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Top 10 Cold Cases – Kidnappings

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Child abduction in the United States continues to reach astronomically high numbers. Even with advanced technology to help solve cold cases in kidnappings, there is still a pressing need for collaboration between U.S. Government agencies and crime analysis experts to join forces and uncover the truth behind these unsolved crimes. According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there were a total of 85,820 records of missing or unidentified persons in 2010 in the United States alone. Out of these 85,820 active records, 62% of them were for juveniles under 20 (50% were for juveniles under the age of 18, and 12% were for juveniles ranging between 18-20 years-old). Whether you study forensic anthropology or are an expert detective, all forensic specialists can help play a role in solving cold cases, such as those categorized in kidnappings. In the list below, we have highlighted the top 10 cold cases in kidnapping in the U.S.

Top 10 Cold Cases in Kidnappings

1. Paul Joseph Fronczak : Paul Joseph Fronczak was kidnapped as a day-old baby out of a Chicago hospital in 1964. However, his was a case that ended with good news: he was found two years later in a stroller and returned to his parents, according to CNN.  At least, it seemed that way for more than 40 years. Fronczak, who is now 49 and lives in Nevada, took a DNA test in 2012. It turned out he was not related to the Fronczaks at all. In fact, a DNA technician told him point blank that there was “no remote way” he was their child, CNN reported.  Now, Fronczak is left wondering exactly who he and the FBI, which initially handled the case, has re-opened it. The kidnapper, reportedly a woman dressed as a nurse remains unidentified, and the whereabouts of Fronczak’s biological son is still unknown. The Facebook page “Who is Paul Fronczak?” contains more. ABC News also has additional coverage.

2. Janice Pockett : In July of 2013, the 40th anniversary of Janice Pockett’s disappearance, many people in her Tolland, Conn. town gathered together in her memory. Her older sister remembers the day that Janet went missing as does her cousin and many others. In fact, it’s hard for people to forget that July day in 1973 when Janice, then seven, disappeared, according to Hartford’s Courant. By all reports, she had been riding her bike, and never came back. Her older sister recalled going out with her mom and calling her sister’s name “over and over,” according to the Courant. Her bike was later found less than a mile from her home and a Connecticut police official commented that she must have been “snatched” on the way back, according to the website Still Unsolved. The Connecticut State Police initially investigated the case, which has been reopened again and again, and it remains the lead agency on the crime. Janice’s story has been featured on Discovery Network’s “Dark Minds” and a “Janice Pockett – Missing Since July 26, 1973” Facebook page contains related information.

3. Angela Hammond : Angela Hammond, 20, was four months pregnant when she disappeared from Clinton, Mo., in April 1991. She was last said to be talking on a pay phone to her boyfriend outside a grocery store about 11:45 p.m., according to the website Still Unsolved. The details indicate she was telling her boyfriend about a pick-up truck that pulled into the parking lot with a grimy looking white man inside. Not much later Angela’s boyfriend heard her scream so he rushed to the store, reportedly passing a pick-up truck on his way. He heard someone yell “Robbie” out of the window, and he turned around to follow the truck, but his transmission died two miles later. That was the last anyone saw the girl that went by ‘Angie’ and the case has never been solved. The “Angela Hammond” Facebook page is devoted to her and the Clinton Police Department is available to take any new details.

4. Allyson Dalton : It’s been 15 years since Allyson Dalton, then just a baby, disappeared from her mother’s Strasburg, Va. apartment, but detectives are not giving up hope. In July of 2013, the Virginia State Police Department issued a press release saying it is still looking for leads in her case, according to the Northern Virginia Daily.  So much gruesome information about the case is already known, just not what happened to the baby. In fact, Alyson’s mother, Sylena Jo Dalton, then 20, was found stabbed to death in the apartment that she shared with Allyson and her own mother. In 2001, Sylena’s mother filed a wrongful death suit against Alyson’s former boyfriend, Daniel E. Pompeii, who she said she was the father of the child, and responsible for kidnapping Allyson, according to the website LetsFindThem. The Connecticut State Police say that Pompeii has not been “exonerated” as a suspect and continue to work with the Strasburg Police Department in seeking clues and new information. News articles, such one called “Mother Killed, Daughter taken in Shenandoah Valley Town” by the Washington Examiner, have helped keep interest in her story and disappearance alive.

5. Jacob Wetterling : Jacob Wetterling has a foundation in his name, and its purpose, according to a 2013 CBS Minnesota news story is to remind others that missing people should not be forgotten. A man reportedly abducted Jacob, then 11, in October 1989 from the end of a driveway in St. Joseph, Minn. as Jacob rode his bike with a brother and a friend, according to another CBS Local news story. Wetterling has never been found and the man whose driveway Jacob was abducted from, Dan Rassier, has been dedicated to clearing his own name. In May of 2013, it was reported that one of Rassier’s 911 calls was lost, leading to questions about the efficacy of the investigation. A Huffington Post article in 2012 showed that Rassier claims his civil rights had been violated by zealous law enforcement officials. However, as of February 2013, a convicted sex offender in the area, Matthew Feeney, was reinvestigated as a possible suspect, but then ruled out. For now, Jacob is still missing and the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office remains open to new leads.

