Tammy Sue Rothganger

Tammy, circa 1984; Age-progression to age 42 (circa 2010); Martin Priest in the 1980s; Priest in 2010

  • Missing Since 05/16/1984
  • Missing From Eldon, Missouri
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 08/10/1968 (50)
  • Age 15 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'7, 135 - 140 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A sweatshirt, Nike shoes, a chain necklace with an arrowhead pendant and a leather wristband.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Sandy blonde to brown hair, brown eyes. Tammy has a tattoo of the letter "R" on her left arm, and also a scar on her left arm. She has several moles on her cheeks and chin.

Details of Disappearance

Tammy was last seen at Eldon High School at approximately 7:45 a.m. on May 16, 1984. The school is just across the street from her home in Eldon, Missouri.

Her mother's live-in boyfriend, Martin Dean "Marty" Priest, said she didn't go inside the building and he pulled up on the curb to find out where she was going. Tammy supposedly told him she was going to skip school and meet friends at Rock Island Park, and Priest said he offered to take her there.

She was last seen getting into a blue Plymouth outside the school. Tammy never attended classes that day and has never been heard from again. Her family reported her missing that afternoon.

Photographs of Priest are posted with this case summary. In 1980, four years before Tammy disappeared, he had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder in the death of a 13-year-old girl whose mother he'd been dating. He was released after three years when the verdict was overturned on appeal.

After Tammy's disappearance, he was implicated in a Christmas 1984 double homicide in Kansas. The victims were William Mayhugh and Freida Bayliff. Priest was acquitted in Bayliff's death but convicted of Mayhugh's murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1987, while he was in custody, he was charged with murder and aggravated robbery in connection with the shooting death of 15-year-old girl, Katrina Cheely, in 1984. Her body wasn't found for four months. A jury acquitted Priest at his trial in that case.

In January 2016, while still incarcerated in Kansas, Priest was charged with Tammy's murder. Authorities believe he knocked her unconscious with a wrench, raped her and strangled her in the backseat of his car.

They stated there had been a third person, a juvenile male, in the car. This person witnessed the murder and only recently came forward and told the police what he saw. He said he helped Priest bury Tammy's body in an unknown location. This witness has not been publicly identified. Priest is awaiting trial.

Foul play is suspected in Tammy's disappearance due to the circumstances involved.

Updated 8 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated January 7, 2016; clothing/jewelry description and details of disappearance updated.