Four year old Nyleen Kay Marshall was on a family outing in the Helena National Forest on June 25th, 1983 when she went missing. The police had little to go on other than she had been seen talking to a man in a purple jogging suit prior to her disappearance. The next major development came two years later when her family received a 3 page letter purportedly from the kidnapper. It included these chilling passages:
“I realize how much her family must miss her, but I love her, and I have her” … “I just can’t let her go”
“I give her medicine from the bathroom every morning. It is actually a spoonful of my semen. It doesn’t affect her physically. I have NEVER “molested” her in any other way.”
The letter was postmarked from the Madison, Wisconsin area. The author went on to state that he had taken Marshall all over the country on business trips and would never return her. The letter included additional details that had not been made public, making the police believe it was legitimate. Phone calls from the kidnapper also came in to a missing children’s hotline, but they stopped abruptly once the FBI traced the calls.
The case caught the eye of the producers of NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries and the case was broadcast nationally in 1990. This led to a viewer tip who felt that a schoolmate was Marshall. The police followed up on this lead and discovered that the child in question was in fact Monica Bonilla, who herself had been kidnapped by her non-custodial father. She was returned to her mother soon after.
As for Marshall, her case remains unsolved and includes one final tragic note: Years after her daughter’s disappearance, Nyleen’s mother was raped and murdered in Mexico by an unknown assailant. The murder is not believed to be related to the kidnapping.
On November 15th, 1970 18-year-old Robin Graham ran out of gas while traveling on the Hollywood Freeway in the middle of the night. Police stopped by her vehicle and directed her to a nearby call box. She called her parents and the police left the scene. When they drove by again several minutes later, they saw her talking to a dark haired young man who had pulled up in a Chevolet Corvette C1. Assuming this was her family, the police didn’t stop again. Her parents arrived on the scene over thirty minutes after Graham had last been seen by the cops and found no trace of her.
An investigation began and some detectives felt that Graham’s disappearance could be related to three similar cases in the area which saw young women vanish after having car issues. Their bodies were later found in the Hollywood Hills and a nearby ravine.
Graham has never been located dead or alive. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance resulted in the California Highway Patrol changing their policies to ensure the safety of stranded female motorists.
On the night of December 5th, 1982 truckers who were traveling along Interstate 10 in Pascagoula, Mississippi began to raise a ruckus on their CB radios after several of them spotted a woman carrying a child along the road side during the midnight hour. Several truckers and others who passed her by stopped and asked to be of assistance but she turned down all their offers.
The next day a semi driver called the authorities after he spotted a body floating in the Dog River beneath the highway. When the police arrived they failed to recover the body that was spotted but they did find the corpse of a toddler floating. An autopsy would later prove that the child was placed in the river alive and died via drowning.
With very little to go on, the cops could only speculate that this was the same child seen by the passerbys the night before. The speculation is that the young girl’s mother jumped from the bridge and both succumbed to the same means of death.
The toddler was buried in a nearby cemetery with the costs covered by a local deputy who was touched by the sad circumstances of the case. 200 people came to the unknown child’s funeral.
LaVena Johnson was a mid-west girl who was active in her community prior to joining the armed forces and being deployed to Iraq in 2005. She only weeks shy of her 20th birthday. Unfortunately, Johnson would have the distinction of being the first woman soldier to die in Iraq – but the circumstances behind her death have many crying cover up.
The official version from the military is that Johnson’s boyfriend had ended things with her via email, which prompted her to print the emails out, burn them, then shoot herself in the mouth with a M-16.
When her family got her body back home, her father noticed some unusual abnormalities such as bruises on his daughter’s face, evidence of a broken nose that had been concealed through plastic surgery, scratches on her neck, a busted lip and cracked teeth. The family began a private investigation and far more disturbing details soon came out. The crime scene photos showed a blood trail suggesting Johnson had been dragged into her tent, teeth marks were evident on LeVena’s torso, the bullet wound in her head was consistent with a much smaller caliber gun than the army had claimed and the bullet trajectory seemed to hint at an execution style shot from the top of the head – not through the mouth, her hands were covered by gloves that had been super glued to her skin, her hands had serious third-degree burns on them, and her vagina had acid burns on it – probably to help conceal a rape.
The army refused to aid the family in their investigation, forcing the Johnson’s to use the Freedom of Information Act to acquire details of the crime. Officially the investigation remains open.
Can you imagine a worse case scenario than a child going missing in the wilderness, only to make it to what should have been a safe haven but instead winding up in the clutches of a pedophile?
Eight year old Derrick Engebretson was searching for a Christmas tree along with his father and grandpa in the Winema National Forest in Oregon when he wandered off. It was a cold early December day in 1998 and search crews used both air and ground support in an attempt to find Engebretson. Any clues that may have remained were wiped out that night as a blizzard swept through the area, covering up any potential tracks and hindering the search effort the next morning. When no body was found, or clues to Engebretson’s fate, the authorities figured Derrick died of exposure during the snow storm.
Years after Engebretson’s disappearance an infamous Oregon pedophile named Frank J. Milligan confessed to another inmate that he in fact had abducted and killed the child. This twist in the story indicates that Derrick had in fact managed to make it all the way back to the road side, where at least one witness later came out and said they had seen a boy and man struggling by the roadside. The witness hadn’t stopped as they figured it was just a father and son having issues.
Milligan had been imprisoned for attempted murder, kidnapping, sodomy and sexual abuse for tricking a 10-year-old boy in a park to get into his car by offering money for the child to mow his lawn. Once in the vehicle, Milligan raped and strangled the boy, sliced his throat and left him to die. Miraculously, the child survived and Milligan was identified by his victim. At the time of the attack, Milligan had been out on bail after attacking an 11-year-old boy in Seaside.
When the police questioned Milligan on Engebretson’s disappearance, he confessed to murdering the child and burying his body. When the cops had him lead them to where Milligan claimed the boy was buried, he couldn’t locate the spot. Milligan would later recant his confession. The true fate of Derrick Engebretson remains unsettled.
I’ll be back soon with more true crime stories. Thank you for reading, and make sure you hug your kids tonight.