Cynthia Anderson was in a hurry to get to work on the morning of August 4, 1981. The 20-year-old skipped breakfast, told her parents she would see them later, and rushed out the door of their Lambertville, Michigan home at 8:30 am. Cindy was employed as a secretary in a law office in Toledo, Ohio; her morning commute usually took her approximately 20 minutes, and that day was no different.
Cindy pulled into the shopping center where the Neller & Rabbit legal center was located at 8:50 am and parked her Chevy Citation close to the front door. She unlocked the door and let herself inside, making sure to lock the door behind her. The lawyers who worked in the office were all at court that morning, so Cindy had the office to herself.
It was an extremely hot and humid day, and Cindy turned the air conditioner on so the office would be nice and cool by the time her boss and other lawyers started to arrive. She turned the radio on low and then settled in at her desk. Through the large plate glass window, Cindy had a view of the parking lot and door to the office, but she didn’t expect to see any clients until later that day when the lawyers had returned from court.
Mornings were usually a relatively calm time for Cindy; in between answering phone calls she occupied herself by reading a paperback romance novel. It was a routine she had grown used to, but one which was going to come to an end soon. Cindy had recently let her boss know that she was leaving secretarial work in order to start attending classes at the William Tyndale Bible College in Detroit.
Cindy was excited about starting classes, especially since she was going to be attending college with her boyfriend, Jeff Lehmke. Cindy had been raised as a devout Christian fundamentalist, and though she hadn’t dated a lot, she was certain that Jeff was going to be the man she married.
Cindy’s mother tried to call her at the office sometime around 10:00 am, but had been unable to reach anyone. She wasn’t overly concerned; she assumed that Cindy was on the other line with a client and would call her later.
Around noon, two of the law partners returned to the office following a morning court session. James Rabbit and Jay Feldstein were happy to see that the air conditioning was on, as the temperature outside was close to 90 degrees. There were phone messages on their desks and everything in the reception area was immaculate as usual, but there was no sign of Cindy. Although it was unlike her to leave the office without putting a note on the door letting clients know when she would be back, they assumed she might have been in a hurry to get to lunch and had simply forgotten.
When the two men discovered that Cindy’s car was still sitting in the parking lot, they grew concerned. If she had gone anywhere for lunch, she most likely would have driven there. When they noticed that she hadn’t placed the phones on hold like she usually did whenever she had to step out, they began to worry that something might have happened to her. James reached down and picked up the romance novel that Cindy had left open on her desk and glanced idly at the pages, then felt a chill when he realized what he was looking at. The book was left open at the only violent passage it contained, where the lead character was abducted by knifepoint and feared she was about to die.
While the discovery of a violent passage in a romance novel wouldn’t have meant much to most, everyone in the office was aware of the fact that Cindy had spent the past year living in fear that someone was out to get her. It had started with a series of violent dreams; in most, Cindy would open her front door to a man she knew, only to have him force her from her home and then mur*der her. The dreams had terrified Cindy, but her mother had tried to assure her that they were only dreams and didn’t mean anything. They seemed to worsen over time, though, and it got to the point where Cindy was afraid to sleep.
Cindy’s fears of a stalker had kicked into high gear when someone spray-painted “I love you, Cindy” on a cement wall that was visible from the window where Cindy sat at work. It had been painted over at one point, but appeared again within a week or two. The initials “CJ + GW” had also been painted in several different spots. Cindy, whose middle name was Jane, had no idea who GW was but feared that he might be stalking her.
Her fear had intensified when she started getting phone calls at work that seemed to terrify her, though she didn’t tell anyone what the person on the other end of the line said. The day before she vanished, a client of the law firm had witnessed this fear. Larry Mullins had come in to pay his legal bill and had been chatting with Cindy while he wrote out a check. The phone rang, and Cindy answered it in her normal cheerful voice, then quickly slammed the phone down. A few seconds later, it rang again. Cindy sounded a bit more tentative when she answered it, and again slammed the receiver down.
Noting that she appeared to be completely petrified, Larry asked Cindy if everything was okay, and she forced herself to smile and told him that she was fine. When he tried to press her for more information, she admitted that the calls had been happening a lot recently, but refused to say anything else.
Larry paid his bill and drove home, but was so concerned by how terrified the young secretary had looked that he called the police from his house. He told them that something had scared the hell out of Cindy, and asked if they could have a patrol car drive through the shopping center to make sure she was okay. Even years later, Larry told reporters that he could still remember the look of fear on Cindy’s face and noted that it gave him the chills just to think about it. It’s unclear if police were dispatched to the shopping center that day.
Cindy had been so fearful of being the only person in the office that her boss had installed a special buzzer at her desk. If she got into any kind of trouble, she could use the buzzer to quickly alert employees who worked in the business next to the law firm, and they would immediately respond. Having the buzzer seemed to give Cindy some peace of mind, but she was always careful to make sure that she kept the door to the office locked so no one would be able to enter unseen.
Aware of the fear Cindy had been living in, James Rabbit called her home to see if any of them had heard from Cindy that day. Once he confirmed that no one knew where the secretary was, he called the police and reported her missing.
To their credit, the Toledo Police Department treated the case seriously from the very beginning. Although Cindy was an adult, and free to come and go as she pleased, there was nothing in her background that suggested she was the kind of person who would voluntarily run away. They searched through the law offices but found nothing to indicate that there had been any kind of a struggle. They didn’t find Cindy’s purse or her keys, but they were the only items that appeared to be missing.
