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Mysteries

10 Cases Of Students Vanishing From Their Schools

Robin Warder

When parents send their children off to school, they not only need faith that the institution will provide them with a good education, but that they’ll keep them safe. After all, they are entrusting these schools to watch over their child for several hours per day. Unfortunately, however, sometimes parents will send their child off to school and wind up never seeing them again.

10 Roger Ellison

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At approximately 8:30 AM on February 10, 1981, 17-year-old Colorado student Roger Ellison showed up at Cedaredge High School and stowed his books in his locker, which he shared with another student. This student would provide the last confirmed sighting of Roger, who did not attend any of his classes that day and was never seen again. Roger was a very popular straight-A student who had already been accepted at college and, since he left behind all his personal belongings, there was no reason for him to have disappeared willingly. However, John Pash, a social studies teacher/wrestling coach at Cedaredge, soon became a person of interest in the case.

Pash visited Roger’s mother shortly after his disappearance and claimed that Roger had been experiencing a lot of personal problems and was suicidal, which she did not believe. Pash’s home happened to be located right next to the school and Roger was known for frequently visiting the home to turn in his homework. In 1994, one of Roger’s classmates claimed that his body might be buried underneath Pash’s house. Pash had long since sold the place, but authorities searched it with ground-penetrating radar. While they did detect some anomalies underneath the concrete garage floor, they ultimately decided not to dig through it. John Pash has always maintained his innocence, and after more than 30 years, Roger Ellison has still never been found.

9 Bianca Lebron

brown van
Ten-year-old Bianca Lebron was a fifth-grade student at Elias Howe School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. On the morning of November 7, 2001, she arrived for classes and told her friends and teacher that her uncle was going to take her shopping that day. At approximately 8:30 AM, she was seen climbing into a brown van with tinted windows, which was being driven by a Hispanic male in his twenties. Because everyone at school assumed this man was Bianca’s uncle, they did not think her departure was unusual and her teacher simply marked her absent for the day. This is the last anyone ever saw of her.

However, Bianca did not actually have an uncle and no one from her family owned a brown van. As a result of this misunderstanding, Bianca was not reported missing until later that night. A potential suspect was Jason Gonzalez, a 20-year-old acquaintance of Bianca’s who had reportedly been seen kissing her. He left town a month after Bianca’s disappearance and did not provide a statement to police for nearly two years. While Gonzalez does resemble the composite sketch of the driver and had a friend who owned a brown van at the time, he did provide an alibi for that morning. After declaring her daughter legally dead, Bianca’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school for allowing her to leave with this unidentified man, but she still has no answers about what happened to her daughter.

8 Deanie Peters

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On February 5, 1981, 14-year-old Deanie Peters was attending her younger brother’s wrestling practice at Forrest Hills Central Middle School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She told her mother she was leaving to use the restroom, but she never actually arrived there and was last seen walking out the gymnasium door. She left all her money and personal belongings behind at home. Over the years, there were some potential suspects in her disappearance, including the school custodian and two girls with whom Deanie had a physical altercation two days before she vanished. However, the most promising suspect turned out to be Bruce Bunch, who was a junior at Forrest Hills at the time Deanie disappeared.

Bunch had a history of being violent and abusive and was overheard saying he had killed Deanie. One female acquaintance claims that on the night of Deanie’s disappearance, Bunch was acting frantic about accidentally hitting a girl with his car in a school parking lot. Though he never mentioned the name of the girl or the school, Bunch and some accomplices reportedly buried the victim under a pile of rocks somewhere. Unfortunately, before he could be properly investigated, Bunch died of a heart attack in 2008. Authorities have publicly announced that anyone who may have helped Bunch dispose of Deanie’s body would not be prosecuted if they came forward with information. However, no one ever has, so Deanie Peters’ fate is still a mystery.

7 Sarah Kinslow

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At approximately 7:20 AM on May 1, 2001, 14-year-old Sarah Kinslow’s father dropped her off at Greenville Middle School in Greenville, Texas. However, she apparently had no intention of attending classes that day. Sarah and a couple of her friends were planning to skip school and meet at a local cemetery, but Sarah never showed up and has not been seen since. Police dogs followed Sarah’s scent from the school, but the trail ended after two blocks.