6. Danny Goldman : The case of Danny Goldman, missing since 1966 out of Miami-Dade, Fla., was investigated by two agencies: the then-Dade County Sherriff’s Office and the FBI, according to The Miami Herald. Danny was kidnapped from his home in March of 1966, the day before he turned 18. The kidnapper could not find the $10,000 in the home he demanded, so he abducted Danny instead, saying he wanted $25,000 that evening in ransom. The kidnapper never called and Danny was never seen again. The Miami-Dade Police Department re-opened the case in 2012 when investigators went to interview Danny’s former ex-girlfriend. As well, a high school classmate of Danny’s, also an attorney, launched the website surfsidekidnapping.com, to keep interest in the case active. That attorney’s implication? Danny is long gone, but conspiracy and cover-up are crucial elements of the crime.

7. Kim Sue Leggett : In 2012, the FBI released aerial photos related to the disappearance of Kim Sue Leggett to KGRV.com, a Rio Grande Valley, Texas news station. The Monitor reports that in 1994, Leggett, a then 21-year-old wife and mother, was abducted from her place of work at a Texas cotton gin.  Soon thereafter, her father received a ransom phone call and, a few days later, a ransom note, but that was the last they heard. The ransom note appeared to be written in Kim’s handwriting and asked for $250,000. The investigation was handled by the Mercedes Police Department, and may have been botched but not deliberately, an investigator has told KGRV. Believing Kim may be dead, the Texas Department of Public Safety placed her on its Top 12 Texas Rangers Unsolved Homicides Page in 2013. The FBI and Hidalgo County investigators continue to seek information related to the case.

8. Tammy Lynn Leppert : Tammy Lynn Leppert has been missing since July 1983 when she disappeared from Brevard, Fla., at the age of 18, reports ProjectJason.org (editor’s note: site appears to be offline, as of 2018). Leppert was a model who specialized in swimsuit wear, and had won more than 300 beauty contests by the time she reached 16, according to the website Unsolved.com. She may have been three months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, and a male friend said he last saw her, dropping her off outside a Cocoa Beach bank following a disagreement. There were also indications she was having problems at home. Christopher Wilder, a man linked to rapes and murders of women in the area, was a suspect, but police were never able to connect the two and Wilder died in a shoot-out with police in 1984, CharleyProject.org reports. The Cocoa Beach Police Department remains the investigating authority on the case and can be reached with any new details.

9. Brittney Beers : Britney Beers made the news again in 2012, but not in a way that anyone would ever hope for. September of that year made 15 years since the then 6-year-old went missing outside of her apartment complex in Sturgis, Mich., according to the Sturgis Journal. She was last seen sitting on a bench at about 8:45 p.m. outside of her family’s apartment complex, reports WSBT.com. Witnesses indicated that Brittney may have been talking to a man. A red or brown car was described as a vehicle of suspicion in the 1997 crime. A detective with the Sturgis Police Department most recently told WSBT that the girl was probably no longer alive, but that there was always “hope.” The case remained open as of 2012 with the Sturgis Police Department receiving and following up on more than 1,000 tips over the years. Brittney is being remembered in other ways. For instance, as of July 2013, the Sturgis Police Department offers free child digital fingerprinting through “Project Brittney”.

10. Sabrina Aisenberg : In 2012, Nancy Grace featured the disappearance of Sabrina Aisenberg, a 5-month-old, on her true crime show to try and garner attention for her case. Sabrina had actually disappeared in November 1997 from her crib right around Thanksgiving time. The garage was found open and the house door unlocked, according to the Nancy Grace website, and there was no sign of an intrusion. The parents were considered top suspects by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which received a warrant to bug their home, according to ABC News 20/20. The couple was indicted by the FBI, but a federal judge declared the information obtained from the bug in the home inaudible and therefore inadmissible. The couple had also taken polygraphs, but they turned out to be inconclusive, according to Unsolved Mysteries. In 2003, a girl in Illinois was thought to be Sabrina, but DNA proved otherwise. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate and Sabrina has never been found.

Feature image provided by Selma90, thumbnail image provided by wsilver.

The following criteria were used in compiling this list of Top 10 Cold Cases:

  1. Crime Committed: Each of the individuals on this list, sadly, were either kidnapped or abducted.
  2. Length of Case: All of these crimes are at least 10 years old.
  3. Newsworthy: Many of these cases were major news stories at the time and/or continue to generate news. Most of the communities that the individuals lived in were deeply affected.