OTSEGO, Mich. — June 17 marks 43 years since Kathy Sue Wilcox was last seen. She was just 15 years old when she left her home in Otsego after a heated argument with her step mother. Kathy’s older sister Karen spoke to FOX 17 about some things she still believes hold the clues to what happened to Kathy.
Karen last saw her sister one night in July of 1972. “I know that it is a very real possibility that she might not be with us,” Karen said.
“I always felt like people thought I should know what happened to her, like I was keeping a secret somehow or something,” she said.
Karen was only one year older than Kathy, and they shared secrets just as they shared a bedroom. The last secret Kathy Sue shared with Karen was one Karen was unable to keep.
“I blame myself though, because if I hadn’t told, you know, she would still be here.”
Kathy Sue had just finished ninth grade the night she left the house and never returned. Karen says she had just gotten a job babysitting for a Christmas tree farming family. Karen could not remember the details, such as the family’s name nor their location. She couldn’t even recall how Kathy got back and forth from the home, but she did remember some disturbing stories that worried her.
“It involved boys,” Karen said. “It was significant enough — the things that she was telling me — I was scared for her. So I told on her to our step mother.”
Karen believed Kathy was experimenting romantically with a couple boys while at the other family’s home.
Their step mother confronted Kathy when she returned home, and it turned into a heated argument.
“Kathy went down the steps. She turned around and said ‘I will never talk to you again, ever.’”
They didn’t know it then, but that statement would hold true 43 years later.
“I think there’s some connection between the Christmas tree farming family and what happened to her,” said Karen, “maybe not the family themselves but what was taking place out there, because Kathy started to change about that time, and it seemed like it happened so fast.”
Karen still remembers the pain when authorities closed Kathy’s case before school started that same summer.
“My thoughts were we weren’t rich enough, we aren’t important enough, and my sister’s life doesn’t matter. It was a helpless feeling. I was thinking there wasn’t anything we could do.”
Kathy Sue’s case would later be reopened. Her name was put on the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, with age progression pictures. Today, She would be in her late 50s.
A Facebook page has been created for any tips people might have about what happened to Karen’s baby sister.
Karen says as long as there is not a body, there’s still hope.
“Somebody knows something. Somebody knows something.”
If you have any information about Kathy Sue Wilcox and her disappearance, call the Allegan County Silent Observer at 855-SILENT-0.