Details of Disappearance Mowrey was last seen at her residence at a senior community in the 25000 block of Camino Los Padres in Laguna Niguel, California at 9:00 p.m. on January 12, 2009. She has never been heard from again. She left almost all her personal belongings behind, including her medication, hearing aids, walker and purse. She took only her wheelchair and keys. Mowrey needed leg supports to use the wheelchair, but those were left behind.
Police stated there were "inconsistencies" in Mowrey's checking account during the week before she went missing. The circumstances of her disappearance led them to suspect foul play and they searched a landfill for her body, but turned up no evidence.
Authorities announced they were searching for a silver 2002 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a camper shell, which belongs to Mowrey's grandson. A few days later they found the truck, being driven by an acquaintance of Mowrey's grandson.
The man, who has not been publicly identified, was on parole for narcotics offenses. Police arrested him on unrelated charges, impounded the truck and took it to a crime lab for analysis. The results have not been released.
In September 2014, Michael Wesley Baker was charged with Mowrey's murder, as well as three counts of solicitation to commit murder. He is Mowrey's grandson and was the last person to see her. Authorities believe he murdered her at her home on the night of January 11/12, then disposed of her body in a nearby trash bin.
Baker was allegedly confronted by an acquaintance while dumping the body, but the witness didn't go to police about it for years. Baker allegedly attempted to hire someone to kill this person. He has a prior record for methamphetamine possession, domestic violence and making terroristic threats.
In January 2018, Baker pleaded no contest to reduced charges of solicitation of murder of a witness and being an accessory after the fact to murder. If convicted of the original charges, he could have faced life in prison. Instead he was sentenced to three years in jail and was released immediately, with credit for time served. His plea did not admit guilt, only that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him on the charges.
The plea deal was reached after Baker accused law enforcement of illegally using two jailhouse informants to threaten him while he was in custody. Baker also claimed two sheriff's deputies had threatened to kill his father if he did not confess his crime. The prosecution stated the plea deal had nothing to do with Baker's allegations, and they only decided on it because the murder case would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mowrey's body has never been found, but foul play was suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
- Orange County Sheriff's Department
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 28, 2018; details of disappearance updated.