Barbara Frame got off work around 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30, 1985, and went to her apartment in Zanesville, Ohio. That evening, she had a lot of things she needed to do. Not long after she got home, her ex-husband Jeff Frame stopped by and gave her another thing to do. Jeff told Barbara that she had to go to her lawyer’s office right away to sign some papers related to their divorce, which had already been finalized six weeks before. He was told by Barbara that she would handle it.
Barbara left her three kids at the apartment and told them she was going to see her lawyer. After that, she was going to visit her mother at a nearby hospital and then get some things from the grocery store. While she was on her way back to the apartment, she also wanted to talk to her landlord about the broken bedroom window from the night before. She left around 5 p.m., telling her kids that she would be back soon to make them dinner. Barbara never came back home, and no one ever saw her again.
Barbara’s kids didn’t know what to do at first when their mom didn’t come home. But by Thursday morning, they were sure that something was wrong. Barbara was usually a very reliable worker, but she didn’t show up to work at United Technologies that morning. One of her kids called the Zanesville Police Department to say she was missing.
Evonne Lasure, Barbara’s sister, found her car parked on Linden Avenue, across the street from where she worked. Barb often parked in that lot, but she never parked in the back, which is where her car was found. Evelyn knew something was wrong because her purse and coat were still in the car. “She wouldn’t have left her coat and purse behind.” She would never have left her kids either.
Detectives thought Barbara’s disappearance was strange from the start of the investigation, but they wouldn’t say anything about any possible suspects. Friends of Barbara said she would never have left her kids on her own; they were the most important thing to her, and she often told her friends and coworkers how proud she was of them.
Detectives talked to Barbara’s divorce lawyer and found out that the missing woman hadn’t gone to the lawyer’s office on Wednesday night. Even more telling, there wasn’t a meeting planned for that night. It wasn’t clear why Jeff Frame told her that.
Ana Gibson, Barbara’s mother, died on Sunday, just four days after she was last seen. She had been sick with cancer for a while, and Barbara was going to go see her at Bethesda Hospital the night she disappeared. Barbara’s family and friends were sure that she would never have chosen not to be with her mother in her last days. The people who knew Barbara saw it as yet another sign that the missing woman had been k*illed.
Barbara’s father was sure she would go to the funeral for her mother. As people came to visit him at the funeral home, he stayed positive. “She’ll be here!” I’m sure she will! Should she be able to…” It was clear that Barbara wouldn’t be able to make it in time for the funeral, which made the event less joyful.
Barbara’s family started to worry about her safety as the days went by and she didn’t say anything. They said on February 8, 1985, that they were gathering money to offer a reward for information that would help them find Barbara.
Detectives went through Barbara’s things, trying to find anything that could help them find her. They found a hand-drawn map that led them to a house in Lancaster. When they asked the owner about Barbara, they were told it was a woman. Barbara was given the map so she could find her way to the Tupperware party she had hosted.
Detective Charles Conkle of the Zanesville Police Department said that they had not heard much about Barbara’s case and did not know what had happened to the woman. Since she had never gone missing before, they thought she had probably been a victim of foul play, but they didn’t have any proof to back this up.
Investigators heard from Barbara’s family that her divorce from Jeff wasn’t a good one. They said Jeff had hurt Barbara physically and had threatened to kil*l her many times. At the time, two of Barbara’s children were teenagers. They said that Jeff often came over to the house and tried to get their mom to get back together with him. It got so bad that Evelyn tried to get Barbara to move in with her so she would be safer. She called Jeff’s actions “stalking.” “She told me she didn’t want to risk my safety.”
Jeff would eventually get two polygraph tests, but neither one could say for sure if he was guilty or not. Later, the police found out that he had asked one of his friends if there were any drugs he could take that would change the results of a lie detector test. Even so, investigators couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jeff had anything to do with his ex-wife going missing.
Not long after Barbara was reported missing, Jeff asked for custody of the couple’s son, Eric Frame. Ernest Huber, Barbara’s first husband and the father of her two other children, Ernest and Kathy, asked to have them taken away. Each motion went unopposed because Barbara couldn’t be found to answer. The three kids were then split up.
Dave Gibson, Barbara’s brother, put pictures of her on his car so other drivers would know she was missing. He put up missing person flyers for hours in the hopes that someone would recognize his sister and give police the information they needed to find her. It was also his family in the south of the United States that he sent flyers to so they could hand them out there. A few leads came in, but none of them led to Barbara.
Months went by, and no one knew what happened to Barbara. In August 1985, a person who said they were psychic called the police and said that Barabara was dead and her body was buried near Ellis Dam in Zanesville. She said that Barbara had been k*illed on Linden Avenue, near where her car was found, and then taken to the area around Ellis Dam.
The Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department spent four hours digging around the dam because they had no other leads to follow. They didn’t find anything that would suggest the psychic was right. Sheriff Bernie Gibson said he knew it was a long shot, but since they hadn’t gotten any new clues about the case in months, he thought it was worth following up on.
In October 1985, Zanesville Police Capt. Billy Fulton said that there was no longer any progress in the search for Barbara. Detectives kept following up on every lead they got, but tips were hard to come by, and they still didn’t know what happened to Barbara. They didn’t find any signs of foul play, but they also didn’t find any signs that the missing woman was still alive. Her things were all left behind, and no one had been able to get into her bank account since she went missing.
Detectives didn’t have any good leads, but there were a lot of psychics who said they knew something about Barbara’s disappearance. Police detective Robert Allen from Zanesville said he talked to 35 psychics from Ohio who thought they could help him find Barbara. He told reporters, “We’re just not going to give up until we’ve exhausted every possibility.” He knew it was an unusual way to do things.
One psychic gave police a hand-drawn picture of a house she said had something to do with Barbara’s case. It was thought that the house was in Muskingum County. It was dark brown or gray and had a white carport attached to it. Local newspapers ran a drawing of the house, and anyone who recognized it was asked to call the police.
The psychics gave the police leads, but they weren’t enough to help them find Barbara. After a few months, the investigation stopped moving forward and then stopped altogether. Barbara hadn’t been seen in 18 months by June 1986. Her siblings, Karen Nelson and Dave Gibson, told the press that they only hoped she was still alive. “As long as there’s hope, we won’t give up,” Dave said.It makes more sense to keep looking for her than to say she’s dead if she might still be alive.
A lot of people told Karen that Barbara probably got bored with her life and left to start over somewhere else, but Karen knew that wasn’t true. “I can’t believe that at all.” My sister would never just up and leave her kids and everyone else.
Detective Conkle said that the police had not been able to find any sign of the missing woman. “Before and after this event, we were not a day closer.” He said they couldn’t find anyone who talked to Barbara after Jeff Frame told her she needed to go to her lawyer’s office when he stopped by her apartment. She had just talked to him, so he was naturally a person of interest. But he insisted he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
Detective Conkle wouldn’t say what he thought happened to Barbara when he was asked. “There’s no proof of wrongdoing.” People are free to come to their own conclusions…Even though we have our own thoughts, we need to be quiet about them until we can prove them.
After many years, Barbara’s case stopped being talked about in the news. Just a few months before Barbara’s 30th birthday in October 2014, her family hired a private detective to look into the case. Lilly Paisley, a private investigator, put together a small group and handed out more than 1,000 flyers about the case to try to get more people to know that it had never been solved. She hoped that the extra attention would lead detectives to new leads from people who hadn’t wanted to talk to them before.
The last time Ernie Huber saw his mom, she was 13 years old. Just the fact that he and his two siblings hadn’t heard from their mother in thirty years was enough to make him sure she was dead. “I definitely don’t think this will end well, but any outcome would be nice.” Law and order would also be nice…Since then, technology has come a long way. What do you know? I always have hope.”
The people of Zanesville remembered Barbara’s disappearance on January 30, 2015, which was 30 years ago. People who knew the missing woman came together at the courthouse to pray for her. In her honor, 30 balloons were let go, one for each year she had been gone.
When Kathy Huber’s mother disappeared, she was 15 years old. She told reporters that she was still sad about her loss. It’s been a long time, and many people say, ‘Forget about it, you’ll never find anything.’ You’ll never forget, though.”
Investigator Paisley said she had a thought about what might have happened the night Barbara disappeared, but she needed more proof. She hoped that more people would come forward now that the case was getting more attention. “We don’t want Barbara’s meaning to die.” We’re still trying to find answers.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office released a picture in July 2018 that showed what Barbara might look like when she is 70 years old. They hoped that the picture would bring more attention to Barbara’s unsolved case and give detectives new ideas.
Barb’s family and friends have done everything they can to keep the public interested in her disappearance, but detectives haven’t found any new clues in years. The case hasn’t been solved yet (August 2023) and Barbara’s family and friends can only hope that they will one day find out what happened to her.
Barbara Sue Frame was last seen in Zanesville, Ohio, in January 1985. She was 38 years old. People who knew her think she was k*illed because she would never have left her three kids. The last time we saw Barbara, she was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds. She has green eyes and brown hair. Please call the Zanesville Police Department at 740–455–0700 if you know anything about Barbara.