Details of Disappearance Cynthia was last seen playing in the front lawn of her family's apartment house on Elm Street in San Jose, California on April 27, 1974. She has never been heard from again. Her mother, Linda Sumpter, began looking for her between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. that same day. When she had searched for half an hour with no result, she called police.
A massive search of San Jose turned up no sign of the child. Witnesses report that she was in a blue car driven by an unidentified young man with blond hair and a mustache; these sightings have not been confirmed.
Five weeks prior to her disappearance, Cynthia was allegedly sexually molested near her home. Her mother pressed charges against the man identified as her abuser. Several days after Cynthia went missing, the abuse suspect's stepbrother contacted Linda and said he had "ripped off" Cynthia. He demanded that Linda drop the criminal charges and pay him $1,000 in exchange for Cynthia's safe return. The ransom demand turned out to be a hoax, however, and the man was charged with attempted extortion.
Cynthia's parents had had a bitter divorce a year before her disappearance and each one accused the other of hiding her. Both her mother and father passed polygraph tests, however, and police ruled them out as suspects.
Antonio Madrid was investigated for possible involvement in Cynthia's disappearance. He was the stepfather of one of her friends and lived only about 100 yards from her apartment. Madrid committed suicide two days after Cynthia disappeared. After his death, police found a bloodstained shirt belonging to him, and blonde hairs in his car.
A convicted murderer named Eugene Joseph Wesley is also a possible suspect. He took two polygraph tests about Cynthia's case and the results indicated that he knew more than he was saying about her disappearance. Wesley was never charged in connection with her case, however, and has since died in prison.
Linda has since remarried and moved to Pocatello, Idaho. She believes her daughter is still alive. Police believe Cynthia was abducted by a non-relative. Foul play is suspected in her case.
- San Jose Police Department
Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 23, 2021; age-progression updated.