, February 26, 1982 at a party on 17th Street in Phoenix then seemingly vanished into thin air. He left behind his last paycheck and other personal items.

34. John P. Katsilieres, 17 from Oak Park, Illinois

On August 15, 1985, John P. Katsilieris packed up his five guitars, said goodbye to his family in Oak Park, Illinois, and said he was headed to California. He has never been seen or heard from again.

35. Hattie Juanita Burton, 19 from Boynton Beach, Florida

Hattie Burton was five months pregnant when she disappeared from her home in Boyton Beach, Florida in February 1988. Ruth Burton, Hattie's stepmother, said it was uncharacteristic of her stepdaughter to not leave a note stating her whereabouts.

36. Jennifer Anne Douglas, 17 from Denver, Colorado

The last time anyone saw Jennifer Douglas, she was leaving home on her black, Univega 12-speed bicycle, bearing bike tag number 12083. Jennifer nor her bicycle has ever been seen again.

Age progressed photo of Kerry Lynelle Johnson to 50 years
Age progressed photo of Kerry Lynelle Johnson to 50 years | Source

37. Kerry Lynelle Johnson, 17 from Reno, Nevada

In 1982, 17 year-old Kerry Johnson hitchhiked from her Oregon home to Reno, Nevada. From there, she went to California. In September, Kerry called a relative to say she was going back to Reno then would return home to Oregon but no one has ever heard from her again.

38. Tammy Lynn Leppert, 18 from Cocoa Beach, Florida

Teenage model Tammy Lynn Leppert was last seen standing in a Cocoa Beach, Florida Glass Bank parking lot where a friend put her out of his car after they had an argument on July 6, 1983. Tammy was never seen or heard from again. More information available at Wikipedia.

39. Victor Trejo, 14 from Las Cruces, New Mexico

Fourteen year-old Victor Trejo and his friend went to Apodaca Park in Las Cruces, New Mexico on Tuesday, April 8, 1986. While there, Victor went to the restroom and never came back. However, his friend wouldn't say so until questioned about his disappearance. Gang involvement is suspected.

40. Kimberly Sue Doss, 16 from Davenport, Iowa

Kimberly Sue Doss boarded a Greyhound bus in Houston, Texas where she lived with her mother, bound for Davenport, Iowa to visit her father. She would arrive in Davenport on September 1, 1982, but she never made it to her father's home.

41. Madeline Teresa Ponds, 17 from Columbus, Mississippi

On November 20, 1986, Madeline was working as a clerk at PJ's One-Stop on Highway 82 East in Columbus. When a customer found the store unattended that night, it was was discovered Madeline was missing along with $600 from the register. Madeline's purse and car were left behind.

42. Kathryn Mae Quackenbush, 17 from Delmar, Maryland

On July 14, 1981, Kathryn was visiting her father, along with her brother, in Delmar, Maryland. That night she waited for her date to pick her up to go to the bowling alley. When he was late, Kathryn took off walking along State Route 13. She was never seen again.

Age progressed photo of Allen Briscoe, Jr., to age 39 years
Age progressed photo of Allen Briscoe, Jr., to age 39 years | Source

43. Allen Briscoe, Jr., 16 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On December 13, 1985, 16 year-old Allen Briscoe, Jr. went to school but left with a friend and rode the Philadelphia subway for most of the day then returned to their neighborhood by bus. When Allen failed to make it home that night, his mother reported him missing.

44. Barbara Jean Barkley, 19 from Pinellas Park, Florida

On May 29, 1981, Barbara Barkley disappeared from a store in north PInellas Park where she was the sole employee that day. Her brother discovered the store abandoned when he stopped by to talk with Barbara. Her car was found abandoned in Clearwater a few days later.

45. Judith Ann Chartier, 17 from Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Judith and her boyfriend attended a party in Billerica on the night of June 5, 1982. Late that night, Judith would drive her boyfriend home in her 1977 Dodge Swinger and planned to return to the party. She was never seen or heard from again.

46. Noel William Dalluge, 16 from Aitken, Minnesota

Noel Dalluge and his friends hosted a Halloween party at Dam Lake on October 31, 1986. The party lasted until the early morning hours. According to several other party-goers, Noel said he was leaving to go hunting. He has never been seen or heard from again.

47. Sandy Pathresa Rea, 17 from Shawnee, Oklahoma

On September 19, 1984, Sandy Rea was at the Shawnee bowling alley, making calls in hopes of finding a ride to a party that evening. Witnesses would later say Sandy was seen at two parties that night: one at Twin Lakes, the other at a local motel.

48. Carla Kaylene Owens, 14 from Clearwater, Washington

On June 30, 1981, Carla Owens took a babysitting job in Clearwater. When the mother returned home, she found her baby alone and a broken, blood-spattered Galliano liqueur bottle on the floor.

49. Deanna Lynn Saccone, 18 from Marina Del Ray

When her mother reported her missing, she told detectives a friend had seen Deanna Sacconne at the Holiday Inn in Marina Del Ray on November 13, 1985. There was just one problem: there was no Holiday Inn in Marina Del Ray in 1985.

Age progressed photo of Launa Merritt to age 44 years
Age progressed photo of Launa Merritt to age 44 years | Source

50. Launa Merrit, 16 from Syracuse, New York

Launa Merritt phoned her grandmother during the early morning hours of February 23, 1983 from a telephone booth on the corner of James and Townsend Streets. She told her grandmother she was with friends and would be home later. Deanna was never heard from again.

If you have any information about any of the foregoing cases, please call 1-800-THE- LOST (1-800-843-5678 or visit www.ncmec.org.

© 2017 Kim Bryan

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