What happened to Joanie?


Sept. 30 marks the 35th anniversary of the date that Warrenton High School student, 17-year-old Joan Leigh Hall, went missing. The teen was supposed to assist tutoring children at 2 p.m. that day at Warrenton Grade School, but never showed up — which was puzzling, since Joanie was a reliable girl, and the night before had been elected president of the sheriff’s office’s student Explorers program.

Local law enforcement interviewed family, friends and Joanie’s fellow students to find out if anyone had seen her. One young man, Mike, said he’d dropped Joanie off at the Mini-Mart around 2 p.m., and she was going to walk to the grade school. Yet a girl at the Mini-Mart said she saw Joanie get into a car with a young man and leave. The girl later changed her story, saying it wasn’t Joanie, after all.

Three of Mike’s friends claimed they saw Joanie with him and his car around 4 p.m. the afternoon she vanished. All three of them later changed their stories, saying it was not Joanie they’d seen with him. Scratching your head? No wonder. You can read some police reports yourself, and find other links about the case and its many twists and turns, at bit.ly/JoanHall.

Not surprisingly, foul play is suspected, but no one was ever arrested, and despite extensive searching, she has never been found. “Somebody knows where Joanie Hall is,” missing persons advocate Dena Mattox Rush (fb.me/JoanieHallMissing) insists. “Find your courage.”

If you have any information about what happened to Joan Leigh Hall, or know where her remains are, please contact the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office at 503-325-8635, or email sheriff@co.clatsop.or.us

“It was one of Charlotte Hall Packard’s biggest dreams that her little sister Joanie be found and buried next to their parents at Ocean View Cemetery in Warrenton,” Rush recalled. “Charlotte was later buried there too, as was another older brother, Frank, who had passed away years before. Charlotte’s son, Dan McGrath, purchased a double plot when Charlotte passed away in 2010, so that someday, when Joanie is found, she can be laid to rest next to her beloved older sister.”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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