5 children who have been missing since the 1970's
There are so many missing persons cases out there, it’s mind boggling. A search through missing persons databases like The Charley Project will show hundreds in the United States alone, some of whom have been missing for an unbelievable amount of time. The following children went missing at least 50 years ago — and have never been seen again.
1. David Miera
David Joseph Miera was born on born March 7, 1967 to Genie Miera. The identity of his biological father is unknown.
By 1970, David lived with his mom and her boyfriend, Leon Zerfas, in Dixon, New Mexico. People who knew Zerfas said he was violent, abusive and often unfaithful in his romantic relationships.
In 1969, Genie became pregnant with Zerfas’s child. On January 10, 1970, she went to Embed Presbyterian Hospital, where she gave birth to her daughter Eelia. While she was in the hospital, Zerfas was in charge of 2-year-old David. Genie last saw her boyfriend and son outside the building on the 10th. When she got home the next day, David was gone — along with all his toys and clothes.
When Genie asked Zerfas where David was, he said he’d given David to another family. At first, he said they were a childless couple from “back east,” but later changed his story several times. A blonde photographer and a family living in a hippie bus, among others, were said to have taken responsibility of raising David.
After David’s disappearance, the family moved to California. About a year later, after an explosive fight, Genie Miera took baby Eelia back to New Mexico and reported David missing. It’s not clear why she waited this long, but there has been speculation that Zerfas wouldn’t let her.
Genie tried to find David on her own, but according to Eelia she “didn’t have the resources to find him” and “nobody helped.” When Eelia was a teenager, she asked her dad what happened, and he maintained his story that he’d given David away.
Genie Miera went on to have three more daughters and two more sons. She died in 1989 at the age of 45. Leon Zerfas died in 2005.
Many of David’s family members believe Zerfas killed David and buried him in the hills or rocks in the area. The few speculating about this case online tend to agree, but also note that he could have been illegally adopted.
David Joseph Miera was two years old when he was last seen in Dixon, New Mexico on January 10, 1970. David is described as a white male with Hispanic descent, 3 feet tall and 50 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with brown hair and eyes. He has a birthmark in the center of his back and would be 55 years old if alive today.
If you have any information about this case, you can contact the New Mexico State Police at 505-827-9300.
2. Jerry Armstrong
Two days before Christmas in 1977, 17-year-old Jerry Armstrong had dinner with his family, then went to a school dance with his girlfriend. For the drive, he’d borrowed a 1973 Pontiac Lemans owned by his brother James. Around 11 pm, Jerry dropped his girlfriend off at her home and left. She would be the last person to see him.
Jerry had told his parents he would be home by midnight. When he didn’t come home, his mom was worried and both his parents started looking for him. He was reported missing the next day.
James died in 1984, and their mom died in 1987. In 2009, human remains were found in a river bank in Arkansas that belonged to a black male in his teens — just like Jerry. DNA testing was underway at this time, but I couldn’t find any official updates. A Reddit poster claimed the remains weren’t Jerry’s, but I can’t confirm this.
So what happened to Jerry? There is a theory that he ran away, but most people speculating about this case aren’t convinced. Jerry seemed to have plenty of good things going for him: He had a steady girlfriend, was quarterback on his school’s football team and had a job at a gas station. The trunk of his brother’s car was also filled with Christmas presents Jerry reportedly planned on giving to his younger siblings in just a few days.
The most prominent theory in this case is that Jerry was the victim of a hate crime. His brother James, whose car he was driving that night, was dating a white girl at the time. Jerry’s family thinks he may have been mistaken for James by someone who was upset about this. They also claimed to get a threatening phone call at some point from someone using a racial slur and saying they should tell the investigators to back off.
Some online speculators agree; others wonder if it was a carjacking gone wrong or if he accidentally drove the car into a body of water.
Jerry Lee Armstrong was 17 years old when he was last seen in Hernando, Mississippi on December 23, 1977. Jerry is a black male who was 5 feet 6 inches tall and 145 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a dark green suit, a yellow shirt, a green tie and black slacks. He was driving a white 1973 Pontiac Lemans with red and black stripes down the side and the license plate DAY 458. He has a scar over his left eye and would be 61 years old if alive today.
If you have any information about this case, you can contact the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department at 1-662-469-8500.
