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  1. #1
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    OK - Joan Gay Croft, 4, Woodward, 9 April 1947

    JOAN GAY CROFT, AGE 4, ENDANGERED MISSING 4/9/1947 FROM OK

    Vital statistics:
    Age at time of disappearance: 4 years old
    Distinguishing Characteristics: White female, blonde hair, blue eyes

    On April 9, 1947 a giant tornado ripped through the town of Woodward. It traveled on the ground for 221 miles at a speed of 46 miles per hour, smashing, without warning, everything in its path. It has been described as one of the 10 most destructive tornadoes of all time, killing 185 people and injuring 720.

    Joan Gay's mother was killed by the giant storm, and her father, H.O. Croft, was critically injured. He was transferred to an Oklahoma City hospital. Joan Gay, with a splinter through her leg, and her sister, were found to have less life-threatening injuries than others seeking care, and were ushered to the hospital basement to wait as more critical injuries were treated.

    Her sister, four years older, reported that two men dressed in khaki work clothes came into the basement and carried Joan Gay away. Apparently due to the turmoil of the night, no one paid any attention to the little girl's protests. For a time it was thought perhaps the child was taken elsewhere for medical treatment. But as days passed following the disaster and damage was assessed and residents accounted for, Joan Gay did not surface on hospital lists or with any family members. The incident received nationwide attention, but Joan Gay never was found.

    From the Doe Network
    Case File #2557DFOK

    SOURCE OF INFORMATION: ENID NEWS, THE DAILY OKLAHOMAN

    No other contact numbers or information.

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/2557dfok.html
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  2. #2
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    I think I saw a TV show about her once, Unsolved Mysteries or something. I wonder why no LE seem to be investigating her case.

  3. #3
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    Quite a strange case, I gotta find more details about this...

  4. #4
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    May 2007
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    I just found this yesterday and it intrigues me so much. I put it up on missing children. I cannot believe she hasnt been found yet.

  5. #5
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    I thought it was very strange. The way the disappearance is worded, it almost seems like it began and ended that night in the hallway of the hospital. It's very odd, like meggilyweggily said, that no LE seemed to be investigating. And there is no family member contact information listed. Even if her sister who was 4 years older is no longer alive, you would think that someone in her family would be searching. I'm going to look in Newspaper Archives too and see if I can find out more about it.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmandaBrown23 View Post
    I just found this yesterday and it intrigues me so much. I put it up on missing children. I cannot believe she hasnt been found yet.
    Amanda, I'm sorry..I saw you put it on the missing children forum earlier this evening. I should have done a search before putting it in the cold case forum.

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  7. #7
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    Her cousin was interviewed in 2002:


    Marvella Parks also has her memories of April 9.
    She was 14.
    "It made a chain reaction thing," Parks said. "One day Woodward is a quiet little town where everybody knew everybody. The next day your neighbors are gone, their homes are gone and you look for members of your family and you don't know where they are."
    Parks acknowledges the tragedy and vents her grief by decorating the graves of the three unidentified girls that Stecher buried.

    She also carries a hope that her cousin, Joan Gay Croft, the only person not accounted for after the tornado, will be found.
    Croft, who was 4 years old in 1947, was seen after the tornado, with injuries that were not considered life threatening.
    Her disappearance from Woodward's hospital in the chaos following the killer storm has been profiled on Unsolved Mysteries.
    "I can never give closure to Joan Gay unless I know for sure," Parks said of the girl she last saw with a sliver of wood in her leg. Joan Gay would be 59 now. If it's meant to be it's going to be, but I will never give up hope of finding her."

    http://www.news-star.com/stories/042102/New_50.shtml

    Also, Steve Huff has a blog about it. There are some interesting posts in the comments section - one person who believes she may be Joan, and one who believes Joan was her former roommate:

    http://www.stevenhuff.net/archives/21

  8. #8
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  9. #9
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    This is a very haunting case. I remember seeing it on "Unsolved Mysteries" many years ago. It's interesting how the older sister, Jerry, who I assume was eight years old at the time (since she is listed as four years older than four-year-old Joan) is basically the only witness to who took her sister. She describes the men who took Joan were dressed in khaki clothing. I wonder if she used the term "khaki"? If so, it sounds like a description of what could have been rescue workers such as people with the National Guard, or whatever the equivalent would have been in Oklahoma in 1947, who would have been on the scene assisting with the tornado's aftermath. Could it also been an eight-year-old's version of what is now referred to as "scrubs" or what those working in a hospital wear? I thought of that since the children were being sheltered in a hospital. On the other hand, maybe it was just some kind of work clothing that rescue workers had quickly gotten into as they rushed to assist followng the storm.

    It seems that it could have just been a case of mistaken identity by people who were searching for a child missing in the storm and Joan Gay resembled one they thought was theirs. Then, when they realized the error, they were afraid to bring her back. You want to believe it was not the work of child abuctors doing such a deed under those conditions, but I'm sure stranger things have happened.

  10. #10
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    Definitely a haunting case. Its elements almost seem to be out of ancient mythology: child survives a harrowing storm which claims many lives, including that of a parent, and then is whisked away to a land unknown, taken under cover of disruption and darkness. One almost expects the River Styx to make an appearance.

    Many of us who grew up in "tornado alley" country have known about this case for a very long time. And it never fails to deliver a chill, to read about it all over again. I had meant for months to search WS to see if this case had a thread (I was reminded of it again this spring, when the tornado sirens sounded here in my OK town) and thanks, Cambria, for having made one.

    I lean toward the "abductors took advantage of the situation" theory, and tend to think that Joan Gay is alive and well somewhere, having been raised by a family who wanted a child.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    Definitely a haunting case. Its elements almost seem to be out of ancient mythology: child survives a harrowing storm which claims many lives, including that of a parent, and then is whisked away to a land unknown, taken under cover of disruption and darkness. One almost expects the River Styx to make an appearance.

    Many of us who grew up in "tornado alley" country have known about this case for a very long time. And it never fails to deliver a chill, to read about it all over again. I had meant for months to search WS to see if this case had a thread (I was reminded of it again this spring, when the tornado sirens sounded here in my OK town) and thanks, Cambria, for having made one.

    I lean toward the "abductors took advantage of the situation" theory, and tend to think that Joan Gay is alive and well somewhere, having been raised by a family who wanted a child.
    You're welcome, wfgodot. I actually forgot about this case. I agree with you... I think she was abducted by someone who wanted a child and definitely took advantage of the situation.

    Thanks to you, too, Cincinnati Kid for bumping the case up.

  12. #12
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    Here's another article from 2007 from the Tulsa World. It's similar to the 2008 article, but slightly different.

    http://www.tulsaworld.com/webextra/i..._A9_spanc04101

  13. #13
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    Another interesting article from the Woodward News in May 2008 about the tornado in general that mentions Joan Croft. It tells of a very poignant poem written about the tornado whose author was never identified.

    http://www.woodwardnews.net/homepage...126082608.html

  14. #14
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    May 2008
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    Have they ever done DNA testing on the 3 little unknown girls? I would think that the family of little Joan would want their DNA checked against the little girl who had blond hair and was estimated to be about 3 or 4. Just to be positive that that little one is not Joan.

  15. #15
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    65 years and six days after Joan Gay Croft disappeared in the aftermath of the deadly tornado, another tornado - initial reports call it "massive" - struck Woodward OK this morning just after midnight. Four are confirmed dead, including two children, at this hour. Daylight may bring the discovery of more victims.

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