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Private detective explores 1967 abduction of two girls in Oklahoma

BY KYLE HINCHEY khinchey@opubco.com Modified: July 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm •  Published: July 28, 2013

“We're always hoping that somebody comes forward so that we can bring the case to a logical conclusion, but we have to have something to go on at this point,” Clabes said. “We don't have any viable leads that would lead us to any one suspect or any information that could lead us to the suspect.”

Seeking witnesses

Thiessen advertises, usually on Craigslist or OK Jailbirds, asking people with any information to contact him. Two women have come forward, saying they were nearly abducted years ago. Both think it may have been the same person who kidnapped Judith and Brenda.

Oklahoma City resident Rhonda Miller, who has struggled to suppress memories of her near abduction in September 1967, told Thiessen her story, hoping it could help bring an end to these cases.

Her encounter, on NW 96 as she was walking home from school, happened about a month after Brenda was taken. The white Plymouth her stalker drove was similar to descriptions of a car that might have carried Brenda away.

The individual in the vehicle chased her through her neighborhood, until she was finally able to hide in a friend's house.

Miller thinks it was the same person who kidnapped Judith and Brenda.

“I feel that I've seen the abductor,” Miller said. “His face is right in my mind. It's always haunted me, and it's affected my life.

“My whole life, I've felt guilty, thinking, I know the car, and I know the guy. Why can't I help? How can I help? If I could just get the picture out of my mind of him, maybe someone would recognize him, like, ‘I know who that was!' ”

She said the man appeared to be white with darker skin, perhaps from being in the sun often. He wore glasses and had darker hair.

Thiessen has emailed countless pictures of suspects to Miller, including photos of his primary suspect. She didn't recognize any of them. But Miller's encounter was nearly 46 years ago, and details fade after time, Thiessen said.

Fractured families

Judith's only surviving family member is her older brother, Mark Elwell. In a 2007 interview with The Oklahoman, Elwell said his family was investigated after Judith's disappearance.

“They dug up our front yard,” he said. “They dug up our backyard. They dug up underneath our house. They dug up the place where my father worked. ... I couldn't tell you how many times they took my mother or my father down there (to police headquarters) and grilled them. You don't seem to understand. My father was a strait-laced Catholic. He never smoked. He never drank. He never cussed. My mother was a strait-laced Catholic.”

Their mother, who suffered from cancer, mourned Judith until her death six years after the abduction. Their father struggled keeping a job afterward.

Elwell still thought about Judith often, he said in 2007, and she continued to haunt his dreams.

He could not be reached for comment for this story.

Tammie Turner was 2 — the youngest of seven children — when her sister, Brenda, was abducted. She has no memories of her sister or the day that changed her family's life, but she remembers their mom being upset.

Turner and her family rarely discussed what happened.

“I don't know if it's just because we don't want to upset each other or it's been so long,” she said.

Turner's curiosity about what happened to her sister started building as she grew older. She started searching for information on the case on the Internet and looking through old newspaper clippings.

She said her parents probably don't expect to see the investigation solved in their lifetime, but she wouldn't mind being wrong.

“I guess anything is possible.”

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.

I feel that I've seen the abductor. His face is right in my mind. It's always haunted me, and it's affected my life. My whole life, I've felt guilty, thinking, I know the car, and I know the guy. Why can't I help? How can I help? If I could just get the picture out of my mind of him, maybe someone would recognize him, like, ‘I know who that was!' ”

Rhonda Miller,
Oklahoma City resident

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