3. Christy Carter
Christina Lynn Carter was born on May 29, 1970. In mid 1973, her parents divorced and were soon in the midst of a custody battle for their now three-year-old daughter. On September 17, about two months after the divorce, Christy and her mom, Janet, were last seen together in Hueytown, Alabama.
After several days of not hearing from his daughter, Christy’s father asked around to relatives trying to find out where she was. When he couldn’t find her, he reported her missing. However, other family members didn’t think Christy or Janet were actually missing. They’d been planning a trip with Janet’s new boyfriend, and most people assumed the mother and daughter were either still on the trip or in hiding in the midst of the custody battle.
On October 7th, human remains were found in a duffel bag along a road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — the same place Janet and Christy were said to be headed. About a month later, the remains were identified as those of Janet Carter. Her cause of death was suffocation, and she’d been dead for less than a day when she was found. There was no sign of Christy.
Even though Christy had already been reported missing, it wasn’t until after her mom’s body was identified that police began to look for her. An extensive search of the park turned up nothing.
A week after Janet’s body was found, a wrecked abandoned car had been found on I-26, which runs from eastern Tennessee to South Carolina. The car was registered to an Alabama dealership. Inside, police found women’s and children’s clothing, a woman’s purse, food and utensils. ((FBI probing possible abandoned car, murder link — page 22) A hole was found in the front windshield, and there were strands of blonde hair in the broken glass. The FBI, who was now involved in the case, investigated a possible link between the car and Janet and Christy’s case. However, none was ever found. Janet’s murder remains unsolved, and Christy has never been located.
So what happened to Christy? Did her mom leave her with someone else before she was killed? Is she still alive out there somewhere? Or were she and her mom both abducted at the same time? And, if so, where is Christy now?
The only hint I found of anyone being investigated in this case was Janet’s new boyfriend, who was actually married to someone else at the time. Even though he was reportedly going on the trip with them, his wife gave an alibi for him. It’s not clear if this alibi was for the day they were last seen, the day Janet was murdered or something else. He has since died.
Christina Lynn Carter was 3 years old when she was last seen in Hueytown, Alabama on September 17, 1973. Christy, as she is more commonly known, is a white female who was 3 feet 2 inches tall and 30 pounds at the time of her disappearance, with blonde or strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. If alive today, she would be 51 years old.
If you have any information about this case, you can contact the Hueytown Police Department at 1-205-491-3587.
4. Irene LaRosa
Irene Lenora LaRosa was born on April 10, 1953 in Hartford, Connecticut to Irene and Nathan LaRosa. She had at least two older sisters and would eventually be one of 11 children in the family.
When Irene was a year old, she and two of her siblings were taken out of the home due to neglect and lived in a Catholic orphanage in New Britain, Connecticut for several years. In 1964, when Irene was 12, the siblings went back home. The family moved a few times after this and eventually settled in Ellington, Connecticut.
As a child, Irene loved music, especially singing. She often felt like she lived in the shadow of her older siblings and wanted the same privileges they had. She often fought with her parents, as many kids do, and left home a few times as a teenager. At some point, she told a friend that one of her brothers had raped her.
It’s not clear exactly when Irene was last seen, but it was sometime in 1971, when she was 17. Irene reportedly walked away from her home and didn’t return. Her mom would later say she had run off with a guy.
Irene’s family members looked for her over the years, but weren’t able to find her. Some of them attempted to file a missing persons report in the early days, but were unsuccessful for various reasons.
In 1975, someone else in Irene’s family would also go missing. Susan LaRosa was married to Irene’s brother, Bob — and, according to him, left home after an argument, never to return. Her remains were found three years later in a wooded area in Vermont. The couple’s daughter claimed her dad sexually abused her and that she witnessed him kill her mom.
Bob was the prime suspect in Susan’s murder, but was never charged. He died in 2018. Susan’s murder is thought to be linked to several other unsolved disappearances in the area, including: Janice Pockett (who disappeared in 1973), Debra Spickler (who disappeared in 1968) and Lisa White (who disappeared in 1974).
Irene was reported missing in 2016 by her niece, Tina Richburg. Police searched one of the properties where Irene used to live. A search of a well on the property turned up five pairs of girls’ shoes and a few articles of clothing.
