KY KY - Claude Shelton, 37, & Martha “Sue” Shelton, 27, Corbin, 1971

Oakie

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They just don't sound like the kind of people to be involved in anything nefarious and 1971 Corbin, KY was probably not the kind of place where there were a lot of drugs or other illegal activities happening.

Oh, there was quite a bit of that. I grew up in KY in the 60s and 70s and it was pervasive everywhere....and, particularly a lot of police corruption.
 

Alleykins

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This is such a sad case. After reading through some of the news articles back in 1971, I have to agree with those who think they had some sort of accident or met with foul play.

A couple of things about 1971:

If you were a couple with husband working and mom staying at home, you usually did your grocery shopping on Friday night after your husband came home from work with his paycheck. For some couples, that might mean there isn't a lot of food at home on Thursday night.

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds were not too common and would not have stayed open past 10 pm

There were no restaurants or grocery or convenience stores that stayed open late at night. Really, not even gas stations. One place that would be open very late at night back then would be a truck stop. My guess is they didn't have a lot of food at home and the husband needed a lunch for the next day, so they went to pick up sandwiches and coffee at the truck stop. I'm guessing someone needed a pack of cigarettes, too.

If they had money saved up, it was probably to buy a house or car. If they were excited about the prospect of buying a home, they would have mentioned this to other family members.

They just don't sound like the kind of people to be involved in anything nefarious and 1971 Corbin, KY was probably not the kind of place where there were a lot of drugs or other illegal activities happening.

Not sure about Kentucky, but I grew up in a relatively small New England town. Back in the 70s, everything was closed on Sundays, except churches and small mom and pop stores, and businesses shut down early each night, except for bars. We had two all night diners in the area that I recall, where truckers, bar patrons, and restless souls could pop in and get a cup of coffee and a bite to eat in the wee hours of the morning.
 

Betty P

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Oh, there was quite a bit of that. I grew up in KY in the 60s and 70s and it was pervasive everywhere....and, particularly a lot of police corruption.

Perhaps. The suburban town I lived in didn't have much more than marijuana back then and it was a good sized metro area. The people dealing it were hippies and college students. Young people.

Regardless, there's absolutely nothing about this couple to indicate they were involved in that kind of activity. They don't look the type - not the same lifestyle (working mechanic with stay at home wife and 3 kids?), lived in a trailer court off a busy commercial highway, not the same appearance, car, past times, etc. In 1971 no hippie would buy a bag of grass from this couple. They would have thought they were undercover police. No way.

Nothing was revealed after their disappearance either. I feel bad when innocent people go missing like this and strangers make up a lot of defamatory stories about what sordid activities they might have been involved in. They're not around to defend themselves.
 

nerosleuth

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This is such a sad case. After reading through some of the news articles back in 1971, I have to agree with those who think they had some sort of accident or met with foul play.

A couple of things about 1971:

If you were a couple with husband working and mom staying at home, you usually did your grocery shopping on Friday night after your husband came home from work with his paycheck. For some couples, that might mean there isn't a lot of food at home on Thursday night.

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds were not too common and would not have stayed open past 10 pm

There were no restaurants or grocery or convenience stores that stayed open late at night. Really, not even gas stations. One place that would be open very late at night back then would be a truck stop. My guess is they didn't have a lot of food at home and the husband needed a lunch for the next day, so they went to pick up sandwiches and coffee at the truck stop. I'm guessing someone needed a pack of cigarettes, too.

If they had money saved up, it was probably to buy a house or car. If they were excited about the prospect of buying a home, they would have mentioned this to other family members.

They just don't sound like the kind of people to be involved in anything nefarious and 1971 Corbin, KY was probably not the kind of place where there were a lot of drugs or other illegal activities happening.

Perhaps. The suburban town I lived in didn't have much more than marijuana back then and it was a good sized metro area. The people dealing it were hippies and college students. Young people.

Regardless, there's absolutely nothing about this couple to indicate they were involved in that kind of activity. They don't look the type - not the same lifestyle (working mechanic with stay at home wife and 3 kids?), lived in a trailer court off a busy commercial highway, not the same appearance, car, past times, etc. In 1971 no hippie would buy a bag of grass from this couple. They would have thought they were undercover police. No way.

Nothing was revealed after their disappearance either. I feel bad when innocent people go missing like this and strangers make up a lot of defamatory stories about what sordid activities they might have been involved in. They're not around to defend themselves.

