Details of Disappearance Vernette was last seen at her ex-husband's home in the vicinity of the 1000 block of south Parkside Drive in Tempe, Arizona on November 21, 1985. She has never been heard from again. Five days later, her white 1979 Chevrolet Chevette was found abandoned in the vicinity of the 700 block of Howe Street, three blocks from Vernette's home.
Her purse, keys, and identification were missing from the car, which had been parked at that location for several days. She normally used a pillow to prop herself up so she could drive, but the pillow wasn't on the driver's seat when the car was located; it was on the passenger seat. Authorities did find Vernette's to-do list inside the vehicle, as well as newly purchased gifts. A photo of the car is posted with this case summary.
Vernette left behind five children, the youngest of whom was eight years old in 1985. Her ex-husband, Bruce Wester, is considered a person of interest in her disappearance. The couple married when they were sixteen years old, and their divorce had been finalized right before Vernette's disappearance.
She was given their house in Phoenix, Arizona and full custody of their older children, and she and Bruce shared joint custody of their youngest child. The marriage was described as abusive and the divorce difficult. One of the couple's children, who was twelve years old when Vernette disappeared, stated Vernette was afraid of Bruce and didn't want to be alone with him.
Bruce refused to cooperate with the investigation into Vernette's disappearance. Their children believe he harmed their mother and they are all estranged from him.
In August 2010, after a new witness came forward, police executed a search warrant on the Bruce's home. He moved there during the divorce proceedings and Vernette had never lived there, but investigators looked for evidence that she was in the home and for items belonging to her. Her car had been found parked very close to the house.
Phoenix police are investigating Vernette's disappearance. She was declared legally dead in 1992. Foul play is suspected in her case, which remains unsolved.
- Phoenix Police Department
Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 23, 2011; picture added, details of disappearance updated.