Kellie Brownlee was looking for a good summer job and wanted to get it before all the college students in the area started coming home for break. On the way to Walled Lake Western High School on the bus on May 20, 1982, she told her boyfriend Mark Graves what kind of job she wanted. She decided to skip class that day to go to the mall and fill out some job applications, even though Mark told her she still had plenty of time. She left the high school after telling Mark she would see him later that night.
Kellie was 17 years old, but she didn’t have a driver’s license yet, and she liked hitchhiking as a way to get around. She got a ride and asked to be dropped off at the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan, five miles away. A lot of people saw her at the mall, where she filled out job applications at a few fashion stores.
Around 11 a.m., Kellie ran into Judy Mehay, who is the mother of one of her friends. Kellie told her she needed to finish a few more forms before she left the mall when she was asked if she needed a ride home. Kelly’s friend’s mother was the last person who saw her before she disappeared.
In the spring of 1982, Kellie was having a rough time. She moved in with her boyfriend’s parents six weeks before she went missing. She loved her mother very much, but she didn’t get along with her stepfather and had just told friends that he had been abusing her.
Few people knew that Paul Brownlee was actually Kellie’s stepfather because she had always used his last name. Most people thought that he was her father. The girl’s mom, Loretta, got married to Paul when she was very young, and he raised her and her sister Kim. They looked like a great family from the outside, but things were anything but great for Kellie and Kim.
In 1977, Kellie’s older sister said that Paul had raped her. He finally admitted to fourth-degree criminal se*xual misconduct, and Kim moved to California to live with her real father. Kellie thought about moving with her, but she didn’t want to because she was very close to her mother. She made up her mind to stay in Michigan.
Many of Kellie’s friends thought that Paul was abusing her physically, even though she never told them why Kim had moved to California. Many times, she got bruises. One time, Kellie’s friends counted them and found 32 of them. Over the next few years, Kellie would sometimes leave home and stay with friends for a few weeks at a time when she was sick of dealing with Paul. She kept her home life quiet. She was still devoted to her mother, though, and was always in touch with her.
In April 1982, Kellie made up her mind again that she and Paul could not live together. She left her home in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and now lives with Mark in Walled Lake. While Loretta really wanted her daughter to move back in, Kellie was firm and wouldn’t go back until her mother got rid of Paul. Over the years, Loretta had given different reasons for staying with Paul, but money had always been the main one. She knew she could take care of herself and her daughter without Paul’s help now that she was almost done with nursing school. It only took a little while longer.
She was going to come back as soon as Paul left, which she thought would be soon. She put the West Bloomfield address as her home address on all of the job applications she sent out that day.
Kellie didn’t come back to school until after the last class of the day, which didn’t surprise Mark too much. But as the night went on and she still wasn’t there, he started to worry. When it got to 9:00 pm, he was very worried and began calling Kellie’s friends. He thought she might have broken up with a friend at the mall and gone to their house, but no one he called had seen her that day.
Mark called every person he could think of who might have seen Kellie by 11 p.m., but no one could help him. He told some of Kellie’s close friends about what was going on, and they all agreed that they needed to call Loretta. Kellie always kept in touch with her mother, even when she wasn’t living with her. Her friends thought she had called her mother from the mall and decided to spend the night with her.
Carrie, one of Kellie’s best friends, offered to make the call. When Loretta picked up the phone, she told her that Kellie hadn’t called that day. This made her heart sink. Carrie didn’t know what to say, so she just blurted out that Kellie didn’t seem to be there. It was a big moment in Loretta’s life. She knew right away that something was very wrong and called the police.
Mark Graves was one of the first people that detectives talked to. He told the police that Kellie didn’t go to school that day because she wanted to find a good job for the summer. She had left nothing behind at home, so he was sure she wouldn’t have run away on her own. Her purse was the only thing she had with her. Mark’s apartment was searched by police, but they found no evidence that anything had happened to Kellie there. At this point, Mark was ruled out as a suspect.
