Bonnie Elzora Brashers

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Above: Bonnie, circa 1963

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: September 16, 1963 from Freedom, California
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth: March 10, 1913
  • Age: 50 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'7, 170 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Bonnie wears eyeglasses for reading; she left those behind.
  • Medical Conditions: Bonnie was recovering from a hernia operation at the time of her disappearance. She was due to return to work in a week.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Bonnie was last seen at her residence in Freedom, California on September 16, 1963. She spoke to one of her daughters at 9:30 a.m., but wasn't home when her children returned home from school. Her husband, 61-year-old Nathaniel "Nathan" Brashers, told their children that evening that Bonnie had simply walked down the road and hadn't returned. She and Nathan had nine children and four of them were still living with their parents at the time. She left all her belongings behind, including her reading glasses and all three of the family's cars, and has never been heard from again.

    Nathan disappeared the next day, leaving behind $77 in cash and a note saying addressed to his children saying, "This is all I can give you, I won't need it, so don't look for me." He didn't take a vehicle with him and also left all his belongings behind, including his dentures. Authorities theorized Nathan had murdered his wife and then committed suicide, and began an extensive search of the area. They couldn't find much evidence in the Brashers home, and one of their children had washed all the family's clothes before the police could examine them. Nathan was known for his violent temper and their children said he had threatened Bonnie before. Nathan had been arrested for murder in 1958, after he slit an elderly male neighbor's throat during an argument. The grand jury failed to indict him, however, deciding he had acted in self-defense.

    Three weeks later, Nathan returned home and was arrested on charges of deserting his two minor daughters, and questioned about his wife's disappearance. He said he had no idea what happened to Bonnie and that after she went missing he felt "left without a home", so he caught a freight train to Oregon and worked in the apple orchards there before deciding to return home and check his mailbox. A photo of Nathan is posted below this case summary. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the desertion charges. He had previously been committed to Agnews State Hospital, the state psychiatric hospital, but later escaped. In December 1963, three months after Bonnie's disappearance, he was recommitted and the desertion charges against him were dismissed.

    Nathan continued to get in trouble with the law after his wife disappeared: in 1980, seventeen years later, he was charged with shooting a man during at the Pacific Avenue Mall. The victim, a member of the Hare Krishna religion who was selling popcorn at the mall with a co-religionist, survived his injuries. Nathan claimed he'd acted in self-defense; the victim's friend said Nathan had approached them without provocation, pushed them and then shot at them. The outcome of that case is unknown. Nathan died in a nursing home in 1982, at the age of 77.

    There's been no indication of Bonnie's whereabouts since 1963.

    Nathan
    Above: Nathan Brashers

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office
    831-454-2242

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    Source Information
    NamUs
    California Attorney General's Office
    The Santa Cruz Sentinel

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    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated March 8, 2016; medical conditions added, distinguishing characteristics and details of disappearance updated.

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