Everything you mentioned about 1971 is true. My parents are from rural Eastern Kentucky. I also remember how things were back then when traveling with my parents to the rural areas of Kentucky in 1971.

Back in 1971, a lot of the small towns in rural areas of Kentucky had stores that were open until 6:00 p.m. and were closed on Sundays.

Grocery stores were usually open until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. in the evening. You had to go to a drug store or pharmacy if you needed a prescription to be filled. Grocery stores did not fill your prescriptions back then.

Banks were usually open until 3:00 p.m. weekdays, but on Fridays were open until 6:00 p.m. and were open until noon on Saturdays, but were closed on Sundays. Bank ATM's did not exist at all back then.

National chain fast food restaurants did not exist in many of the small towns in the rural areas of Kentucky back then. Most small towns only had local mom and pop restaurants.

Gas stations were open until about 8:00 p.m. in the evening and some were closed on Sundays.

I agree with the thinking that the Shelton parents either had an accident or were victims of foul play.

I believe there are two possible reasons why Martha Sue Shelton left her purse at home.

The first reason is that Martha Sue Shelton was rushed when she left home and she simply forgot her purse.

The second reason is that she felt that she didn't need to take her purse with her and was going somewhere that was nearby their home.

If an accident was involved, it's possible that their vehicle could have left the roadway during foggy conditions, or they could have been forced off the roadway.

It also possible that they went to pick up sandwiches at a truck stop or perhaps at an all night roadside diner, but never made it there.

Another possiblity is rather than being involved in illicit activities of any kind, they were lured or coerced to go somewhere which they didn't have any choice about the time and meeting location, and they became victims of foul play.

If foul play is involved, it's possible that someone knew they had money.

I don't know what it could have been that lured or coerced them into leaving their home during the middle of the night, but whatever it is, it cannot be good at all.
 

wary

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This is such a sad case. After reading through some of the news articles back in 1971, I have to agree with those who think they had some sort of accident or met with foul play.

A couple of things about 1971:

If you were a couple with husband working and mom staying at home, you usually did your grocery shopping on Friday night after your husband came home from work with his paycheck. For some couples, that might mean there isn't a lot of food at home on Thursday night.

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds were not too common and would not have stayed open past 10 pm

There were no restaurants or grocery or convenience stores that stayed open late at night. Really, not even gas stations. One place that would be open very late at night back then would be a truck stop. My guess is they didn't have a lot of food at home and the husband needed a lunch for the next day, so they went to pick up sandwiches and coffee at the truck stop. I'm guessing someone needed a pack of cigarettes, too.

If they had money saved up, it was probably to buy a house or car. If they were excited about the prospect of buying a home, they would have mentioned this to other family members.

They just don't sound like the kind of people to be involved in anything nefarious and 1971 Corbin, KY was probably not the kind of place where there were a lot of drugs or other illegal activities happening.

Good points.

If Mr Shelton smoked, and just HAD to get a pack, it’d help clarify the “want to come along” question. And it’d supply some innocent urgency to the trip.

Do we know who mentioned the $600? Could it possibly have been outdated information—money that had been saved up and then used for something? Or, possibly the other idea, that someone came in and took it?

I’m not sure that leaving the children alone is that significant. The oldest child had reached ‘babysitting age,’ and they may not have planned to be gone for long. It seems to me that you might almost think it was safer to leave them alone at night—if you live in a place that you consider safe from crime. (Daytime is when the younger children will play with matches, get into mischief.)

Legal Babysitting Age by State 2021

Kentucky doesn’t even seem to have a law about the age for babysitting, but it’s shockingly low in some of the nearby states.

I’m not giving my own views on child safety in the paragraphs above!

If I had to bet, I’d think that a misadventure took them into the lake. I forget the name of that volunteer group that searches for missing people, but it might be a good project for them.

MOO
 

Satch

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Great points from the above quoted post and added post!

This really sounds more and more like a terrible accident, even over foul play, I still suspect that Claude and Sue's bodies are in a lake, may they rest in peace.

Excellent point about the lack of businesses being open after 10pm in 1971 and discussion of traditional stay-at--home Mom, back than, waiting for the husband to come home. If he worked after hours, you got food and other essentials at truck stops, like cigarettes.

