Pinkie Mae Davis-Herron went missing from Del Valle, TX in September 1976. Most sites list her disappearance as having occurred in 1979, a discrepancy that Pinkie’s daughter explained as follows:
When Pinkie disappeared, both of her daughters were very young. A friend of Pinkie’s attempted to report Pinkie missing, but law enforcement would not take a report. She wasn’t officially reported missing until her younger daughter was an adult, and she wasn’t sure of the year but guessed 1979. Over time, from talking to family and friends, her daughter determined that she vanished in September 1976.
Del Valle is a small suburb of Austin, although according to Wikipedia, Austin annexed some parts of Del Valle in 1990, so Del Valle used to be bigger. I am not sure if the part of Del Valle she went missing from is now considered Austin or not. Searches for Tex Golden Nugget show the location as both Del Valle and Austin, depending on the source.
Knowing the correct year is very helpful in her case, and I will get to the reason shortly.
Pinkie Mae was only 14 when she married in 1970. She had two children, and was divorced from her husband in 1975. The day she went missing, she was seen driving to the Tex Golden Nugget, a motel and bar/lounge in Del Valle,where she was employed. A family friend saw her, and said that Pinkie honked the horn and waved. She has never been seen again.
Pinkie’s profiles on missing persons sites do not specify whether Pinkie’s car was ever found. Pinkie’s daughter confirmed that her car was indeed found at the Tex Golden Nugget, and it appeared to have recently been cleaned. Pinkie normally had a bunch of stuff in her car, and her family felt it was uncharacteristic of Pinkie to have the car so clean.
Pinkie was a tomboy, who enjoyed working on motorcycles and cars. She was also a drummer and played in area bands.
Now for the reason the year of her disappearance is so important:
1979 would suggest an isolated incident.
1976, however, was the year that there was a string of young women who disappeared from the Austin area. All were around Pinkie’s age, at least two of them (other than Pinkie, who is biracial – Black and Hispanic) were black.
There was Jennifer Joyce Barton, age 21. She disappeared in May 1976 from the area of 11th and Waller in Austin. She was with a friend, and they’d planned to see a movie. She stopped in a bar to get some money from friends there, and ended up staying there. She was seen getting into a brown van with California plates, with two men. She was never seen again. Jennifer was apparently distraught at the time, over the loss of a friend who was killed in February. (I looked through death certificates – I found only one person in their 20’s-30’s who was killed in February 1976, his name was Steven Lulenski. He was a nurse at the Brackenridge Hospital emergency room, and was killed inside the ER by a patron who was apparently mentally ill. Articles indicate that the person who killed Steven had killed before. He had killed his own uncle in 1971 but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. I am not sure if Steven Lulenski is the friend Jennifer was upset about – He is the only one I found in the Travis County death records, but it’s very possible that Jennifer’s friend died in a different county.
Debra Kay Stewart, 19, also went missing in May 1976 from Austin. She was driving from Sears in South Austin (her place of employment) to a doctor’s appointment at the University of Texas. She never arrived at her appointment, and was never seen again. Debra was ill at the time, suffering from a kidney ailment, although her illness would not have been apparent to people she encountered. Debra’s car was found shortly after, in East Austin. It has been suggested that Debra’s disappearance could be related to Jennifer Barton’s, partly because of the timing, and also because both apparently knew people who hung out on 11th street, although it is unknown whether the two knew each other.
Another girl, Brenda Moore, disappeared in March 1976 at age 21. I do not know her race, and have been unable to find a photograph of her. She was on her way to work at the Crestview Nursing Home in Austin, where she was a nurse’s aide. Her car was found in East Austin also, two blocks away from where Debra’s had been found. She also reportedly suffered from depression.
The fact that Jennifer and Debra went missing within the same month, were both young black women, who frequented the same area does suggest that the two cases could be linked. The fact that Brenda’s car was found two blocks from where Debra’s car was found suggests that these two could be linked. The fact that Brenda and Debra were both last seen driving (as was Pinkie) suggests they could be linked also.
Pinkie’s daughter added that Pinkie did have ties to the area that Jennifer Barton and Debra Stewart disappeared from. As a musician, she often performed at the bars in the area.
As far as I know, no suspects have been named in any of the disappearances – and being that I do not know who Jennifer’s friend was that was killed in February 1976, I have no idea if there was a suspect in that case. That was what I was trying to find out, to see if I could find any clues that could somehow connect to Pinkie.
Oddly, while Travis County has 3 pages of male unidentified remains listed on NamUs, and one set of remains that they are unsure of the gender, they do not have a single female. I wonder if they just aren’t great about getting them entered, or if they really don’t have any.
While Pinkie had been involved in a divorce in 1975, I found nothing to indicate that the marriage was abusive or that she was having problems with him at the time of her disappearance. However, it could be a possibility. When one goes missing while driving, it’s safe to speculate that she stopped the car for some reason – possibly to pick up a stranger/hitchhiker, possibly a carjacking, but much more likely she stopped for someone she knew.
I also have no further information about the place where she worked, if she was having problems with anyone there, but there is always the possibility that she did arrive there and something happened. You’d think someone would remember seeing her though, if that were the case.
There is a somewhat confusing entry for Pinkie on MyHeritage. I’m not too familiar with this site, it appears to be a genealogy site that pulls data from other genealogy sites and pieces it together so that a person’s life events are all on one page. Some of the information on Pinkie is correct – the birth year, mother’s name, and the marriage/divorce involving Mr. Herron. Those match up to the actual records I found. A couple things I am unsure of. MyHeritage lists a father, while Pinkie’s birth record only mentions a mother. MyHeritage states that she was married a second time, to an individual other than Mr. Herron. I can find no record of that marriage anywhere, but strangely, I DID come across that last name while researching – it is the last name of the person who owned the Tex Golden Nugget. And lastly, MyHeritage shows a death date year of 1989 for Pinkie. I could find no record of this in the SSDI or the Texas Death Index. It could be that she was declared deceased after having been missing for so long, but typically it would be listed in the indexes. So I am curious where this additional information came from. There WAS a Pinkie Mae Davis who died in 1989, but she was born in 1914, I think, so clearly not this Pinkie.
I hope Pinkie is found soon, she seems to have a lot of family and friends who miss her terribly.