Saturday, November 28, 2015
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Man dies awaiting daughter's safe return  Before he died in 2008, Michael Anderson refused to move from his Bedford Township home in case his daughter Cynthia, who disappeared in 1981, tried to return.
Before he died in 2008, Michael Anderson refused to move from his Bedford Township home in case his daughter Cynthia, who disappeared in 1981, tried to return.
THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Published: Thursday, 8/4/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

Woman's disappearance a mystery after 30 years

Man dies awaiting daughter's safe return


In 2008, Michael Anderson died without knowing what happened to his daughter.

He lived 28 years without so much as a solid clue to where she might be. He managed to believe, for all those years, that someday she would call and say she had amnesia but was OK.

Cynthia Anderson was 20 when she vanished -- 30 years ago on Aug. 4, 1981 -- from the East Manhattan Boulevard law office where she worked as a legal secretary.

Police, almost immediately, began investigating with the notion that foul play was involved.

A body was never found, and charges were never filed. The case has gone cold.

"Every so often new information comes in and we follow up on it," Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre said. Chief Navarre was in his fourth year with the department when Miss Anderson went missing.

Patrols were given photos of the woman that some kept in the cruisers, but Miss Anderson disappeared during a particularly violent time in the city. Police were investigating serial killers and a number of other gruesome homicides.

That's not to say the case went unnoticed.

Less than a year after her disappearance, a case file with information was "so thick it takes two hands to pick it up," according to a June, 1982, Blade article.

It probably started as any muggy, late summer day would have. Miss Anderson, after skipping breakfast, left her parents' Bedford Township home about 8:30 that morning in her white 1980 Chevrolet Citation. She wore a white V-neck dress with red piping, open-toe sandals, a sapphire ring, a gold watch, and carried a brown purse. She only had 10 days left at the office before she was to start college classes.

People reported to police that they saw Miss Anderson as late as 9:45 a.m., but people calling the law office told attorneys they tried calling, without response, about 10 a.m.

A swing set overgrown by weeds remains in the backyard of her family's home. A swing set overgrown by weeds remains in the backyard of her family's home.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

When attorney James Rabbit went to work that morning, he found the office empty. Miss Anderson's car was parked outside, but her purse and keys were gone. She didn't leave a note on the door, which was her usual practice, and the book she was reading, a romance novel, was left open.

Old reports say the book was turned to a page about the violent abduction of the main character.

"You knew right away something was wrong," Mr. Rabbit told The Blade in 2001. "You knew she wasn't coming back."

Jay Feldstein, a Toledo labor attorney, was an associate at the firm when Miss Anderson went missing. In fact, the day she disappeared, Mr. Feldstein spent the morning in court with Mr. Anderson and one of his sons.

"We didn't know what to think [about her disappearance]," Mr. Feldstein said. "Obviously we felt very sorry for the family for what was a tragic event."

When Mr. Anderson died in January, 2008, he was still living at the home Miss Anderson grew up in, 3030 Springbrook Drive. He never changed his phone number -- what if she was trying to get back home. If he left, she would never find her family.

The father of four buried two wives -- Miss Anderson's mother died of cancer in 1983, neighbor Louann Hayward said.

Behind the Anderson home is a small playhouse and a swing set where the children used to play. The play sets are worn from years of idle sitting. The paint has chipped off of the playhouse and the swing set is partially hidden by tall grass. The posts are rusted and the swings are wrapped around the top bar.

"He had lots of faith," Mrs. Hayward said. "He wasn't one to give up."

Mrs. Hayward said that, when Mr. Anderson went out to search for his daughter that she would go to the family's home and keep Mrs. Anderson and her children company.

She hasn't spoken to the Anderson family in years and most of the other neighbors have moved away. No one really talks about it anymore.

Details of Aug. 4, 1981, are hard to remember, but Mrs. Hayward, whose children played with the Andersons, said the young woman was attractive -- maybe she caught the attention of a passer-by.

Without a body, it's impossible to know what happened to the young woman.

Mr. Anderson was also preceded in death by his daughter Cynthia Anderson, according to the father's obituary.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.

Recommended for You

Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.

Related stories