4 Haunting Missing Persons Cases Of The 2000s
Most of us think of missing persons cases as the stuff of TV crime procedurals — or, at the very least, stuff of the past. In an era when most of us can barely get through lunch without accidentally notifying every person we've met since kindergarten of our whereabouts via social media, it can be tough to believe that people still disappear without a trace in the United States. But they do — according to Todd Matthews of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a database of information about missing people that works with law enforcement, roughly 90,000 Americans are considered missing in any given moment. Around 750,000 missing persons are reported each year, with 40 percent of those people under the age of 18, as per the 2014 stats from the FBI's National Crime Information Center.
According to the website of the LAPD, "Approximately 70% of all reported missing persons are found or voluntarily return within 48 to 72 hours;" their disappearance may have actually been a misunderstanding, or related to a mental health, substance abuse, or personal issue.
Similarly, though we may imagine missing children as victims of random kidnappers, many people under 18 who are reported missing are classified as runaways or as having been abducted by a noncustodial family member. However, that doesn't mean that those missing children aren't still in very real danger, or that actual non-family abductions don't occur— according to a 2013 report by ABC News, 115 of those children who go missing each year were abducted by strangers .
Today, May 25th, is National Missing Children's Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the many children who are missing around the world. But every day seems to carry some news about a missing person — in the past month alone, a 1977 missing persons case for Bernard "Bunny" Ross Jr., received renewed interest after his parents members received an anonymous letter from someone claiming to know Ross's whereabouts; a special edition Belgian coin depicts the faces of missing children was released; and a retrial was planned for the man who had confessed to the murder of Etan Patz, a child who disappeared in 1979 and was one of the first missing people to be pictured on a milk cartons. Below, we've collected four of the most haunting missing persons cases from this century.
If you think you recognize any of the people listed below, or any other missing person, contact your local police department immediately. If you think you have seen a missing child, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's hotline, open 24 hours a day, at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
1. Kyron Horman
In June 2010, seven-year-old Kyron Horman went with his stepmother, Teri Horman, to attend a school science fair in Portland, Oregon. Teri said that she took pictures of Kyron's fair presentation, toured the fair, and then left the school; according to The Oregonian, Teri claimed that she saw Kyron walking towards his classroom as she exited. However, Kyron never made it to his class, and was marked absent by his teacher; when he did not return home on the school bus that afternoon, Teri and Kaine Horman, Kyron's father, contacted law enforcement, and search efforts began.
Despite extensive searches by local search and rescue crews as well as the FBI, Kyron was never found. Over the course of June 2010, Teri Horman was served with a restraining order and a petition for divorce by her husband; in the following months, The Oregonian reported that a landscaper who worked at the Horman family home said that Teri had offered to pay him to kill Kaine Horman, and "approached him with the murder-for-hire plot six to seven months before Kyron disappeared."
In November 2015, Desiree Young, Kyron's mother, appeared on The Today Show. Young commented on emails she had been shown by police, written by Teri, that discussed her marriage to Kaine and feelings about Kyron: "She blames a lot of the marital problems between Kaine and herself on Kyron. It was a huge point of contention in their marriage and she had expressed in great detail her hatred for Kyron." In June of 2012, Young filed a civil lawsuit against Teri, which contended, according to The Oregonian, that "Kyron's stepmother kidnapped the boy and asks a judge to compel her to bring him back or divulge where his body was taken." Young dropped the suit in 2013 due to fears that it would impede the ongoing criminal investigation.
2. Maura Murray
21-year-old college student Maura Murray left the campus of University of Massachusetts-Amherst on February 9, 2004, after leaving a note for her professors stating that she'd be gone for a few days due to a death in the family. She didn't tell them — or any of her friends or family — where she was going. That evening, Murray crashed her car into a snow bank in Haverhill, New Hampshire; she was alone, and when a motorist asked if she needed help, she declined. That was the last anyone saw of Murray — shortly after that interaction, a passing police officer found Murray's car, with the windshield cracked, doors locked, and airbags deployed, on the side of the road, with no sign of Murray anywhere.
But though no further details of Murray's whereabouts have ever been discovered by law enforcement, her disappearance has become an obsession for many amateur internet crime sleuths — due primarily to the many strange details of the days before Murray's disappearance. Murray allegedly emptied her bank account before she went missing; her work supervisor reported that Murray received an upsetting phone call while on the job in the days before she disappeared. Murray had also been in a driving accident the weekend before her disappearance, crashing into a guardrail while driving home from a party. And her family members reported that there had not actually been any death in their family.
The details of Murray's abandoned car also puzzled many: there was reportedly a rag found in the tailpipe of her car (Murray's father claimed he advised her to do this as a temporary measure to deal with the car's exhaust problem), and alcohol and a map to Burlington, Vermont, were discovered inside the car itself. Her boyfriend, Bill Rausch, claimed in a February 2004 interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien that he had received a wordless voicemail, filled with whimpering and heavy breathing, that he believed to have been left by Murray (the caller number was linked to a prepaid calling card).
Despite the fact that Murray's disappearance has become the stuff of countless Reddit threads, blogs, podcasts, and even a new book (James Renner's True Crime Addict ), her case remains unsolved, over 12 years after she disappeared.
3. Zebb Quinn
On January 2, 2000, 18-year-old Zebb Quinn met up with his friend and coworker Robert Jason Owens; Owens said they were going to drive together, in separate cars, to look at a new car Quinn was interested in buying. On the way to the new car, Owens said that Quinn received a phone call on his pager, pulled over to tell Owens that he couldn't go check out the car right now, and drove off the way they came (Quinn reportedly also told police that the two cars had been in a fender bender). Quinn was never seen again.
Two days after Quinn disappeared, Owens called Quinn's job, pretending to be Quinn and saying he was calling out sick from work. Quinn's manager said that she recognized that the voice was not Quinn's. Owens told writer Brett Forrest, in the February 2001 issue of Spin Magazine, that "Zebb called and asked me to call into work for him."
Further research in the case found that the call that Quinn received on his pager originated at the house of his paternal aunt, who claimed that she did not page him, and in fact said that she was not home at the time the call was made.
Even more bizarrely, two weeks after his disappearance, Quinn's car was found in a parking lot not far from his home, with lips drawn across the back window in lipstick. Inside the car was a (live) puppy.
15 years later, in 2015, Owens was charged with the murders of Cristie Schoen Codd and Joseph "J.T." Codd; the couple disappeared in March of that year, and investigators later said the Codd's remains were found in a wood stove on Owens' property. Owens is considered a primary person of interest in the Quinn case, but has not been charged.
4. Timmothy Pitzen
In May 2011, Jim Pitzen dropped his then-six-year-old son Timmothy off at school. But 30 minutes later, Timmothy's mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, picked him up from school, claiming a family emergency. Three days later, Fry-Pitzen's body was found in a motel room, with what investigators said were self-inflicted slashes on her wrists and neck. A note found in the room claimed that Timmothy was being cared for by others, and that "You will never find him." Investigators reviewing surveillance footage were able to piece together that Timmothy and Amy had spent the previous days visiting water parks and having fun, but in the final footage of Amy Fry-Pitzen that investigators reviewed, she was alone. Five years later, Timmothy has not been seen or heard from.
If you think you recognize any of the people listed above, or any other missing person, contact your local police department immediately. If you think you have seen a missing child, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's hotline, open 24 hours a day, at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).