08-04-2007, 08:55 PM #1
OK - Judith Elwell, 5, Oklahoma City, 6 July 1967
From Doe Network
Missing since July 6, 1967 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Classification: Non-family abduction
Age at time of disappearance: 5 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Long black, curly hair; dark brown eyes.
Clothing: Light green shorts and a blue-and-white striped pullover with white socks and blue canvas sneakers.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Judith Elwell vanished from her parents' northwest Oklahoma City home, sometime before 9 p.m. July 6, 1967. One of her shoes was found the next day beside an abandoned house half a block from the Elwell home, leading police to theorize she lost the shoe while struggling with her kidnapper. No other trace of her turned up. In the hours and days after her disappearance, hundreds of searchers swept across the area. Individual volunteers mingled with police, firefighters and Civil Air Patrol workers, and a command post grew outside the Elwell's house. After three days the hunt was called off. At some point over the past four decades, the police case file was misplaced or destroyed.
This is a sad case they just put on Doe Network today. I clicked on a link provided on Doe for cold cases in OK and they had an article about Judith's disappearance along with another little girl named Brenda White from OKC who went missing a month after Judith. Unfortunately, they found Brenda's body in November 1967. Judith has never been found. I'm sure that one perp was responsible for both disappearances, as they happened so close together. More at link below.
I couldn't find another thread solely on this case on WS although they were mentioned in another post about other little children who went missing in the mid to late 60s to early 70s.
Brenda White Judith ElwellPlease Help Find Brian Shaffer!
03-09-2008, 11:07 PM #2Registered User
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03-10-2008, 01:22 AM #3Registered User
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03-25-2008, 07:54 AM #4Former member
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‘Whose little girl will disappear next?'
Brenda White, left, and Judith Elwell, right.
For Brenda White, it all came down to a nickel and a handful of Pixie Stix.
Aug. 3, 1967, Brenda — a bit of a pixie herself with light brown hair, blue eyes and a mischievous smile — pedaled a bicycle down St. Patrick Drive to the corner grocery store, which was jam-packed with penny candy. Among her favorites were the thin straws filled with candy dust.
The 6-year-old matched her speed to that of her bike-less friends, including neighbor Carol Alexander, 7.
"When we got there,” Alexander, now 47, said, "it turned out that all of us had a dime except for Brenda, who only had five cents. So we went back to get her another nickel.”
The afternoon sun had turned the Midwest City street blistering hot, and Brenda was barefoot. She elected to remain outside the store while the others headed less than a block up the road to get the money.
By the time her friends returned, she had vanished. The bike remained.
Forty years ago, the disappearance of a young girl was rare enough to fuel the fear and ire of an entire community. Many still kept their doors unlocked and trusted their children would be safe playing outside without adult supervision.
Under ordinary circumstances, what happened to Brenda would have been shocking. In the summer of 1967, it was worse.
Brenda wasn't the first child to go missing.
About a month before, Judith Elwell, 5, vanished from her parents' northwest Oklahoma City home. She still hadn't been found.
Now there were two girls missing. Two lost little girls.
Were the disappearances connected? Who was responsible? And would anyone ever see the girls alive again?
‘A beautiful child'
By the time Brenda went missing from the corner store, metro residents were already rattled.
Sometime before 9 p.m. July 6, 1967, Judith had vanished from her home at 1114 N Meta. Her mother described the girl to reporters as "a beautiful child” with "long black hair that was so curly it made little ringlets” and "eyes so dark brown they looked black.”
That night, Judith had been wearing light green shorts and a blue-and-white striped pullover with white socks and blue canvas sneakers. One of her shoes was found the next day beside an abandoned house half a block from the Elwell home, leading police to theorize she lost the shoe while struggling with her kidnapper.
No other trace of her turned up.
It wasn't for lack of looking. In the hours and days after her disappearance, hundreds of searchers swept across the area. Individual volunteers mingled with police, firefighters and Civil Air Patrol workers, and a command post grew outside the Elwell's house.
The Oklahoman characterized the search as "one of the longest, most exhaustive, detailed and organized” ever led by police. But it was also one of the most disappointing, and after three days the hunt was called off.
Details of the police investigation are sparse. At some point over the past four decades, the police case file was misplaced or destroyed. What is clear, though, is that police dedicated significant resources to the case, checking out more than 75 false tips — including some from self-professed clairvoyants — in the first three days.
By late July, police had passed information on the case to every city in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico and Missouri. No solid leads developed.
'Filled with fear'
Then Brenda disappeared.
Precious time was lost in the immediate aftermath of Brenda's kidnapping. Her father, a Western Electric telephone installer, was working in St. Louis. Her mother was home but didn't know that one of her seven children was gone.
