When Tracy Kroh left her Enterline Township, Pennsylvania home on the afternoon of Saturday, August 5, 1989, she didn’t expect to be gone long. She planned to drive to her sister’s home in nearby Halifax, Pennsylvania to return a barbeque grill she had borrowed and drop off some coupons she had clipped. Her sister, Tammy Hoffman, wasn’t home when Tracy arrived, so she left the items on her front porch and returned to her car. She never made it back to her house.
Tracy’s parents, Ivan and Ellen Kroh, weren’t initially concerned when Tracy failed to come home that night. Tracy was very close with her sister and would often spend the night at her house, so Ellen assumed she had decided to stay over at Tammy’s and would be back in the morning. When there was no sign of Tracy the following day, Ellen called Tammy and learned that Tracy hadn’t spent the night with her. Ralph immediately got into his car and started driving around, looking for any sign of his daughter.
Ivan soon found Tracy’s car, a 1971 Mercury Comet, parked and locked in front of Leppert’s Five and Dime store in Millersburg Square, just a few minutes away from her sister’s house. It was a popular gathering spot for teenagers, so Tracy’s parents assumed that she had decided to meet up with some friends there on Saturday night. What happened after that was a mystery.
Tracy normally never went anywhere without letting her parents know where she was going to be; she was close with her parents and siblings and had no history of running away from home. Ellen told reporters that Tracy hadn’t taken any of her belongings or cash with her when she left. “She had money upstairs, quite a bit of money. Her savings book is still here. She had her $8 allowance lying on the cupboard.”
Tracy attended Halifax Area High School, where she was known as an excellent student and a talented artist. Dr. Wayne Boyer, the school district superintendent, noted, “She is an extremely responsible student, very hardworking and quiet. She has an excellent sense of humor. I could throw a joke out and she’d enjoy it.”
Ellen told me Tracy liked to stay close to home. “She didn’t run away.” Because she couldn’t find a summer job, she spent most of the summer at home. When she wasn’t there, she was over at her sister’s house.
Tracy was the editor of the school yearbook and an artist for the school newspaper. She worked on the yearbook for many hours over the summer to make sure everything was ready for when school started again in the fall. Other students in Tracy’s class were sure she hadn’t just vanished because she was very responsible and had big plans for the future. It was her dream to study business in college, and she was in the top 10% of her class.
Investigators and volunteers put up missing person flyers all over the area where Tracy’s car was found in the hopes of finding someone who saw the teen after she left her sister’s house. Ivan worked for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in the maintenance department. He gave copies of Tracy’s missing flyer to his coworkers, who then put them up all along the PA Turnpike.
Ellen said that she and Ivan thought the worst right away. “The first thing we thought was that someone had taken her.” That was all. We thought that right away. There are many things that go through her mind when she thinks about where she might be. She was afraid that Tracy was being held against her will and was either being tortured or starved. The thoughts kept her up at night.
A week ago, Ivan missed work so that he could help look for his daughter. Ellen said, “I stayed by the phone, but my husband and all of our family and friends were out on the roads questioning her and showing her picture.” But it didn’t work. She had not been seen by anyone.
Tracy’s parents were starting to worry that she might not be alive after weeks of not seeing her. As her neighbors prayed for her safe return, they raised money for a reward. By the end of September, they were able to offer a $5,000 reward for any information that led to Tracy’s location. For more information, Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers offered an extra $1,000, bringing the total to $6,000. Even though there was a reward of money, investigators didn’t get many leads about the case.
Kenneth Rose, the chief of police in Millersburg, said that investigators had no idea what had happened to Tracy. He told reporters that no one had seen her since she was reported missing. He also said that there was no proof of foul play, but it couldn’t be ruled out either.
Ellen was sure that someone knew where her daughter was. “Someone is keeping something from coming out in some way.” What would make someone in Millersburg go missing if no one saw anything? There must be someone who knows something but is afraid to say it.
Tracy had not been seen or heard from for three weeks. Her case had not made much progress. The Pennsylvania State Police set up a task force to look into what happened to Tracy, but they still didn’t have any solid leads. Ellen was mad at herself. “Looks like there’s nothing new to report, too bad.” They may be looking into some things, but they can’t tell anyone, not even me. Hope is all I have left.”
