The disappearance of Sandy Rea 35 years ago is still one of the most well-known and talked about crime mysteries around the Shawnee area. She has been presumed dead for years, but the question of where her remains may be located is still a missing piece of the investigative puzzle.
On Sept. 19, 1984, the freckled 17-year-old teenager made a phone call from a Shawnee bowling alley in hopes of getting a ride to a party.
Over the decades, there have been many stories shared and theories exchanged about where Sandy went, who she was with and what really happened to her in the following hours or even days after that phone call.
Sandy’s disappearance has been an open case for the Shawnee Police Department for decades. Wednesday, Pottawatomie County District Attorney Allan Grubb said the disappearance of Sandy Rea has troubled him and many citizens in the community. An investigator with a fresh set of eyes is looking at the case, he said.
In addition, Sandy's family hasn’t given up searching for answers on their own.
Her cousin, Johnny Price, made a vow seven years ago that he would find Sandy and he intends to keep that promise to his family, no matter how long it takes.
“I’m not going to give up — I’m not going to stop looking,” he said. “Over the years, we've heard so many stories. How can so many people be so adamant about what they saw...or what happened? All of these stories can't be true. The deeper we dig, the more convoluted it gets.”
For years, it was reported that Sandy was last seen at the Shawnee bowling alley on North Harrison Street, but witness statements in later years of the investigation indicated other possible sightings at parties.
A police-organized dig for possible remains commenced in Shawnee a few years back, but Price feels more places could be searched.
“We'll never know where she's at until we find out where she's not,” he said, adding every search, even when unfounded, crosses another possibility off the list.
Price feels certain someone knows a secret that could end years of wondering and torment for the family and he hopes they eventually make the decision to do the right thing.
“I'm not going to forget about my cousin,” he said.
Sandy is still listed as missing in the database of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The latest age progression photograph shows what Sandy might have looked like at the age of 46.
Shawnee police haven't yet responded to recent inquiries about the case, but anyone with tips or information can contact Shawnee police at 405-273-2122, or contact the investigator at the district attorney's office, 405-275-6800.