"They was all out playing with the neighbor kids,” Connie White, 71, said recently. "I didn't even realize she was missing until ... the kids all came in, and we couldn't find her.”
Neighbors and relatives searched for Brenda for two hours before White called Midwest City police.
Officers were dispatched to the area, and a radiogram was issued advising all police units to look for the girl, who was described as "4'3”, 40 to 45 lbs., long light brown hair, blue eyes. Last seen wearing grey dress with white flowers print and no collar. She has habit of sucking thumb and playing with hair when nervous or sleepy.”
Hopes that Brenda was simply asleep somewhere were dashed, though. As Brenda's father, Bobby White, raced home, police searched cars and outbuildings throughout the area. They turned up nothing.
First Judith. Now Brenda.
What was happening to the children?
The search effort expanded, eclipsing even the hunt for Judith. More than 400 people scoured 48 square miles, including two lakes. Among the searchers was Judith's father, James Elwell. Right or wrong, people were already lumping the two disappearances together.
Aug. 6, 1967, The Oklahoman posed a disturbing question: "Whose little girl will disappear next?”
"Street and coffee-break conversations indicate Oklahoma City is filled with fear — more fear than last December when a killer-rapist was on the loose and took two victims in less than two months,” reporter Jim Rogers wrote.
A terrible discovery
In the early stages of the White investigation, there was no shortage of suspects.
Rumors flew as neighbors accused one another. A man named "Tom” fell under suspicion because he'd served time for molesting children; in fact, his prison sentence was for entering a home illegally, and he was at work when Brenda vanished.
A woman swore she'd been followed by a white car twice earlier in the week. "The vehicle made no attempt to stop her,” police reported, "however, she felt certain that the man in the car, whom she could not describe, had intentions of attempting physical harm if he got (a) good opportunity.”
A white car figured prominently in the search. A neighborhood boy told police he saw Brenda drive off with a young white man in a white car the day she disappeared, although he placed the time of the sighting as before lunch, hours before Brenda was last seen.
Carol Alexander also saw a white car drive away from the corner store just as she returned there with Brenda's other friends.
Police produced a sketch of the possible abductor, based on the recollections of the boy. The results were dubious, and in an internal report dated Aug. 17, 1967, detectives said that "several hundred individuals were checked with negative results. Numerous white vehicles were also checked with negative results.”
As time passed, Judith and Brenda dropped from the headlines. The searches had failed, and most presumed the worst.
In Brenda's case, they were right.
Nov. 18, 1967, hunters found a human skull in a field outside an abandoned house near E Reno Avenue and Harrah Road, about 11 miles due east of Brenda's home at 10147 St. Patrick Drive.
The next day, Oklahoma County sheriff's deputies searched the field and discovered a shallow grave bearing bones, hair and a pair of girl's panties. A crumpled gray dress lay nearby, and other bones were scattered across the ground.
The grave was heartbreakingly small: 34 inches long, 26 inches wide and 14 inches deep. All of the bones had been gnawed by animals.
Inside the vacant house, which had stood empty for five years, law officers found two dirty white shirts, two pair of filthy trousers and a badly damaged straw hat. A piece of cloth hung from a nail in the basement.
"This cloth was tied in the middle,” Midwest City police noted, "suggesting it might have been used as some sort of handcuff.”
If so, it was never confirmed.
The grisly task of identifying the remains fell to Connie White. First she confirmed the dress was the one she'd made for her daughter. Then she examined the hair that had been found at the grave and knew, once and for all, that her daughter was dead.
'You can always hope'
Brenda's parents have little left to remind them of their daughter — a quilt made from her clothes, some photographs, a scrapbook, an Easter basket, a favorite outfit, a few home movies and a handful of hair, given to them by the medical examiner.
Their other children don't like to talk about her.
At least the family knows Brenda is gone. She is buried in Tecumseh. A real grave this time. A proper grave.
Judith has never been found. No remains have turned up. There is nothing to say for certain that she is alive or dead.
Her survivors could not be located for this story.
Brenda's father, Bobby White, awoke with spinal damage about three years ago. A burly man who hand-built his house in Pink, he now moves awkwardly with the aid of a walker. He is 74, and the memories are still difficult for him to live with.
"Before I die,” he said recently, "I'd like to have the man caught who done it, the person who done it.”
"It's important,” Connie White said. "We would love to be able to have it cleared. It's not apt to ever be, but you can always hope and wish, but you know there's somebody out there who knows something. There's got to be.”
03-25-2008, 07:55 AM #5Former member
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It remains unclear if one person kidnapped both
Did the same person kidnap Judith Elwell and kill Brenda White?
