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Missing Woman:Tammy Sue Rothganger - MO - 05/16/1984

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Age-progressed to 36 years

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Tammy Sue Rothganger

DOB:   Aug 10, 1968

Missing:  May 16, 1984

Age at disappearance:  15

Sex:  Female

Race:  White

Hair:  Brown

Eyes:  Brown

Height:  5'7" (170 cm)

Weight:  140 lbs (64 kg)

Missing From:


United States

Tammy's photo is shown age-progressed to 36 years. She was last seen at school on May 16, 1984. Tammy has a tattoo of "R" on her left arm.

Contact Information:

Eldon Police Department (Missouri)


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Investigators reopen case of Eldon teen missing since 1984

January 7, 2006

It's a case that's had investigators baffled and family members without closure for almost 22 years.

But with enhanced DNA technology and new leads, the case of a missing Eldon teen has been reopened and detectives are once again looking for clues.

On May 16, 1984, 14-year-old Tammy Rothganger left for school as she did every morning. Later that same day, when she didn't return from school, her family discovered she never made it to any of her classes. They informed the Eldon Police Department and officers launched an investigation.

"We know that she was last seen getting into a blue Plymouth at about 7:45 that morning in front of the Eldon High School building. Nobody ever heard or saw her again," said Eldon Police Chief Rodney Fair.

Investigators said they had a suspect in the case at the time but were never able to connect him to the crime. After leads continued to turn up empty and years passed, the case became "cold" and the investigation basically ended.

However, according to Fair, new information received through the DOE Network alerted detectives and the case was immediately reopened.

A recently released flyer, containing information and photos, caught investigators' attention. According to the Clay County Sheriff's Department, in April of 1985, a set of human bones was found in a farmer's field outside of Liberty.

Photos of a facial reconstruction of the skull have been released and investigators have been searching to find out whose remains were found.

Tracy Sherwood, the Missouri Director for the DOE Network said she noticed a strong resemblance when she compared Rothganger's photos to the reconstruction photos.

"I don't usually get too excited, but this one excited me. I contacted the Eldon Police Department, and shortly afterwards, they informed me they had reopened the case," Sherwood said.

Other than to confirm the development of a couple of new leads, Fair would not elaborate or comment on the case, nor would he confirm the name of any suspects related to the case.

But Lt. Arthur Chevalier from the Clay County Sheriff's Department's Cold Case Division said investigators have ruled out more than 20 leads on their "Jane Doe" case through the use of dental chart comparisons. However, that method will not be possible in with the Rothganger case.

"We are relying on the use of DNA samples that we received from the Rothganger family on Wednesday to determine if there is a match this time," Chevalier said. "It will take about two months before we get the results back from the Kansas City Crime Lab and, until we have those results, we can't confirm anything."

Members of the Rothganger family who currently reside in Washington do not believe the body found in Clay County is Tammy.

Sharon Leonard, Rothganger's aunt, has spent numerous hours searching for information about her niece and says she won't stop looking until the family has closure.

"At this point, almost 22 years later, we need closure. But I don't think this (lead) is going to be it," Leonard said.

Although investigators will not confirm a suspect's name, the Rothganger family launched, a Web site with information about a man they believe is responsible for Rothganger's disappearance.

According to the Web site, the man was convicted on a first-degree murder charge and is now serving a life sentence in the Kansas Department of Corrections.

"We (the family) are almost certain we know who was responsible for Tammy's disappearance and the police know it, too. We just haven't been able to prove anything all these years," Leonard said. "While I don't think the reconstruction is Tammy, I'm just glad they reopened the case. Something has to break in this case sooner or later."

Anyone who has any information about Tammy Rothganger is asked to contact the Eldon Police Department at (513)-392-5611 or via email at

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Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Rothganger, circa 1984

Vital Statistics

Date Of Birth: August 10, 1968

Age at Time of Disappearance: 15 years old

Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance:5'7" (170 cm); 140 lbs (64 kg)

Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Sandy blonde/brown hair; brown eyes.

Marks, Scars, Tattoos: Scar on left arm, several small moles on cheeks and chin. Tattoo of "R" on her left arm.

DNA: Available

Circumstances of Disappearance

Rothganger left for school, which was across the street from her home in Eldon, MO on May 16, 1984. She was never seen again. Her mother was dating a man who is now serving a life sentence in Kansas for murder. He is a suspect in this case.

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Rothganger was last seen at Eldon High School at approximately 7:45 a.m. on May 16, 1984. The school is just across the street from her home in Eldon, Missouri. She was last seen getting into a blue Plymouth in front of the school building. She never attended classes that day and has never been heard from again. Her family reported her missing that afternoon.

At the time of Rothganger's disappearance, her mother was dating Martin Priest. A photograph of him is posted below this case summary. Priest lived with Rothganger and her mother in May 1984. He is now serving a life sentence in a Kansas state prison for an unrelated murder; he robbed and shot a 15-year-old girl in 1984. Priest is the prime suspect in Rothganger's disappearance, but he has never been charged in connection with her case. Foul play is suspected in Rothganger's case, which remains unsolved.

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Martin Priest

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Gruesome discovery stirs up emotions for mothers of missing

January 7, 2009

Three Mid-Missouri moms are sitting on the edge of their seats. Their intense emotions are reactions to recent news of human remains found near a creek on the outskirts of Eldon.

The Miller County Sheriff's Department verified the remains are human but, according to Sheriff Bill Abbott, the gender and age still must be determined by the Boone County Medical Examiner. Until then, Abbott is not releasing any further information.

Read more at link above.

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Missing children remembered

Written by Mary Rupert

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 15:00

Law enforcement and community members gathered Wednesday at City Hall to remember missing children throughout the region and in America.

Names of missing children from the region were read during a ceremony. Commissioner John Mendez read a proclamation designating the day as missing children's day.

The event included a balloon release, with one balloon for each child missing in the region.


Missing children from Kansas:


Read more:

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