Loy Evitts left the Kansas City, Missouri law firm where she worked shortly after 2:00 pm on Monday, February 28, 1977. The 29-year-old legal secretary climbed into her bright yellow MGB GT sports car and headed for some shops located about four blocks away from her office. She was seen browsing in a couple of the stores, but she never returned to work. At some point after finishing her shopping, Loy vanished without a trace.
Loy was a conscientious worker who would often work through her lunch or stay late if she needed to finish a project, so her coworkers weren’t initially concerned when she failed to come back from her lunch break. They assumed that she was just taking a longer lunch to make up for some of the extra hours she worked.
When Loy hadn’t returned to the office by 4:00 pm, her co-workers started to worry that she might have been in a car accident. Their concerns grew once the work day was over and they discovered that Loy’s car was parked in the office’s parking garage. After briefly searching the area for Loy, they called her husband and told him that they weren’t sure where Loy was.
Loy’s husband, Donald Evitts, knew something was wrong as soon as he spoke to her co-workers. Although Loy would sometimes work late, she always called to let him know. He called several of her friends, hoping that one of them would know where Loy could be. None of them had heard from her at all that day. Worried that something had happened to her, Don called the Kansas City Police Department at 7:00 pm and reported his wife missing.
Investigators found Loy’s car parked in its usual parking spot in the garage in Country Club Plaza, but there was no sign of Loy. Kansas City Police Sgt. John Wilson told reporters, “Nothing we have at this time would lead us to believe she left on her own accord. Everything leads us to believe there is a possibility of foul play.”
Loy was assigned parking space number 98, which was located in a dark corner of the fourth floor of the covered parking garage. Once she parked, she had to walk around 50 yards to get to the nearest stairwell leading down to her office building. She had never expressed any fears for her safety, but police wondered if someone had ambushed her in the quiet parking garage.
Donald was perplexed by the situation. He and Loy had been married for four years and had a great relationship; he was certain she never would have voluntarily gone missing. “This is totally puzzling. That’s why we’re reasonably sure someone must have picked her up.”
Unsure what to do and unwilling to go home without his wife, Don wandered around downtown Kansas City, searching in vain for any sign of Loy. “I stayed down there, walking the streets until midnight.” Exhausted, he reluctantly went home but found he was unable to sleep. Instead, he sat next to the phone, hoping it would ring with news of Loy.
Detectives spent Tuesday interviewing Loy’s coworkers and others who worked in the same office complex. Several people recalled that Loy’s distinctive car hadn’t been in the parking garage around 2:00 pm Monday, but it was back in her normal spot by 3:00 pm. No one saw the car arrive, so they were unable to confirm who had been driving it.
They canvassed the shops in the area and were able to trace Loy’s steps in the hour leading up to her disappearance. When she left her office building, her first stop was a local jewelry store. Her husband had recently given her a new watch, and she wanted to have it adjusted. She then went to Macy’s and looked through their clothing department before heading to nearby Skagg’s Drugstore, where she purchased a yellow umbrella. Her shopping done, she got back into her car and headed back to the parking garage. There, her trail came to an end.
Sgt. Wilson admitted that investigators had no solid leads. “There’s usually some clue in a missing person’s profile we can work on, but not in this case.” Several shop owners recalled seeing Loy while she was on her lunch break Monday but no one saw where she headed once she finished her shopping. She had simply vanished.
While detectives started interviewing everyone associated with Loy, her distraught husband remained close to the phone, praying that she would call home to say she was okay. “I have to fight imagining what might have happened and hope she’s still alive.” He and Loy had dated for seven years before getting married in 1972; they had moved to Kansas City from Coffeyville, Kansas shortly after their wedding.
Loy and Don didn’t have any children, and both of them worked full-time. Loy had started working at the law firm about two months earlier, and Don had recently been promoted to a management position at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. The extra money that was coming in allowed Loy to frequently indulge in her favorite pastime: shopping. She had graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in clothing and retailing, and she adored buying clothes and antiques.
Don never had a problem with the amount of money Loy spent, but he had worried about her habit of shopping alone. “I warned her about being careful when out shopping, but she couldn’t imagine anything like this happening. I wouldn’t call her naïve, just kind of innocent.”
Loy’s coworkers were stunned by her disappearance; the other secretaries started walking to and from the parking lot in pairs, afraid that there was a madman on the loose. Legal secretary Dixie King told reporters that she was worried about Loy’s safety but was trying to remain optimistic. “She was just a really good girl. I really hate to lose her. I hope something turns up.”
