Josephine Doris Despard

Above: Despard, circa 1984


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: February 7, 1984 from Olean, New York
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth: January 24, 1958
  • Age: 26 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'2, 102 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Black hair, brown eyes. Depard's nickname is Josie. Her maiden name is Cottone. Her hair was cut short at the time of her disappearance. Despard has a Caesarean section scar on her abdomen.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A red hooded coat, a beige sweater, blue jeans and brown knee-high boots.
  • Bar

    Details of Disappearance

    Despard was last seen in Olean, New York on February 7, 1984. She was separated from her husband and living with her mother and her six-year-old daughter on north Clinton Street, taking classes at Jamestown Community College. Her husband was in California.

    On the day of her disappearance, at 5:00 p.m., Despard left her mother's home with a male acquaintance. They were going to his residence to swap stereo components. Despard's friend said they didn't go there after all; instead, they went to the Olean Mall for a cup of coffee. He said Despard met with friends at the mall and he left her there at 6:00 p.m. Despard's friend was considered a person of interest in her disappearance for some months afterward. After her disappearance he tried to leave the country, but was stopped at the Canadian border, charged with parole violation and drug possession, and returned to the United States. He committed suicide later in 1984.

    Despard's loved ones don't believe she left of her own accord. She was fighting with her husband for custody of their daughter, and her family doesn't believe she would have missed her court date. She is the oldest of seven children and was close to her relatives, especially her mother. Her sister adopted and raised Despard's daughter after her disappearance. Her husband has remarried. Despard's disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.


    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Olean Police Department


    Source Information
    The Doe Network
    Unsolved in the News
    The Olean Times Herald


    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated April 14, 2017; details of disappearance updated.

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