Shirley Gertrude Pullen

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Above: Pullen, circa 1986

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: December 31, 1986 from South Bend, Indiana
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: November 30, 1917
  • Age: 69 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'5, 125 - 150 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Graying brown hair, brown eyes. Pullen's ears are pierced. She smoked cigarettes at the time of her 1986 disappearance, and she occasionally wore a brown or blonde wig.
  • Medical Conditions: Pullen is a diabetic and insulin-dependent. She was reportedly somewhat senile in 1986.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Pullen was last seen in her hometown of South Bend, Indiana on December 31, 1986. Her hairdresser saw her at a Save Mart store on U. S. 33 and Bell Road during the day. Pullen told her hairdresser that she planned to have a New Year's Eve party at her home later that evening. It has been established that Pullen returned to her residence at Lot 152 in the Windward Village Mobile Home Park on South 13th Street near Niles, Michigan sometime later in the day. She has never been seen again.

    Authorities checked Pullen's trailer on January 12, 1987 after she failed to pay the rental fees for her mobile home lots in the park, and her relatives called the police to say they had not seen or heard from her in nearly two weeks. Investigators discovered a half-eaten, spoiled sandwich and a cigarette which had burned down to its filter in an ashtray inside Pullen's home, where she lived alone. The television in the mobile home was turned on. There were no indications that a struggle had taken place and authorities believe Pullen left the residence in a hurry but willingly, intending to come back shortly. All her personal belongings, including her coat and other clothing, her luggage and her vehicle, were left behind.

    There were no other leads in Pullen's case until the early 1990s, when one of her neighbors told authorities that she had witnessed Pullen arguing with two men outside of her mobile home on December 31, 1986, the date she was last seen. One of the men was identified as a former tenant of Pullen's. He leased one of her trailer lots, but there is no record of him paying any rent. The man was questioned by investigators and claimed he did not see Pullen the day she vanished. He also stated that Pullen paid him for work he did for her prior to her disappearance. Pullen's final check to the tenant was dated December 30, 1986 and was for $500. The man claimed that the check was a holiday gift for himself and his family.

    It was discovered that the same tenant had used Pullen's Discover credit card twice after her 1986 disappearance; once on January 11, 1987 and again on January 16. Both times it was used to purchase items at the Highland Appliance store in Mishawaka, Indiana. The man stated he had Pullen's permission to use the card to charge $1,000 worth of household equipment. He claimed he did not know Pullen was missing at the time he used her credit card, and that she had written several checks to him in compensation for work he did for her. Pullen's diary entries, however, indicated that the man was extorting money from her.

    Pullen formerly worked at the Simplicity Pattern Co.. She lived with her husband on a farm in the Niles, Indiana area until he died, then she moved several times before coming to live at Windward Village. She was estranged from her relatives at the time she went missing. No one has been charged in connection with Pullen's disappearance, but it is considered very suspicious and foul play is suspected. Pullen has not used her Social Security number since her disappearance; neither has she made an insurance claim for her insulin. She was childless and all of her siblings have died since 1986.

    Pullen's case was reopened in 2008 and investigators stated they had a good chance of solving it and had several persons of interest in mind. Investigators believe there four four men at her trailer that night and all of them knew what had happened to her, and more than one individual was involved in her disappearance and probable murder. Authorities also believe at least one of the person(s) involved told others about what happened. One person of interest, who was a juvenile in 1986 and not the primary suspect in her case, committed suicide after he was questioned about her disappearance.

    Some agencies state that Pullen was 71 years old at the time of her disappearance.

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    South Bend Police Department
    219-235-9201

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    Source Information
    The South Bend Tribune
    Niles Township
    WSJM AM 1400 & FM 94.9
    NamUs
    WSBT 22

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    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated February 6, 2014; details of disappearance updated.

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