Missing Since: June 22, 1990 from Kailua, Hawaii
Classification: Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: July 4, 1984
Age: 5 years old
Height and Weight: 3'0, 45 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, green/hazel eyes. Therese has moles on her back and on both of her shoulders. Her ears are pierced. Therese may use the following names: Therese Rose Vanderheiden Walsh, Therese Rose Vanderheiden and/or Therese Rose Walsh.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Pink shorts, a pink t-shirt, and pink and white Nike sneakers.
Details of Disappearance
Therese's father, Francis Walsh, had sole custody of her in 1990. Her mother, Merle Marie Vanderheiden, was not permitted to conduct unsupervised visits with Therese until she submitted to a psychological evaluation. Merle's photos and vital statistics are posted below this case summary. Francis and Merle met in Maryland in 1979 and married in 1980. They were both assigned to United States Army intelligence units at the time. The couple eventually relocated to Hawaii with their daughter. Francis said that the marriage was troubled and he moved out of the family's home in 1987. Merle apparently accused Francis of sexually abusing Therese some time afterwards. Authorities investigated Merle's claims and found that there was no evidence to support the allegations.
Merle eventually moved back to the US mainland while Francis and Therese remained in Hawaii. She made regular phone calls to Therese in 1990 while she was not permitted unsupervised visitations with the child. Therese was enrolled at a day care center in Kailua, Hawaii on June 22, 1990. Her teacher noticed a woman wearing dark sunglasses and a hat near the grounds while the students filed back into the center after recess ended. The teacher realized that Therese had disappeared when her classmates took their seats in their room.
Authorities believe that Merle was the woman spotted on the center's property and that she abducted her daughter from the grounds. A felony interference with custody warrant for Merle's arrest was issued on July 26, 1990. She has yet to be captured and Therese's whereabouts remain unknown.
Merle has access to firearms and is considered dangerous. She has the abilities to evade authorities due to her intelligence training. Merle has been sighted throughout the years in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Colorado and Texas. She may be employed in a hospital, as a social worker or as a forest ranger.
Some people believe that Merle was aided in Therese's abduction by Children Of The Underground
, a controversial organization founded by Faye Yager. A photo of Yager is posted below this case summary. The group assists parents and children who want to disappear due to alleged abuse and otherwise. Yager claims to have assisted Emily Sawyer
and her mother in their flight, also.
Francis helped found the Hawaii State Clearinghouse On Missing Children
after his daughter's abduction. He died in 1998. Therese's case remains unsolved.
Above Images: Vanderheiden, circa 1990
Date Of Birth
: August 5, 1950
: 39 years old
Height and Weight
: 5'5 - 5'7, 120 - 145 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair, green eyes. Merle wears eyeglasses or contact lenses. She may wear wigs to disguise her identity. Merle's ears are pierced. She may use the aliases Marie Walsh, Kara Vanderheiden, Jacqueline Smith, Vann Vanderheiden, Pat Doherty, Mary Jean Hamm, Kara Johnson and/or Kara Cochran.
Investigating Agency Charley Project
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Honolulu Police Department
Federal Bureau Of Investigation