Shaylene Farrell wanted a cold drink, but when she checked the refrigerator, she didn’t find what she was looking for. Only a bottle of Lipton iced tea — unsweetened, with lemon — would do. She grabbed her mother’s car keys and told her younger sister, Colleen, that she was going to run to a nearby grocery store to get the iced tea. After promising that she’d be right back, Shaylene walked out of her Piqua, Ohio house for the last time. It was 10:00 am on August 8, 1994.
Colleen glanced out the window and saw her mother’s 1981 Chevy Malibu back out of the driveway and head off in the direction of the Pick-N-Save. It was located about a mile and a half away, and Shaylene had started working there part-time two weeks earlier. All of the Pick-N-Save’s employees knew Shaylene, but none of them saw Shaylene in the market that morning. Her sister was a little concerned when Shaylene didn’t return home, but figured she had decided to meet up with friends. Shaylene had celebrated her 18th birthday six weeks earlier, and probably didn’t think she needed to update her little sister on her whereabouts.
The girls’ mother, Darlene Farrell was in New Jersey that week; she was visiting her own mother, who had been experiencing some health problems and was currently hospitalized. Darlene’s fiancé, Duane Childers, had remained behind. He worked the overnight shift at a local manufacturing plant, and had just gone to bed when Shaylene left the house that morning. He didn’t know she hadn’t come home until he woke up to go to work that night.
Shaylene’s manager at the Pick-N-Save called the home that evening looking for Shaylene, who hadn’t shown up for her 7:00 pm shift. When Duane got up to get ready for work, Colleen told him that Shaylene hadn’t gone to work and she wasn’t sure where she was. Duane was more annoyed than worried; he assumed Shaylene had skipped work to go joyriding with her friends. Perhaps she was taking advantage of the fact that her mother was out of town, giving her full access to Darlene’s car.
By morning there was still no sign of Shaylene, and Colleen was growing increasingly concerned. When Duane arrived home after working all night, he was taken aback by the fact that Shaylene wasn’t there. He called a few of Shaylene’s friends to see if she had spent the night with any of them, but no one had spoken to her since Sunday, the day before she disappeared. Realizing it had been more than 24 hours since anyone had seen Shaylene, Duane called the Piqua Police Department and reported her missing. He also called Darlene, who made arrangements to cut her trip short and return to Ohio the following day.
Police immediately assumed that Shaylene was a runaway. She was legally an adult, and free to come and go as she pleased. She had left the house with only enough money to buy an iced tea, though, leaving money, her identification, and all her clothing behind.
After a short search, police quickly found the car Shaylene had been driving. It was in the parking lot of the Pick-N-Save, where it had been since the morning. She wasn’t seen, and there was no sign of where she might have gone after getting out of the car. Police looked in the car and the parking lot but didn’t find any signs of foul play. She hadn’t made it into the store. Investigators didn’t know if she had left the area on her own or if someone had taken her.
Detectives started talking to everyone who knew Shaylene and found no signs that she was planning to run away. Like most teens, she was excited to start her senior year at Piqua High School in a few weeks, according to her friends. She loved her family and wanted to become a teacher someday. Nobody in her life was giving her any problems that would make her want to run away.
Some months ago, Shaylene got into some small trouble when her mother caught her smoking pot. Since then, she had moved out and in with a friend. She kept in touch with her family all the time and went back home after a few weeks. This did not make the mother and daughter angry, and Darlene thought it was just a normal part of growing up as a teen. She told Shaylene that she didn’t need to run away from home because if she was mad about something, she would have just gone back to stay with a friend.
Even though Shaylene’s family thought she had been taken, police couldn’t find any proof. They were a little worried because she didn’t bring anything with her and hadn’t told any of her friends that she was going to run away, so they asked for help finding her. Authorities told the media that Shaylene might have been taken against her will and asked anyone who had recently been in touch with her to come forward so that detectives could talk to them.
Investigators were unable to find anyone who remembered seeing Shaylene in the Pick-N-Save parking lot. Before Shaylene was thought to have gone missing, there were many people in the area. However, none of them had seen or heard anything strange. It looks like Shaylene didn’t fight back when she was taken from the parking lot. It’s likely that she got into a car with someone she knew, or thought she knew. Nobody is sure what went on after that.