One of the people Sarah was planning to meet in the cemetery that day was her 18-year-old boyfriend, Curtis Wayne Bell. Sarah’s parents did not approve of their relationship and she had written in her diary about wanting to marry Curtis and run away with him to Mexico. Weeks after her disappearance, Sarah and Curtis were seen together in surveillance footage from a Greenville gas station. Curtis initially claimed it wasn’t Sarah and that he was with a different girl at the gas station, but then later denied that the guy in the footage was even him. Years later, Sarah’s parents found an anonymous note in their mailbox with information pertaining to her whereabouts. When they eventually discovered who wrote the note, this person claimed to have heard that Sarah’s body was disposed of in a rock quarry. However, investigators have yet to find any evidence to back up this person’s story, so Sarah Kinslow’s fate remains unknown.

6 Bryan Hayes, Mark Degner

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Thirteen-year-old Bryan Hayes and 12-year-old Mark Degner were developmentally disabled special needs students at Paxon Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida and happened to be best friends. At approximately 1:15 PM on February 10, 2005, the two boys got into an argument with a teacher and decided to run out of the school. A witness apparently saw Bryan getting into a car outside the building. Neither of the two boys has ever been seen again.

It was initially believed that both Bryan and Mark had chosen to run away. They had apparently told friends about their intentions to run away and a third boy was even planning to go with them before he ultimately backed out. The day before their disappearance, Bryan and Mark had been caught trying to sneak away from their bus after school ended. However, neither of them took any personal belongings, and their book bags and Bryan’s coat were left behind at the school. Both boys suffered from bipolar disorder, requiring daily medication to control their condition, but they did not have this medication with them when they disappeared. There were reported sightings of Bryan and Mark in Holly Hill, Florida two months later, but police could not find them there. Sadly, after eight years, there is still no trace of the two missing boys.

5 Kara Kopetsky

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Seventeen-year-old Missouri girl Kara Kopetsky attended Belton High School on May 4, 2007 and, sometime during the morning, had an argument with one of her teachers. Out of frustration, Kara apparently decided she was going to ditch school for the rest of the day. Surveillance footage captured her walking out of the building at approximately 10:30 AM, but no knows what happened to her next. When Kara didn’t return home or show up for a 4:00 PM shift at Popeye’s Chicken, her family filed a missing persons report. Since Kara had a history of running away, authorities initially believed she may have done so again. However, she left all her personal belongings behind, kept her cell phone turned off, and has not accessed her bank account since she disappeared.

One possible suspect was Kyra’s ex-boyfriend, Kylr Yust, against whom she had recently filed an order of protection. Kylr had allegedly been stalking and threatening Kara and her last call from her cell phone that morning was to his voicemail. However, Kylr was cooperative with the investigation and seemed to have an alibi for the time Kara went missing. About two weeks after she disappeared, there was a reported sighting of Kara with an unidentified man in Louisburg, Kansas, but authorities have been unable to determine if it was actually her. No one knows where Kara Kopetsky was heading when she exited her school, but she remains missing six years later.

4 Alexis Patterson

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On the morning of May 3, 2002, seven-year-old Alexis Patterson walked with her stepfather to Hi-Mount Boulevard School in Milwaukee. When Alexis arrived at school, she was last seen heading toward the playground before her stepfather went home. However, she never attended any of her classes, though other students reported seeing her crying on the playground both before and after school that day. However, these are the last confirmed sightings of Alexis and the school did not notify her family about her absence until that afternoon. An extensive search of the area failed to turn up any trace of her.

Alexis had a perfect attendance record prior to her disappearance and it was theorized she chose not to attend classes after getting into an argument with her mother the night before. As punishment, Alexis was not allowed to bring cupcakes to her classmates as she had originally promised—which might explain why she didn’t show up for class—but was still seen hanging around the school playground. Some students reported seeing a suspicious red truck parked near the school during the preceding week, which was never seen again after Alexis’ disappearance. Months later, an anonymous caller contacted a Milwaukee television station to claim that Alexis’ remains could be found in the Milwaukee River, but a search turned up nothing and the identity of the caller is unknown. Over a decade later, Alexis Patterson has still never been found.

