MN MN - Virginia Tobkin, 29, Minneapolis, 1 June 1984

Gardener1850

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[h=1]Virginia Mary Tobkin[/h]
  • virginia_mary_tobkin_1.jpg
  • virginia_mary_tobkin_2.jpg
Tobkin, circa 1984



  • Missing Since 06/01/1984
  • Missing From Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Classification Missing
  • Date of Birth 04/29/1955 (62)
  • Age 29 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'7, 150 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes.


[h=3]Details of Disappearance[/h] Tobkin was last seen in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area on June 1, 1984. She has never been heard from again. Few details are available in his case; she is missing under unknown circumstances.

http://charleyproject.org/case/virginia-mary-tobkin

https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/9170/
 
Missing Person Case


Why does it have her listed as missing from Minneapolis if her last known location was in Perham, MN? Perham, MN is 2hrs and 57 mins away from Minneapolis. When you click on the last known location button on Namus, it brings you to a train yard area in Perham. Did she disappear from the parking lot in Perham?
 
Missing Person Case


Why does it have her listed as missing from Minneapolis if her last known location was in Perham, MN? Perham, MN is 2hrs and 57 mins away from Minneapolis. When you click on the last known location button on Namus, it brings you to a train yard area in Perham. Did she disappear from the parking lot in Perham?

It says she was last seen/last known to be in Minneapolis. I don't know why NAMUS has her listed as missing from Perham but it could be that is where she was living at the time or where she was reported missing. More details on this case would be nice.

BTW, here is the new NAMUS link (without the redirect): Missing Person Case
 
Virginia was arrested for prostitution in Minneapolis in January 1978, so it’s likely he’s disappearance in 1984 was related to her profession.
 
From some quick research I learned that Virginia Tobkin was an especially vulnerable adult with intellectual disability, a probable history of urban homelessness in Minneapolis, and a felony conviction for prostitution in 1977 in Hennepin County for which she served a 1 year prison sentence. Her mother died in 1982. Virginia may have still been in mourning in 1984 at the time of her disappearance and/or struggling with a loss of family structure. More details with source citations to follow in this post.

To the questions in previous posts about Virginia's apparently conflicting whereabouts when last seen, I've decided to rely on the NamUs information which seems most clear about what it means:


The "date of last contact" with Virginia Tobkin, ostensibly with the family member(s) who made the missing person report, was on June 1, 1984 in Perham, Otter Tail County, Minnesota. This is where she was born and raised and where an extensive family still resided at the time. The missing person report was filed with the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office where it remains.

Also from NamUs:

"Circumstances of Disappearance: Unknown circumstances. Last known to be in the Minneapolis St. Paul area."

This information about Virginia "last known to be in the Minneapolis St. Paul area" is sometimes confused in the various missing persons websites with the date and place of her last contact which was June 1, 1984 in Perham, MN.

What all this information seems to be saying is that Virginia Mary Tobkin's last known contact with the informants in the missing person report was in Perham, MN on June 1, 1984 - whether in person or via telephone is not known - and that they understood that Virginia's last known location was in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. They knew somehow that at the time of the report which would have been made sometime after June 1, 1984 that she was in the Twin Cities to their knowledge.

The specifics of how Virginia last had contact with anybody in Perham are not given in any information I was able to find. The specifics of how anybody knew Virginia was in the Twin Cities area are also not published.

Perhaps some local newspaper in Otter Tail County not yet digitized covered the story of her missing status. Somehow I doubt it, but will keep an eye out.

More background information:

Childhood:

Her name recorded at birth was Virginia Mary Tobkin. She also went by Virginia Maryann Tobkin, Virginia Mary Ann Tobkin, and Virginia M.A. Tobkin.

In 1971 and 1972 at age 15 and 16 she was participating in Special Olympics events in Perham and Fergus Falls. This suggests that Virginia had a life-long intellectual disability.

