Audrey Jean Good Backeberg, age 20, vanished from Reedsburg, Wisconsin on July 7, 1962.
Audrey was married to Ronald Backeberg in 1957, at the age of 15, and the couple had two young children.
Ronald was reportely abusive, and Audrey had filed a complaint against him shortly before her disappearance, claiming that he had beaten her, threatened her life, and kept two guns in the trunk of his car.
Audrey was supposed to pick up a paycheck from a local woolen mill, and left her children at home with their father. She never returned.
The family’s 14 year old babysitter later claimed that she and Audrey had hitchhiked to Madison, where they caught a Greyhound bus to Indianapolis, Indiana. The babysitter stated that she turned herself in as a runaway, and that Audrey told her she would never return, then disappeared around a corner near the bus stop.
Audrey’s family could not fathom that she would ever leave her children voluntarily.
Ronald Backeberg, Audrey’s husband, reportedly passed a polygraph at the time of her disappearance, and contacted several people inquiring about her whereabouts. He later remarried, and passed away in 2006.
For anyone who might be researching this case, it is useful to know that Ronald’s brother also married an Audrey, thus two Audrey Backebergs.
Since Audrey was only 20, I would assume that her children were very young – too young to remember whether their father had actually been at home with them while Audrey was away.
I think the babysitter should be talked to again. She may have been an impressionable, scared, 14 year old at the time, who would have said what she was told to say.
I don’t know if the fact that the babysitter turned herself in as a runaway in Indianapolis was ever confirmed with Indianapolis law enforcement, or if this was just her statement. Surely the babysitter’s parents would remember if their daughter was returned to them from another state.
There also appears to be no confirmation of whether Audrey actually picked up her paycheck that day.
In recent years, an informant came forward, pointing investigators to an area where he believed Audrey’s remains would be found. An extensive search, which included the use of a well-known search dog, was executed – however, the dog handler later admitted to having planted bones in the past, for her dog to find, in order to boost her reputation. They were no longer considered credible after that.
I do not know if the area has been searched again. If it hasn’t, I hope it will be.
Audrey would be about 72 years old now. The babysitter would be in her 60’s.
This song was #1 on the Billboard Charts at the time of Audrey’s disappearance: