Kimberly Norwood was walking to her home near Hallsville, Texas when she went missing on Saturday, May 20, 1989. The 12-year-old had spent the first part of the weekend with a few of her friends, and she was reluctant to go home because she knew she had to clean her room. She was a responsible child, though, so she told her friends she had to leave and they walked part of the way home with her. She was within a half mile of her home in the Caney Creek Addition when she parted ways with her friends, telling them she would see them at school on Monday. They watched as she crossed the Caney Creek bridge, then headed in the opposite direction. They made it safely home. Kimberly was never seen again.
Kim was the daughter of Bobby and Janice Norwood, and she had been living in the Caney Creek area for about seven years. The subdivision had a network of twisting and winding roads; visitors to the area inevitably got lost. Kim was very familiar with all the streets, however, and felt safe walking around.
Kim was an excellent student who always got straight-As at school, and she especially liked science and social studies. She was a fun and outgoing child, and had many friends. She was looking forward to her middle school graduation in a few weeks, and was very excited about starting high school. She was at the age where she was very fussy about her appearance, and took great care in choosing the perfect outfit each morning. She would also spend at least 30 minutes making sure her hair looked just right before she would leave the house.
Kim spent the previous night at a friend’s house, and returned home that morning to drop off her dirty clothes and her curling iron. She and her younger sister, Pam, then went with their mother to another property in the Caney Creek subdivision. While their mother did some gardening, Kim and Pam went horseback riding, a hobby both girls enjoyed. Three of Kim’s friends stopped by the property to see if Kim wanted to play with them for a while, and she left with them. She called home later that afternoon to see if she could spend the night at the home of one of the girls, but her mother wouldn’t allow it. She reminded Kim that she needed to clean her room and take care of her cat, Cubby. Kim argued with her for a minute before realizing it was futile; she told her mother she would be home shortly.
The girls started walking towards Kim’s trailer house around 5:00 pm. When they were about halfway through the one-mile walk, the other girls had decided they were too tired to walk the entire way. They told Kim they were just going to head home, and the group parted ways around 5:15 pm. Kim was less than a half mile from home at that point, and should have made it there by 5:30 pm. She never arrived.
Janice was initially annoyed, assuming that Kim had ignored her instructions to come home. She called Kim’s friend and was surprised to learn that Kim had left an hour earlier. She and her husband waited for another hour, then started driving around looking for their daughter. When they were unable to find her, they called the police and reported her missing.
There was nothing that led police to believe Kim had been in the 650-acre subdivision where they searched. Following conversations with Kim’s friends, who told them that Kim didn’t want to go home and clean her room, they came to the conclusion that Kim had most likely chosen to run away. Janice and Bobby were sure that Kim would not run away because of that. While it was always hard to get her to keep her room clean, it wasn’t a major source of conflict. Kim had never been in any kind of trouble or tried to run away from home. They were certain that she had been hurt in some way.
Deputies from Harrison County and members of the community searched the area thoroughly. They used ATVs, tracking dogs, and horses to cover as much ground as they could. The subdivision had a lot of trees, and thick underbrush covered a lot of the ground. It was all looked over, and some places were looked over twice to make sure nothing was missed. Volunteers searched for signs that Kim had been there for miles along narrow footpaths, but they couldn’t find anything. Through the night and into the next morning, the search went on. The plan was called off late Sunday night because police were sure Kim was no longer in the area.
After the first weekend, police didn’t do much to look for Kim because they were sure they were dealing with a runway. But every day, her family and friends kept looking for her. Their goal was to find Kim because they knew she wouldn’t have run away from home. Everyone who knew Kim had heard from the missing girl, but they didn’t know who she was. Posters about missing people were made and put up all over Harrison County. Every light pole, store window, and telephone pole had at least one poster about Kim a week after she went missing. The girl’s parents hoped that someone would call with some news about their daughter, but the phones were dead.