As the investigation entered its second week, Don struggled to stay positive. Friends and relatives took turns staying with him so he wasn’t alone, but it didn’t ease his pain. “It really makes it harder…my mom gets me crying and I can’t stand it.” He tried to stay busy by bringing extra work home with him, but he was unable to concentrate on it. “The worst thing is that I keep hearing her drive up in the driveway when I know all along her car is sitting out in the garage.”
Detectives dug into Loy’s background but could find nothing to suggest that she would have walked away from her life. Everyone who knew Loy and Don described them as a lovely couple; they were genuinely happy spending time with each other and always seemed to get along. Loy would occasionally socialize with friends from work, and she never gave any indication that there were problems in her marriage.
Investigators followed up on more than 50 tips in the days immediately following Loy’s disappearance, but they were unable to develop any substantial leads. Sgt. John Wilson admitted that the case was frustrating as they had just about exhausted all leads. “They’ve all come to a closing end right now. We have two or three more to work on and then we’ll start all over.”
On March 10, 1977, three children were searching for their lost dog when they found Loy’s purse under a bridge in southeast Kansas City, about 12 miles from where Loy was last seen. That area of the city was sparsely populated at the time, with the closest house about a quarter of a mile away from the bridge. The children didn’t initially realize what they had found; it wasn’t until their father saw them playing with the purse and realized there were credit cards in it that the connection to the missing woman was made. The man called police and reported the find.
Loy’s purse was undamaged when it was found, though it was slightly damp from lying on the creek bed. Her checkbook and credit cards were found inside, and when investigators searched the area under the bridge they found some papers bearing her name and a pack of cigarettes. A prescription medication Loy used was also found; police were certain she wouldn’t have willingly left this medicine behind.
Detectives believed that Loy’s purse had been thrown into the creek from the bridge above. Due to its remote location, the area was known throughout the city as being a popular “lover’s lane” and it was also a common dumping area for trash. They worried that they were going to find Loy’s body next.
More than a dozen officers spent hours scouring the creek bed and surrounding area for any further clues Thursday night, finally calling the search off when darkness fell. By Friday morning, more than 75 officers and recruits had been called in to help as the search area was widened. A helicopter scanned the area from above, hoping to find something that the ground search had missed, but they found no clues to Loy’s whereabouts.
Investigators interviewed everyone associated with Loy and were unable to find anyone who had a bad word to say about her. Sgt Wilson noted, “This is the first saint I’ve ever seen. Everyone says that she’s perfect and I haven’t been able to disprove it.” He was certain that she had been abducted and possibly killed. “Everything shows there’s no reason for her to disappear. When you get somebody and there’s no reason for her to run or disappear, you start thinking the worst.”
Although Don was never a serious suspect in his wife’s disappearance, investigators asked him if he would be willing to take a polygraph examination so he could be cleared of all suspicion. He readily agreed, and after the three-hour test was over, detectives determined that he had no involvement in the crime.
At a loss for where to go next, Sgt. Wilson asked for the FBI to assist in the investigation. The FBI classified the case as a potential kidnapping and alerted agencies in the surrounding states, but were unable to come up with any new leads.
On March 15, 1977, the law firm Loy worked for announced that they were offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts. Tips about the case continued to trickle in, but none of them led to Loy.
Jackson County Sheriff Robert Rennau ordered another search of the area where Loy’s purse was found on March 19, 1977. He noted that it had been raining heavily when the first search was conducted and he wanted to make sure that no clues had been missed. “It was too inclement for them to see everything they needed to see…I’m hopeful of finding some other articles or anything that might be of possible benefit to the investigation.” Officers on foot and horseback spent hours combing the wooded area surrounding the creek but found no new evidence.
On March 20, 1977, police arrested a 34-year-old man after determining he had made an anonymous phone call about the whereabouts of Loy’s body. Unsure of whether it was a prank call or if the man had actual knowledge of the crime, he was brought in for questioning and his home was searched. James Potter, assistant director of the Lee’s Summit Police Department, noted, “We’re going on the assumption that we’ve got a good suspect but we just don’t know until we run the full gauntlet and check out all the leads.” The man was eventually released without charges.
A few days later, investigators with the Lee’s Summit Police Department obtained a warrant to dig in an area where Interstate 470 was under construction. They had received a tip that Loy’s body was located near the Lee’s Summit — Kansas City border, and they used a methane gas detector to search for it. They found nothing.
