Lelia Lewis Bryan

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Above Images: Lelia, circa 1941

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: May 10, 1941 from Carolina Beach, North Carolina
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth: August 6, 1904
  • Age: 36 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'7 - 5'8, 120 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Black hair, gray eyes. Some accounts spell Lelia's name "Lela."
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A summer print housedress, brown and white shoes, a green turban, possibly a sweater, and no stockings or jewelry.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Lelia and her only child, Mary Rachel, were last seen in their hometown of Carolina Beach, Carolina on May 10, 1941. Lelia took Mary Rachel and left home at 9:00 p.m. Some accounts say she was going out to buy groceries at a store two blocks away; another story says she took $2 and was going to buy a new brassiere at the dime store. She was driving her husband's black 1935 Ford Model A coupe with the 1941 North Carolina license plate number 219-056. Lelia and Mary Rachel have never been heard from again. Their vehicle was apparently never recovered. Authorities investigated the theory that Lelia murdered her daughter and committed suicide, but there was no evidence to support this. Lelia and Mary Rachel were declared legally dead in 1948.

    Lelia's husband, Edison C. "E.C." Bryan, is the prime suspect in his wife and daughter's disappearances. He died in the 1970s and was never charged in their cases. It was theorized that E.C. buried Lelia and Mary Rachel's bodies beneath the concrete foundation of his beach cottage on Raleigh Avenue. In early 2009, investigators cut away concrete from the basement floor and dug underneath in search of human remains, but nothing of interest was found and the house has been ruled out as a burial site. Mary Rachel and Lelia's disappearances remain unsolved.

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation
    910-486-1262

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    Source Information
    WECT TV 6
    The Wilmington Star-News
    Bladen County NC GenWeb
    News 14 Carolina
    WRAL News
    Unsolved In the News
    NamUs

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    Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated December 21, 2013; date of birth added.

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