Kim’s family was getting desperate by the second week of the search. Police said they were following up on all tips, but they weren’t actively looking for leads because they were sure Kim had already left. They told her that she had left her purse, money, clothes, and her favorite curling iron in her room. Kim would never have gone somewhere overnight without these things. They also said Kim was afraid of snakes and that she always had her BB gun with her in her closet when she went into the woods. She also didn’t like being alone at night because she was afraid of the dark.
Bobby and Janice never liked the way the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office treated them, and it caused them a lot of trouble for years. They were sure that someone had killed their daughter, and when they saw that the police weren’t going to do anything, they hired a private investigator. They also offered a big reward for information that helped them get their daughter back.
Bobby and Janice were asked to take polygraph tests about their missing daughter Kim a month after she went missing. They agreed right away, and later, a police spokesperson told reporters that both of them had passed with flying colors. A number of other people who knew Kim were also given lie detector tests and passed all of them.
There were some rumors that a motorcycle had been seen leaving the area on the day Kim went missing, and that one of the riders on the bike had been dressed like Kim. Police did follow up on this but were unable to substantiate the rumor. A deputy had noticed a car with a Colorado license plate in the area that same day, and recalled seeing two teenage boys and two younger girls in the car, but police were never able to connect this to Kim.
There were several reported sightings of Kim in the Lake O’ The Pines area, and investigators were sent to look into these, but they found no evidence suggesting Kim had ever been in that area. The family’s private investigator arranged for police to raid a home in Gregg County after it was reported that Kim was being held there, but they found only a girl who looked somewhat like Kim.
In August, another large-scale search of the Caney Creek subdivision was conducted, this time using cadaver dogs and heat-sensing equipment. Once again, the searchers came up empty. There was simply nothing to indicate Kim was still in the area,. Police believed that she had most likely gotten into a car with someone she knew. They ruled out the possibility of a stranger abduction because of the area. A stranger likely wouldn’t have found their way into the subdivision in the first place, and if they had, they likely would have gotten lost. Residents did not recall seeing anyone unusual driving around the day Kim disappeared. Kim’s family was deeply disturbed by the possibility that someone they knew might have taken Kim, but also realized it might mean she was still alive. They continued to publicize the fact that they were offering a reward in the case, and made several public pleas for Kim’s safe return.
Bobby and Janice appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show that August, where they showed pictures of Kim and asked for help looking for her. The exposure brought in some new leads, but no solid clues. The relationship between the Norwood family and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department continued to be strained, especially after the sheriff refused to accept any of the help outside missing person groups offered to provide. The feud reached a boiling point when people began protesting in front of the sheriff’s office, demanding he explain why he wouldn’t allow help on a case he clearly wasn’t interested in solving. The department simply ignored the criticism.
Despite the best efforts of the family and the private investigator, the case went cold almost immediately. In July 1990, more than a year after Kim went missing, investigators started searching on the Norwood’s property, digging up part of their driveway in an attempt to find Kim’s body. It was the first public indication they gave that they considered the Norwoods to be suspects in the case, and it surprised most people, especially since they had previously passed polygraph examinations. They found nothing during the search, and some believed the sheriff had arranged to dig up their property as revenge for their constant criticism of him. They didn’t launch any more searches there after this one.
Police have never had any suspects in the case, and still consider Kim to be a runaway. Her family has never stopped looking for her, and they still believe she is alive. Her mother thinks Kim may have been held against her will and then brainwashed, but is confident they will one day find the answers they are seeking.
Kimberly Norwood was 12 years old when she went missing in 1989. She has brown hair and brown eyes, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 110 pounds. She has pierced ears, and a two-inch scar on her abdomen from kidney surgery. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt with red and black cows and the words “Milk Dude” printed on it, dark blue button-fly jeans, black Keds tennis shows, a black hair bow, a Swatch watch, and a gold ring with a blue stone. If you have any information about Kim, please contact the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office at 903–935–4888.