Jennifer Fay was upset on November 14, 1989, in the evening. The 16-year-old would like to go to the party that was being held just around the corner from her home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Instead, she had to watch her brother and sister, who were younger. Most of the time, she didn’t mind watching their kids, but this evening she fought them about it. She stood firm with her mother, Dottie MacLean. She had already planned to go out with her friends that night, so she told her oldest daughter she would have to miss the party.
Jen looked like she gave up, but she was really just waiting for her mother to leave. She called her cousin, Tammy Young, once she was sure Dottie was gone. She agreed to watch Jen’s younger siblings while she went out with her friends because Tammy lived right around the corner. As soon as Tammy got there, Jen quickly left her apartment on Emerson Avenue, saying she would be back before her mom brought her back.
The party was only a few blocks away, and it had been going strong for a few hours before Jen got there. Soon after she got there, she left with a male friend to go to a nearby convenience store called Rice’s Market to get more alcohol. Jen stood outside while the 21-year-old man went inside to get a beer. The store was at the end of Jen’s street, so on her way back to the party, she decided to get a jacket at her apartment. She and the man began to walk back to Broad Place, where the party was, after she got her coat. But the man Jen was with got sick on the way.
The 21-year-old had been drinking for hours, and it seems that the walk back to the party made him even more drunk. Someone saw him throw up on the side of the road. Jen was still with him at the time, but she was talking to someone in a brown pickup truck that had pulled over next to her. Jen had already gone to the truck and gotten in by the time her friend was done being sick. No one ever saw her again.
In the evening, Dottie called her kids’ house to see how they were doing. She thought Jen would answer the phone, so she was surprised when Tammy did. Dottie was torn between anger and worry as Tammy told her that she had come over to watch the kids so Jen could go out. She cut her night short right away and went home.
Dottie couldn’t sleep last night because she was waiting for Jen to come home. The teen was still missing when the sun came up, so Dottie called the Brockton Police Department to say her daughter was missing.
The police thought right away that Jen had run away, since she had done that before (though she always kept in touch with her parents) and didn’t look for her. Dottie was sure Jen hadn’t left home on her own because she hadn’t taken any of her things with her. As she saw that the police were not going to help her, she chose to do her own investigation.
Dottie searched the neighborhood door-to-door for anyone who might have seen Jen the night she disappeared. The fact that most people didn’t seem to want to talk about it was a red flag for Dottie. She also thought it was strange that Jen’s party friends had never called the house to see if Dottie had heard from Jen. For some reason, she thought they knew more than they were letting on, but she couldn’t get them to talk. The police didn’t care about the case because they thought Jen was just another teenage runaway.
The police finally put a detective on the case three years later. During that time, Dottie was very upset and frustrated because she had insisted from the start that Jen was not running away. To their credit, detectives finally came to the same conclusion in 1992: they had been wrong to think Jen had left on her own. They now thought she had been taken and probably killed, but none of the possible witnesses would talk to the police.
Investigators found out that a lot of Jen’s friends at the time she went missing were involved with drugs or other illegal activities. This is probably why most of them wouldn’t help them. Police and Dottie thought that Jen’s friends probably knew exactly what happened the night the teen went missing, but all of them said they had nothing to do with the case.
Dottie said her daughter was friendly and funny, but also a little innocent. It was easy for her to trust people, and her mother was afraid that this had gotten her into trouble. Jen had changed the people she hung out with not long before she disappeared. Her new friends were fun to hang out with and go to parties with, but she had put her trust in the wrong group of people.
Even though the detectives’ admission that they didn’t think Jen ran away from home made Dottie feel better, it didn’t help them find Jen. Nobody at the party would talk to the police, and no new witnesses came forward with any new information. This meant that the case quickly stopped moving forward.
People didn’t remember that Jen was still missing, but Dottie did everything she could to make that happen. For the first ten years that Jen was missing, the media paid no attention to her disappearance at all. In 1999, long after the investigation had stopped, the first reporter to become interested in the case was called Dottie.
