Shelley Kathleen Sikes

Sikes, circa 1986

  • Missing Since 05/24/1986
  • Missing From Galveston, Texas
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 09/02/1966 (57)
  • Age 19 years old
  • Height and Weight 4'11, 90 pounds
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Blue 1980 Ford Pinto (accounted for), Two-tone brown Chevrolet pickup truck
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Sikes has a scar on her right knee, half an inch long by three-quarters of an inch wide. She cannot bend her right index finger.

Details of Disappearance

Sikes was last seen leaving her job as a server at Gaido's Seafood Restaurant on the beachfront in Galveston, Texas just prior to 12:00 a.m. on May 24, 1986. She was a student at the University of Texas and was staying at her family's residence in Texas City, Texas for the summer. Her home was about fifteen miles from her workplace.

Sikes's blue 1980 Ford Pinto was located at approximately 2:00 a.m. the following morning on May 25.

The vehicle was abandoned and trapped in the mud along an Interstate 45 access road south of the Galveston Causeway. The driver's side window had been broken and bloodstains were discovered on the door and on the driver's seat. There was no trace of Sikes at the scene.

John Robert King phoned the police department in El Paso, Texas in June 1987, over one year after Sikes's disappearance. He claimed that he tried to commit suicide the night of his phone call and that he and a friend, Gerald Peter Zwarst, abducted and murdered Sikes in 1986.

King was calling from a motel in El Paso, where he was picked up by authorities. He claimed that he and Zwarst murdered Sikes and buried her near King's residence in San Leon, Texas. It was King's blood that was on the inside of Sikes's car.

He later reneged on an offer to divulge the location of her body in exchange for a lighter prison sentence. He and Zwarst were both sentenced to life in prison in 1988 for the kidnapping of Sikes.

Zwarst claimed that he used PCP or crack cocaine and passed out shortly before Sikes's alleged abduction. Authorities believe that Sikes may have driving alongside King's truck, a two-tone brown Chevrolet pickup, on the highway. King may have been harassing her at the time.

Sikes reportedly made an obscene gesture in King's direction, angering him. He allegedly forced her vehicle off of the road, causing her to suffer minor injuries. Blood matching King's type was discovered inside Sikes's car.

Witnesses reported that Zwarst and King were assisting Sikes into King's truck and discussed taking her to a hospital for medical treatment. Other witnesses contradicted that sighting, telling investigators that King and Zwarst appeared to force Sikes into the truck against her will.

King claimed that Zwarst sexually assaulted her with a beer bottle and buried her alive, a charge Zwarst has denied. Zwarst has maintained that King was responsible for Sikes's murder.

Zwarst was offered immunity from a pending murder charge in Sikes's case in exchange for assisting investigators locate her remains in 1990. He underwent hypnosis and drew a map of a field in San Leon where he stated he last saw Sikes in 1986, but a search of the area did not produce much evidence.

A petite-sized white blouse was recovered from the scene. Sikes is an excellent seamstress and made most of her own clothing in 1986. Her family identified the blouse as one of her handmade garments. Forensic testing on the blouse was inconclusive. Authorities believe Sikes's body had been in the field at one time, but was subsequently moved.

King became eligible for parole in 2012, but the parole board denied him parole until at least 2017. In October 2015, he died of natural causes in prison at the age of 58. Zwarst remains incarcerated and will be eligible for parole starting in August 2017.

Sikes has never been located.

Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 16, 2015; picture added, details of disappearance updated.