Tammy Sue Rothganger

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4 5 AP
Top Row and Bottom Left and Center: Tammy, circa 1984;
Bottom Right: Age-progression to age 42 (circa 2010)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: May 16, 1984 from Eldon, Missouri
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date of Birth: August 10, 1968
  • Age: 15 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'7, 135 - 140 pounds
  • 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.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A sweatshirt, Nike shoes, a chain necklace with an arrowhead pendant and a leather wristband.
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    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 below 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 of 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.

    Priest 1980s Priest 2010 2 Priest 2010 2
    Left: Martin Priest in the 1980s;
    Center and Right: Priest in 2010

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Eldon Police Department
    573-392-5611

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    Source Information
    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    The Doe Network
    Finding Tammy Rothganger from Eldon, Missouri
    The Hutchinson News
    The Jefferson City News Tribune
    The Wichita Eagle
    Oklahoma Department of Corrections
    Connect Mid-Missouri
    The Lake News
    NamUs
    KY 3

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    Updated 8 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated January 7, 2016; clothing/jewelry description and details of disappearance updated.

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