From the start, police and the media connected the two incidents. Judith, 5, had vanished from her northwest Oklahoma City home in early July 1967; Brenda, 6, went missing from Midwest City in early August, less than a month later.
The girls had certain things in common:
Both were about to enter first grade and lived in neighborhoods crowded with children who often played outside together. Both came from working-class families, had brown hair and were about the same weight. And both knew their home phone numbers and had been taught not to talk to strangers.
Those surface similarities were common to many girls their age in 1967 — and there are differences between the cases as well.
A blue or green sedan was seen near the spot where Judith disappeared; a white car was associated with Brenda's kidnapping. Was either car actually involved in the crimes?
The girls were taken from neighborhoods that were miles apart. They didn't know each other. While one vanished completely, the other's body was buried carelessly in a shallow grave.
Is there enough evidence to determine if the same predator took both girls?
Shawna Cleary, a criminologist and professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, thinks so.
"I do think we're talking about the same perpetrator,” Cleary said. "I think it doesn't matter that he didn't go to exactly the same place for both of them. I would guess that one or both of the kids were probably abducted from areas he was familiar with.”
Abductors usually operate in areas they know well, Cleary said. In these cases, the attacker may have lived near one of the children and worked near the other.
Cleary examined police documents provided to The Oklahoman. Based on that information, she said, it seems likely that the abductor didn't know the girls but instead chose them as targets of opportunity — little girls alone with no witnesses in sight.
Abductors often use lures to attract children, she said. Pets are among the most common lures.
A brief mention in a forensic anthropologist's report caught Cleary's eye. The report notes that the skeleton of a cat was found near Brenda's remains in a field near Harrah. The cat was shot with a shotgun, and it had died or been left in the field about the same time that Brenda was placed there.
Cleary thinks the cat may have been used to lure Brenda into her killer's car.
"It's too unusual to be a coincidence in my opinion,” Cleary said. "I think the cat remains have some connection, I really do, and unfortunately I think that 40 years down the line, we'll never know.”
Judith and Brenda's cases remain open, although no one is specifically assigned to investigate them.
"We have received tips in the past,” Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said, "and we have gone to great lengths to investigate them. We have not solved the (Elwell) case, but if we get some viable information, we will go out of our way to pursue it.”
Oklahoma City police no longer have Brenda's case file. Capt. Steve McCool said it may have been destroyed when a basement storage area in the downtown Civic Center flooded some years ago.
"We have no more leads,” McCool said, "but if we were to get a call tomorrow, then we would certainly follow up on it.”
03-25-2008, 07:56 AM #6Former member
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Judith Elwell’s only surviving family member called The Oklahoman late Saturday.
Her brother, Mark Elwell, 49, said that he had an encounter of sorts with his sister’s kidnapper and that the man “cased” their house for about three weeks before Judith disappeared.
“That was real,” Mark Elwell said. “I saw the car. During this time period, this guy followed me also. He followed me on my newspaper route. I told the police about this, and when I told them this, they said I was a child with a very overactive imagination.
“But I seen the car the night of my sister’s disappearance. About 9:30 or 10 o’clock (at night) … there was a big black car with a man in it, and I could hear my sister crying. I got probably 15 or 20 feet away. I snuck up on it and then bolted and got my father and brought him back.”
By then, he said, the car was gone.
Police were slow to accept that Judith had been taken by a stranger, he said.
“We told them from the get-go that she was kidnapped,” he said. “They were looking for a missing child. They were looking for a child who ran away.”
And, he said, police seemed to focus their investigation on his parents.
“They dug up our front yard,” he said. “They dug up our back yard. They dug up underneath our house. They dug up the place where my father worked. … I couldn’t tell you how many times they took my mother or my father down there (to police headquarters) and grilled them. You don’t seem to understand. My father was a straitlaced Catholic. He never smoked. He never drank. He never cussed. My mother was a straitlaced Baptist.”
At some point, he said, a private detective investigated the case and claimed to have identified the killer — a male nurse who came to Oklahoma from Kansas City.
Elwell thinks the detective was right and that his sister was cut up and cremated in a nursing home incinerator.
But, he said, the detective never told him the nurse’s name.
The Elwell family never recovered from losing Judith, he said.
His mother died of breast cancer about six years after Judith vanished, he said. She mourned Judith until the day she died.
His father, who is also deceased, suffered, too. Elwell said his father had difficulty getting back on his feet and holding a steady job after the disappearance.
Elwell said he thinks about his sister often — even now, 40 years later. Sometimes, he said, she haunts his dreams.
Posted: 05 Aug, 2007 |
03-25-2008, 07:58 AM #7Former member
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Dr. Clyde Snow is one of the foremost experts on forensic anthropology in the world. Many consider him the best.
