Nelda Louise Hardwick

Hardwick, circa 1993

  • Missing Since 10/14/1993
  • Missing From Lake Charles, Louisiana
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 01/03/1959 (65)
  • Age 34 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'3, 110 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description Blue jeans and sandals.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Dark brown hair, hazel eyes. Hardwick has a complete set of dentures. Her left leg is shorter than her right one and she limps badly as a result. Hardwick may use the alias last names Bailey or Fruge. She has numerous surgical scars on her head and body.

Details of Disappearance

Hardwick was last seen in her home on 18th Street in Lake Charles, Louisiana on October 14, 1993. She apparently left the residence during the nighttime hours. She left a note for her live-in boyfriend stating that she was going to the store and would return in a short time. However, she never did. Her boyfriend reported her missing the next day.

Hardwick left her four children behind in her house when she vanished; her loved ones say she was a devoted mother and would not have abandoned them. Authorities suspect foul play was involved in her disappearance and have classified it as a homicide.

Investigators believe Hardwick may have been an unidentified woman who was killed on May 8, 1998, when she was accidentally struck by a vehicle on Interstate 10 in Hancock County, Mississippi. In 2013, Hardwick's relatives identified the Mississippi woman as her based on photographs taken of the body.

The coroner stated there was only a "one in a thousand" chance that she was not Hardwick, and speculated she had been abducted and held captive for years after her 1993 disappearance, then escaped, only to be killed on the highway. A judge ordered an exhumation of the Jane Doe's grave to collect DNA for comparison.

When the grave was opened, however, inside was a man and not a woman. Because the location of Jane Doe's actual grave could not determined, the investigation stopped. The Mississippi victim remains unidentified.

Investigating Agency

  • Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office 800-259-3737

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 1, 2018; details of disappearance updated.