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5 older missing persons cases

There are hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone who have gone missing without a trace. Most missing people are found pretty quickly, but some cases linger for years, leaving loved ones behind who just want answers. Let’s talk about five missing persons cases that have gone unsolved for decades.

Joe Boyd Wright

Joe Boyd Wright was born on February 23, 1947. By 1963, the teenager lived in Delhi in northern Louisiana, one of thirteen siblings. According to one of his sisters, Joe wasn’t very happy at home and got in a lot of trouble.

In late April of 1963, Joe told his family he was leaving, that he was going to change his name and never come back and that they’d never find him. He was last seen on April 30 of that year in Shreveport, about 140 miles west of Delhi. Ever since then, there’s been very little news on his whereabouts….if any.

age progression

Over the years, Joe’s mom thought she spotted him in Shreveport a few times, but these sightings were never confirmed. In December of 1983, his family learned of a man who had just been arrested in Texas and went by the alias ‘Jack Wright.’ When one of Joe’s sisters learned about this man having over three dozen aliases, she thought about her brother and how he said he would change his name. This man said he was 36, the same age Joe would have been at the time, and at least somewhat matched his physical description. However, it was never confirmed whether he was the missing Joe Boyd Wright

Joe Boyd Wright is a white male, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 120 to 150 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He has a scar on his left arm and was last seen wearing a khaki suit. If alive today, he would be 64 years old.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Joe Boyd Wright, you can contact the Shreveport Police Department at (318) 673-7300.

Jesse Work

On February 6, 1959, 20-year-old Jesse Work and 15-year-old Joyce Ramsey attended a party close to Hemet, California. Some sources said Joyce and Jesse were just friends, others said she was his girlfriend. Either way, the two left the party and dropped off a friend of theirs at his home in Riverside, about 30 miles northeast of Hemet, in the early morning hours of February 7. After that, the two were never seen again.

Jesse’s car was found abandoned the next day close to Hemet. But despite an extensive search over the years, including leads that took investigators as far away as Hawaii, no more traces of Joyce or Jesse were found for over a decade.

But back to 1959. In July of that year, Frank Phillip Kretz was sentenced to life in prison. This sentence was the result of a spree where he’d attacked, kidnapped and murdered multiple people earlier that year. He was released on parole in 1964, but went back to prison after a parole violation in 1970.

In February 1971, Kretz confessed to killing Joyce and Jesse. He led police to Joyce’s body, which was buried along a highway in Idyllwild, about 55 miles southeast of Riverside. He gave them the location of where he said he’d buried Jesse’s body, but investigators were never able to find it.

Kretz was convicted of first degree murder in 1972. It’s not clear what his sentence was, but he died in prison in 1996. Jesse’s body has never been found.

Jesse Alvin Work was a white male, 6 feet 3 inches tall and 145 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with strawberry blonde hair and green eyes. He would be 83 years old if alive today though, with the information given here, he’s almost certainly not.

If you have any information about Jesse Work’s case, you can contact the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office Central Homicide Unit at: 951-955-2777.

Lorraine Chance

Lorraine Judith Barrie was born around 1922. On December 23, 1944, she married Calvin Chance, who went by thenickname Bud. She gave birth to the couple’s only child, a daughter named Donna, not too long after this.

Due to Bud being in the Navy, the family later moved from their home in New York City to California. Repots vary on just where they lived, but since Lorraine’s case is being investigated by the Sacramento Police Department and the Doe Network says she lived there, that’s what I’m going to assume.

But their life in California wouldn’t last. Sadly, Bud was killed in a work related accident on November 8, 1947.

On January 3, 1948, Lorraine left 4-year-old Donna at a babysitter’s house in Santa Cruz, California. She said she’d be back to pick her up in a couple of hours, but never returned. Lorraine hasn’t been seen again — but there is one more odd twist in this story.

Two months after she was last seen, Lorraine apparently filed for death benefits from Veterans Affairs, which she would have been entitled to due to her husband’s accident. Her application was approved later that year, but the checks were always returned, never collected. There has been no trace of her since, and her disappearance remains unsolved.

