Details of Disappearance
Nater and her friend Nancy Leichner went on a picnic with Aquaholics, a skin-diving club, in the Alexander Springs Recreation Area of the Ocala National Forest in Altoona, Florida between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. on October 2, 1966. They attended the picnic with Leicher's fiancee and Nater's date.
The two women were last seen going into the woods together along one of the nature trails. They left their purses, clothing, shoes, Leichner's eyeglasses, and other personal belongings behind on a picnic table. A search was organized when they didn't return. An extensive search covering fifteen square miles turned up no sign of either of them. They have never been heard from again.
It is not believed that the women drowned in the swampy area. They are both good swimmers and in any case did not plan to swim that day because the water was too cold. Their boyfriends are also not considered suspects in their disappearances.
In 2007, authorities announced they were closing the Leichner/Nater cases, as they believe the serial killer Gerard John Schaefer Jr. was responsible for their disappearances. A photograph of him is posted with this case summary. Schaefer is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of dozens of young women and is suspected in the disappearances of Carmen Hallock, Wendy Stevenson and Peggy Rahn. The family of Debora Lowe, who disappeared in 1972, believes he was involved in her case as well.
Schaefer was only convicted of two murders. He was murdered in prison in 1995. He was never charged in connection with Leichner and Nater's disappearances, but investigators are certain he was involved. They stated evidence, including a witness and a jailhouse confession, linked him to the two women.
Leichner is a graduate of Largo High School. Both women resided in Pinellas County, Florida in 1966. They did not know each other very well; they had met only once prior to their disappearances. Their cases are unsolved.