Details of Disappearance
Jody was last seen at her boyfriend's house in the 700 block of Cambridge Street in Kansas City, Missouri on May 23, 1985. She had an argument with her boyfriend and other friends on the day of her disappearance. She apparently wanted to accompany them to their destination, but they refused.
Jody walked to a friend's residence near east 14th Street and Winchester Avenue and, at 10:00 p.m., she called her mother, Karen Stratton, and asked for a ride home to the 6800 block of east Topping Street.
Stratton did not have her car and Jody told her she had friends who could give her a ride. When she left her friend's house, her friend assumed she was going back to her boyfriend's. She was last seen walking northbound on Winchester from 14th Street. She was never heard from again. She did not take any money or extra clothing with her when she disappeared.
Jody was enrolled in a juvenile probation program at the time she disappeared. (She and a friend had had a run-in with a security guard in 1984, and Jody had also been in trouble for truancy). After her disappearance, Stratton contacted her caseworker and the caseworker filed two warrants, listing Jody as an endangered juvenile who should be detained by authorities if she was spotted.
Stratton assumed that the warrants also meant juvenile authorities had filed a missing child report with law enforcement; they had not. Law enforcement never considered Jody as a missing person until 1987, two years following her disappearance, because they had not been notified. As a result, Jody's case was obviously extremely delayed and clues were minimal by the time the investigation began.
Jody's probation officer got a letter about four years after Jody was last seen. The writer claimed to be Jody and said she was doing well and one day she might say why she decided to leave. Stratton compared the handwriting with a previous letter Jody had written her probation officer, but isn't sure whether or not it's the same writing.
In 1993, Stratton got a series of threatening phone calls at her home that lasted two years. The caller(s) demanded money in exchange for Jody's safe return and at one point threatened to send Jody's body to her "in pieces."
Stratton started recording the calls and sent them to the police, who traced them to a Kansas City phone booth, but the caller(s) were never identified. In 1997, police dragged the Missouri River after two prison inmates claimed they had information on the case. Their tip went nowhere, but it led the Kansas City Police Department to reclassify Jody's case as a probable homicide.
Stratton now lives in Arkansas but visits Kansas City a few times every year to search for her daughter. She stated Jody's home life in 1985 was dysfunctional and Stratton didn't get along with her father, and she thinks it's possible her daughter deliberately chose to leave.
Investigators have also considered that theory, but they think that whatever the cause of Jody's disappearance, something might have happened that jeopardized her safety. Jody's case remains unsolved.