Although Cindy had been alone in the office that morning, detectives were able to find two people who saw her. A maintenance man for the shopping center recalled seeing her enter the building around 8:50 am, and a woman who had walked past the law office at 9:45 am had glanced inside to check the time on a clock in the law office and saw Cindy sitting at her desk at that time. By 10:00 am, clients reported that no one had been answering the phone in the office. Whatever happened to Cindy had happened around 10:00 am.
Detectives interviewed all the people who worked in the law office; while most were able to confirm the fact that Cindy had been growing increasingly fearful over the past several months, none of them were able to offer any insight into what might have happened to her.
Cindy’s family, boyfriend, and friends were all questioned, and all reiterated that, despite her fears that someone was stalking her, Cindy had appeared to be looking forward to the future and was excited about starting Bible college. She was close with her family and had a large network of friends, and none of them believed that she would have voluntarily run away to start a new life somewhere.
Detectives were inclined to agree. The only thing Cindy had taken with her was her purse; her brand-new car, all her clothing and makeup, and all other personal belongings were left behind. She had taken $5.00 out of her bank account earlier that week, but it had been untouched since then. They searched through the family’s Lambertville home, but found nothing to indicate that Cindy had been planning to disappear. Cindy was known for being extremely straight-laced; she would call her parents if she was going to be a few minutes late getting home. Investigators believed that she had run into foul play, but they had no idea who might have wanted to hurt her.
Investigators looked into the graffiti that kept appearing near Cindy’s office; they were extremely interested in learning who “G.W.” was and if he had anything to do with Cindy’s disappearance. Eventually, they were able to locate a man who admitted that he was the person who kept confessing his love for Cindy in spray paint, but he had never heard of Cindy Anderson. His girlfriend was named Cindy, and the messages were for her. It was just a coincidence that Cindy Anderson worked nearby; she had been fearful of the messages for no reason at all.
Detectives were aware of the frightening phone calls that Cindy had apparently been getting at work, but they were unable to develop any solid leads on where they were coming from. No one else in the office reported any calls after Cindy disappeared, and they were unable to trace the ones that had been made before she went missing.
A large-scale search was conducted of the area surrounding the shopping center where Cindy was last seen, but nothing was found. Toledo Police then expanded the search to include known dumping grounds throughout the city; Cindy’s boyfriend and many other friends assisted police as they combed through parts of the city where Cindy never would have gone on her own. They were aware that if they found her in any of the areas where they were looking, she wasn’t going to be alive.
The holiday season came and went, but there was little for the Anderson family to celebrate. Detectives admitted that they had exhausted all leads but were no closer to finding Cindy than they had been on the day she vanished. They continued to follow up on any tips that came in, but they were few and far between and never led to any real developments.
For years, there was no progress on the case. Even the prospect of a $10,000 reward failed to bring in any leads. Detectives were certain that Cindy had met with foul play, but they still had no evidence to prove their theory and no suspects in her presumed mur*der. This changed in 1995, when investigators announced that they believed Cindy had been k*illed by Richard Neller, an attorney who had been one of her bosses at the time she went missing. In June 1995, Richard was one of nine people arrested in connection with a cocaine ring that police believed had been operating in the Toledo area since 1978. Richard was close friends with the ringleader of the group, Jose Rodriguez, and acted as his advisor in connection with his drug business. Federal prosecutors theorized that Cindy had overheard a conversation between the two men regarding one of their drug deals and had been abducted and ki*lled so that she wouldn’t be able to tell anyone.
There was no physical evidence linking either of the two men to Cindy’s disappearance and mu*rder, and they vehemently denied having anything to do with it. A federal drug task force spent three days searching the area around a Perrysburg pond looking for Cindy’s body, but found nothing to indicate that she had ever been there. Their information, which had apparently come from a jail informant looking to reduce his sentence, appeared to be faulty. Although Richard Neller and Jose Rodriguez would remain persons of interest, neither of them have ever been charged in connection with Cindy’s disappearance.
Cindy’s disappearance remains unsolved, and there are several different theories that have been put forth to explain it. It’s very possible that she was abducted and mur*dered, though the idea that Richard Neller had her mur*dered for allegedly overhearing something seems shaky at best. The summer of 1981 was a particularly violent one in Toledo, and in the months before Cindy disappeared, three of four murd*ers police were working on dealt with victims who worked in the same shopping center that Cindy did. Some believe Cindy may have witnessed a robbery or other crime — from her desk, she could see everything going on in the shopping center, but people could see her as well — and was ki*lled because of it. There is simply no evidence to prove or disprove any one theory.
Although none of her friends and family wanted to think it was possible, there is always a chance that Cindy did voluntarily leave home. Perhaps she never had any dreams or phone calls, but made them up to deflect people from realizing that she was planning to run off. She was raised in a strict fundamentalist household, and though she never seemed to act out or rebel in any way, her father noted that she had started skipping breakfast to spend more time on her makeup during the summer of 1981. Perhaps she had a new boyfriend and ran off to start a new life with him. It’s unlikely, but an attractive alternative to her being dead.
Police still believe that foul play was involved in Cindy’s disappearance and that she was most likely k*illed shortly after she went missing, Although her mother died of cancer in 1983 and her father died in 2006, Cindy still has family and friends in the Toledo area who miss her and hope to one day learn what happened to her.
Cynthia Jane Anderson was 20 years old when she went missing in 1981. She had brown eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 115 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white dress with pink stripes, cinnamon brown Legg’s pantyhose, and beige open-toed sandals. She has a chicken pox scar on her forehead and a fishhook-shaped scar on the inside of her right knee. If you have any information about Cindy, please contact the Toledo Police Department at 419–245–3111.