Jennifer Dawn Lancaster

Lancaster, circa 2000

  • Missing Since 05/12/2000
  • Missing From Topeka, Kansas
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Age 20 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'5, 100 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A blue and white shirt, denim shorts, sandals, diamond stud earrings and gold hoop earrings.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Lancaster's ears are double-pierced and her right eyebrow is pierced. She has a tattoo of the words "low rider" in green and black ink on her left upper arm and a tattoo of an unspecified green and black ink design on her lower back.

Details of Disappearance

Jennifer was last seen in Topeka, Kansas on May 12, 2000. She and her two baby daughters, Sidney Smith and Monique Smith, left home at approximately 8:00 p.m. to go to a male acquaintance's home. They never arrived and none of them have ever been heard from again.

Jennifer's 1994 Jeep Cherokee was found abandoned in the parking lot of a small apartment complex in the 3000 block of Southeast Swygart, just southeast of Southeast 29th and California Avenue. All personal belongings had been removed from the vehicle, including both infant car seats and the car keys. No one in the family has ever been heard from again.

Jennifer grew up in the Highland Park area of Topeka. At the time the trio vanished, they lived with Jennifer's mother and seventeen-year-old sister at Misty Glen Apartments in the 3200 block of Southwest Randolph Avenue. They had moved there earlier in the spring of 2000.

Jennifer is a graduate of Topeka West High School. According to her mother, Vicki Lancaster, she "got in with the wrong crowd" and "got into trouble" during high school. While she was pregnant with Monique, Jennifer worked at Remington's, a local bar, then took a job at Baby Doll's, an adult entertainment club. She had a boyfriend, who was the father of at least one of her daughters.

Vicki saw her on the day of her disappearance and said Jennifer left their apartment at 8:00 p.m., carrying a trash bag containing quilts and baby clothes and saying she was taking them to get laundered. This confused Vicki, since there was a washing machine and dryer at their apartment.

After Jennifer and her children disappeared, Vicki noticed a lot of other items were missing; she believes Jennifer had been surreptitiously removing her belongings for some time. She did leave her cellular phone behind. It was on a plan Vicki maintained, and Jennifer had not made any calls on it the week she went missing. She had no credit cards, and little money in her checking account. She left behind her last paycheck from Remington's.

A few weeks after Jennifer and the children were last seen, Vicki got a mailing from a Steak and Shake restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri. It was addressed to Jennifer and thanked her for filling out a comment card about the food and service it had provided. Vicki contacted the restaurant to ask to see the comment card, as she thought she could recognize her daughter's writing. The card had been destroyed by then, however.

Sidney's biological father is still in Topeka and has been interviewed by police about the disappearances. The paternity of Monique is uncertain. Police described Jennifer as a responsible mother who wouldn't have harmed her children and stated there was no hard evidence of foul play in the case, but noted it was strange that Jennifer never got in touch with her loved ones again.

The circumstances of the family's disappearances are unclear and their cases remain unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Topeka Police Department 785-368-9400

Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 10, 2023 details of disappearance updated.