Terry Steven Fox

Fox, circa 1988

  • Missing Since 07/03/1988
  • Missing From Sacramento, California
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 03/26/1950 (73)
  • Age 38 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'3 - 5'6, 105 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Blond hair, blue eyes. Fox may have a tattoo of the name "Betty Lee" on the left side of his chest. He has a receding hairline and may have facial stubble. He was in a car accident two months before his disappearance and broke both legs; he an intramedullary rod implanted in one or both hips as a result. Fox has two holes in his penis as the result of a birth defect. His teeth were in very poor condition in 1988 and many were chipped or cracked.

Details of Disappearance

Fox was reported missing by two friends who stated they last saw him in Sacramento, California on July 3, 1988, but others reported seeing him on July 10, a week later. He has never been heard from again.

Fox had cared for his elderly, disabled father, and the two men shared an apartment until they were evicted. They then moved to transient camps. Two days before Fox's disappearance, his sister sent him $100 via Western Union.

Rickie John Mersman is considered a suspect in Fox's disappearance. He, his wife and another man were charged with murdering another transient man in December 1989.

In 1987, one of Mersman's relatives went to the police and said he'd killed two fellow transients. She stated she got the information from her brother, who heard the story from Fox and another man. One of the two witnesses said Mersman had personally shown them the victims' bodies and described how he'd murdered them.

Investigators were able to locate the bodies of the two murder victims, but could only identify one of them. Fox was considered a witness in the murder.

However, no charges were filed against Mersman in the 1987 murders. He was arrested six months later and imprisoned an unrelated parole violation in Oregon. Shortly after his release, Fox disappeared.

While visiting relatives in Oregon after Fox's disappearance, Mersman bragged about killing him and disposing of his body. One of his relatives secretly taped his statements and gave the recordings to the police, but they stated they were unable to corroborate the confession.

Mersman later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the 1989 homicide and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. His male accomplice pleaded guilty to the same charge; his wife was apparently not convicted, and died in Oregon in 2009.

Investigators believe Mersman may have murdered as many as five transient men during the late 1980s, but he has not been charged in any other murders. Fox's body has never been found. Foul play is suspected.

Investigating Agency

  • Sacramento Police Department 916-808-0650

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 22, 2012; details of disappearance updated.