3 Cary Sayegh

A picture illustration shows a 100 Dollar banknote laying one Dollar banknotes
On October 25, 1978, six-year-old Cary Sayegh was enjoying lunchtime recess at Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas when he suddenly went missing. According to classmates, Cary had entered a vehicle which pulled onto school property. Later that day, Cary’s parents received a ransom call demanding $500,000 for their son’s return. The caller claimed he would contact the Sayeghs in two days to provide instructions about how to deliver the money, but they never heard from him again. Suspicion quickly turned towards Jerry Burgess, a former employee of Cary’s father.

Burgess had sexually assaulted a woman at Cary’s school the week before his disappearance and was identified as the driver of the vehicle. When the Sayeghs received the ransom call, the phone was initially answered by one of their neighbors, who recognized Burgess’ voice. Burgess would eventually lead authorities to one of Cary’s shoes on a nearby road, but claimed he only knew this information because he was acting as a go-between for the Sayegh family and the kidnappers. Burgess was charged with Cary’s kidnapping in 1982, but was ultimately acquitted. When he was arrested for another crime in 2000, Burgess was reportedly heard mentioning that he had disposed of Cary’s body by welding his remains inside a steel drum. Burgess also happened to have rented some welding equipment in the days prior to Cary’s disappearance. However, Burgess has always maintained his innocence and it’s believed that others may have been involved in the kidnapping. After nearly 35 years, Cary Sayegh’s disappearance is still unsolved.

2 Kiplyn Davis

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Fifteen-year-old Utah sophomore Kiplyn Davis was experiencing a typical school morning at Spanish Fork High School on May 2, 1995. However, after having lunch with her friends at the cafeteria, Kiplyn did not show up for the rest of her classes that day. She never returned home and left all her personal belongings behind in her locker. When Kiplyn’s parents reported her missing, authorities assumed she was a runaway since she had gotten into an argument with her family that morning. The Davis family would have to wait an entire decade before they received any answers. In 2005, five men—four of whom were students at Kiplyn’s school at the time she vanished—were indicted for perjury. It was believed that two of these students, David Rucker Leifson and Timmy Brent Olsen, were responsible for raping and murdering Kiplyn and that the others conspired to manufacture an alibi for them.

The five men all claimed they had been hanging lights in the school auditorium at the time Kiplyn disappeared. However, this story was discounted by a community choir, who were performing in the auditorium that day and did not see any of the men there. Olsen was eventually charged with first-degree murder, but in 2011, he decided to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter in exchange for a reduced sentence. He claimed to have witnessed another man hit Kiplyn with a rock before helping him dispose of her body. However, Olsen has refused to name his accomplice or the location of Kiplyn’s body, so she is still officially a missing person.

1 Kyron Horman

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On the morning of June 4, 2010, Terri Moulton Horman took her seven-year-old stepson, Kyron, to Skyline Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. They arrived sometime after 8:00 AM and Terri stayed around to help Kyron set up an exhibit for a science fair. Terri claims that after the bell rang at 8:45, Kyron walked toward his class as she left the school. When Kyron failed to arrive home after school later that afternoon, Terri reported him missing, but an extensive search failed to turn up anything. Kyron never showed up for any of his classes and, though a witness reported seeing him and Terri setting up their exhibit at around 8:15, there were no other confirmed sightings of Kyron at the school that day.

However, suspicion started to fall upon Terri once authorities discovered that her cell phone records did not seem to match her reported movements that day. A landscaper soon came forward to claim that, months beforehand, Terri offered him money to kill her husband. Authorities had the landscaper wear a wire in an attempted sting operation on Terri, but she failed to say anything incriminating. In light of this information, Terri’s husband immediately filed for divorce and a restraining order against her, and he believes she was responsible for his son’s disappearance. Kyron’s biological mother has also accused Terri of causing his disappearance and filed a lawsuit against her in 2012. In spite of these allegations, there is still no hard evidence to connect Terri with Kyron’s disappearance and he remains missing.

Robin Warder is a budding Canadian screenwriter who has used his encyclopedic movie knowledge to publish numerous articles at Cracked.com. He is also the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and recently worked on a sci-fi short film called “Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow.” Feel free to contact him here.