Different reports say the $600 went missing when they did. Others sources only remember one of the kids saying that they kept a savings jar. but it was never substantiated as for what they money's intent was. I am starting to think that that money was a small savings fund, and was not used for day-to-day shopping essentials.

Sue never took her purse, which is strong evidence to me that they were coming right back. If they had told the kids they were going to a truck-stop after they got home from visiting Claude's parents, there would not be a need to mention it again.

In one of the articles online, a neighbor or investigator commented that the following day, there was no food in the house. If that's true, than it stands to reason that the couple was going to King's truck stop. Google Maps also shows three of the four possible routes that the Shelton's could have taken being surrounded by water.

We also don't know how long the couple was home before they took off to "Kings." If this was nothing more than a planned late-night food run, it would not be a lot of talking needed before their disappearance.

Satch
 

Alleykins

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upload_2022-1-5_20-5-9.pngThis is the first article in archived newspapers I found, dated June 2, 1971. It states the Sheltons left the house at 2 a.m.
upload_2022-1-5_20-15-18.png This article, dated June 22, 1971, states they went out at 2:30 am for a ride, based on what the kids said to the neighbor who cared for them until they moved in with their grandparents.
 

Oakie

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When ever the car is missing along with the person missing I always first assume it must be in a body of water nearby. JMHO.

There is a large body of water at Corbin.

It's called the Laurel River lake. I wonder if the vehicle is located in the river lake and I wonder if they are with it as well.

That lake wasn't filled until 1974. Which doesn't mean that they couldn't be at the bottom of the Laurel River that was dammed up to become the lake, but my suspicion is that foul play is more likely than accidental drowning. There are lots of places to hide cars and bodies in eastern KY.
 

Satch

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That lake wasn't filled until 1974. Which doesn't mean that they couldn't be at the bottom of the Laurel River that was dammed up to become the lake, but my suspicion is that foul play is more likely than accidental drowning. There are lots of places to hide cars and bodies in eastern KY.

Very interesting Oakie,

For what reasons do you suspect foul play more than accidental drowning in this case?

Satch
 

VaYank5150

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Adventures with purpose is a diving team which often searches for vehicles and missing people in waters. Perhaps they could help here?
I'm not sure if they could be contacted by strangers, I think family or LE have to reach out first.

Please, PLEASE do not think this way. AWP prefers to hear from families and individuals all the time. While they are on the road and very busy, I have yet to never receive a response from these guys when I reach out.
 

Alleykins

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As far as Sue leaving her purse behind, since she was with her husband, she may have felt she didn't need it.

The other night, my husband and I ran to the store, and I left my handbag behind. I think it was the first time I've ever not taken it with me. I only dared leave it behind because it was a quick trip. Had it been our weekly shopping, or any other type of outing other than a quick in and out, I would have brought it with me.
So for me, whether or not I bring my handbag has to do with the length of the excursion. That's probably my bias, though, because whenever I read a case where someone left their purse behind, I usually equate it with not being gone long/expecting to come back soon. But it truly depends on that person's habits.
 

Lifeonaline

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Adventures with Purpose uploaded their latest you tube video today.
The Shelton family was the subject of this search, unfortunately they did not locate their vehicle underwater.

I can't recall which lakes they searched (even though I only just watched it) but all the information is contained in the video.

 

nerosleuth

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Adventures with Purpose uploaded their latest you tube video today.
The Shelton family was the subject of this search, unfortunately they did not locate their vehicle underwater.

I can't recall which lakes they searched (even though I only just watched it) but all the information is contained in the video.


The interesting part of this video was when Jared, who grew up during the 1970's era explained to an astonished Josh how things were different when kids growing up in that era were left home alone compared to how kids are growing up today.

Also of intetest in the video was the comments that folks made regarding how they grew up during their childhood years back during the 1960's and 1970's era.
 

nerosleuth

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One thing I learned from the video that I didn't know about this case was about the other car on the side of the road that the Sheltons may have stopped and helped. Did I hear this right?

You did hear that right about another vehicle that apparently was on the roadside where the Sheltons may have stopped to give assistance.

Youtube has a neat feature where you can see a transcript of what all was said in a video.

Look for the arrow that is pointing down at the highlighted title in the video.

Click that arrow, scroll down and then click transcript.

You should see a written transcript of what was said in the video along with the exact time in the video when it was said.
 
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