Debra Ann Wilhite

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Above Images: Wilhite, circa 1974

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: October 16, 1974 from Evansville, Indiana
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: November 15, 1954
  • Age: 19 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'6, 120 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, green eyes. Wilhite's hair was bleached blonde at the time of her disappearance. Her nickname is Debi and she may use the last name Pfettscher. She is missing two molars. Her ears are pierced.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A blue knit sweater and bell-bottom blue jeans.
  • Medical Conditions: According to her husband, Wilhite may have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Wilhite resided in Gibson County, Indiana with her husband and two daughters in 1974. She was employed as a server at The Windmill Restaurant, a truck stop near Indiana Highways 41 and 57. Wilhite's co-workers said that she worked her normal shift during the evening hours on October 16, 1974. A man entered the restaurant after hitching a ride with a truck driver. It was raining at the time and he asked Wilhite to give him a ride home. Witnesses saw her depart from the establishment with the unidentified individual shortly afterwards. Wilhite never returned to her family's residence and has not been heard from again. Her vehicle, described as a green two-door hard-top 1966 Ford Galaxy with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) 6W66X173520, has never been recovered.

    Wilhite occasionally left the Evansville area for several days at a time prior to her disappearance. She was not immediately reported as a missing person as a result. At the time, it was believed that she may have traveled to California after her disappearance.

    There was speculation that Wilhite was killed by a gunshot wound to the head shortly after she departed from the restaurant. Rumors surfaced that her alleged murderer drove her car into a stripper pit outside of Eberfield, Indiana, and abandoned it there with Wilhite's body in the trunk. The stripper pit was nicknamed "The Duck Pond" and was filled with water in 1974. It was drained sometime afterwards. Investigators did not look at the pit until 1994, twenty years after Wilhite's disappearance. They found no evidence of her or her vehicle there. Authorities do, however, believe that Wilhite was the victim of foul play.

    Wayne Gulley and his former wife, Ella Mae Dicks, were charged with the 1974 murder of Sherry Lee Gibson in 2002. Dicks reportedly confessed to her role in the homicide, which occured near Evansville. Gulley and Dicks's photos are posted below this case summary. There are several similarities between Wilhite and Gibson's cases; both women were around the same age and disappeared within months of one another. Gulley matches the description of the unidentified man who departed with Wilhite from The Windmill Restaurant. Neither he nor Dicks has been charged in connection with Wilhite's disappearance.

    Wilhite's husband was killed in a vehicular accident two years after her disappearance. One of her daughters died of leukemia in 1978. Wilhite's case remains unsolved.

    Gulley Dicks
    Left: Gulley; Right: Dicks, circa 2002

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Indiana State Police
    317-232-8280

    OR
    Evansville Police Department
    812-425-2266

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    Source Information
    WFIE-14
    The Evansville Courier and Press
    California Attorney General's Office
    The Doe Network
    The National Center for Missing Adults

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    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated March 7, 2007; picture and clothing/jewelry description added, distinguishing characteristics updated.

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