So what happened to Lorraine Chance? The few people I’ve come across talking about this case online think she left voluntarily, having become overwhelmed with suddenly being thrust into the role of a young single mother. A writer over at the blog And They Were (which covers cold cases) suggests Lorraine was on her way to pick up her daughter but met with foul play before she could get there. This blogger also wonders if Lorraine wasn’t actually the one who applied for death benefits, but if someone else did it in her name. If that was the case, why were the checks returned? Unfortunately, this case still leaves more questions than answers over half a century later.

Lorraine Chance is a white female, 4 feet 11 inches tall and 90 to 110 pounds at the time of her disappearance. She went by the nickname Lee and would be about 99 years old if she were alive today.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Lorraine Chance, you can contact the Sacramento Police Department at: 916-808-0621.

Joseph Rodriguez

One of the NYPD’s oldest missing persons cases also has very scant information publically available on it. Joseph Rodriguez was born in 1932 and lived with his aunt, Pauline Rodriguez, in an apartment in Spanish Harlem in New York City for the next four years.

On September 6, 1936, Pauline Rodriguez left her nephew with a neighbor. The neighbor took 4-year-old Joseph to play with some other kids in the area. She left him there and, when she came back to get him, he was nowhere to be found.

A few days later, on September 12, Pauline got a telegram that said:

“Dear Pauline: Joseph will be back on Wednesday. Doctor will not let me move him.”

It’s not clear who sent this telegram or just what they were talking about, but Joseph was never returned or seen again.

So what happened here? There seem to be two major theories among online sleuths.

The first is that Joseph was injured in a hit and run, a theory that’s been coming up in missing persons cases on this channel quite a bit lately. As the theory goes here, the person who hit Joseph took him back to their house and had a doctor make a house call to tend to his wounds. This might explain the telegram sent to his aunt. But if Joseph died of his injuries later, this might be why he was never returned, as the telegram promised.

The second theory is that Joseph was taken by his mom, who didn’t have custody of him but who did live nearby. Anecdotally speaking, I’ve read about plenty of cases where children were abducted by parents who didn’t have custody of them. The good news is that if this did happen, Joseph was likely kept alive. But over 80 years later, we still don’t know if this is exactly what happened or just what did happen.

Joseph Rodriguez is a hispanic male, 3 feet tall and 35 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing navy blue sweater with red collar, a yellow sweater, white knickers with blue dots and sandals. If he were alive today, he would be about 87 years old.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Joseph Rodriguez, you can contact the New York Police Department at: 1-212-694-7781.

Freddie Holmes

Frederick Andrew Holmes was born on July 2, 1953 to mom Gertrude and dad Roderick. He also had several older siblings.

On the morning of May 25, 1955, Freddie was just over a month away from celebrating his second birthday. Around 9 am, his mom saw him walking down the driveway of their home in Grahamsville, New York, as she worked in the garden.

A few minutes later, the family’s landlord, Baldassano Giarizzo, talked to Freddie for a moment when the toddler arrived at a shed where he was working. That was the last time Freddie was seen.

Once the family realized Freddie was missing, police were contacted and the search began. Investigators combed the mountains in the area for at least a week, utilizing the help of a helicopter, bloodhounds, and 1,000 policemen and volunteer searchers. Frequent rain during the search made it that much harder to find evidence. The family garden was dug up and Freddie’s parents and landlord were questioned. But no arrests were ever made and no trace of Freddie has ever been found.

Around 1968, thirteen years after his son disappeared, Freddie’s father took his own life. Freddie’s mom and most of his siblings have also since died. But while investigators believe Freddie succumbed to the elements, his two surviving sisters believe he was kidnapped and may still be alive. There was also speculation that Freddie was The Boy in the Box, a famous John Doe found in Pennsylvania in 1957. However, he was ruled out via DNA in 2010.

Frederick Andrew Holmes is a white male, 2 feet 6 inches tall and 30 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with shoulder length, curly blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing brown corduroy overalls and a long sleeved polo shirt. He went by the nicknames ‘Freddie’ and ‘Tookie’ and would be 68 years old if alive today.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Freddie Holmes, you can contact the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office at: 845-794-7100.

So those are the missing persons cases I have for you today. Despite their age, I'd love to see all of them solved someday, though I don't know the odds. If you have a theory you'd like to share, head over to the corresponding YouTube video and leave me a comment.

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