Janice J. Donohue

Janice, circa 1983; Richard Donohue, circa 1980s

  • Missing Since 12/16/1983
  • Missing From Brentwood, New York
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 12/10/1947 (73)
  • Age 36 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'1, 120 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A striped sweater and blue jeans.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Janice's maiden name is Sancomb. Her hair was frosted at the time of her disappearance.

Details of Disappearance

Janice was last seen at her home on Wicks Road in Brentwood, New York at 9:00 p.m. on December 16, 1983. She has never been heard from again. Her husband, Richard Donohue, reported her on January 5, three weeks later. He said he'd worked late, come home and gone to bed, and when he woke up, Janice was gone and their four-year-old son, Chad, was in his crib crying. He stated they were having marital problems and he thought she simply left.

After her disappearance, Janice didn't call her children by her previous marriage, who lived with their father in upstate New York. She also missed a job interview she'd been excited about. Her family doesn't believe she would have abandoned Chad.

A photo of Richard is posted below this case summary. He was a violent man who physically abused Janice during their marriage.  After Janice disappeared, police found a note she'd written, saying Richard had threatened to sabotage her car and cause her to get into a fatal wreck, and that if she was ever killed in a car accident, Richard might be responsible for it.

Richard died of cancer in 2000. He has always been the lead suspect in Janice's disappearance, and Chad also believes his father murdered his mother. Chad thinks his uncle Edward, Richard's brother, who hanged himself in the backyard of Richard's house in 1998, may have had knowledge of what happened. He stated Edward was terrified of Richard, he thinks Edward's suicide was prompted by his guilty knowledge of Janice's disappearance.

In December 2019, police searched the Donohues' former residence using ground-penetrating radar, looking for Janice's body. The search didn't turn up anything, however. Both Chad and Janice's biological daughter, who was born when Janice was nineteen and placed for adoption, still hope for closure in her case.

Investigating Agency

  • Suffolk County Police Department 800-220-8477

Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 16, 2019; casefile added.