Johanna Catherine Brighton, age 38, went missing from Los Angeles, CA on February 25, 1981 from Los Angeles, California.   California DOJ states she went missing under suspicious circumstances.

…. and that’s all.

When I come across these sorts of cases, where information is so minimal, I try to uncover additional details – while I don’t always find any more information about their disappearances, I can usually find some tidbits of their lives prior to them going missing.  I try to include this information in my posts whenever possible, because I think it helps to have a sense of who the missing person was.  If we can’t find them, at least we can memorialize them, so to speak, since everyone deserves to be remembered.

In this case, I’ve come up empty.  Completely, frustratingly empty.

I could not even tell if Brighton is a married name, or if she is single.  No Johanna (of any surname) born on her birthday in California.   No marriage of any Brighton to a Johanna in California or Nevada.  No public records of a Johanna Brighton anywhere in the US.  No criminal records, voter registrations, divorces, or property records could be found.

The Los Angeles Times archives have no mention of her disappearance, although she apparently disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

So, all I can do is speculate.  I’m guessing she wasn’t from California – possibly a tourist, maybe even from another country.    She looks like she would be a really happy-go-lucky person, and for some reason I envision her as a waitress in an all-night diner type of place.  (No, I’m not psychic – I think she is reminding me of a waitress from TV but I can’t place who – Jolene from Alice, maybe?)

One encouraging thing is that she does have a DNA sample on file – which at least tells me that someone is looking for her.

Who was this lovely lady, Johanna Brighton, who vanished over 30 years ago?  Was she someone’s mom, who simply left the house one day to run errands and never returned?  Was she an aspiring actress who came to the showbiz capital of the world with hopes and dreams, only to fall into bad company?  Whoever she is or was, I hope she is found soon.



California Department of Justice



12 thoughts on “Johanna Brighton

  1. Pingback: Chasing the paper trail | Whereabouts Still Unknown

  2. The lovely Johanna was not a tourist or a diner waitress. She was a former model with a young son at the time of her disappearance. She was a true beauty with a lot of personality. She disappeared one day, and never was heard from again. She is presumed endangered as she would not have left her son to grow up without her. She is still in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Thank you so much for commenting, it is great to know more about her. Do you think this could have been a random encounter, or do you think she may have come to harm from someone she knew? She certainly is beautiful and I find it very frustrating that there has been no media attention (that I could find, anyway, and I am usually quite good at digging up old articles, etc).

      I’d be grateful if you have any information on the circumstances of her disappearance that you’d like to share – though I completely understand if you can’t/won’t. Was she last seen at home, or did she leave with anyone, on foot or by car, etc?

  3. Her name was Catherine (Kay) Crawford from Arkansas. Attended U of Arizona. Changed her name in NYC c. 1968 while pursuing a career in modeling. Absolutely stunning gal. What a tragedy she come such a bad end.

    • Wow, Tristan, thank you so much for posting this. It’s rare to have ‘moving images’ from that time period. Although it appears that she was acting, it was a bit eerie because it seemed like she was trying to get away from someone.

      Please, if anyone knows anything about Johanna’s fate, please contact the Los Angeles Police Department. She has many loved ones who deserve to at least know where she is.

  4. She had been a top model in New York in the late 60’s, lived in the Chelsea Hotel and was friends with Salvador Dali. I understand that she lived in Kansas, Arkansas, Arizona and New York, in addition to California. She disappeared in Los Angeles and her vintage car was found in downtown LA with some body damage. I wish there was more information available on her. She was reputed to have been the subject of a few pop songs and possibly the model for the Dali tarot card on temperence, although there is another woman who claims this accolade as well.

    • Hmmm… from my perspective, I see no matches that resemble Johanna and there are good images, compared to the missing persons photo, in the video footage (above). I have the impression that she was very likely street-wise and she already knew several professional photographers. At the time of her disappearence she did not need a portfolio (already had been a top model in NYC in the late 60’s- this is a dozen+ years after that career). She was very thin, probably not looking her best before disappearance, one could deduce that being photographed was probably not high on her to-do list. I did not see anyone who resembled her in either batches of photographs. I am not an expert, this is only an opinion.

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