Carla Beth Anderson was a 23-year-old woman from Wadena, Minnesota. Although mildly mentally disabled, Carla led an independent life. She lived on her own at Greenwood Apartments, had a boyfriend and a job at Hardee’s. Her manager, Wayne Wolden, called her “spud” as she was just under 5-feet tall and 80 pounds. He was very fond of her,

“She was a fantastic employee. Wonderful personality, lighthearted, smiling a lot.”

Unfortunately, there had been instances of Carla’s kind personality being used against her. Locals occasionally harassed and tried to take advantage of her.

Carla’s hard work at Hardee’s didn’t go unnoticed. In November of 1987, she was named Employee of the Month. It was Friday the 13th when she found out, and to celebrate, she had dinner at Taco John’s with her mother and stepfather, Roberta and Verne Wells.

During dinner, they made plans for Sunday. Carla agreed to help stain wood at a cabin her mother and stepfather were building. In return, her mother would do her hair for it to look nice for her Employee of the Month photo on Monday.

Between 7:30 and 8 PM, they picked up some movies for Carla and then dropped her off at her apartment. She was never seen again.

Carla’s co-workers were alarmed when she failed to show up for work the next morning. Authorities searched her apartment, and it was clear that she had made it safely inside after being dropped off. A cup of soda she had been carrying was in her home along with her purse. One of the videos she got that evening was in the VCR.

However, her keys and Hardee’s jacket were missing. The apartment door had been locked from the outside. Although the building had a security door, it had been propped open that night as people were moving in.

Authorities conducted extensive ground and aerial searches. It was deer hunting weekend, so hunters were asked to keep an eye out for Carla. Hardee’s helped with the searches and provided food for authorities and volunteers.

Lane Waldahl, an investigator at the time, theorized Carla had left the apartment to take a closer look at a fire that had been burning on the edge of town. She would have been able to see the blazing swamp from her window. Although Waldahl believes she could have been kidnapped and murd*ered while outside, there is no evidence of such.

Also on the evening of Carla’s disappearance, a brown Plymouth Horizon was stolen just a couple of blocks away from Greenwood Apartments. Many do not believe this was a coincidence, and Wadena County Sheriff Michael Carr Jr. thinks the car could be the key to finding Carla,

“The one thing that has always stuck with me, that vehicle has never been located. If you were to find that vehicle, you would probably find her.”

Despite widespread searches for the car, it has not been found. Waldahl thinks it could be in a lake or buried in a gravel pit.

Carla’s family members, including her boyfriend, took polygraph tests and were cleared. Roberta and Verne’s theory was that someone Carla knew convinced her to leave the apartment. They mentioned two boys who had harassed her and would knock on her windows, but authorities could not link them to her disappearance.

Roberta and Verne died months apart in 2008. Carla’s father, Marvin Anderson, is still alive.

Although 35 years have passed, Wadena officials have not forgotten about Carla and are pursuing leads.

If alive, Carla Beth Anderson is now 57-years-old.

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