Details of Disappearance
Balas was last seen at approximately 1:00 a.m. on November 26, 1996 in her hometown of Fairview Park, Ohio. She was employed at the Subway restaurant on west 220th Street and Lorain Road. Balas was locking the building for the night with the restaurant's manager at the time she was last seen. She never returned to her residence in North Ridgeville, Ohio that evening and has not been heard from again.
Balas was scheduled to work at 11:30 a.m. later in the day, but never arrived for her shift. Her blue 1995 Nissan Pathfinder SUV was discovered abandoned in the parking lot of the Cleveland Motel on Lorain Road at approximately 4:00 p.m. that day. The motel is located three blocks from the Subway restaurant. There was no sign of Balas at the scene, but her purse was inside the SUV.
Balas's credit card was used three times after she was reported missing: in Brooklyn, Ohio on November 26, in Brooklyn on November 28 and in Cleveland, Ohio on November 29. All of the charges were small ones, totalling less than $35. Her boyfriend was ruled out as a suspect in her case.
Balas received a substantial insurance settlement after her car accident in 1988 and authorities looked into the possibility that someone had tried to take advantage of her and this caused her disappearance, but they found no evidence to support that theory.
In November 2005, Balas's manager at Subway, Larry Wade, confessed to her murder. A photograph of Wade is posted with this case summary. He had been the prime suspect in her case from the beginning, and was convicted of raping another Ohio woman three months after Balas vanished.
Wade was charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping in connection with Balas's disappearance. He stated he had strangled her in the Subway's kitchen after she rebuffed his sexual advances, and afterwards he dumped her body in a trash bin. Wade initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, but in May 2006 he pleaded guilty to Balas's murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Balas has never been located.