Details of Disappearance
Joseph was last seen in Hammond, Indiana on January 27, 1974. That morning he went on his paper route, delivered all his copies of the Hammond Times, and left the newspaper bag on his front porch. His usual routine after that would have been to attend mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, a few blocks from his home in the 7000 block of McCook Avenue.
Joseph never arrived home for lunch, and his parents called one of his friends to ask where he was. The friend said he'd seen him playing on the grounds of Morton School. It was a household rule that everyone had to be present for dinner at 5:00 p.m., but Joseph didn't arrive home for that either, and his parents became concerned and called the police.
Witnesses reported seeing him walking near the Catholic Cemetery on Kennedy Avenue by the Norfolk and Western Railroad tracks at 5:00. Others thought they saw Joseph walking southeast near the Hessville Cemetery at 169th and Arizona. The railroad sent an inspection car along the tracks, but found nothing amiss. An extensive search turned up no sign of Joseph anywhere.
The Spisak family never believed Joseph ran away; he hadn't mentioned any runaway plans to anyone, and he left all his belongings behind, including his clothing, his second pair of glasses, his Matchbox cars, his baseball mitt and his prized baseball card collection. Authorities think it's possible that he was abducted, but the circumstances of his disappearance are unclear.