Details of Disappearance Judith was last seen on November 26, 1986 at approximately 7:00 a.m. Her husband, Darrell "Tex" Ehmke, picked her up from the Cheatham County Nursing Home, where Judith was employed as a nurse's aide. She has never been seen again.
Judith and Darrell's three children returned home from school in the afternoon and discovered that the house was locked. This was unusual, since Judith was always home by that time. Darrell arrived shortly thereafter with groceries and opened the residence. He discovered that his wife's clothes had been removed from their bedroom closet. Photos were missing from albums and jewelry had been removed from Judith's jewelry box.
There was a note placed in a typewriter in the Ehmkes' residence, stating that Judith was tired of her husband "controlling" her and had decided to leave him for another man. The entire letter was typewritten, including Judith's signature, which is uncharacteristic of her; she usually hand-wrote all her notes. Darrell threw the letter away, but one of their children read it before it was destroyed.
Judith and Darrell were having marital problems in 1986 and Judith had met with an attorney about a possible divorce. She planned to leave her husband and take their children. Many of Judith's relatives and friends insisted that it was very uncharacteristic of her to leave her children and simply disappear of her own accord. Judith never returned to the nursing home to retrieve an awaiting paycheck.
Authorities focused on Darrell as the prime suspect in Judith's disappearance. He failed to report her as a missing person until two weeks after she was last seen, after one of their daughters told a school counselor her mother was missing. Authorities searched the Ehmekes' property several times, but evidence was not recovered. Their house has since burned down.
Darrell has been arrested several times for assault and theft since 1986. He was also convicted of rape in 1993, but the conviction was later overturned.
One of Judith's co-workers reported that Judith said she had an affair with a neighbor shortly before her November 1986 disappearance. The co-worker also stated that Judith suspected she was pregnant by the neighbor, but this was never confirmed. According to one of Judith's daughters, the neighbor was also viewed as a potential suspect in her mother's case.
Foul play is presumed in Judith's disappearance. Her case remains unsolved.
- Cheatham County Sheriff's Department
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 28, 2011; clothing/jewelry description added.