Jeff Anderson had no idea how much damage Lesley Allen would bring to his family. On his wedding day, all he saw was her smiling face and a new start. Lesley already had three children–Chris, Stephanie, and Greg–from a previous marriage, all of whom Jeff would adopt. But she clarified she wanted to have more children. The newlyweds settled in Racine, Wisconsin, and began their next chapter.
Rachel, Jeff’s first child with Lesley, was born in 1986. Soon after, their son, Cameron, arrived in 1988. Finally, their third child, Kyle, was born in 1990. Although they were content with their new additions, the household had doubled in size, as did their workload. Unfortunately, no matter how hard Jeff and Lesley pushed themselves, the happy life they envisioned together failed to come to completion.
Jeff and Lesley decided to divorce in 1993. The court determined that Lesley was the better-equipped parent and awarded her primary custody of all six children. Jeff obtained visitation rights and was permitted to call them every Saturday. After the divorce proceedings, Jeff and Chris (now an adult) relocated to Indiana in 1997.
Lesley, along with Stephanie, Greg, Rachel, Cameron, and Kyle, stayed in Wisconsin. But, even with a smaller household, their woes persisted. Although she was glad to have primary custody, caring for the children drained her bank account. According to Tiffany Saenz and Katie Thrasher of “Murde*r and Madness,” rent payments started becoming more intimidating each month. It was only a matter of time before she would amass a certain amount of debt.
Luckily, a friend of Jeff’s, whose identity remains undisclosed, moved into Lesley’s house to help out. He noticed her predicament and offered an appealing proposition.
He claimed his family owned a marina and several acres of land along a river in Fulton, Mississippi, and invited Lesley and the children to relocate with him. Lesley, seeing few other options, agreed.
The promised opportunity turned out to be a fluke. The friend neither owned the marina nor a single square foot of land. Instead, his parents owned the property, and no one even owned a marina. The land merely boasted a collection of abandoned trailers, where the family was forced to dwell.
It was overwhelming for the children, who dealt with being the new faces at school on top of their unexpected living conditions. Rachel was approaching her teen years and had just started middle school, while Kyle and Cameron were in their second half of elementary school. Nevertheless, they still called their father, who promised to visit soon. The court had approved his visitation request for July of 2000.
Jeff heavily anticipated the reunion. Indiana had given him perspective, but he dreamed of playing with Rachel, Cameron, and Kyle near the riverfront again. He reminisced of their outdoor adventures, where he picked each of them up and spun them in circles as their laughter rang out in all directions. He also missed their trips to the zoo. The siblings disagreed on plenty but shared two favorite exhibits — the bears and the monkeys.
Jeff first began to lose contact with Rachel, Cameron, and Kyle after the spring of 2000. Whenever he attempted to call, the family friend would answer, firmly tell him the children weren’t home, and hang up. Other times, his calls went straight to voicemail. He and his sister Trenna Anderson-Jossart eventually discovered the living situation in Mississippi and grew concerned. The trailers on the property were virtually uninhabitable and littered with health and safety hazards. The children’s silence only amplified their fears.
Around the end of April, Jeff made one more phone call. When the family friend again answered, Jeff, confronted him about his children’s whereabouts. The family friend, after much hesitation, claimed Lesley and the kids took off in the middle of the night with a truck driver. He denied knowing the truck driver’s identity and did not offer a description of his appearance. Before Lesley left, she told him to take care of Stephanie and Greg. After he hung up, Jeff felt a pit in his stomach. Something was not right about the family friend’s story. On top of all the previous troubles, why would Lesley unexpectedly take off without any explanation, especially without Greg and Stephanie?
Trenna and Nancy (the children’s grandmother) was uneasy and urged Jeff to contact the police again, who dismissed him a second time. The authorities told him Lesley still had custody of the children and could take them wherever she pleased. However, they clarified they would intervene if she failed to present them for the scheduled July visitation.
