Clara Marie Grunst, age 21, vanished from Joplin, Missouri on October 9, 1984.

From what her mother understood, Clara planned to hitchhike from Joplin to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she was living at the time and looking for a job.

She was last witnessed at a truck stop, entering a truck near Highway 44 and Highway 43 in Joplin.  The driver of the truck, who was from Milwaukee, was located and questioned.  He reportedly gave conflicting statements, but there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge him with any wrongdoing.

Clara is believed to have made a phone call to her brother at 11:40am the following day, from a pay phone in Pittsburg, Kansas, and nobody has heard from her since.

Clara enjoyed traveling and hitchhiked often.  She communicated via CB radio, using the handles Missouri Sunshine, Blondie and Blue Eyes.

It appears that Clara had been reported missing previously.  In September 1981, when she was 18, she had last been seen at a Greyhound bus station in Springfield, Missouri.  The mother of one of her friends received a phone call from her, in which she said she would be arriving in Carthage, Missouri that night.  When the bus arrived, Clara was not on it.  Her mother had understood that she was going to Republic, Missouri to babysit.


It’s not 100% clear whether she returned following this 1981 disappearance, only to vanish again in 1984, or if there was only one disappearance and the year has been reported incorrectly.

I lean toward the idea that she vanished twice, because there are differences in the circumstances as well as the year.

However, this Find A Grave entry lists her date of death as 1981.  It reads like an obituary, and contains information that only someone who knew Clara could provide.  The entry includes information on her schooling, and lists several family members as surviving her.

In 2011, Clara’s mother held a memorial service. She passed away in May 2019.  Her four siblings continue to seek answers.


The Charley Project

Porchlight International


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