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El Paso couple’s 1957 disappearance still unsolved mystery

🕐 3 min read

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Sixty years ago, a neighbor of William and Margaret Patterson took boxes of Girl Scout cookies to their home and, feeling unwelcome, soon left.

The El Paso Times ( ) reports that was the last time anyone saw the Kern Place couple — and the last lead detectives had in solving the mystery behind the couple’s disappearance.

“I took some cookies to Mrs. Patterson, and she seemed very upset,” Jeri Cash told the El Paso Times in a March 18, 2013, article. “It was the only time I had talked to her. The couple tended to keep to themselves. The husband seemed unhappy that I was in the house, and I left soon after leaving the cookies with her. She was a tiny (petite) woman, and he always came across as mean and unfriendly.”

The Pattersons, who lived in the 3000 block of Piedmont Drive, were last seen between March 5 and 6, 1957, according to El Paso police records.

The Pattersons’ disappearance remains one of El Paso’s great unsolved mysteries. It’s still an open case.

“Any unsolved case for us is very frustrating,” said Sgt. Jim Belknap, supervisor of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Crimes Against Persons unit who has worked the case on and off for more than 10 years.

“Over the years, people have come up with their own personal theories and ideas of what happened to with Mr. and Mrs. Patterson. Those theories create mystery — and everybody loves a mystery.”

The disappearance of the Pattersons has inspired stories of espionage and even tales of UFO abductions.

Accounts of what happened to them have ranged from kidnapping to murder, with some believing they were killed and buried on the home’s premises.

Legend has it that their spirits haunt the old house on Piedmont.

Former El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego once theorized the Pattersons were spies who dropped everything and left.

William and Margaret Patterson, 52 and 42 years old, respectively, when they were last seen, owned Patterson Photo Supply.

Associates told police the couple went on an extended Florida vacation and later sent instructions to distribute his properties to his friends, employees and colleagues.

The leads and theories went nowhere, and new tips occasionally surface.

“We continue to revisit the case and go back over the case from time to time,” said Belknap, who began working on the case around 2005. “Anytime we get new information from people who call in, we follow up on those leads.”

“At that time it was a matter of putting together as a complete a case as we could, which is sometimes difficult with older cases,” he said. “Once we got the case together, we broke it down and re-interviewed some people and came up with additional information and leads.”

“Unfortunately those leads did not pan out,” Belknap continued. “We continued going over the case and looking at different aspects of it and that’s pretty much where we are now.”

Detective Irene Anchondo of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office was also part of the investigative unit assigned to the Patterson case for several years.

She said the team followed up on the tip from their neighbor Cash three years ago.

“We did look into it, but there wasn’t really much,” Anchondo said. “It didn’t take us any further into finding something else that we didn’t already know. It really wasn’t anything we could use to develop other leads.”

Anchondo, who is no longer with the Crimes Against Persons unit, said that was the team’s last lead.

“For me, it’s one of those cases where all you want is to be able to get a lead,” she said. “You’re always hoping for something that will open up the case and move forward and actually solve it and bring some closure to family members so it is very frustrating. A case like this stays with you forever.”


Information from: El Paso Times,

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