When the foot search failed to find anything, a helicopter with infrared photographic equipment was dispatched to fly over the area and take pictures. Detectives identified one spot where they thought a body might be buried, but it turned out to be nothing more than a rock that had retained heat from the sun. After three days, they discontinued the search.
By April, detectives had spent more than 5,000 hours working on Loy’s disappearance yet knew little more than they did when she was first reported missing. They had combed through more than 1,000 tips and interviewed around 300 people, but Loy’s fate remained a mystery.
Sgt. Wilson told reporters that detectives were running out of leads. They had searched every body of water in the area, including wells and cisterns. They dug up a large portion of newly constructed highway, and they searched a 12-mile radius around where her purse was found. Despite all their hard work, they had found no clues as to what had happened to the missing woman.
Sgt. Wilson admitted that the case had become an obsession, and he hadn’t taken a day off since Loy was reported missing. “I’d just like somebody to give me a call to say that she’s alive or that she’s dead — alive, mainly. There’s still a possibility that she’s alive, and that’s the way I’d like to find her.”
As the search reached the three-month mark, those who knew Loy were forced to come to terms with the fact that she likely wasn’t coming back. Don was devastated. “I don’t expect her to come back, I really don’t.” Still, he hoped for a miracle; he left the house exactly as it had been on the day Loy vanished, and made sure to keep her beloved sports car in pristine condition in case she returned home. “That would be the one thing that I would want to see…but I’ve been pretty well convinced all along that she was kidnapped and mur*dered.”
Investigators agreed that finding Loy alive was only a remote possibility, but they were frustrated by the fact that her body hadn’t been found. Sgt. Wilson admitted that he kept a shovel in the trunk of his car so he could quickly follow up whenever anyone reported seeing anything resembling a grave.
Don noted that as hard as it would be to know for certain that Loy was dead, he was still praying for closure. “I’ve gotten to the point now where it’s almost mandatory…I’m going to have to know sooner or later.” He found it hard to go on with his everyday life while his wife was missing. “You can’t turn around without seeing something that reminds you of her…it still smells like her when I open the door. Nothing will start me crying worse than that.”
By August, Loy had been missing for six months and the investigation was at a standstill. Don was still struggling to cope with his loss. “I think one reason it hurts so bad is that we really relied on each other emotionally…we had transcended the love stage, we were truly close friends as well as being in love with each other. That’s something I cannot ever replace or even come close to.”
Sgt. Wilson was still actively working the case but admitted that there had been no new leads in months. When reporters asked him if he knew of any other similar cases in other cities, he immediately replied, “Jimmy Hoffa.” There was simply no trace of Loy, and though he was sure she was dead, he had no idea who had killed her.
Loy’s case soon faded from the headlines and the investigation stalled and went cold. By the time the first anniversary of her disappearance approached, those who knew her had resigned themselves to the fact that they might never get any answers. Don told reporters, “I have prepared myself mentally and accept that I will never see her again.”
Sgt. Wilson admitted that the case had gone cold. “I suspect she is buried in a shallow grave somewhere in the area where her purse was found, but if you don’t have a body, you don’t have a homicide.”
Over the years, detectives would periodically review Loy’s case file, hoping to find something that they missed during the initial investigation. They were never able to come up with any solid evidence about what happened to her after she left Skagg’s Drugstore and drove back to the parking garage. It remained one of the most perplexing cases of Sgt. Wilson’s career. “She just vanished. It was like she just left the face of the earth.”
In 1984, seven years after Loy vanished, Don had her declared legally dead. “It’s more for the settlement of the estate…it doesn’t really give me any peace of mind. I just assume she is dead and buried somewhere.” He admitted to reporters, “I faced up to the reality of it and said my goodbyes years ago.”
In the wake of his wife’s disappearance, Don started building model trains as a form of therapy. Four decades later, the home he once shared with Loy was filled with the model trains he had carefully built. His brother, David, said that Don never got over the loss of his wife. “Don never remarried, never dated again. Loy was the one and only love of his life.”
Loy Gillespie Evitts was 29 years old when she went missing from a parking garage in Kansas City, Missouri in February 1977. Detectives believe she was abducted and is most likely dead, but her body has never been found. Loy has hazel eyes and blonde hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds. She was last seen wearing a maroon turtleneck, a blue sweater with maroon stripes, maroon pants, and brown leather shoes with wooden wedge soles. She was also wearing her gold wedding band, gold solitaire diamond engagement ring, gold knot bracelet, and a white gold women’s watch with a square face. If you have any information about Loy, please contact the Kansas City Police Department at 816–234–5136.