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The Kathy’s School

On March 18, 1965 in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, Kathleen Ann Shea – called Kathy by her family – was eager to get to school. The six year old had been absent for several weeks. She had recently had her tonsils out and during the recovery from that surgery had caught the chicken pox, keeping her out of school and missing her friends. She had just started back the day before and was eager to get back into the routine. She was also excited about a sleepover she would be having at her grandmother’s house that Friday with her cousins, which was meant to serve as an alternate to the birthday party she had missed out on while being sick. Kathy was the oldest of three children and was a quiet, friendly, and intelligent child. She was enrolled in Kindergarten classes at Adams Elementary School in the afternoon block of classes, meaning she usually didn’t leave for school until after 12:00 PM. Kathy’s father – James Shea – had come home for lunch shortly before Kathy left and offered to drive her but Kathy said she wanted to walk. This was not out of norm since the school was only four blocks (around half a mile) from the Shea home. At 12:10 PM, Kathy kissed both of her parents goodbye and left the home for school.

Kathy usually walked to school with her older cousin, who was a sixth grader. The cousin had gone to school in the morning but had taken a different route than usual to get back for her afternoon classes. The last time Kathy was seen was by a local crossing guard who was an older student. Tyrone had adult crossing guards but for the less busy intersections in residential areas, this role was filled by older students called patrol boys. The reason Kathy’s cousin had changed her route was because one of the patrol boys had upset her with a comment and she was angry with him. The patrol boy (not the one the cousin was upset with) helped Kathy cross the street and recalled joking that if she kept taking her time to enjoy the fresh air that she’d be late for class. At this point, Kathy was only a block from Adams Elementary and should have only been a two minute walk. She did not arrive for class that day but her teacher was not alarmed and assumed that she had been kept home an extra day since she had been absent for so long already.

Kathy’s mother – Mary Alice – became concerned when Kathy did not arrive home at 4:45 like she normally did. She first called Kathy’s grandmother’s house then called the school and spoke to Kathy’s teacher, who informed her that she had not come to class. The teacher and other staff began searching the school while the She’s family contacted the police. The subsequent search was one of the largest in the city’s history with hundreds participating in search parties. Bloodhounds picked up on Kathy’s scent and followed it in direction to the school but then veered off into Garfield Street and lost it only a 100 yards from Adams Elementary. The initial search lasted 11 days and with nearly 3,000 volunteers searching the woods, garages, dumpsters and crawl spaces. Nothing ever turned up in relation to Kathy. The Tyrone Police Department contacted the FBI to help the investigation.

A woman in the neighborhood who was walking her daughter to school recalled seeing an unfamiliar car driving slowly through the area the day Kathy disappeared. This woman also recalled seeing Kathy on her walk to school as a did a retired railway worker. One of the local patrol boys came forward and said in November or December that older man he didn’t know approached him asking him to point out Kathy to him. The man looked around 45-50 and drove a dark car. The boy, who was 11, pointed Kathy out as she passed with a group of other girls. A man with dark hair who appeared to be in his forties or fifties was spotted by two different patrol boys in the area the day before Kathy’s disappearance. This man has never been identified.

It is largely believed that Kathy was abducted on her way to school. She stood at 3’11 and weighed 47 pounds. She is white with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. Kathy was last seen wearing a dark brown hat with tie down ear flaps, a beige coat with a fur collar, a red knitted sweat with a brown shift jumper and red tights. She was also wearing earmuffs, red leather gloves and yellow boots with a black stripe and soles. DNA is available in her case and she has been ruled out as a possible identity for the Allegheny County Jane Doe and the Isle of Wight Jane Doe. Kathy’s parents separated in 1981 but remained on good terms.They have both since passed away. If she were alive today, Kathleen Ann Shea would be 65 years old.

About Fehmeeda Farid Khan

A freelancer, blogger, content writer, translator, tour consultant, proofreader, environmentalist, social mobilizer, poetess and novelist. As a physically challenged person, she extends advocacy on disability related issues. She's masters in Economics and Linguistics along with B.Ed.

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