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Thread: TX - Francis Wetherbee, Arcadia, 30 Dec 1974

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    TX - Francis Wetherbee, Arcadia, 30 Dec 1974

    Where is Francis Wetherbee?

    A Missing Persons Case Reopened



    She was a teller from a small bank outside of Arcadia, Texas and she is the subject of one of my Uncle Paul's most memorable portraits. It hung on his studio wall for years. I lost count of how many times he told me her story. He photographed thousands of people over three decades but said he'll never forget the girl with the curly hair and hazel eyes. "She was always energetic in front of the camera, but on this day something was very unusual. She sat motionless and quiet as if she was somewhere else. It wasn't the Francis I knew," he said.

    I asked why she would allow him to take this photo when she was clearly upset. He replied, "I don't know why she was upset. I asked her if she wanted me to stop but she said 'no no keep going' so I did. That's when I took this shot. I had no idea it would be her last photo ... but maybe she knew."

    What was she thinking?

    Just a week before this photo was taken, Francis was taken hostage during a robbery at the bank. She was eventually rescued. Just one week after my uncle took this portrait, she disappeared and was never seen again.



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    Filmmakers shoot bank robbery documentary in Live Oak County






    Austin filmmakers Andrew Shapter and Tanner Ferguson were in Live Oak County last week filming a documentary about a bank teller who disappeared two weeks after a bank robbery in 1974.


    Shapter said, “This is a film I have been wanting to make for years.” His uncle was a photographer and he took a photo of a bank teller named Francis Weatherbee about a week after her bank in Vanesco, Texas, was robbed.

    The photo hung on the his studio wall for years. “Her eyes looked sad and haunting. After my uncle died, I knew I had to find out what happened to her and tell her story,” said Shapter.



    Last edited by RubyRed; 09-22-2010 at 08:00 PM.

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    Before his uncle died, he told him Francis was taken hostage during the robbery at the bank. She was eventually rescued when someone shot the thief as he tried to escape with her.

    The wounded young man got away with thousands of dollars and was never seen again. The incident only lasted a few minutes and Francis was unharmed. “So it’s hard to say if she was traumatized by it or not,” his uncle said. “But, I swear I think she is still alive.”

    After digging into the past, Shapter learns the bank robber was believed to be a Vietnam veteran who had been court-martialed for saving dogs. His name was Oliver Pearce, he was a newcomer to Vanesco and took a job as a projectionist at the movie theater.


    The concession attendant tells Shapter that in 1974, Francis would go into the theater every evening but she did not watch the movie. She ran upstairs to the projection room and talked with Oliver. It was believed the two were romantically involved.

    Then in late 1974, the bank was robbed and Oliver ran away. Two weeks later, Francis went missing as well.




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    Wow, that was interesting photo of Francis Weatherbee. It's sad that she's nowhere to be found since missing.

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    Do you think she was involved in the bank robbery? I think there is a possibility she was.

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    Shapter interviewed retired Chief Deputy Glenn Thompson at the Live Oak County Sheriff’s Office. He asked Thompson to relate similar cases of bank robberies for the documentary on Francis. He asked Thompson, “If a bank robber grabs a teller and the teller may have been romantically involved with the bank robber, would she be considered a suspect in the bank robbery?”

    As the camera was rolling, Thompson answered, “Yes, I would think we would be looking at her as a person of interest. But 35 years later it would be hard to try. The witnesses involved may have passed away or moved off, married, changed their name. They would be difficult to locate but, yes, she would be a person of interest.”


    http://www.mysoutex.com/view/full_st..._regional_news

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    Quote Originally Posted by RubyRed View Post
    Do you think she was involved in the bank robbery? I think there is a possibility she was.
    I think so, too RR - first thing I thought of when I read the story. What a lovely girl and a sad story. I'm sorry for her family and those who cared for her having to wonder all these years.
    ~~~Cynical Optimist~~~

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    I don't see Francis on any missing persons sites. Was she ever reported missing? I'm wondering if it was always assumed she and Oliver ran off together.

    Well, I hope they did run off and have had a happy, productive life together. I'm a hopeless romantic!
    ~~~Cynical Optimist~~~

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fairy1 View Post
    I don't see Francis on any missing persons sites. Was she ever reported missing? I'm wondering if it was always assumed she and Oliver ran off together.

    Well, I hope they did run off and have had a happy, productive life together. I'm a hopeless romantic!
    I'm sure the statute of limitations ran out long ago.
    But if she and Oliver ran off together, they were likely able (with the money) to establish new identities without question.

    It would have been so much easier then, than it is now.

    Am I the only one who's wondering how old she was, when she disappeared?

    Say she was 25; 36 years later, she's 61. If she's not died of a disease, an accident, or another crime.

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    Quote Originally Posted by laytonian View Post
    I'm sure the statute of limitations ran out long ago.
    But if she and Oliver ran off together, they were likely able (with the money) to establish new identities without question.

    It would have been so much easier then, than it is now.