So what happened to Irene? There is speculation online that her brother Bob might have been involved. After all, two of his family members going missing over the span of a few years is an awfully big coincidence. Irene also claimed to be raped by one of her brothers before she went missing, and one of Bob’s daughters also accused him of sexual abuse.
However, Tina Richburg believes another one of her uncles, Nathan LaRosa, may have been responsible. According to Ms Richburg, her dad described his brother Nathan as “a very bad guy” and didn’t want his children around him by themselves. She also claims that some of Irene’s other siblings have alleged sexual abuse from him. Whatever the case, Irene hasn’t been seen in over 50 years, and her family wants to find her.
Just a quick note before we wrap up with Irene:
(Note: Tina Richburg has been instrumental in getting the word out about her aunt’s case. Much of the information in this case has come from her accounts. If you want even more details about Irene and the circumstances surrounding her family life and disappearance, click here for the Facebook page Ms. Richburg runs for her.)
Irene Lenora LaRosa was 17 years old when she was last seen in Ellington, Connecticut in 1971. Irene is a white female who was 5 feet 4 inches tall and 115 pounds at the time of her disappearance, with brown hair and green eyes. She went by the nickname Rene and would be 69 years old if alive today.
If you have any information about this case, you can contact the Connecticut State Police at 1-860-896-3200.
5. Anna Marie Arguello
Anna Marie Arguello was born on September 12, 1967, one of six siblings. She was last seen sometime in late 1969 or early 1970. The story of her reported last day was relayed as follows by her sister Margarita.
This day, 9-year-old Margarita was asked by their mom, Anita Vega, to stay home from school and check on two-year-old Anna Marie. Anna Marie had been beaten, not given food and put in a cold room naked — all for wetting her bed the night before. When Margarita checked on her, she noticed that Anna Marie had found a pair of shorts and wet those as well. This is when Anita ordered Margarita to draw a bath of cold water.
What followed was several hours of Anna Marie alternating between being in the cold tub and being beaten by her mother. At one point, Anita ordered Margarita to run cold water over Anna Marie’s body. Anita eventually left the room, then later told Margarita to check on her sister again. Margarita found Anna Marie floating face down in the water and told her mom she thought Anna Marie was dead.
Anita put her Anna Marie on the back porch and wrapped her in a blanket. Even though she had started to make noise, Anita told Margarita:
“If you ever tell I’ll kill you and you’ve seen me do it so you know I can.”
When her other children got home from school, she told them that Anna Marie was dead and that they’d had the funeral while they were gone. Margarita went back out to the porch to get some toys for a sibling and heard Anna Marie making more noise.
Luis, Anita’s boyfriend (who would later become her husband) soon came home from work. Then he left again and came back holding a box. Margarita overheard her mom ask what took him so long to get home; he said “It wasn’t easy to bury a body in the frozen ground.”
Around 1985, Margarita said her mom gave her a brown sack with a bone and dirt inside, claiming the bone belonged to Anna Marie. Anita would later claim she buried the sack in a local cemetery.
Anna Marie’s disappearance wouldn’t be reported to police until 1992. Margarita, who was in her 30’s by this time, told her therapist about it after suffering from nightmares from it for years. The staff at the mental health facility where she was getting therapy said she had to report Anna Marie’s murder or they would do it for her.
When police learned of the disappearance, they searched the cemetery where Anita claimed to have buried Anna Marie’s body but found only animal bones. They eventually uncovered Anna Marie’s birth certificate and one photo of her — the only two pieces of evidence that she ever existed.
Anita Vega was questioned about her daughter’s murder in 1993. She initially denied Anna Marie’s existence, but admitted it when investigators showed her the birth certificate. She said she found Anna Marie unconscious and waited for Luis to come home, then he buried her. She later changed her story and said she found Anna Marie dead on the bed. She claimed she’d kept Anna Marie’s death a secret because she was afraid Luis would be deported if anyone found out.
In 1994, Anita Vega was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to 1 to 10 years in prison and ended up serving three. Her other children support her and don’t believe Margarita’s story. Anna Marie’s remains have never been found.
Anna Marie Arguello was two years old when she was last seen in Frankfurt, Indiana in late 1969 or early 1970. Anna Marie was a Native American female with dark brown hair and brown eyes. She is no longer believed to be alive, but would be 54 years old if she was.