Panic sweeps the town of El Paso, Texas in March of 1955 when a five year old girl goes missing from the back step of her home.

Screenshot of newspaper article

Known sex offenders in the area are immediately rounded up and arrested.  The nearby Franklin Canal that runs through the town is drained and city jail trustee's are given the grim task of searching through the remaining much by foot for the little girls body.

Sandra June lives with her mother, Loraine, her brother, Leslie and her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Smith, at 1324 Magoffin Avenue in El Paso, Texas in 1955.

screenshot of the area on Magoffin Avenue

Sandra's real father, Billy Joe Reynolds and her mother were divorced months before Sandra was born.  Her mother is now married to a married to a man named John Aynes.  John works for a hotel chain and travels often for work, so possibly out of convenience, Loraine and her two small children live with her parents in El Paso.  The last time Loraine saw her five year old daughter Sandra, she was on the back step of the home.  She was wearing black slacks, a red and blue checkered shirt and one brown shoe on her right foot.  The next time Loraine looks out at the back step expecting to see her rambunctious little girl, she's gone.

Screenshot of detective holding Sandra's shoe

Investigators canvasing the area find out early on that two girls playing at the San Jacinto playground around 5:15 p.m., who knew Sandra by name saw her there playing on the slides and spoke to her briefly.

Screenshot of newspaper article

The canvas also turns up three J.C. Penny clerks who say they saw a girl matching Sandra's description around 5:30 p.m.  They tried to talk to her but Sandra has a speech impediment, and because of this they weren't able to communicate successfully and the girl left. It is also thought that she may have been in contact with a south El Paso family that tried to find out where she lived. Because of her description and the detail of her speech impediment, authorities believe the girl seen at the playground and in the J.C. Penny store is in fact Sandra June.

Screenshot of Loraine, Sandra's mother

Investigations into missing children had the same basic elements then as they do now.  Looking at those closest to a missing child is always the first thing law enforcement does.  Loraine's ex-husband, Sandra's biological father Billy, is the first person investigators think could be responsible for her disappearance.  Billy Joe Reynolds is a farmer living near Farmersville, Tx with Sandra's sister, Sue Ann. He's at the farm near Farmersville when Sandra goes missing so he's out.  Loraine's husband, John, is working out of town.  She's just received a letter from her husband the day before saying that he's working in Lake Charles, La.

 

Loraine says that Sandra is a very friendly child and is likely to take up with anyone.  She says her daughter is always wanting to go for rides in the car. During the course of the search an unidentified man makes a report to police of seeing a man, about 40 years old, dragging a little girl by the hand, about 8:30 p.m. between Airport Road and Van Horne Park.

Our story today is not one that ends in tears.  Most of them do, I know, but not this one, not today.

Sandra goes missing on a Tuesday.  Thursday afternoon, not far away at a hospital in Juarez, Mexico, attendants are caring for a small child.  She's unharmed but it's quickly obvious to hospital staff that she's not from around here.  Yep, It's Sandra June.

screenshot of Sandra's trek

Just over 30 minutes by car but 2 1/2 hours by foot, Sandra turns up at a hospital in Juarez, Mexico.  From her grandparents home in El Paso to Juarez she would of had to cross three very big, busy interstate highways and the Rio Grande River, not to mention the five mile trek through Mexico before she reached Juarez...how on earth did she make it that far?

screenshot of Sandra's trek area

When her mother asks her what she was doing she tells her "I went for a long walk"....No kidding sister!