Brenda Condon arrived early for her bartending shift at Carl’s Bad Tavern in Spring Township, PA on the evening of February 26, 1991. She parked her 1986 Mercury Capri in the parking lot and noted with satisfaction that she still had 15 minutes before she was scheduled to begin work. She had only recently started working at Carl’s Bad Tavern — this was her third shift- but she had been a patron there before she was hired, and she knew the clientele well. Most of the tavern’s customers were regulars, and she was looking forward to spending the evening chatting with them.
It was a bitterly cold Tuesday night, and the bar wasn’t very crowded. There were a few customers that Brenda had never seen before, but for the most part she was familiar with everyone. She kept herself busy making small talk with patrons and serving drinks, and the hours flew by. The bar was nearly empty when she announced that it was time for last call, and the few remaining customers slowly filtered out into the frosty winter air. By 1:15 am, the bar was empty and Brenda began going through her closing checklist.
Brenda cleaned up the bar area and made sure all the al*cohol bottles were placed neatly on their assigned shelf. She totaled the bar’s receipts and put away the deposit so it could be taken to the bank the next day. With her side work finished, all Brenda had left to do was turn off the lights and lock up. Once she did that, she could head home to State College, PA. She never made it. At some point after she finished cleaning up, Brenda disappeared, never to be seen again.
The following morning, a vendor showed up to restock the cigarette machine located inside the bar. Although it was still early, he noticed a car in the parking lot and found the front door to the bar was unlocked. He didn’t notice anything unusual inside, despite the fact that he didn’t see any employees. He simply restocked the machine and left. As an independent contractor, he rarely interacted with employees at any of the businesses where his cigarette machines were located; his routine was to collect the money out of the machine and restock it with fresh product. He was in and out within minutes.
Day shift employees showed up at the tavern shortly after the cigarette vendor left, and they noticed that Brenda’s Capri was still in the parking lot. They thought something was wrong when they found the front door was unlocked, but when they went inside nothing appeared to be out of place. The bar was neat and clean, and all the money from the night before was right where it was supposed to be. In the men’s room, however, they found the boots that Brenda had worn to work the previous night. They had been placed neatly next to the restroom door. After making a couple phone calls and learning that Brenda had never arrived home the night before, they called the police.
The police searched the bar but couldn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing. The chairs and tables were still set up neatly, and there were no broken glasses or bottles. There were no clues that someone had broken in because all the money and al*cohol were there. If there had been a crime, Brenda seemed to be the only person who was after her.
Detectives weren’t sure where Brenda’s boots should have been, and the scene looked like it had been staged to their trained eyes. Someone put the boots there and wanted them to be found, but there was no way to tell who it was. Brenda’s other belongings were not found in the tavern, and when police checked her car, they found that her purse and keys were missing. The police didn’t look into Brenda’s disappearance any further for a few days because they thought she had just decided to go missing for a while.
While looking into Brenda’s disappearance on March 2, police had to change their first ideas when they found out that she had missed a visit with her children. Her family told her she would never leave without telling them, and she had never done that before.
Brenda was born and raised in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. She graduated from high school there in 1980 and got married almost right away. She and her husband had two kids together, but they split up, and Brenda moved to Williamsport, PA. Because they didn’t have to switch schools, the kids stayed with their dad, but he and Brenda stayed friendly, and he let Brenda see the kids whenever she wanted.
Brenda’s mother died when she was a toddler, so she knew how hard it was to grow up without a mother. After moving to State College, she was excited to be closer to her kids and always looked forward to spending time with them. Everyone who knew her said the same thing: she would never leave her kids on her own.
Brenda ran two cleaning services, one in Williamsport and one in State College, in addition to her part-time job as a bartender. People knew they could count on her, so she would never miss work without telling someone.
When detectives learned more about Brenda’s past, they chose to look into her case more closely. They began talking to anyone who had seen or talked to her in the days before she went missing. Soon, her ex-husband was ruled out as a suspect, and the police turned their attention to her boyfriend Gregory Palazzari.
