Details of Disappearance Donna was last seen at her home on the second floor of the D Building at Candleglow Apartments in the 1000 block of Candlelight Boulevard in Brooksville, Florida on the evening of February 1, 1994. She called her mother in Alabama and asked her to come and get her as soon as possible. She said her husband, Monroe Champion Sumners, was trying to cut the phone line.
The line then went dead and Donna's mother called the police, who responded to her apartment at 8:10 p.m. Donna told them she was fine and would probably go out for the rest of the night. She has never been heard from again. Monroe said she'd taken $1,000 and left him about twenty minutes after the police left.
Donna and Monroe met while they were students at Cleburne County High School in Alabama, and married in 1987. He joined the Army after graduation.
The couple was frequently separated while Monroe was fulfilling his military obligations; he served in the Persian Gulf and then in Somalia. After he returned home in the autumn of 1993, he, Donna and their son moved to the apartment in Brooksville.
Their relationship was troubled and, in the two weeks prior to Donna's disappearance, police responded to their home three times for domestic disturbances. Donna told police on January 17, 1994 that Monroe had beaten her the week before. Her face was bruised when she made the report and she said she'd become deaf in left ear as a result of the assault.
Donna refused to press charges, however. Instead she took her five-year-old son and went to Alabama, where she is originally from and where she has family. She returned to Florida a few days before her disappearance to work on her marriage. She left her son behind in Alabama, but called him several times a day.
Donna told her family she didn't want her son to grow up in poverty as she had, and she was willing to return to Monroe to keep that from happening.
Early on in the investigation, police focused on Monroe as a suspect. He traveled to Virginia shortly after his disappearance, leaving behind his vehicle, which investigators impounded and searched for evidence.
Monroe's Jeep had sustained frontal damage, which was not present before Donna disappeared. He said he had run into a tree. Authorities said there was carpeting missing from the Jeep and water on the floor of the vehicle. Monroe admitted he had washed it. There was also a rug inside the couple's bathroom that appeared to be bloodstained.
During the investigation, authorities discovered Monroe, an Army recruiter, was having an affair with one of his recruits. This is in violation of the Army's code of conduct, and he was demoted by one rank as a result.
Monroe's girlfriend came to his and Donna's apartment the night Donna disappeared and she told Donna about the affair. Donna begged her not to leave, saying Monroe would beat her once she was gone. The girlfriend left when the police arrived.
In July 1994, Monroe left the Army on a hardship discharge and got a job as a hotel bartender in Virginia. A year later, three days after his and Donna's eighth wedding anniversary, he shot himself to death near his workplace. He left a note apologizing to his son, who was living with Donna's relatives in Anniston, Alabama.
Monroe was twenty-five years old at the time of his death. In his obituary, it said his wife survived him.
It's uncharacteristic of Donna to leave without warning or to be out of touch with her son and her Alabama relatives. She was unemployed at the time she went missing. Her disappearance is considered suspicious, but the investigation has stalled since Monroe's death. Donna's case remains unsolved.
- Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Office
Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 12, 2018; picture added, name updated.