Details of Disappearance
Carlene was last seen in Rawlins, Wyoming on July 4, 1974. She and a 19-year-old friend, Christine Ann "Christy" Gross, visited the Little Britches Rodeo at the fairgrounds that day. Both of them disappeared afterwards, and their vehicle was found abandoned. (Accounts differ as to where; it was either at the fairgrounds or in the town of Worland, Wyoming, over 200 miles to the north.)
Authorities initially believed they'd left on their own, but began to investigate other possibilities as time passed and no one heard from either of the women. A photo of Christy is posted with this case summary.
Two other females besides Carlene and Christy disappeared in July and August 1974 in the Rawlins area. Deborah Meyer
disappeared on August 4 while walking to a movie theater, and 10-year-old Jayleen Dawn Banker disappeared on August 23 from the Rawlins fairgrounds. Jayleen's partially clothed body was found in a field on April 24, 1975, eight months after her disappearance; like Christy, she had been murdered, killed with a blow to the head.
Christy's body was found three miles south of Sinclair, Wyoming in October 1983, nine years after her disappearance; she had been killed by two heavy blows to the skull. There was no sign of Carlene at the scene and she has never been heard from again. Deborah has also never been found. Jayleen and Christy's homicides are unsolved.
Royal Russell Long is considered a possible suspect in Deborah and Carlene's disappearances and Christy and Jayleen's murders. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping Sharon Baldeagle
and was also charged with the murders of Cinda Pallett
and Charlotte Kinsey
, but the latter charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.
Long lived in the Rawlins area in 1974 and worked at local fairs and carnivals. He died in prison in 1993 and was never convicted in connection with any missing people besides Sharon. A photo of him is posted with this case summary.
Carlene was adopted, and investigators don't know the identity or whereabouts of her birth family. Her adoptive parents divorced prior to 1974. She lived in Rawlins with her father and brother at the time of her disappearance; her mother lived in Colorado. She had graduated from Rawlins High School in 1973; she had been active in many extracurricular activities, including sports, during her school years.
All of Carlene's adoptive family are now deceased. Her case remains unsolved. Foul play is suspected.