In January 1990, workers at MI Plastics in Millersburg gave money to put up several big signs with Tracy’s information in Millersburg and Halifax. They hoped that the signs would give the police new leads to follow.
State police detectives got a tip that Tracy’s body might be in a pond in Halifax on March 18, 1990. They sent scuba divers from New Cumberland River Rescue to look for it. Twelve divers looked for the body in the pond for two days. The pond was 70 yards wide and 14 feet deep. Cpl. Max Seiler of the Pennsylvania State Police told reporters that the pond was thoroughly searched for any evidence related to Tracy’s case, but none was found. “There was bad news everywhere.”
April 16, 1990, was Tracy’s 18th birthday. It was a sad day for her family. Ellen said, “I thought about her all day. Normally I would have been baking her a cake. It hit me hard that day.” In May, Tracy’s classmates went to their senior prom, which Tracy was excited to go to.
There was no Tracy at her high school graduation in June 1990, even though she was supposed to be there. Reporters were told by Cpl. Richard Dressler that the investigation had reached a d*ead end. “There’s been nothing at all in the last month or so,” she said. A special task force from the Harrisburg barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police was still working on the case, but they still didn’t know what happened to Tracy.
Ellen said she still thought that someone in the area wasn’t telling the truth about what happened to her daughter. “I’m sure someone in Millersburg knows something.” In a small town, someone can’t just vanish.
Tracy hadn’t been seen or heard from for a whole year by August 1990, and police still didn’t know what had happened. Investigators said they couldn’t say for sure that Tracy didn’t run away, but they didn’t think it was likely and thought she might have been a victim of foul play. Ellen was sure that if Tracy had been taken by a stranger, someone would have seen her struggle. This made Ellen think that Tracy might have gotten into a car with someone she knew. “She wouldn’t go with a stranger. If someone tried to get her to leave, it would be someone she knew.”
In the first few months after Tracy went missing, Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Lynn Hess told reporters that they had talked to more than 100 people, but none of them could give them any clues about where Tracy was. “I’m still hopeful that we can figure it out.” You can’t be sure what will start the investigation and allow the puzzle pieces to finally fit together.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent a letter with Tracy’s picture to more than 50 million homes across the country three years after she went missing. It made Tracy’s family happy to hear that she would be in the mailing. There hadn’t been any leads in over a year, and they were hoping that the mailing would bring some new ones.
In September 1992, a jailhouse informant told police that Larry Rampe, a convicted felon, was responsible for Tracy’s disappearance. The informant, who was in jail with Rampe in Richmond City, Virginia, told police that Rampe said he had taken Tracy hostage and buried her near Roanoke, Virginia. The source said that Rampe had kept Tracy’s class ring as a memento.
The tip led detectives to look into it, but they quickly ran into some issues. In 1989, Rampe worked in Breezewood, Pennsylvania, a small town about two hours from Millersburg. However, he wasn’t working there when Tracy went missing, and there was no proof that he had been in the area. They looked through his Virginia apartment and couldn’t find anything that linked him to Tracy’s case. In the end, they decided that the informant wasn’t trustworthy.
The driver’s license and National Honor Society wallet card of Tracy were found on the property of a farmer in Washington Township, Pennsylvania, on November 30, 1993. The items were found on farmland after high water from Wiconisco Creek washed them there. They looked all over the area and found photos and other things that were connected to the case, but they wouldn’t say what they were.
The things were sent to the crime lab of the state police to be looked at. “We want to find out what conditions the items have been in over the years,” Sgt. Hess said. This will help us figure out where they might have been. This helps us narrow down our search.
In April 1994, police searched along Wiconisco Creek near where her driver’s license and other things were found. The Adirondack Search and Rescue Team from New York and a group of K-9 units helped the state police. They didn’t find anything that helped with the investigation.
As early as May 1994, police were told that Tracy and two other missing women were in Texas. The person who gave the information said that Tracy, Beth Miller (who went missing in Colorado in 1982), and Tiffany Sessions (who went missing in Florida in 1989) were being held against their will and made to work as prostitutes for Thomas Stewart. Investigators looked into the tip, but they couldn’t confirm what it said.
Tracy’s trail had been closed for a long time by August 1998. Cpl. Robert Mull of the Pennsylvania State Police did everything he could to help her case. “She gazes at me from my wall.” “I think about it every day when I go to work,” he said. He also said that investigators hadn’t had any good leads since her driver’s license was found in 1993. “I believe the rest of her wallet or purse is nearby.” There may be other things there, but it’s such a big space. Our farm can’t be dug up by us.”
