Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vanished Woman Found Alive 52 Years Later

Lucy Ann Johnson
More cases…
by Robert A. Waters

One reason prosecutors hate to try cases where no remains have been found is that the “victim” can always reappear—alive.
Lucy Ann Johnson is a case in point.
The British Columbia housewife went missing in 1961, but her husband, Marvin, didn’t notify police until four years later.  That delay made investigators suspect he’d killed her and hidden her body. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted various searches, eventually digging up his back yard in an attempt to find Lucy.
Authorities wanted to arrest Marvin for the murder, but just didn’t have the evidence.  Even so, the beleaguered husband lived under a cloud of suspicion until his death in the 1990s.
Lucy had a history of estrangement from her family.  Born in Alaska, she moved away when she was eighteen and, according to police records, “did not maintain contact with her family.”  She married Marvin in 1954 and had two children.  Marvin worked on a tugboat, though he was unemployed at the time of her disappearance.
As the decades rolled on, no one from her family or community heard from Lucy.  Marvin said he thought she was dead.  Their son died, but their daughter, Linda Evans, continued to wonder what had happened.
Finally, after the RCMP listed Lucy as a “missing person of the month” in their newsletter, Linda placed ads in newspapers across Alaska.  A daughter from Lucy’s new family contacted Linda with the information that her mother was living in Yukon.  Authorities confirmed this report—Lucy was now 72.
Brenda Heist went missing for eleven years before contacting authorities.  She later informed police that she left her home in Pennsylvania with several homeless people.  They ended up in Florida.
Heist stated that an impending divorce and the pressure of having to care for her three children caused her to leave.  For eleven years, she lived under several aliases, stole identification cards, forged checks, and violated her probation.  She occasionally worked as a house cleaner.  Heist finally admitted her real identity, but not before she had been declared dead in 2010.
While Heist’s mother was forgiving, her daughter was not.  Her husband, who was considered a suspect in her disappearance, also declined to meet with Heist.
People who vanish, then reappear, often cause more problems than they could ever imagine.  Take the case of Eric Myers.
In 1991, the married father of five flew off into the California sun and disappeared.
Police assumed that he’d been murdered by persons unknown.
Myers was eventually declared dead, and his two daughters collected on a life insurance policy worth $800,000.
But the former husband was alive and well all along.  He’d gone underground, and had begun living with a man Myers called his husband.
In 2007, he made a “miraculous” entrance back into the lives of his family.  While Myers’ parents (and Liberty Life Insurance Company) welcomed him, his wife and children were emotionally devastated.  The insurance company immediately sued his daughters to recoup their money—several years later, the case is still making its way through the courts.
How many other vanished souls are still living under the grid?  And how many innocent spouses have been convicted of their murders?

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