She won prizes in the girls' division for the softball throw, standing long jump, and running long jump.

[Source: The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, MN), May 27, 1971 and May 12, 1972. See Newspapers dotcom.]

Some of the child competitors at these events were living at the Lake Park-Wild Rice Children's Home in Fergus Falls, which I understand to be an orphanage.

In 1970 Virginia was apparently living there. See The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls) for 25 July 1970. She is listed among discharges from the Lake Region Hospital, her place of residence given as Children's Home - the place she was discharged to.

I'm not sure how exactly to interpret this except that Virginia may have been separated from her family as a child at some point due to her disability. It might offer insight into her later living situations and relationships.

By all accounts in obituaries for family members and other articles, she was raised in a large well-known and successful farming family.

1977 felony and incarceration

She was arrested in November 1977 at the age of 22 in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota. She was charged and found guilty of prostitution. She was sentenced in December 1977 to 1 year confinement at the Hennepin County Workhouse. So by late 1978 she would have been released.

[Source: https://pa.courts.state.mn.us/default.aspx]

A newspaper article which listed all sentences for Hennepin County in December 1977 included home addresses of those convicted and sentenced. For Virginia the line read "no permanent address" which suggests homelessness at the time of her arrest in Hennepin County.

[Source: Minneapolis Star, District Court sentencing report, January 12, 1978. See Newspapers dotcom.]

I found no other previous or subsequent criminal record for her, and nothing in the County civil, housing, or family courts in the State of Minnesota.

Loss of mother and family notes

Virginia's mother Dorothy Tobkin died August 28, 1982, about two years prior to Virginia's disappearance. This could have meant a disruption of security and family stability for Virginia if she was dependent on her family in any way.

Virginia's father Mac Tobkin remarried in 1985. Mac Tobkin died September 22, 2016. His obituary includes Virginia among family who preceded him in death including both of his wives, daughter Joan, and son Ricky.

This suggests that sometime prior to 2016 the family had come to interpret Virginia's absence as a sign that she was deceased. An Ancestry dotcom family tree gives Virginia's year of death as 2005 which is probably based on "preceded in death by" information from her sister Joan's (McCaslin) obituary from 2005.

The mug shots

I have questions about the provenance and date of the photographs used for Virginia's case file on NamUs. The photos have a mugshot look about them and show her both with and without eye glasses. Her clothing appears to be plain issue, possibly jail or prison garb. This makes me wonder if these photographs could date as far back as 1977-78 when she was incarcerated or if she had subsequent incarcerations leading closer to the time of her disappearance from which these photos were taken. To my eye, the frame style of her glasses could date either to the late 1970s or early 1980s. I found no criminal record subsequent to her 1977 conviction. So the photos might date to 1977, almost 7 years prior to her disappearance.

SUMMARY:

The loss of her mother in 1982 two years before she was last seen, intellectual disability from childhood on, an apparent history of homelessness in Minneapolis, the prior record of prostitution in Minneapolis followed by incarceration suggests that Virginia Tobkin could have been in an extremely vulnerable and risky situation in the Twin Cities where she was last known to be in 1984.

With the history of homelessness and prostitution it is natural to ask whether she had complicating mental health issues and substance abuse.

Rather than the prostitution charges signifying a choice of "profession," a term used above in this thread, her disability and homelessness may have made her especially vulernable to the manipulations of pimps or other offenders.

We can hope that her family is still interested in seeing her case resolve and that Otter Tail County has networked with county authorities in the Twin Cities.

See also:

 
Last edited:

I did a little looking around, but found nothing new to add since my research in Aug 2022 posted above. I learned about Virginia Tobkin's case while looking into another 1980s Minnesota missing person case of special interest.

The Minnesota Historical Society has Otter Tail County newspapers in their microfilm library. Maybe on my next trip I'll have time to see if there was any local press about her disappearance in 1984. I doubt anything was published back then, but it would be worth a look.

Coming up on 40 years.
 

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