The idea of waiting three months seemed out of the question, but Jeff’s hands were tied. At the very least, he wanted to check if Lesley had enrolled Rachel, Cameron, or Kyle in a new school. But, without her cooperation, any school and medical records were inaccessible. Jeff held onto hope that his ex-wife was blowing off steam and would bring them back come July. When July finally arrived, Jeff and the rest of his family sat quietly and waited for the phone to ring with news of Lesley and the children’s return. Silence met them.
Jeff was devastated; the bright July he had envisioned soaking in with his children had become eerily dim. The court noticed Lesley’s failure to return the children for visitation. Her absence was a direct violation of the divorce agreement, and she was charged with contempt of court and issued an arrest warrant. The proceedings did not satisfy Jeff, Trenna, or Nancy, who still had no idea how, when, or why their family had disappeared.
By the end of summer, Jeff was able to gain full custody of Rachel, Cameron, and Kyle, but their absence made it a bittersweet victory. In addition, missing person reports were finally filed with the Ohio County Police Department, as Itawamba County had not been as cooperative.
Jeff’s first measure was to flag his children’s school and medical records. He also enlisted a private investigator and requested to have the mail at their Mississippi home redirected to his address in case any clues were inside the envelopes. The Postal Service transferred the mail per approval of the Postal Service, but after a couple of months, it suddenly halted. The family discovered someone had redirected the mail again but to an undisclosed address. Confused, they reached out to the post office. The Ohio County Sheriff’s Department was puzzled as well. They, too, contacted the post office to request the new forwarding address, but both emails went unanswered.
According to the private investigator, Lesley’s last communication with the court happened on March 22, 2000–months after the last confirmed sighting and weeks before the alleged disappearance.
The last confirmed sighting of the Rachel, Cameron, and Kyle was on their property, 757 Scenic Hills Drive, in the Spring of 2000. However, one of Kyle’s classmates came forward with a potential account. In December 1999, a classmate wanted Kyle to hang out at her house over the winter break and asked for his address. Whether Kyle answered was unclear, but the classmate claimed to witness Lesley, Rachel, Kyle, and Cameron get into a Blue Ford Bronco with an unknown male driver. Neither Lesley nor the family friend owned a Ford Bronco.
Could the owner of the Bronco be involved in their disappearance? When the family questioned the classmate, she clarified that she was unsure if the interaction occurred in December or the previous spring.
In February of 2001, Jeff, Trenna, and Nancy traveled to Fulton in hopes of persuading Stephanie and Greg to return to Indiana. Jeff also wanted clarity about his children’s whereabouts from the family friend. However, once the trio arrived at the property in Mississippi, they were heartbroken to see it in such a decrepit state. The surrounding buildings lay in splintery ruin, and Lesley’s station wagon sat abandoned.
A convoy of campers, lined up in a row, dotted the area. The group knocked on several doors, unaware of which one Greg and Stephanie lived in. Finally, one of them opened. Greg and Stephanie; were delighted to see their adoptive father, aunt, and grandmother. However, as the visitors stepped inside, the siblings’ demeanors switched. They feared their caretaker would discover the three unexpected visitors and reiterated how they had to notify him of their presence. The trio left the camper, proceeded down the row of others, and knocked on the one that belonged to the family friend. Once he opened the door, Stephanie fearfully clung to him and would not speak or even make eye contact with the others, while Greg sucked his thumb and rocked back and forth.
Nancy was horrified to see her grandchildren so distraught, so the three contacted the local Itawamba County Police. Three police officers arrived, which triggered a heated confrontation between both parties. Trenna, Nancy, and Jeff shared their uneasiness with the officers and requested to take Greg and Stephanie back to Indiana.
The family friend, frustrated, turned to Greg and Stephanie. “They will ki*ll you if you go home with them,” he shouted, “Is that what you want?”
Trenna, Jeff, and Nancy were incensed at such an outrageous remark. As the quarrel persisted, the three officers quieted everyone down and said there was nothing they could do. Despite Greg and Stephanie being disabled individuals, both were over 18 and legal adults; therefore, they determined whether to leave or stay.
“They are adults and capable of choosing where they want to live,” an officer told them.
