Cindy “Cindy” Ardina Leslie, 15, and her sister Jackie Lynn Leslie, 13, went missing on July 31, 1974, after leaving home to go babysit. There was no sign of the sisters, but things were different back then.
At the time they lived, Phoenix and the nearby areas were still pretty rural. There were acres of orchards where you could smell the sweet orange blossoms. Families were still sitting outside their homes and talking, and backyard barbecues brought neighbours together.
Kids could play outside at that time, and parents didn’t have to worry about kil*lers walking around looking for kids to ki*ll.
At least that’s what people thought.
That warm July evening, the two girls were seen walking down Baseline Road away from their home at the Desert Sands Mobile Home Park, near the intersection at Sossaman Road. They left a note for their parents saying they were going to babysit at the “same place,” referencing a family’s home where they had previous babysitting jobs.
Little did anyone know it would be the last time Cynthia and Jackie were ever seen.
Night of Their Disappearance
Mom and dad, Jack and Erma Leslie, were at church, and their grandmother was home when the girls left. Afterward, she told the police that Cynthia had gotten a call right before she left, written her parents a note, and then left with Jackie.
She slept on the couch that night while she waited for the girls to come home.
In the end, Erma found out that the girls had planned to go to a party on Power Road, about three blocks away from their house. Cynthia wanted to hang out with a boy that her parents wouldn’t let her. It’s not certain if they ever got to the party. Some who said they were going to show up said they never did, while others said they did.
Businesses and homes have been built in the party area since then. In 1974, it was a desert out in the middle of nowhere with orange groves and cotton fields all around it. The police looked all over the area, but they never found any signs of the girls.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies thought something bad had happened to them at the time, and they still think there was foul play.
When the girls went missing, the Leslie family had just moved into a new mobile home park in the desert. They moved from Page, Arizona, which is four hours to the north. Their dad, Jack Leslie, had lung cancer that would not get better, so the family moved closer to where his doctors were. Jack died seven months after his daughters went missing, which is sad.
Erma says that the girls would not have left their sick father because they were so close to him.
The girls’ mother and older sister Linda Herring kept looking for them even though there was no more evidence and a lot of time had passed.
Linda lived in Tucson with her husband and two daughters when the girls went missing.
inda told KGUN-9: “The girls liked to go bowling, they liked roller skating, we were just really the normal American family.”
Cindy and Jackie had just moved and hadn’t started going to their new school yet, so they didn’t have many friends. But Erma and Linda think the girls got mixed up with the wrong people. A lot of the friends who used to call often stopped calling after the disappearance.
She said, “Sometimes it feels like a million years ago and other times it feels like it’s not.” “So Linda and I keep looking.”
Erma lives outside of Las Vegas to be close to Linda. She is now eighty years old. There are pictures of the girls in her hall. Below are pictures of the girls as they might look now, based on their ages, sent to her by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Everywhere you look, you can see a box of missing person flyers. Erma always has a few in her purse.
A detective from Maricopa County came to Nevada a few years ago to get DNA samples from Linda and Erma. Since then, they haven’t heard anything.
Linda said, “I do think they did everything they could have done.”
In 1974, Linda said that she and her family felt alone. Back then, there was no NCMEC and no such thing as an AMBER Alert. The deputies wouldn’t file a report with the police until 48 hours had passed. They could only wait by the phone.
We didn’t have posters in stores or announcements on the local news back then. The police didn’t talk to police in other areas, the FBI wasn’t asked to look into the case, and there were no national hotlines that people could call if they saw a missing child. They were by themselves.
Erma told KGUN, “I was sure they would call me and tell me to come get them.” “But it did not happen.” The event has not yet occurred.
Erma has been living in the dark for decades, not knowing anything that would make her feel better.
She said, “I’ve tried to keep the story of their disappearance alive so no one forgets.” “I think someone knows what happened but hasn’t told anyone.”
Even when the police ran out of leads, Erma didn’t give up. To start, she took fliers to sheriff’s offices in Arizona and southern California.
She went to see a psychic because she was desperate. The psychic told her that the girls were still alive and near water. In her search for them, Erma drove all along the California coast.
Erma told the East Valley Tribune in 2010: “There has never been a day that I don’t say a prayer. I pray that I will find out what happened to my daughters.”
Erma’s old age has slowed her down, but she won’t give up hope as long as her daughters are still alive.