    Am I the only one who's wondering how old she was, when she disappeared?

    Say she was 25; 36 years later, she's 61. If she's not died of a disease, an accident, or another crime.
    She looks so, so, so young in that pic. I was thinking maybe 22. But like I said, I haven't found anything more than we've seen today.

    I found an Oliver and Francis Pearce in the UK, but I think they may be too young to be these folks.
    ~~~Cynical Optimist~~~

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    Is it Wetherbee or Weatherbee? I see it both ways....
    ~~~Cynical Optimist~~~

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    Here are some more pics of her (not the last 3 in the set though). She is soooo pretty.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrew_...7622658205344/
    Last edited by Recovering-Lurker; 09-23-2010 at 01:41 PM.

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    What an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Come home soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RubyRed View Post
    Do you think she was involved in the bank robbery? I think there is a possibility she was.
    Yes, I think so. That's why she's so sad & knew their plans would be after the robbery. She's probably regret it happened that way before her disappearance.

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    My only question is: Why be sad? If I knew I was running away with the love of my life and thousands of dollars, I'd have a happy look on my face. It's like, based on the story from the uncle, she sensed something more ominous was going to happen. Maybe Oliver threatened to turn her in if she didn't run away with him.

    This black and white photo is so amazing. All her photos speak to me. She really was photogenic.

    Thank you for starting this thread RubyRed. Her story really touched me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fairy1 View Post
    Is it Wetherbee or Weatherbee? I see it both ways....
    The journalist who is working on her case uses Wetherbee. I think he would have records that confirm that spelling of her last name.

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    What a beautiful, beautiful girl. I'm going to go ahead and imagine that Francis and Oliver were soul mates, madly in love, and ran off to begin a wonderful, new life together. It's hard for me to hold the bank robbery against him knowing he was discharged from the service for rescuing dogs!
    ~~~Cynical Optimist~~~

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    It's possible that the plan was for Oliver to escape with her, but he was shot and she was 'rescued.' Oliver ran off without her. So for a week or two, she didn't know where he was. She was probably worried or scared she'd never see him again. That could explain the despondancy that read so true in the photograph.

    nothing seems black when i see your red shoes

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    Quote Originally Posted by youshouldveknown View Post
    It's possible that the plan was for Oliver to escape with her, but he was shot and she was 'rescued.' Oliver ran off without her. So for a week or two, she didn't know where he was. She was probably worried or scared she'd never see him again. That could explain the despondancy that read so true in the photograph.
    I agree with you completely youshouldveknown! Maybe the story did have a happy ending-just feel kind of sad for her family that they never knew what happened to her.

    Wow! She was truly a beautiful-young woman. That black and white photo of her is haunting!
    No regrets! Mistakes are just lessons I needed to learn!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fairy1 View Post
    What a beautiful, beautiful girl. I'm going to go ahead and imagine that Francis and Oliver were soul mates, madly in love, and ran off to begin a wonderful, new life together. It's hard for me to hold the bank robbery against him knowing he was discharged from the service for rescuing dogs!
    As a dog owner, I agree that its hard to think badly of him knowing he was discharged from the military for rescuing dogs. I too like to think that they ran off together. Maybe she was sad because she knew that she would have to leave behind the people and a place she loved deeply. As someone that has moved away from home, friends and family I can tell you that even years later I sometimes get homesick.

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    Francis Wetherbee

    Here's a link to her page on the Doe Network;

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/3030dftx.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Fairy1 View Post
    I don't see Francis on any missing persons sites. Was she ever reported missing? I'm wondering if it was always assumed she and Oliver ran off together.

    Well, I hope they did run off and have had a happy, productive life together. I'm a hopeless romantic!

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    Quote Originally Posted by youshouldveknown View Post
    It's possible that the plan was for Oliver to escape with her, but he was shot and she was 'rescued.' Oliver ran off without her. So for a week or two, she didn't know where he was. She was probably worried or scared she'd never see him again. That could explain the despondency that read so true in the photograph.
    I totally agree,

    I think that she was so distraught over her being taken hostage and Oliver, her intended soul-mate getting shot, that events escalated into a deep depression for Francis and she had set off on a mission to find Oliver.

    LE would have to dig into any information about their pasts. Where did they spend their time together? Where either seeking counseling or professional help after the bank ordeal? Sadly, so much time has passed, that it is possible that they may have fled the country, if either are still living, and might be living under alias names to protect their identities from the ordeal.

    Due to the emotional impact that this experience might have been for both of them, this could explain not only Francis' sadness in the picture, but the possibility of a new life searching for each other, assuming they are still living.

    Satch

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    What a haunting photograph

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnc95249 View Post
    Here's a link to her page on the Doe Network;

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/3030dftx.html
    While researching a UID, I wanted to follow this link to get a description of what she might have been wearing when she was last seen and the link no longer is working. Is there new news on this case?
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnc95249 View Post
    Here's a link to her page on the Doe Network;

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/3030dftx.html
    The link to the DoeNetwork indicates that her case has been removed.

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