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Johnnie Joe Herrera, age 20, disappeared from Oxnard, California on August 27, 1971.

He was last known to have been at a friend’s bachelor party in the 700 block of West Cedar Street in Oxnard.  Neither Johnnie nor his car have been seen since, except for an unconfirmed sighting at a nearby McDonalds.

At the time of his disappearance, he was married and had a ten month old son.  He was eventually reported missing by his twin brother five days after he was last seen.

There is no evidence that his case was thoroughly investigated or publicized at the time.  Oxnard newspapers from that time period are archived online, but there is no mention of him to be found.   Details are still sketchy, although multiple theories have been presented by those interested in the case.

One theory is that he left of his own accord, feeling trapped by the responsibilities of fatherhood and marriage.   Although his family stated in a newspaper article that Johnnie appeared to be happy, it has been speculated by someone involved with the case that Johnnie and his wife may have been experience marital and/or financial problems.

Another theory is that he became intoxicated at the bachelor party and accidentally drove into a ravine or other body of water after leaving the party.

It’s worth noting that both of the above theories exist mainly as possible explanations for why his car has never been found.

It has further been theorized that an altercation or overdose of some sort may have occurred at the party, which resulted in his death.   This theory comes into play due to the fact that it has never been reported that anyone saw him LEAVE the party, just that he was seen AT the party.

Then, of course, there is the serial killer theory.

Randy Kraft was known to prey on young men in Southern California beginning in 1972.

He has been nicknamed “The Scorecard Killer”, as he kept a list of 61 terms and phrases, that are believed to represent his victims.  The terms are not dated, except in cases where law enforcement have connected his list entries to actual victims.  They are not in chronological order.  Ironically, there is an entry of “Oxnard” that has not been connected to a specific victim.

Of the 61 terms on the ‘scorecard’, 43 have been matched to actual victims by law enforcement.   Each of the 43 that have been matched have been found deceased, which leads me to believe that only unsolved homicides were used to compare with the list, and missing persons were not taken into account.

Therefore, I find it likely that the remaining, unmatched cases are those of missing persons.   I was able to locate ONE missing male with ties to Oxnard between 1963 and 2000.  His name is Johnnie Joe Herrera.

One thing, however, does cast doubt on the theory of Herrera being a Kraft victim.   All 43 matched victims of Kraft (unless I overlooked anything) were located in plain sight.  Mostly in parking lots, on the side of roads, and the like.  It didn’t seem to be his MO to hide his victims.   That said, I would expect to see potential matches for Herrera in the unidentifieds, if he were a victim of Kraft, because it stands to reason that’d he’d have been found rather quickly…. but I don’t see any.    The theory of a Kraft victim also begs the question, where is the car?

Another possible serial killer connection that has been mentioned is Patrick Kearney.  He also was active in the area, although he seemed to have a tendency toward gay young men, that he could lure into his home or car by turning on the charm.  He did pick up hitchhikers and transients occasionally, however I don’t see Johnnie falling into this trap, he had a family to get home to.  I don’t think he would have appeared vulnerable enough for Kearney’s taste.  That, of course, is just my own opinion.

One of the members of Websleuths has been relentless in trying to get attention on this case, which has, for 42 years now, been virtually unknown to the society at large.

If you are interested in this case, and would like to help get the word out, you are encouraged to check out this list of media contacts, and request them to feature his case.

Johnnie, please come home.

Sources:

The Charley Project

Websleuths

Ventura County Star

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Johnnie Joe Herrera

  1. Thank you for featuring Johnnie’s case. I’m the relentless Websleuths member who has been trying to get this case recognized. I’ve already written to Dateline, but they replied saying that the it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. I then sent it to 48 Hours and have yet to hear back (that was in April).

    I think it’s terrible that this case apparently didn’t get even a tiny bit of attention by local papers at the time. I personally believe that Johnnie went to that party that night and had every intention of returning home after the festivities. Someone or something prevented his return home for 42 years. I think the other people at the party have some knowledge of what happened. People generally don’t just vanish without at least one other person knowing.

    • What I find troublesome about the idea of people at the party having knowledge of what happened, is you’d have to be willing to deal with the fact that THAT many people knew about it, but none of them had enough courage to say anything, even though they were likely friends with Johnnie and his twin brother. I can see maybe 1 person or even 2 covering up something like that, but a whole group?

      It’s possible of course, it just seems hard to believe…

      • True. I just there was some way to ascertain whose party it was, how many people were there, and what exactly everyone did that evening. Just because it was a bachelor party doesn’t necessarily mean it was rowdy and out-of-control with lots of strippers, booze, drugs, and lewd behavior. It could have simply been a get-together between bunch of guys sans girlfriends and wives.

        Perhaps it wasn’t really a bachelor party at all, just a simple house party that was mistakenly listed as a bachelor party.

    • I’ve often wondered the same thing. Unfortunately, his wife Annette, who was 18 at the time, died in 1995. So it’s not as though we can find her and ask her. The family did have Johnnie declared legally dead in 1978.

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