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Family members of Perry County woman missing for nearly 50 years search for answers

By: Tanner Hesterberg, Katie Roach Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg, Katie Roach Email

ROWDY, Ky. (WYMT) - Nearly 50 years have passed since a Perry County woman mysteriously disappeared.

Juanita Ritchie was last seen in the Rowdy community in November 1966.

Police have not made any arrests, but family members remain convinced there are people who know what happened.

Thomas Ritchie, Jaunita's son, struggles to talk about the case without being overcome by grief that has not faded over time.

"I pray a lot about it," said Ritchie in an interview with WYMT, his first comments to the media regarding the case. "Sometimes I have my real bad moments."

Juanita Ritchie was married with six children when she vanished. Her husband was working out-of-state at the time.

"Those children were there by themselves for a few days and they didn't have food or anything," said Scott Oliver, Juanita Ritchie's brother. "It just wasn't in her nature to walk off and leave her children."

Oliver said he even heard a rumor his sister ran off with a soldier - a theory he does not support.

"We're just totally convinced that something happened to her in the Rowdy area and there's somebody there that knows where's she's at and what happened to her," Oliver said.

Oliver received an anonymous tip in 2012 that led him to a small well in Rowdy.

"My oldest brother pumped the well out," Oliver said. "But they found nothing at all down in there except a solid concrete bottom."

Still, family members believe there are people who know what happened to Juanita Ritchie.

"I don't wish them no bad luck," Thomas Ritchie said. "Actually, I forgive them for it. And I wish they could understand that.

"I truly hope the people who know about this - and I know they do - I hope they can sleep good at night. Because one way or another, they'll pay for it."

Police told Juanita Ritchie's family her social security number was never used after she disappeared.

If you have any information, you can call the Kentucky State Police post in Hazard at 606-435-6069.

Original story by Katie Roach, 9/19/12:

ROWDY, Ky (WYMT) - There are some new leads in a 46-year-old cold case in Perry County.

Juanita Ritchie's family has been searching for her ever since she went missing in 1966 in the Rowdy Community.

Now, information from an anonymous phone call could provide answers for the family.

"It was just a a short thing. There was a lady, and she said your sister is at the bottom of a well, and she told me where the well was," said Ritchie's brother Scott Oliver.

The well is in the same area where Ritchie was last seen.

The well has been pumped, but so far nothing has turned up.

Scott Oliver says of all the things he has heard through the years, this makes the most sense.

"Putting together the stories that we have been told, plus the fact of where she was last seen," said Oliver.

He says his family has never stopped searching for his sister, but it's been hard at times.

"Having hope that we were going to find her, or one day we were going to see her come through the door and having those not happen, it's very disheartening," said Oliver.

46 years later, he still has hope that he will one day know what happened to his sister even if the well does not hold the answer.

State police are investigating the new leads in the case.

If you have any information, you should call state police.

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