The disappearance of Sandy Pathresa Rea 34 years ago is still one of the biggest crime mysteries in the Shawnee area, but a new set of local investigators are putting a fresh set of eyes on the unsolved cold case.
On Sept. 19, 1984, the freckled 17-year-old Shawnee teenager made a phone call from the Shawnee bowling alley in hopes of getting a ride to a party. There are many different scenarios about what may have happened to her after that, but her family believes she met a deadly fate.
Now, 34 years later, her disappearance still remains a mystery and her whereabouts are unknown, but her family still hasn’t given up hope to find her remains to give her a proper burial.
Over the decades, there have been many stories shared and theories pondered. There have even been organized digs done in the search for her remains.
Rea’s disappearance remains an open missing persons case with the Shawnee Police Department, but her family also hasn’t given up searching for Rea — and the truth — on their own.
Her cousin, Johnny Price, made a vow six years ago that he would find Rea. He has dedicated time and resources to his cousin’s case and he intends to keep that promise to his family, no matter how long it takes.
“I’m not going to give up — I’m not going to stop looking,” he told The Shawnee News-Star . “We need people to be proactive,” he added, encouraging anyone with information to do what’s right and share what they know.
For years, it was reported that Rea was last seen at the Shawnee bowling alley, but witness statements in later years of the investigation indicated other possible sightings of her at parties.
The case has been assigned to different detectives at the Shawnee Police Department over the past three decades. Hundreds of people have been interviewed as part of the investigation and some people have been interviewed three or four times. Numerous leads have been followed and many places have been searched for a body, yet there’s been no sign of Rea.
Price, who said the family’s own efforts have uncovered possible scenarios, said the family feels certain they are looking for Rea’s remains after all these years, but they still need that closure. He said Rea’s mother, who conducted searches of her own over the years, needs to know what happened to her daughter.
While a police-organized dig for possible remains commenced in Shawnee a few years back, Price was in Shawnee recently and continues to work on possible other locations in hopes of future searches. To find out where Rea’s remains are, Price said they have to first rule out the places she isn’t and that’s a process best taken one small step at a time.
Price said there is someone out there who knows what truly happened. And that person or persons could end decades of worry and torment for Rea’s family if they would just come forward.
While Shawnee police are still an active part of this unsolved case, the District Attorney’s Drugs and Violent Crimes Task Force is now taking a look at the cold case as well.
First Assistant District Attorney Adam Panter confirmed recently that D.A. investigators are providing assistance to SPD and are giving the case “a fresh set of eyes.”
Panter encourages anyone with information to please contact authorities. As technology advances, he said they also may be able to look at old leads with new forensic capabilities.
Rea is still listed as missing in the database of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The latest age progression photograph shows what Sandy might have looked like at the age of 46.