Details of Disappearance Smith departed from her son's home in Champlin, Minnesota at approximately 6:30 p.m. on June 30, 1999. She was planning to travel 125 miles northeast to her summer lake residence in Minong, Wisconsin. Smith was driving her dark metallic blue two-door 1984 Mercedes Benz 190D sedan with the Wisconsin license plate number TXP-401. Photos of Smith's vehicle are posted with this case summary. Her car has never been located and she has not been heard from again.
Smith is described as an independent woman who lived alone at her summer residence. Her loved ones worried that she was unable to safely drive herself to Wisconsin as the result of her impaired mental state. Smith did not possess a valid driver's license at the time of her disappearance, but she refused to stop operating her vehicle. She normally turned the telephone ringer off inside her Minong property, causing her loved ones to have difficulty reaching her on a consistent basis.
Smith was not reported as a missing person for three days as a result of the communication problem. Her children realized she had disappeared when they arrived in Wisconsin for the Fourth Of July holiday weekend.
A salesperson at a Radio Shack in Spooner, Wisconsin said that a woman resembling Smith's description visited the store on July 2, three days after Smith departed from her son's home. The sighting was not confirmed by authorities.
Smith's case took a bizarre turn later in the summer of 1999, when an unidentified woman dropped a note off at a Wal-Mart store in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The message was addressed to one of Smith's grandchildren and claimed that she was being cared for by an unnamed individual who was unaware that Smith had been reported as missing. Authorities were unable to locate the woman who left the note and the possible lead was discarded.
Smith avoided driving along interstates and normally took smaller highways or country roads to reach her destination. Her family members are uncertain as to what route she may have taken to Wisconsin. Smith may have traveled through Cambridge, Minnesota and Siren and Spooner, Wisconsin, but the routes have never been confirmed.
Smith's son reported that his mother's behavior appeared normal at the time she departed from his home. Several of her children speculated that Smith may have become disoriented while driving and a fatal accident may have occurred. Forests, lakes and swamps surround the majority of the roads she frequently utilized. A detour also blocked a portion of Smith's typical route in late June 1999.
Smith has a shy nature and is described as being devoted to her family members. Her loved ones said it's uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning. Her children believe that foul play was involved in her disappearance, but there is little evidence available to support any theory.
Smith has relatives in Iowa and Illinois. She left behind seven children, twenty-four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Her disappearance remains unsolved.
- Champlin Police Department
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated July 20, 2009; two pictures added.