Joel Hoag

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Above Images: Joel, circa 1967

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: May 10, 1967 from Hannibal, Missouri
  • Classification: Lost/Injured Missing
  • Age: 13 years old
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Joel's nicknames are Joe and Joey.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A t-shirt and jeans.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Joel disappeared with his brother, William Hoag, and a friend, Edwin "Craig" Dowell. The boys were last seen on the south side of Hannibal, Missouri between 4:20 and 5:00 p.m. They were carrying shovels and a flashlight, and said they were going to explore Murphy's Cave, near the Highway 79 construction project. Joel, who was interested in snakes and geology, had been punished the night before for going to the cave without permission. He and William were not supposed to leave their yard, but they left anyway while their parents were out. The boys have never been heard from again.

    That day, the construction work resulted in a cave-in at Murphy’s Cave. Because of the circumstances, authorities theorized the three boys were trapped inside the cave when it collapsed and weren't able to get out. Extensive search-and-rescue efforts turned up no sign of any of them, however. In 2006, construction workers building a new elementary school on Highway 79 found a small cave about 50 feet long. Authorities checked it to see if the Hoag brothers or Craig were there, but they didn't find anything. Because nothing was ever found, there's speculation that the children weren't lost in the cave and something else caused their disappearances. There's no evidence to support any other theories, however. A memorial marker for the boys has been placed in the vicinity of the cave.

    William and Joel left behind five brothers and four sisters. Their family owned Hoag's Tavern, a popular restaurant on Main Street. Joel and Craig were both eighth-graders at Hannibal Junior High at the time of their disappearances. Joel was interested in snakes, geology and astrology in 1967. The three boys' cases remain unsolved. In 2010, author Charles Stewart published a book about them, titled A Sorrow of the Heart.

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Hannibal Police Department

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    Source Information
    The Hannibal Courier-Post
    The Lebanon Daily News

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    Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated June 3, 2012; picture and clothing/jewelry description added, details of disappearance updated.

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