Greg and Stephanie ultimately decided to stay in Mississippi with their family friend and remain there today. Over the years, they’ve had limited contact with the family. It was as if they, too, were stolen from them. Michelle Hayden, one of Trenna’s closest friends, shared the family’s frustrations with the police on Facebook.
“Why can’t social services intercede and interview [Greg and Stephanie] without their supposed caretaker in the room? Do Greg and Stephanie hold answers to what happened to their mother, Lesley, and their young siblings, Rachel, Kyle, and Cameron? Why and how did law enforcement allow this to happen?”
The Mississippi property has never been formally searched by authorities. In 2021, Chris revisited the location and realized Lesley’s car was still there, even 20 years later. He visited again and met with the local police department. However, nothing substantial arose from the meeting. Over the years, there have been few breakthroughs in the case. Lesley is not officially a missing person, but her social security number has seen zero activity since 2000.
Yet, there remains hope, as sightings of the children came in from several states. One child in Illinois swore to have taken a karate class with Kyle, while another declared they saw the three riding their bikes around their neighborhood. A witness in Alabama stated they saw the children waiting in line at a skating rink. Unfortunately, no further developments arose from the sightings.
Jeff continued to advocate for his children by spending money on billboards, ads, private investigators, and road trips to Fulton. But, ultimately, his finances could not keep up with his mission. The stress caused his second marriage to fall apart, and his amount of debt led to his car getting repossessed. In addition, he was fired from his job because he skipped three days without obtaining permission–these days were his children’s birthdays. “I could never work on their birthday,” he told the Racine Journal Times in 2003.
After years of turmoil, Jeff finally stepped away from the search efforts. Trenna, Chris, and Michelle Hayden succeeded him and created a Facebook page for the children. As of 2022, the page has over 40,000 members. Over the years, they have acquired several tips, which they continue investigating.
Greg, Stephanie, and the family friend still reside in Fulton, where the roommate is still receiving their disability checks.
In February of 2021, Michelle announced that she had contacted members of Lesley’s family to inquire about the children. Despite the time, they provided helpful information about the disappearance. Notably, Lesley’s sister said she, too, was refused access to Greg and Stephanie. She complained to the local police, but they took no action like before. Furthermore, she explained how shortly before Lesley vanished, she was “madly in love” and had a secret relationship with her family friend. Could this new information hold a clue to the fate of her and the children?
Later that year, the family announced a major but despairing breakthrough in the case. They had finally gotten their hands on the children’s school records. The children had stopped showing up to school on three separate days. Rachel’s last day of attendance was April 5, Kyle’s; on April 7, and Cameron; on April 10. As a result, the story that all three had left together appeared highly implausible and, to Trenna, indicative of a horrifying truth.
“We are sure they were kil*led days apart,” Trenna said in an email.
A witness came forward to support the theory. Around the time of the children’s disappearance, the “family friend” reportedly purchased a storm shelter and a pallet of tar. Today, the shelter remains sealed under a layer of concrete.
The family continued to contact the roommate. Throughout the years, he changed his account of what happened to Lesley in the children. Most recently, he claimed Lesley and the children had fled to Mexico for undisclosed reasons. Lesley would have the Mississippi paper mailed to her across the border to keep herself in the loop. If Lesley were needed, the roommate would purchase a personal advertisement and use the space to communicate. The family contacted the paper’s staff to cross reference, but no subscriptions were ever purchased from or shipped to Mexico.
Rachel, Kyle, and Cameron Anderson remain remembered by those who knew and loved them. There is still hope that all three could be alive, unaware of their missing status because of how young they were when they vanished. Currently, the case is classified as a possible family abduction, but the longer the four remain missing, the more that theory falls apart. All three children have been legal adults for years and should have made contact.
The family has also not forgotten about Greg and Stephanie. Nancy Kelley has not seen either of them in years and recently posted a heartfelt video to Facebook where she read a letter about how much she misses them. The page on Facebook is called “Missing Anderson Family.”
The disappearance has taken its toll, but the search continues because family, like always, remains their number one priority.
If you have any information about the disappearances of Lesley, Rachel, Cameron, and Kyle Anderson, please contact the The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1–800–843–5678.