Feb 20, 2013 12:51 PM by MTN News - Helena
CLANCY - Details surrounding the June 1983 disappearance of 4-year old Nyleen Marshall are scarce, and facts are hard to come by. But to this day, law enforcement officials continue to get leads. In fact, the most recent lead came on February 4th. Although most tips aren't promising, investigators are persistent in their search for answers.
It happened on June 25th 1983, when Nyleen was with friends and family at a HAM radio picnic in the Elkhorn Mountains near her hometown of Clancy.
Around 4 p.m., she was playing with other children near a creek. Jefferson County Sheriff Craig Doolittle said, "The area where she went missing is a creek bottom...there's a swampy area there, mine shafts in the area, what you see was mostly this type of tree, even back then I believe."
The children noticed Nyleen was no longer with the group, and from there, investigators say it's anybody's guess as to what happened.
Doolittle said, "That's the one thing we can say with 100% accuracy...there she was there one minute and gone the next."
Hundreds of volunteers and several law enforcement agencies combed the area, including up and down Warm Spring Road. Despite exhaustive efforts, no clues were found.
Derek VanLuchene of Ryan United said, "That's concerning, because if you get to a missing child that quickly, usually you'll find some sort of evidence or some sort of trace of something...but really they just found nothing."
VanLuchene continued, "Either she wandered off and succumbed to the elements or a wild animal might have grabbed her, or the worst-case scenario, she could've been abducted."
Her still-active case file is filled with potential scenarios and theories as to what happened that June day.
As with many missing persons cases, Nyleen's family was questioned. Doolittle said, "From what I've been told, the step-father was, and was throughout the investigation, a person of interest."
Her mother has since died; numerous reports indicate she was murdered in Mexico in the mid 90's.
Other leads state that a man in a jogging suit, not associated with the group, was seen talking to Nyleen shortly before she disappeared.
In 1985, a man claimed to have the little girl; Doolittle said, "There were some leads out of Daine County, Wisconsin, where some letters were sent, I believe they went to the National Center for Missing Children."
Further investigation yielded no evidence, however.
In late 2003, Jefferson County deputies met with national "cold case" and behavioral analysis experts.
Doolittle said, "From that we generated some information that we wanted to go find which means we took some dogs team back up to the site and we got some assistance from the state crime lab on that and an anthropology professor, with no further leads coming from it, but it did lay to rest some issues that came up during the meeting."