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Loy Gillespie Evitts: An Empty Life

Background Of Loy

Loy Gillespie Evitts was born December 12, 1947, in Coffeyville, Kansas, near the Oklahoma border to parents William H. and Jewell Palmer Gillespie. She graduated from Field Kinley Memorial High School in Coffeyville, class of 1966 ). At 17, during her senior year of high school, the remarkable blonde met Don Evitts, 19, and the two dated as he attended Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, and she went on to study nursing in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Loy ended up transferring to Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, approximately a 3-hour drive northwest of her hometown, where she studied clothing and retail (Loy Gillespie Evitts @ the Charley Project). Meanwhile, Don Evitts served in Vietnam, leaving his Firebird car for her to drive while he was overseas and writing to her every week; she kept a bulletin board full of his pictures in her dorm room at K-State.

Loy graduated with honors from K-State in 1972 and wedded Don Evitts later that year on November 4, 1972. The couple settled in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas (“Disappearance of Overland Park woman stays a heart-wrenching mystery, 40 years later”, The Kansas City Star, Glenn E. Rice and Andy Taylor, 3/1/17).

Disappearance On Monday, February 28, 1977, at nearly 2:00 PM (“Life Empty After Wife’s Disappearance”, The Kansas City Star, Bill Norton, 5/28/77), 29-year-old Evitts took her lunch break from her place of job as a legal secretary at a law firm near the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, where she had been working for about a month.

She had a watch adjusted before going to a drugstore—reportedly Katz’s Drugstore, formerly located on the corner of 39th and Main Street about a mile north of the Plaza—where she had a cup of coffee and purchased an umbrella.

Her car was later discovered in its customary parking spot, the umbrella she had bought earlier that day in the front seat. Around 6:00 PM that day, Don Evitts received a call from his wife’s supervisor at the law firm, who asked why Loy had never come back to the office after her lunch break. After calling many of her friends, who all reported they hadn’t heard from her, Don called the police to report his wife missing.

After waiting for the standard 24-hour duration, investigators started their search for the missing legal secretary the next day (Loy Gillespie Evitts @ The Charley Project).

“She parked her car, and that’s where we lose her. That’s the end of Loy Evitts.” – Sgt. John Wilson, KCPD (“Search”, The Kansas City Times, 2/24/82)

Investigation

Pic: Defrosting Cold Case

Although police began their investigation rapidly, Evitts’ disappearance was as puzzling as it was immediate, and guides were few and far between. By all accounts, Loy Evitts led a flawlessly normal, happy life. She was also an introvert with just a lesser number of friends, and most certainly not the kind to hop willingly into a stranger’s car.

A delivery man working in the region that day reported noticing a brown van speeding away from the scene around the time Evitts would have vanished. He also noted that the driver seemed to hide his face with his hand as he drove by as if to make certain he wasn’t seen or identified. The police followed this lead, but they were never able to find said van nor recognize the driver (The Kansas City Times, 2/24/82).

“Loy had a premonition that something was going to occur to cause her death. She had a friend who had a bad dream that something would occur to Loy and told her about it.” – Jewell Gillespie to The Kansas City Star (“Secretary”, The Kansas City Star, 3/1/87)

Leads After Evitts’ disappearance, a few other leads arose. On March 11, 1977, just under two weeks after she was last noticed, kids looking for a lost dog found her handbag under a railroad bridge near 81st Street and Rhinehart Road, over 10 miles southeast of Kansas City as the crow flies.

Police scoured the area, but the only other items regained were a checkbook bearing Don Evitts’ name and an opened pack of cigars that Loy would sometimes smoke. The only bones found out upon further investigation were those of animals (The Kansas City Times, 2/24/82).

An area man was caught a few weeks after Evitts’ disappearance when mysterious calls claiming to give data about the location of her corpse were traced back to his home, in addition to being accused of passing fraudulent checks.

There was no substantial evidence to tie him to Evitts’ disappearance, and he also refuted making any such calls (“Bad Check Charge Filed; Man Freed After Questioning”, The Kansas City Times, Robert Neff, 3/22/77). The calls, nonetheless, did direct to a comprehensive search of the undeveloped area of southeast Kansas City the unknown caller had mentioned, resulting in a weeklong dig; nothing significant regarding Evitts’ disappearance was eventually discovered.

In May of 1981, skeletal remains located east of Kansas City were assumed by police to probably be those of Evitts (“Authorities say skeleton discovered near road may be remains of KC woman”, The Kansas City Times, David Hays and Richard A. Serrano, 5/19/81), but they were thereafter determined not to have belonged to her. In March of 1984, Don Evitts moved to have his wife declared legally dead (“Man to ask the court to declare wife died seven years after she disappeared ”, The Kansas City Times, E.A. Torriero, 3/15/84). Though police proceed to investigate the technically open case, there have been no significant improvements in the investigation in many decades.

Aftermath In 1987, ten years after his wife vanished, Don Evitts told The Kansas City Star: “I faced up to the truth it and said my goodbyes some time ago”. Loy Evitts’ dad, William, passed away in 1998, followed by her mum, Jewell, in 2008 at the age of 97. Her brother, John, died in June of 2020 at age 70 (Loy Evitts @ findagrave). Unfortunately, none of them lived to discover what occurred to Loy. Don Evitts, who never remarried nor shifted out of the home he had shared with Loy, stays hopeful that someday
he will realize what occurred to the love of his life on that mild February day back in 1977.

Physical Description Loy Evitts, 29, was 5’5” and 126 lbs with blonde hair and hazel eyes. She was last noticed wearing the following: “A three-quarter length blue hand-knit sweater with vertical maroon stripes, a maroon turtleneck, maroon slacks, wooden wedge shoes with a brown leather strap, a wide gold wedding band, a wide gold Helzberg diamond solitaire engagement ring, a white gold women’s watch with a square face, and a plaid gold bracelet with a knot. Carrying a leather shoulder bag and a black and white pocketbook” (Loy Gillespie Evitts @ The Charley Project). Police do not doubt her spouse in this case and believe she was kidnapped.

Conclusion Loy Evitts, if she were alive today, would have celebrated her 74th birthday this past December. Don Evitts deserves to have the long-awaited closure that he has been withheld for what’s almost been half a century.

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