Patricia Joan Chesher, age 12, was last seen on June 17, 1969 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
On June 17, 1969, at approximately 3:00pm, Patty walked out of the family home at 821 San Pedro SE, carrying a booklet of her older brother’s Little Wheels Unicycle Club raffle tickets that she’d hoped to sell around the neighborhood. She went next door, selling ticket # 571 to their neighbor, Kyle Benton. The raffle tickets were 50 cents, and Mr. Benton only had a dollar bill, so Patty returned home briefly to get change. She quickly walked out again, and has not been seen by her family since.
After canvassing the neighborhood, authorities learned that no other neighbors had seen Patty, nor had they been asked to buy a raffle ticket.
Authorities questioned Mr. Benton, since he had been the last person to see Patty. The police stated that he behaved strangely, becoming very emotional, and stating that he was worried that ‘this’ would affect his retirement plans. Mr. Benton is not known to have any criminal history, however.
Soon after Patty’s disappearance, her uncle, Lenville Fey, posted a reward for information leading to her whereabouts. A 17 year old girl named Babette came forward and stated that she had seen Patty with a young male ‘hippie’ described as approximately 18 years old, and with shoulder length hair. Babette stated that the two were hitchhiking on June 20, three days after Patty went missing, and that she had picked them up and given them a ride to Santa Fe. Babette stated that she knew Patty, and that Patty had told her that their final destination was Taos, NM, and that her mother had given her permission for the trip.
At this point, police declared Patty a runaway, although her family still did not believe that Patty would do something like this.
It was later learned that Patty’s uncle, Lenville Fey, who had posted the reward, had been accused in a police report of molesting some of the Chesher girls, including Patty. Lenville Fey was a self-described alcoholic, and was briefly married to Patty’s maternal aunt. He refused to take a polygraph test in connection with Patty’s disappearance.
Patty’s mother, Betty had a boyfriend named Frank at the time. Frank had told police that he’d been in the Chesher home at 3:30pm on the day of Patty’s disappearance, although Patty’s siblings recalled him arriving closer to 6pm. He proposed to Patty’s mother the day after Patty’s disappearance, and was turned down. He never offered to search for Patty, and once blurted to friends that they were welcome to check his closets if they thought he was involved in her disappearance. It was odd, as nobody had suggested that he was involved, he just seemed to volunteer that out of nowhere.
The neighbor, the uncle, and the mother’s boyfriend are all deceased. However, there is still one more person of interest who is alive, though unable to cooperate.
Patty’s older sister, Barbara, knew a man named James. He apparently believed that Barbara was his girlfriend, although Barbara had no romantic interest in him whatsoever. Two days after Patty disappeared, James checked himself into a mental institution for a nervous breakdown. He’d stated that he was upset about what happened to Patty, and about his break-up with Barbara.
Remember that all this time, police are still convinced that Patty is a runaway, and has taken off to Taos with a hippie. The case is cold, nobody is really looking for her except for her family.
Decades later, however, the police are asked to reopen the case, as Patty still has not surfaced. Police attempt to contact James in order to question him, and speak to one of his family members instead. The family member’s reaction: “What took you so long?”
The family member went on to explain that James had confessed to killing Patty, then went crazy. To this day, he remains in a mental institution, incoherent and unable to provide any additional information.
It is not known whether James actually was responsible for Patty’s disappearance, or if this statement, like his fantasized relationship with Barbara, was a result of mental illness.
Patty’s mother has since died, but her siblings continue to search for her.
Here are a couple of UID’s I think should be looked at:
This one, which is actually only a few bones, was found in January 2013. A man was walking through a field, searching for his car in an impound lot, when he noticed a bone. He picked it up and continued walking, then found another. Then a third was sticking up from the ground. There is no age known, but is listed as female, and said to have been there for years. They feel she may have been wearing a white colored ring with a design. The field was near the intersection of Broadway and Murry in Albuquerque, approximately 13 miles from Patty’s home. Here is a map showing both:
This second one (which is believed to be the same person as this one) was found in 1991 and 1995, partly on Burlison Ave NE in Albuquerque, and partly near Wyoming and Alameda in rural Bernalillo County. This female is estimated at between 14-17 years of age, also believed to have been there for years. This one may have been wearing a cameo style locket. The Burlison Ave location is approximately 8 miles from Patty’s home. Here is a map:
It has been 45 years since Patty walked out the door with the little book of raffle tickets. I hope she can be found, and that her family can get the answers they so desperately need.
Albuquerque Journal (Archive available through Ancestry.com)