Details of Disappearance West was last seen in St. Joseph, Missouri at 6:00 a.m. on September 11, 1979. She left her home in the 1400 block of Oliver Street en route to St. Joseph State Hospital, where she worked as a nurse's aide. She planned to catch a bus at 15th and Messanie Street, but she apparently never made it to the bus stop and has never been heard from again. She never picked up her last paycheck.
Marvin Lee Irvin allegedly threatened West prior to her disappearance, and she carried a hammer in her purse for protection as a result. A photo of Irvin is posted with this case summary. His wife was West's best friend and sister-in-law.
In 1991, Irvin, a former police officer, confessed to West's murder. He had been investigated as a suspect shortly after West's disappearance and her family believed he was involved, but he passed a polygraph and there was little evidence to implicate him. Police later admitted they made mistakes in the investigation, such as by failing to search Irvin's vehicle.
Irvin stated he stabbed West four times in the chest as she sat in his car, shot her twice, then buried her body in a cornfield in Highland, Kansas. He also confessed to killing two other women, Patricia Diane Rose and Crystal Lynn Simmons, and burying them in the same field. A search turned up Simmons and Rose's bodies, but there was no sign of West.
Irvin pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the two cases where his victims' bodies were found. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in West's case, on the condition that the state would not seek the death penalty against him. He was sentenced to life in prison. West's body has never been located.
- St. Joseph Police Department
Updated 7 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 17, 2013; details of disappearance updated.