Brenda had been seeing Greg for about two years and had been living with him in State College for about four months when she went missing. When the police asked Greg about Brenda, he said that they were very close and that Brenda seemed very happy with her life. He agreed with Brenda’s family that she would never go off by herself, and he was sure that someone had taken her.
Brenda’s last conversation with Greg was just before she went to work on Tuesday. She was happy and talking about what she wanted to do for her birthday the next weekend. There were no signs that something was wrong, and she never said she was scared of anything.
On March 3, investigators began a thorough search for Brenda in the area around the tavern. They used tracking dogs, helicopters, and volunteers to help them look through the area. It was too bad that there was a lot of snow in the area between when Brenda went missing and when the search began. They couldn’t find any hints about where Brenda was.
After talking to some of the people who were in the bar the night Brenda went missing, detectives were able to figure out who almost everyone who came in during her shift was. Most of the people there were from the area and came in almost every night, either to hang out with friends after work or for a drink late at night. Those three men were the only ones in the bar that night who weren’t part of the regular crowd. Police released pictures and descriptions of these men in the hopes that someone would recognize them. They made it clear that none of the men were suspects, but they were being questioned because they might have seen something.
Brenda was her usual happy self that night, and she took the time to talk to each customer, as her regulars had seen. She was a good bartender because she knew how to make people feel at ease. They noticed that one man kept coming back to talk to Brenda even though it was almost time for the night to end. At the time, they didn’t think his behavior was odd. Brenda was always happy to talk to people she didn’t know. Now, people who usually went there were wondering if this man might have known something about Brenda’s disappearance. Detectives were never able to figure out who this man was, though, because they only had a vague description of him.
Greg told the police that he thought Brenda’s job at the bar had something to do with her disappearance. He thought that one of the customers might have been too interested in Brenda and had attacked her when she turned him down. Investigators have looked into this theory and agree that it could be true, but they have never been able to find any solid evidence to support it.
Carl’s Bad Tavern was located very close to a major interstate, and was occasionally patronized by people who were just driving through the area and wanted to stop for a drink. If Brenda had been abducted by a transient, she could have been taken just about anywhere in the country. Recognizing this, detectives did what they could to send her missing person flyer to various agencies nationwide, but received few leads.
Weeks went by with no progress on the case, and it slowly went cold. Detectives interviewed more than 100 people during the course of their investigation, and administered six or seven polygraph examinations. They were never able to develop any solid suspects, and each detective has their own theory about who they believe might be responsible.
Brenda’s sister, Iris, has believed from the beginning that her sister’s disappearance was somehow linked to Greg’s activities; at the time, he was rumored to be a drug dealer. She worried that Brenda had seen or heard something that she wasn’t supposed to, a secret that someone was willing to kill over. Greg denied these accusations and insisted he had nothing to do with his girlfriend’s disappearance, and detectives agreed. They stated that there has never been anything pointing to Greg’s involvement.
While the rumor about Greg’s involvement in Brenda’s disappearance might not have been true, the rumor that he was a drug dealer was, but it would take investigators years to prove it. In 2009, he was arrested for dealing cocaine. According to detectives, he was bringing in around $50,000 a month, and they believed he had been doing so for years. Even after this arrest, however, they still do not believe he had anything to do with Brenda’s case.
Brenda’s family has never stopped searching for her, though they have long since come to terms with the fact that they are almost certainly looking for a body. Brenda’s kids are adults now, and Brenda, wherever she is, is a grandmother. Her family believes that there are people who know what happened to Brenda on that cold February night, and they are hoping they will come forward with this information so they can finally give Brenda a proper burial.
Brenda Condon was 28 years old when she vanished in 1991. She has blue eyes and reddish-brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing jeans and a black tank top with a silver shirt over top of it. She has a ring of roses tattooed on her right ankle, and she normally wore green-tinted contact lenses. If you have any information about Brenda, please contact the Pennsylvania State Police — Rockview Station at 814–355–7345.