Details of Disappearance
Cathy planned to attend a YWCA dance during the evening hours of September 24, 1971 in her hometown of Portland, Maine. She asked her father to drop her off on Cumberland Avenue that afternoon. Cathy wanted to purchase a pair of pantyhose and some toothpaste before preparing for the dance.
She stopped by a music store on Forest Avenue later in the day to visit a friend. She told her friend she would walk home and would see her at the dance that evening. Cathy was last seen walking down Forest Avenue to head home. Her residence was about a mile and a half away.
She was carrying a brown leather Mexican clutch purse which contained her house key, two tubes of toothpaste, and a very small amount of cash, not even enough for a bus ticket. She never arrived home and has not been seen again. Her parents reported her missing after she was not home by dinnertime.
It's possible that Cathy left of her own accord with her friend, Lester Everett (sometimes spelled "Everette"). Some witnesses had seen Cathy getting into a blue car with two older boys on the day of her disappearance. Everett had stolen a Falmouth, Maine woman's blue four-door 1963 Cadillac and picked up another man, Ronald Reid Perley, a Canadian national in his 20s, and offered to drive him to the Tobique Reserve, just over to the Canadian border outside of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick.
A garage employee at Fort Fairfield in Aroostock County remembered seeing Cathy, Everett and Perley. They came to the garage buy new tires for the Cadillac. The employee said Perley appeared to be controlling Cathy's movements, even walking her to and from the bathroom with his hand on the back of her neck.
Across the border on the Tobique Reserve, witnesses said they saw Everett and Cathy for a few days in September 1971, before the pair went to a farm in the Mars Hill area of Aroostock County to harvest potatoes. One witness, another teen girl who had been there for the potato harvest, said Cathy was using the first name Candy, and that she cried often, seemed fearful of the other men working on the farm, and said she wanted to go home.
One night Everett and Cathy left the farm, and Everett returned the next morning and said he'd dropped her off at another camp. In fact, he had brought her back across the Canadian border to the Tobique Reserve and left her with Perley. At the end of the potato harvest, Everett and a few others left for Florida to pick oranges. He never returned to Maine to live, and said he did not know what happened to Cathy. Everett died of cancer in the mid-1980s, at the age of 35.
Perley, who has served time for rape and home invasion, has long been the focus of the investigation. He has refused to cooperate with police, even when he was offered immunity from prosecution if he would provide details as to what happened to Cathy. Investigators believe she died on the Tobique Reserve sometime before Thanksgiving 1971, but they never had enough evidence to file charges against anyone or even get warrants to search Perley's family home.
In 1983, a hunter said he came across a skeleton in the woods near Smyrna, Maine, surrounded by female clothing. Some investigators believe the remains were Cathy's. The hunter was unable to retrace his footsteps and lead police back to the site, however, and the bones were never seen again.
Cathy was a junior at Deering High School at the time of her disappearance. She gave no indications that she was unhappy and investigators don't believe she intended to run away on the day of her disappearance. Her father died in 2017, but her mother is still alive and continues to hope for a resolution in her case.