Details of Disappearance
Kelly was last seen riding her red three-speed bicycle near her family's home in the 100 block of Lincoln Court in Jackson, Michigan on the morning of August 10, 1984. She was reported missing by her family when she failed to return home later in the evening. Her bicycle was located later that same day at the entrance to Ella Sharp Park, some distance from Kelly's home.
Her family learned that Kelly had purchased a bus ticket to Detroit, Michigan and was observed boarding a bus to that location at the local station. She has never been heard from again.
On the day of her disappearance, Kelly was upset because she had not been able to attend the county fair. Initially her case was classified as a runaway, but foul play is now suspected in her disappearance.
Kelly lived with her father in Pasadena, Maryland until 1984, when she moved to Michigan to spend the summer with her mother. She planned to move in with a great-aunt in California afterwards.
Leonard Victor Hugall, who was Kelly's stepfather in 1984, was the prime suspect in her case from the time police first began investigating the child's disappearance as a crime. He and Kelly's mother divorced in 1994. He has a history of violent behavior and child molestation dating back to before he met Kelly.
Hugall, who describes himself as "evil," was convicted of burglary, theft and sexual battery in Florida in 1993. Kelly's mother stated her daughter's relationship with Hugall was "strained" in 1984 and that she believed he had murdered the the child.
Hugall initially told investigators he thought Kelly had run away from home. For over twenty years he refused to cooperate with authorities in her case or to take a polygraph test. In 2006, however, Hugall confessed to Kelly's rape and murder. Investigators found blood evidence to back up his statement.
Hugall will not be charged in connection with her presumed death until his scheduled release from prison in approximately 2033, by which time he will be over 90 years old. A photo of Hugall is posted with this case summary.
Authorities stated they would attempt to locate Kelly's remains, based on information provided by Hugall. He says he buried her in a shallow grave. Investigators said it is unlikely that anything can be recovered after so long a time, however. Unless Kelly was buried deeply, her body would probably have been disinterred and destroyed by animals.
Some agencies may list August 14, 1984 as the date of Kelly's disappearance. It remains classified as a non-family abduction.