Details of Disappearance Sigmon-Palmer was last seen in Charleston, West Virginia on July 14, 1979. She had divorced three months earlier, and lived with her parents in the 1600 block of Grapevine Road in Sissonville, West Virginia. That night she went out on a date with 18-year-old John Eric "Jay" Farley.
Farley and Sigmon-Palmer had been dating for the past few weeks, but his father stated the couple was not "going steady." A photo of Farley is posted with this case summary.
Sigmon-Palmer and Farley met that night at the Roarin' 20s, a now-defunct nightclub in the 200 block of Hale Street in Charleston. Sometime after 11:00 p.m., they hitched a ride together to the King's Inn nightclub in the 1600 block of Second Avenue. Before getting out of the vehicle, Sigmon-Palmer said "Oh, he's in there." The person driving the car didn't know who she was referring to, and she didn't specify.
They went inside the King's Inn and took a table on the ground floor with a friend. Sigmon-Palmer then said she was going to the second floor to talk to someone. A few minutes later, Farley followed her. Neither of them was ever seen alive again.
When Sigmon-Palmer didn't return home the next day, her family wasn't initially concerned, because she often spent the night elsewhere. Farley didn't come home either, and his family was concerned, because it was uncharacteristic of him to stay out without telling anyone.
Both of their parents eventually reported them missing, but the police didn't realize there was any connection between the cases until January 1980, six months after they went missing. The authorities initially thought the couple might have just run away together. However, they both left all their clothes, jewelry, money and belongings behind at home, neither owned a vehicle, and Farley wasn't even a licensed driver.
In May 1984, almost five years after the couple disappeared, Farley's badly weathered skeletal remains were found at the Fayette County Surface Mine, about twenty yards from Cannelton Hollow Road. This is about thirty miles from Charleston, and would take about forty-five-minutes to drive.
The clothes Farley was wearing on the night of his disappearance were also found with the remains, and investigators believe he was killed on or near the night he disappeared. His hands had been taped behind his back and he had been shot to death. A single bullet was found under the remains. There was no sign of Sigmon-Palmer at the scene.
Farley had graduated from high school in the spring of 1979. His loved ones described him as a normal teenager who had no particular problems in his life. He had applied for several local jobs after high school and talked about possibly joining the military.
Sigmon-Palmer's loved ones describe her as friendly and outgoing, and one of her friends stated she had a naive, trusting nature. She had work experience in nursing homes and a a secretary and file clerk, and she had previously lived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Seaside Park, New Jersey, and several small cities in Pennsylvania. She had no prior criminal record, and investigators don't believe she was responsible for Farley's murder. She did, however, associate with people who were in motorcycle gangs and involved with drugs.
Mark Legg is considered a person of interest in Farley's murder and Sigmon-Palmer's disappearance. He is a former West Virginia resident and has been a suspect and a person of interest in several unrelated crimes in West Virginia and North Carolina between 1983 and 2000, including sexual offenses against two teenage boys and the murder of two young men, but each time he was either not charged or the charges were dropped. Authorities have not been able to tie him to Farley and Sigmon-Palmer's cases, however.
Many members of the couple's families, including Farley's father and both of Sigmon-Palmer's parents, have died in the years since 1979. Foul play is suspected in her case, which remains unsolved.
- Kanawha County Sheriff's Office
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 21, 2020; distinguishing characteristics, clothing/jewelry description and details of disappearance updated.