Detectives were able to confirm that Kellie had made it to the mall safely that morning. People had seen her there as late as 11 a.m. It wasn’t clear what had happened to her after that. They thought she hadn’t been taken by a stranger from the mall because it was so busy with people that someone would have seen something.
It wasn’t impossible for investigators to think that she left the mall with someone she knew. On the other hand, it was also possible that she got into trouble after hitching a ride with the wrong person. But detectives thought the answer might be closer to home. The police and Kellie’s friends both thought that Paul Brownlee might have done something to Kellie. She was putting pressure on her mother to divorce him, and she had finally started telling people that he was abusing her. So he did what he did. It was good for him that she was gone.
Paul told Kellie that he wasn’t near the mall when she was there, and he promised that he would never hurt her. His story was that he went to the grave of his father-in-law in the morning and then went to the gym to work out. Detectives asked him if he would be willing to take a polygraph test about Kellie’s disappearance. At first, he agreed, but then he hired a lawyer and wouldn’t help them anymore.
Even though detectives were still interested in Paul, they didn’t have any proof against him. Not even Kellie’s claims of abuse had been proven at the time she went missing. They had to put him in the back of the list of possible suspects and keep looking into the case.
Kellie was known as a really nice teenager who had never been in any kind of trouble with the law, even though she had a bit of a wild side. Her friends and she both liked to wear tight jeans and army jackets, smoke Marlboro reds, and listen to heavy metal (she was crazy about Ozzy Osbourne). They sometimes skipped school to drink coffee at a diner, and they would drink alcohol when they could get someone to buy it for them. She told her mom that her motto was “live, love, and laugh,” and she lived by it. She was also very responsible and didn’t mind the idea of having to work to make money. Besides her habit of hitchhiking, Kellie wasn’t living a very dangerous life, even though she was a bit rebellious.
Detectives looked into all the tips they got about the case, but they couldn’t find any solid evidence that Kellie had gone somewhere. Many people who were working on the case were sure that Kellie had been harmed, but she had been seen in the area more than once. Police went to a number of places where Kellie was said to have been seen, but they were never able to confirm any of the reports.
Even though Paul still wouldn’t talk to the police, he called them a lot with information about possible sightings and theories. He also promised a $1,000 reward for information that would help find her and bring her back safely. Some of the detectives were suspicious of him because he kept getting involved with the case, but he wouldn’t talk to them, and there wasn’t much they could do. The case slowly slowed down and then stopped moving.
It wasn’t until 1985 that Loretta finally got a divorce from Paul. Even after they got divorced, Paul kept calling police to give them information about possible sightings of his ex-stepdaughter. In 1991, he went to the police station with a catalog of swimsuits in his hand. He told the police that one of the models looked just like Kellie and even gave them the number of the person who hired the models for the catalog. Detectives thought he was just asking them to let him know how the investigation was going. They pointed out that Kellie would have been 26 years old in 1991, but the model he was showing them looked about 12 years old.
Over the years, police have looked into dozens of reports from people all over the country that they thought they saw Kellie. One source said Kellie was playing Snow White at Disneyland in California, and another said she was a topless dancer in New York City. There were leads from New Mexico, Illinois, and Indiana, but they all ended in nowhere. Authorities still think they will be able to solve the case one day, though, so it is still considered an active investigation.
On January 18, 2018, the police said they were looking into the possibility that Arthur Ream, a suspected serial killer, killed Kellie. Ream is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Cindy Zarzycki, a Michigan girl who went missing in 1986. He had said that he killed other people but that they had not yet been found by police. So far, detectives haven’t found any evidence to support the idea that Ream had something to do with Kellie’s disappearance, but they are still following all leads.
The last time anyone saw Kellie Brownlee was when she was 17. The last time we saw her, she was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds. She has brown eyes and hair. She was last seen with burgundy Nina high heels, white pants, and a long-sleeved peach blouse on. It’s not known if she had earrings on at the time, but she had a wine-colored purse on her. Her ears were double-pierced. Please call the West Bloomfield Police Department at 810–682–1563 if you know anything about Kellie.