Details of Disappearance
Charlotte was last seen at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on September 26, 1981. She was accompanied by her friend, Cinda Pallett
Charlotte called her family's home to announce that she and Cinda had been offered jobs assisting a worker unload plush toys from a truck at the fair. Charlotte's mother agreed to let her take the job, on the condition that she call home at 9:00 p.m. The two girls planned to spend the night together at Cinda's house.
Two sketches of the man are posted with this case summary; claimed he worked for the carnival. He was 35 to 50 years old, between 6'1 and 6'3 tall, and 200 to 250 pounds, with dark hair, a mustache, a full dark beard with gray streaks, and hairy, muscular arms. He wore silver wire-rimmed eyeglasses, a straw cowboy hat, a brown-striped cowboy shirt or a plaid shirt, cowboy boots, a digital watch on his left wrist, a leather belt tooled with the name "Joseph", and a yellow badge. He drove a tan two-door 1980 or 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix with a half-vinyl roof and South Dakota license plates. This man is known to have spoken to several other children at the fair that day, offering them jobs for $5 an hour.
The man also asked two teenage boys to help them, and the boys agreed. He took the four of them to a truck stop off Interstate 40, but the truck wasn't there. The man dropped the boys off in the parking lot, gave them $10, and told them to wait while he went to get the truck. He drove away with Charlotte and Cinda in the backseat of his car. Neither girl has been seen again.
After Charlotte and Cinda's disappearances, the abductor's yellow badge was located. It bore the name and photograph of a carnival drifter, Don Corey. Corey bore a striking resemblance to the sketches of the suspect. Authorities launched a nationwide search for him and charged him with two counts of kidnapping. He was arrested in Texas, but the charges were quickly dropped, as Corey was able to prove he had been in Dallas, Texas the day Charlotte and Cinda disappeared.
Investigators have ruled out all Oklahoma State Fair employees as suspects in the girls' cases; they think the abductor was posing as an employee to gain his victims' trust.
Royal Russell Long, who was employed as carnie and part-time long-haul truck driver at the time, has long been considered the prime suspect in the girls' disappearances. A photo of him is posted with this case summary. He closely resembled Cinda and Charlotte's abductor.
Long was charged with kidnapping and murdering Charlotte and Cinda in August of 1985. He had arrived in Oklahoma City on the day before the girls disappeared to deliver a flatbed trailer to a business there, and admitted he'd been at the Oklahoma State Fair the day the girls vanished, although he denied any involvement in their disappearances. The two boys, as well as other witnesses, identified him as the man who offered the girls the jobs unloading toys and approached other children with the same offer.
Long also had a history of sexual violence towards young women. His own daughter claimed he had molested her for years and witnessed him try to lure other girls with puppies or stuffed animals.
Authorities located the Pontiac Grand Prix which Long had rented during his September 1981 stay in Oklahoma. Hairs that were found in the car's trunk were analyzed using forensic testing and were matched to Cinda. Animal hairs were also located in the truck; those matched the types of dogs and a cat that Cinda had access towards before she disappeared.
A lock of blonde hair found by investigators in Long's residence in Wyoming may have matched Charlotte's hair; however the tests available at the time could not be conclusive. Forensic tests proved that the mat in the truck of the Grand Prix had a bloody boot print as well and other bloodstains; an expert who examined the mat thought he saw either one large body or two small bodies outlined in blood. DNA technology at the time did not exist, so it was impossible to tell whether the bloodstains came from Charlotte, Cinda, someone else, or even an animal.
During court proceedings Long taunted the Pallett and Kinsey families, saying he was the only one who knew the truth about their disappearances. In December 1985, after the presiding judge threw out Long's daughter's testimony, the testimony of one of the boys who were offered a job by the abductor, and much of the physical evidence, all charges against Long were dismissed. He is still considered the prime suspect in the girls' cases.
He is also a possible suspect in the disappearances of Deborah Meyer
and Carlene Brown
, who disappeared from Wyoming in 1974. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping in connection with the 1984 abduction of Sharon Baldeagle
, who remains missing, and was sentenced to two terms of life in prison. He was still in custody when he died of a heart attack in 1993.
Charlotte enjoyed poetry and roller skating at the time of her disappearance. After she went missing, for eight years, her mother kept her room just how she left it. Authorities believe the girls' bodies are still in Oklahoma, but may never be found. Their disappearances remain unsolved.