The DA of Dauphin County, Edward Marsico, told reporters in December 2001 that he was hopeful that Tracy’s case would be solved soon. “New information that came out in the last few months has led to a new effort.” We have reason to be hopeful, even though we haven’t found a body or anything like that. He said that cadaver dogs had recently been used to search an area in northern Dauphin County, but he wouldn’t talk about any possible finds.
D.A. Marsico said that they had ruled out the ideas that Tracy had either run away on her own or been taken by a stranger. “A stranger couldn’t have taken her against her will in the middle of Millersburg.” We think her disappearance has a lot to do with someone she knew. No one is really to blame, but we have ruled out some possibilities.
It had been years, and nothing had changed with the case. In December 2008, the Pennsylvania State Police put up a sign along Halifax’s Route 225 to remind people that Tracy was still lost. On the billboard, there was a picture of Tracy getting older that showed what she might look like when she is 35.
As the 25th anniversary of Tracy’s disappearance drew near in 2014, a new photo showing how she might look at age 42 was made public. Investigators said they didn’t have any new information to share with the public, but Dauphin County Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo told reporters, “After 25 years, we can say this was a criminal act that resulted in dea*th…the circumstances of her de*ath show that she had every intention of returning and something stopped her from doing that.” Her family was very important to her.
They were both 54 years old and from Halifax. In August 2019, Matthew Webster and Holly Mallett were arrested and charged with perjury for lying to a grand jury that was looking into Tracy’s disappearance. Holly told police at first that Matthew had talked to her about raping and killing Tracy in 2018. He said they never talked, and a wiretap caught him trying to get Holly to change her story, which she did. Holly and Matthew both said in court that they had not talked to each other before the grand jury hearing, so the wiretaps were used as proof, and both of them were charged with perjury. Tracy hasn’t been seen or heard from since she disappeared.
Investigators say that Holly said Matthew told her that he and some friends had seen Tracy in Millersburg Square the night she disappeared. They said Matthew said, “It was supposed to be just a rape and done, but then it turned out to be a lot more than that.” Police searched a house in Halifax that Matthew owned when Tracy went missing, but they didn’t find anything that was connected to the case.
In May 2022, Pennsylvania State Trooper Jeremiah Mistick stated that 89-year-old Mark Eugene Warfel was under investigation for both Tracy’s disappearance and the mur*der of his wife, Doris, as well as multiple sexual assaults. Warfel, who had been in prison since 2019 awaiting trial on burglary charges, was found not competent to stand trial and a judge ordered that he be released from custody.
Warfel had been friends with Tracy’s parents for years and denied having anything to do with her disappearance. Tracy’s sister, Kim, visited him in 2022 while he was in the hospital and secretly recorded the conversation. In it, he admits, “They put me in prison because I was connected with Tracy Kroh.” He claimed that he didn’t kill her, but that he knew who the mur*derer was. He said the killer dumped her body in a mine shaft.
In March 2023, Pennsylvania State Police spent 10 days conducting a controlled demolition of a home once owned by Warfel. They were hoping that they would find Tracy’s body on the property. A spokesperson noted, “Two canine teams certified in human remains detection assisted in identifying primary excavation areas. Members meticulously excavated and searched the property, however, human remains were not discovered.”
Warfel told reporters that he hadn’t been concerned about the search, as he knew that detectives weren’t going to find anything incriminating on his property. No charges have been filed against him as of April 2023, and Tracy is still listed as a missing person.
Tracy Marie Kroh was just 17 years old when she went missing from Millersburg, Pennsylvania in August 1989. She was an excellent student who was excited about starting her senior year of high school and was looking forward to going to college. Detectives believe that Tracy was abducted and mu*rdered, but her body has never been found and no one has been charged in connection with her disappearance. Tracy has green eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 4 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 85 pounds. She was last seen wearing a light blue and white floral print shirt, blue and white shorts, and white sneakers. She was also wearing a silver Timex watch and a white gold class ring with a diamond. She had a purse with a horse or unicorn on it and was carrying a Roger Rabbit key ring. If you have any information about Tracy, please contact the Pennsylvania State Police at 717–362–8700.