In his career, Snow has examined the remains of Pres. Kennedy, Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele, King Tut and victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy and domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh, among many, many others.
Snow also worked the Brenda White case and maintained an interest in the Judith Elwell case.
He talked with me today. Here’s some of what he had to say:
“I was always convinced that those cases were connected in some way,” Snow said. “Even though there were only two (victims), right away you’d think of them as (being victimized by) a serial killer. … There had been cases of serial killers before, of course, but I think the police tendency was to treat most things like that as if they were independent until they had a good series going.
“One thing that struck me was not only the age of the girls and the general description and the circumstances, but they were exactly four weeks apart on Thursdays. It’s almost like someone had Thursday afternoons off. That and some of the other things just made me believe that these were connected. We’d never had cases like that before in Oklahoma City, for two young girls to go missing that close together.
“The other thing that struck me, and I think you mentioned it in the story, was that we went out there, and we collected all the bones (of White’s body), and we found this cat skeleton. And the cat, in the vertebra, it still had a shotgun pellet. It wasn’t an old wound. It had killed the cat. … That skeleton was pretty much on top of the grave. … It occurred to me that what had happened there, and again, it’s kind of a wild theory, is that someone had been keeping an eye on that grave and came back and found that animals had disturbed it. Perhaps he shot the cat and left it deliberately on top of the grave, because if anybody did come by and smell something, they’d peek in there and see a dead cat and move on. Otherwise, you’d have to assume that the cat was shot somewhere else and by coincidence managed to crawl off and die on the grave of this young girl. … I always figured that whoever it was was somehow, in one way or another, keeping an eye on that grave.”
09-07-2008, 08:28 PM #8
Bumping case up...
Here is an updated Charley Project profile on Judith
http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/...ll_judith.htmlPlease Help Find Brian Shaffer!
09-08-2008, 08:58 AM #9
10-09-2009, 10:19 PM #10Registered User
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Brenda White's body was found half buried behind a vacant house. Judith Elwell's shoe was found behind another vacant house. Did LE ever dig around the house where this shoe was found? If it is the same perp, and stories I've read strongly suggest this, she may still be buried out there. Does anyone know how thorough the search was? The articles are kind of vague about it.
02-16-2010, 12:34 AM #11
The story from this link was posted earlier, but nothing was mentioned regarding the comments.
from the comments section:
Someone who claims to be Brenda Whites cousin posted this:
I DO KNOW WHEN THEN FOUND WHAT THEY THOUGHT WAS LEFT OF BRENDAS REMANES THERE WAS ANOTHER LITTLE GIRLS SHOE THERE ,ONLY ONE THAT WAS NOT BRENDAS .MAYBE IF YOU SAW IT YOU WOULD RECONIZE IT
I'm also curious if Judith has DNA anywhere. I don't see her listed at Namus and can't find any online info whether there is DNA or not for her to compare to any unidentifieds.
A shame LE seemed to lose, misplace or ? the files for both Judith Elwell and Brenda Whites case.
If the files are gone, I wonder if that means any evidence collected is gone too.
Last edited by Cubby; 02-16-2010 at 12:37 AM.
02-16-2010, 12:50 AM #12
Article from '67 regarding the abduction.
Last edited by Cubby; 02-16-2010 at 12:55 AM.
02-16-2010, 12:51 AM #13Registered User
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02-16-2010, 01:04 AM #14
So true. Though I really would be curious to know about any physical evidence and was DNA recovered?
A case is 40 plus years old. I would love to see dna entered, perp was caught and convicted of another crime and has either died, or this opens case to prosecute.
Quite a few old google archived articles regarding Judith and Beth. I seem to agree based on what I have read, it does appear to be the same perp.
Last edited by Cubby; 02-16-2010 at 10:01 AM. Reason: added link to wrong thread
02-16-2010, 08:41 AM #15
I don't know if they have any DNA in Judith's case. Stella mentioned in a post about whether or not they had dug around the abandoned house where Judith's shoe was found. That's a good point. But I can't find anything in any news articles that they did. What I want to know also is what they did with those shirts, trousers and straw hat that was found in the abandoned house near where Brenda's body was found. Did they keep those or just leave them there? I would think they would want those to do whatever kind of testing on them that could have been done in 1967, or save them as evidence for future testing. It doesn't sound like they did anything with them.
I also think it's interesting that Judith's brother, Mark, said he had seen a car casing the house for 3 weeks, and that it even followed him on his newspaper route. But the police dimissed that as his "overactive imagination." Too bad he couldn't have gotten the license plate number at the time. But he would have only been about 9 years old so it probably frightened him more than anything.
Last edited by MaryLiz; 02-16-2010 at 11:43 AM.
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