Molly Bish, who was 16 years old at the time, went missing from her job as a lifeguard in Warren, Massachusetts, which is about 90 minutes from Brockton. The case was covered all over the country, which made Dottie angry. She didn’t mind that the Bish family was getting all the attention, but she didn’t get why no one seemed to care about her daughter.
Molly’s family got some peace of mind when her body was found in 2003, but the murder case has still not been solved. Molly Bish’s family started the Molly Bish Foundation after she died. They paid for several private investigators to work on Jen’s case. Together with the police, these investigators would try to break through the wall of silence that surrounded Jen’s disappearance.
In 2003, someone gave police information that Jen had been killed and her body had been put in a truck and then dunked in a Brockton pond. The pond, which is only a short distance from Jen’s house, was thoroughly searched. The police looked and found no signs that a truck or a body had ever been there.
In 2005, the search for Jen began again with the help of private investigators. They looked in many places in Massachusetts in the hopes of finding something that would help them get closer to finding Jen. They went through wooded areas, ponds, and fields. With permission from the owners of a few private properties, they also searched those. Nothing was found that was connected to Jen’s disappearance.
Over 120 people who knew Jen or had friends in common with her were interviewed by private investigators. The fact that they were not from the local police force seemed to help them, as people were more willing to talk to them than to Brockton detectives. They were able to find the man who had gone to the convenience store with Jen right before she disappeared. He lived in Vermont and, even though he didn’t want to talk to the police, agreed to meet with private investigators. He told them that he and Jen had gone to her apartment to get a jacket for her. They were on their way back to the party when the man got sick.
The man knew for sure that Jen had been seen last talking to someone in a brown pickup truck, but he wasn’t sure if there were one or two people inside. The person or people in this truck were likely the last ones to see Jen and had something to do with her disappearance.
Investigators looked through a quiet pond in Avon, Massachusetts, in May 2008. Avon is only a few miles from Brockton. Detectives were told that Jen and her friends would sometimes have parties at the pond because it was far enough away from their parents and the police that they could hide. There was no evidence that Jen was buried there, but the police decided to search the area anyway. They didn’t find anything.
She wanted to know what happened to her daughter more and more as the years went by. At some point, she didn’t care who was to blame for Jen going missing; she just wanted her daughter back. It became more important to find closure than to hold someone responsible for what they did, and she begged anyone with information to please come forward. Her cries were not heard.
Over the years, detectives have kept working on the case. They think they know what happened to Jen, but they don’t have enough proof to say for sure. Private investigators have talked to almost 300 people, and when Jen went missing, almost all of them were teenagers. Investigators think that Jen knew the person driving the brown truck that was seen near the party and that she got into the truck because she trusted the driver. None of them have admitted to knowing what happened that night.
They think this man killed her, but they don’t think it was planned ahead of time. In the Brockton neighborhood at that time, there were two brown pickup trucks owned by young men. Soon after Jen disappeared, one of these pickup trucks went missing. It was only three or four years old at the time, but there is no record of it being sold and it has never been re-registered. Even though there is no direct proof that this has anything to do with Jen, detectives think it could be the key to solving the case. So that Jen’s case can be closed, they hope that someone who knows what happened will finally come forward with the last pieces of the puzzle.
In 2018, Brockton’s mayor said that a playground in McKinley Park that had just been fixed up would be named after Jen. In spite of the fact that her body has never been found, he hoped that it would give Dottie a place to go with her daughter. Jen’s family would love nothing more than to finally be able to bring her home, even though they are grateful for the kindness.
Jennifer Fay was 16 years old when she didn’t come home in 1989. Her hair is blonde and her eyes are blue. She was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed about 95 pounds when she went missing. Blue jeans, a purple shirt, white sneakers, and a black silk jacket with an Iron Maiden patch on it were the last things that she saw her. Please call the Brockton Police Department at 508-941-0200 if you know anything about Jen.