Official Website | Find Kathy Sue Wilcox

“When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.'”

Non-profit donates billboard space to aid investigation into Allegan Co. missing person


New website launched to help find woman missing since 1972

The CUE Center for Missing Persons has launched a new website in the search for Kathy Sue Wilcox

Kathy-Sue-Wilcox3-184x300(NEWSCHANNEL 3) – The CUE Center for Missing Persons has launched a new website in the search for Kathy Sue Wilcox.

Wilcox went missing from Otsego in 1972. She was 15-years-old at the time of her disappearance.

The CUE Center for Missing Persons is a non-profit organization located in Wilmington, North Carolina. It provides free assistance and services to families that have a missing loved one.

Tips to the website can remain anonymous. You can find the site here:

Tips can also be called in to the Otsego Police Dept. at 269-692-6111.


A Sister’s Search: The Kathy Sue Wilcox Case

There are moments that can haunt us, seconds that stay with us forever, words spoken that then replay year after year.

And that’s how the evening of July 17, 1972 is for Karen Wilcox. That was the night her sister Kathy Sue walked out of the house, never to return.

43 years later, Karen, who was just 16 at the time, remembers she was sitting outside her Otsego, Michigan home on the porch swing. Inside, she heard her younger sister Kathy Sue engaged in a heated argument with their stepmother.

Arguments were common in the Wilcox childhood home. Their parents had divorced and their father remarried. Karen described the family dynamic as “dysfunctional.” Kathy Sue, however, usually stayed out of the tumult.

But that night was different.

“Kathy Sue never got into those kinds of arguments with our stepmother,” Karen Wilcox told Dateline NBC. The fight, apparently, was over their stepmother’s disapproval of Kathy Sue’s new boyfriend. The teen stormed out of the house.

“When she walked away that night, she said ‘I’ll never talk to you again.'”

She left with just the clothing on her back, a simple purple T-shirt and jeans.

That July evening was the last time anyone saw or heard from Kathy Sue. She was 15 years old.

According to police, community members reported seeing her later that evening and the following day, but detectives have found no sign of her since.

For Karen, time has not healed the pain of losing her only sister.

“Everybody loved Kathy,” Karen remembers. “She was brave, she was adventurous.”


In the early 1970s, standards for missing persons were much different than they are today. Although the Wilcox family conducted their own search effort for Kathy Sue, they were reportedly told they must wait 72 hours to report her missing.

“1972 was way before any of what we know is customary today,” said Karen Wilcox. “It was before Amber Alerts and everything we have available for families now.”

As that summer came to a close and kids headed back to school, Kathy Sue’s case quickly went cold.

Karen says her sister’s case was open for just two months.

Many at the time believed Kathy Sue had run away. Even to teenage Karen, growing up in a family riddled with frequent arguments and stresses, she thought Kathy had perhaps chosen to escape.

“She was considered a runaway. It seemed plausible,” said Karen. “But lately, I don’t believe she ran away. I think about how loved she was. I believe there is someone in that town who knows something.”

A Perfect Stranger

Karen has since moved away from Otsego. She married in 1976, and now works as a counselor in Billings, Montana.

With the rise of the internet, Karen felt new-found hope that her sister was out there somewhere and she could find her. She would consistently type Kathy Sue’s name into search engines hoping for some type of hit.

Then, in 2011, Karen came across a comment mentioning Kathy Sue on Facebook from a woman named Shannon Froeber, a stranger to Karen at the time.

“Otsego is such a small town, everybody knows everybody,” Shannon told Dateline NBC. “So I couldn’t figure out how I didn’t know about this missing girl, and nobody else did either.”

A lifelong resident of Otsego, Froeber had stumbled across the Kathy Sue case online. She was captivated enough by the young girl’s story and photograph that she decided to dedicate herself to spreading awareness about the case in the local community.

With Karen’s permission, Shannon established a “Find Kathy Wilcox” Facebook page. A community more than a thousand strong has since formed and continues to grow. Others have now jumped in to lend themselves to the cause.

The renewed interest has brought hope to Karen and Shannon, who have become allied in their wish to someday find Kathy Sue.

The Unending Search

The detective currently assigned to the Kathy Sue’s case is Bruce Beckman of the Otsego Police Department.

“She is the only cold case for Otsego,” Detective Beckman told Dateline NBC. “I would hope if she is alive, she would contact somebody. And if she isn’t, I would hope that we can find whatever is there.”

According to Beckman, DNA obtained from members of the Wilcox family allowed Kathy Sue’s case to be added to the Missing Persons of America system. That DNA can be tested against unidentified remains that are discovered.

But until then, or until an Kathy Sue is found alive, police say there isn’t much more that can be done.

Karen is not quiet about her unhappiness with the investigation into her sister’s disappearance. Several posts online question the actions police took all those years ago. Whatever occurred in the initial search, Karen still yearns for the investigation into her little sister’s case to move forward.

“I am not going to leave any leaves unturned when it comes to finding her,” said Karen. “And I know that I might not find her alive. I know that today. I know that’s a possibility.”

Anyone with information about Kathy Sue Wilcox is encouraged to call the Otsego Police Department at (269) 692-6111.

Sister and friends of Otsego woman missing for 43 years renew efforts

OTSEGO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Efforts to find an Otsego woman, missing for 43 years, are picking up steam prior to her birthday.

Kathy Sue Wilcox disappeared at the age of 15 and her case is the longest running missing person investigation in Allegan County.

Her sister reached out to NewsChannel 3’s Alex Jokich, on the eve of Kathy’s birthday.

Wilcox was born on Christmas Day and will be turning 59 years old and her family and friends have just one wish this year: to bring Kathy home.

“We just miss her, you know? Very much,” says former classmate Ronnie Marks.

In July of 1972, police say Wilcox got into a fight with her stepmother.
Her older sister Karen, 16 years old at the time, tells NewsChannel 3 she had tattled on Kathy for something and recalls the final words Kathy muttered to her as she stormed out of the house.

“She said, ‘I’ll never talk to you again,'” Karen says. “And indeed she hasn’t.”

That was 43 years ago when Kathy was declared a runaway. Her story remains a mystery.

“How does somebody just disappear? And nobody knows anything?” Karen cries.

Karen now lives in Montana but recently ramped up efforts to find her long, lost sister.

She is flooding Facebook with a Find Kathy Sue Wilcox campaign, which has created place mats with age progression photos to distribute at restaurants and is working with Kathy’s old classmates back in Otsego to plaster the town with posters.

“We’re hoping she’s out there being a grandmother and that she’s safe,” Marks says. “That’s the best we can hope.”

Kathy’s best friend Eva Thompson has never done a TV interview, until now, and she is hoping, somehow, Kathy sees it.

“Call me, Facebook me, something, you know?” Thompson pleads. “Let’s talk. It’s been a long time.”

Everyone agrees, dead or alive, they just want to know what happened.

“Not that I think I’m that important or my family’s that important,” Karen adds, “but the fact that here we have a child who’s been missing in my community, I think that’s important.”

The Otsego Police Department is still actively investigating the Wilcox case.
Detective Bruce Beckman says there’s no evidence of foul play and they have no leads as to whether Wilcox is dead or alive.

If you know anything about the whereabouts of Kathy Sue Wilcox, contact the Otsego Police Department or the Silent Observer right away.

To follow the case on Facebook just follow the links in the story or click here.


Woman recalls details about sister missing for 43 years

Kathy-Sue-Wilcox1OTSEGO, 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.


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