Debra Ann Wilhite

Wilhite, circa 1974; Wayne Gulley; Ella Mae Dicks

  • Missing Since 10/16/1974
  • Missing From Evansville, Indiana
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 11/15/1954 (65)
  • Age 19 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'6, 120 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A blue knit sweater and bell-bottom blue jeans.
  • Medical Conditions According to her husband, Wilhite may have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, green eyes. Wilhite's hair was bleached blonde at the time of her disappearance. Her nickname is Debi and she may use the last name Pfettscher. She is missing two molars. Her ears are pierced.

Details of Disappearance

Wilhite resided in Gibson County, Indiana with her husband and two daughters in 1974. She was employed as a server at The Windmill Restaurant, a truck stop near Indiana Highways 41 and 57. She had been working there for only a week.

Wilhite's co-workers said that she worked her normal shift during the evening hours on October 16, 1974. A man entered the restaurant after hitching a ride with a truck driver. He said he had traveled to Evansville from Indianapolis to collect some money owed to him, and that he was staying in a local motel. It was raining at the time and he asked Wilhite to give him a ride to his motel. Witnesses saw her depart from the establishment with the unidentified individual shortly afterwards.

Wilhite never returned to her family's residence and has not been heard from again. Her vehicle, described as a green two-door hardtop 1966 Ford Galaxie with the vehicle identification number (VIN) 6W66X173520, has never been recovered.

Wilhite occasionally left the Evansville area for several days at a time prior to her disappearance. She was not immediately reported as a missing person as a result. At the time, it was believed that she may have traveled to California after her disappearance.

There was speculation that Wilhite was killed by a gunshot wound to the head shortly after she departed from the restaurant. Rumors surfaced that her alleged murderer drove her car into a stripper pit outside of Elberfeld, Indiana, and abandoned it there with Wilhite's body in the trunk.

The stripper pit was nicknamed "The Duck Pond" and was filled with water in 1974. It was drained sometime afterwards. Investigators did not look at the pit until 1994, twenty years after Wilhite's disappearance. They found no evidence of her or her vehicle there. Authorities do, however, believe that Wilhite was the victim of foul play.

Wayne Gulley and his former wife, Ella Mae Dicks, were charged with the 1974 murder of Sherry Lee Gibson in 2002. Dicks reportedly confessed to her role in the homicide, which occurred near Evansville. Gulley and Dicks's photos are posted with this case summary.

There are several similarities between Wilhite and Gibson's cases; both women were around the same age and disappeared within months of one another. Gulley matches the description of the unidentified man who departed with Wilhite from The Windmill Restaurant. Neither he nor Dicks has been charged in connection with Wilhite's disappearance.

Wilhite's husband was killed in a vehicular accident two years after her disappearance. One of her daughters died of leukemia in 1978. Wilhite's case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Indiana State Police 317-232-8280
  • Evansville Police Department 812-425-2266

Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 11, 2019; details of disappearance updated.