The local newspaper wrote about Shaylene’s disappearance, and many people called with clues about the case. A lot of people said they saw Shaylene in the area, but the police could never confirm any of them. Someone thought they saw Shaylene being driven down I-75 by a man they didn’t know, but police couldn’t be sure if it was really Shaylene.
Amy, Shaylene’s best friend, was sure that Shaylene had been taken away. Amy would have known if Shaylene was thinking about leaving town because she and Shaylene were always talking to each other. Shaylene had left the next day, but she had been with her for most of the day on Sunday. They had spent most of their time just going from friend to friend around town. Early that evening, Amy drove Shaylene home before 9 p.m. because she wanted to watch a movie that night on TV. After the movie, she called her. Just over 12 hours had passed since this happened, and Amy was sure that nothing bad had happened.
It had been two weeks since Shaylene started working at the Pick-N-Save. On Friday, she cashed her first paycheck. She had spent almost all of the $50 she had earned by the end of the weekend. For her part of the phone bill, she had to give her parents $30. She bought make-up and a Tim McGraw CD with the rest of the money. These were left behind when she disappeared. There was no way for her to get money because she didn’t have a checking account or any credit cards.
By September, it was clear that the case against Shaylene’s disappearance had come to a halt. At the time, there were only four detectives working for the Piqua Police Department. All of them spent time on the case. They kept following up on all the tips they got, but they weren’t able to find any solid leads. There would be no more progress in the case unless fresh information came in.
People outside of Piqua were not very interested in the case, even though Shaylene’s family did everything they could to keep it in the public’s mind. Darlene was angry at the police for how they had handled the case. She thought that their first thought that Shaylene was a runaway had slowed down the investigation.
With months going by and Shaylene still not being seen, the police started to think that she might have been killed. That’s what her family had always told her. The start of Shaylene’s senior year made her very happy. She planned to go to college and major in education. It was impossible for her to have left on her own before she could graduate.
Even though the police said they didn’t have any reason to think Shaylene was dead, her family thought she was. In April 1995, they held a memorial service and put her death notice in the local paper. Some people thought it was wrong for them to do this because Shaylene might still be alive even if she had been taken. Police made it clear that the family’s memorial service would not change how they were investigating the case. They were still hoping to find Shaylene alive and bring her home.
Despite the hundreds of hours they had spent on the case, detectives still had little to work with. They had no crime scene to process and no witnesses to interview, but they were convinced that there were people in the area who knew what had happened to Shaylene. They made another plea for the public to come forward with any information they had about the case, and a few tips were called in. In 1998, they got a tip that two men had abducted and mu*rdered Shaylene, then dumped her body in an area around Union City, Ohio. A search dog showed interest in three different areas of a field located to the south of Union City, so investigators dug in those three areas. They didn’t find anything related to Shaylene’s case.
Although they have declined to release any names, Piqua detectives stated that they have two suspects in Shaylene’s disappearance, and they consider the case to be a homicide investigation at this point. Both of their suspects have been incarcerated in different states, and both were acquaintances of Shaylene.
There was some speculation in the past that Shaylene might have been the victim of a serial killer, but police seem to have ruled that out. Although there are more rumors than facts about what happened the day Shaylene disappeared, she may have been seen getting into a car with two men and possibly a woman. It’s unclear what happened next, but it seems likely that Shaylene was killed shortly after she disappeared from the parking lot.
Shaylene’s family has never stopped searching for her; they have long believed that she is dead, but want to be able to bring her home and give her a proper burial. Like police, they believe that there are people out there who have the information needed to finally solve the mystery of Shaylene’s disappearance.
Shaylene Farrell was 18 years old when she went missing in 1994. She has hazel eyes and dark brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white “No Fear” t-shirt, blue shorts, and black sandals, and she was carrying a heart-shaped keyring decorated with blue sapphires and diamonds. She had a brown mole under her lower lip, a scar above her right knee, and a birthmark on her left thigh. If you have any information about Shaylene, please contact the Piqua Police Department at 937–778–2027.