Mattie Lou Zabel

Above: Zabel, circa 1978


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: March 21, 1978 from Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: March 7, 1933
  • Age: 45 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'2, 118 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes.
  • Medical Conditions: Zabel was suffering from depression at the time of her disappearance.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Zabel was last seen by her family in her hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa on March 21, 1978. After she disappeared, a frozen chicken was found thawing in her kitchen sink; it was meant to be for her family's dinner. Zabel has never been heard from again. The day after she was last seen, her vehicle was found at Black Hawk Park with her purse inside. She enjoyed taking walks in the park.

    Authorities theorized Zabel either fell into the Cedar River by accident, or intentionally drowned herself. She had been under treatment for depression, but her psychiatrist told authorities she had shown marked improvement in the months prior to her disappearance.

    There is no evidence that Zabel left of her own accord. Her credit cards were never used after she disappeared, and she did not have sufficient assets to sustain herself for very long. Zabel worked as a teacher's aide at River Hills School in 1978. She left behind a husband and three children. She was declared legally dead seven years after her disappearance. Her case remains unsolved.


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


    Source Information
    Iowa Missing Person Information Clearinghouse
    The Doe Network
    Iowa Cold Cases


    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated March 1, 2010; middle name added, details of disappearance updated.

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