The mysterious missing Stuart sisters

A few days ago the NCMEC added Fannie and Jessie Stuart to their website. They were only toddlers and they’ve been missing for over thirty years. And I can find zilch on them. Nothing. Nada. No information.

Even the NCMEC appears to have a paucity of knowledge on these little girls. It’s highly unlikely that both of them were born on January 1, so I’m guessing their dates of birth aren’t known.

I will add the sisters to Charley today, when I update. I hope some article or something turns up for them. I hate it when I can find nothing at all.


35 thoughts on “The mysterious missing Stuart sisters

  1. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 7:30 pm

    IT seems odd that they’d have the sisters’ exact heights and weights, their hair and eye color, but not their right birthdate. I guess it is possible they could share the birthdate. Used to work for a lady who had four siblings, and all but one of the five kids had a birthday in the same week in February. (The one that didn’t had September b-day, and they all had her convinced she was adopted.)
    When I saw their names, I thought the sisters were going to be old ladies and not toddlers who would now be about my age. Who is named Fannie anymore?

  2. Meaghan April 7, 2009 / 8:12 pm

    Yes, those names are quaint and folksy. Fannie Fawn, Jessie Flo.

    It’s possible the girls may both have January 1 birthdays, I just think it’s pretty unlikely.

    Two of my brothers were born just two days apart. One has a November 8 birthday and the other November 10. I can’t remember which one is which, but one of them settled the matter quite nicely by dying twenty years ago, so we no longer celebrate his birthday.

  3. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 8:22 pm

    My mother’s b-day is September 10 and her youngest sister is September 9. They are fifteen years apart, and if my aunt had just waited three more hours, they’d have shared the date. And my father and his twin sister are June 27, and my mother’s other sister is the 26th. And my dad’s parents had birthdays just a couple days apart in May, with my mother’s mother having her b-day very very close to them. So we have clusters of celebrations in my family.
    I’m just glad it wasn’t Fannie Flo. That would be really terrible.

  4. Meaghan April 7, 2009 / 8:25 pm

    My maternal grandparents share a birthday, seven years apart. Which reminds me of a kind of funny story: it wasn’t until I was ten years old that I found out the man I called my grandfather is actually Mom’s stepfather. Her real dad divorced her mom early on, and he was a jerk and an alcoholic who died out in Louisiana. It was his death that caused me to find out Grandpa was actually Step-Grandpa.

    It went like this:
    “My father died.”
    “What? Grandpa died? Oh my god!”
    “No! Not Grandpa. My father.”
    “He’s not your father?”
    “No, I thought you knew that.”
    “No, I had no idea he was not your father!”
    “Meaghan…um…you realize that Grandpa is only fourteen years older than me, right?”
    *mental calculations* “…Oh. Right.”

  5. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 8:31 pm

    And the moral of that story is: don’t assume somebody just knows something like that. Sometimes you really do have to spell it out and draw a picture.

  6. Meaghan April 7, 2009 / 8:36 pm

    Yeah, I mean, I was TEN. And she always called him “Dad,” and never mentioned the sperm donor until he finally drank himself to death.

  7. Meaghan April 7, 2009 / 8:38 pm

    Hmm. I looked up Honeydew, California because I’d never heard of it. Wikipedia says it has less than 1000 residents and no motels and it’s in the middle of nowhere. (Reminds me of Hard Pan, California, population 53, in the book The Higher Power of Lucky.) I wonder if the Stuart girls’ disappearance is a bit of a legend around Honeydew?

  8. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 8:41 pm

    Kinda reminds me of my mother’s mother’s mohter, who is still alive and kicking at 94 (she’s pickled in her own insane vinegar is how she’s stayed so healthy.) Her husband died in maybe 1960 or thereabout, and she never remarried. Well, her brother lived with her as long as I can remember, until he died in 1989. We all called him Uncle Eddie, but for a long time I thought he was really her husband. I mean, he lived with her, and they bickered and snipped at each other like an old married couple, and the fact that he was Uncle Eddie and not Grandpa or Pop-Pop didn’t enter into my calculations.
    I mean, I call my godparents Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Jack even though they are in no way related to any of us, just family friends.

  9. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 8:49 pm

    It’s a pretty name for a town though, isn’t it? Almost like Candyland or something out of Strawberry Shortcake.
    I wonder if the Stuart case might be a family abduction? Cause if it was a stranger abduction, in a town that size you’d think there’d be more info somewhere.

  10. Anthony April 7, 2009 / 8:52 pm

    This is a mind-boggling conversation above, LOL!

  11. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 8:54 pm

    IT’s called stream of consciousness, Anthony.

  12. Anthony April 7, 2009 / 8:57 pm

    Ah! Joycean then in its sprawl. When I got to M.’s “…and never mentioned the sperm donor until he finally drank himself to death” bit, I about choked on my iced tea—I know it’s not funny, but.

  13. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 9:01 pm

    Anthony, if you choked on iced tea, would you then have, in a way, drunk yourself to death?

  14. Anthony April 7, 2009 / 9:17 pm

    LOLOL. “Good one.”

  15. Karen April 7, 2009 / 11:11 pm

    Those oddly old-fashioned names (Fannie Fawn and Jessie Flo? What were the parents thinking?) made me wonder if the family were among those 1970s folks who wanted to go back to the land on a primitive commune.

    Is it possible the whole family disappeared and dropped out? Could these girls have ended up in a situation like the Branch Davidian cult? Are they still living in the woods somewhere?

    Lots of speculation based on no evidence!

  16. forthelost April 7, 2009 / 11:22 pm

    Lots of towns in California have fruit names. Like the place the Marshall/Matory/Williams kids were last seen, Grapevine.

  17. Aimee April 7, 2009 / 11:24 pm

    Apple Valley, Cherry Valley, Orange Cove, Citrus Heights, Lemon Valley…
    Among other oddments, I collect unusual town names.

  18. Donna April 8, 2009 / 2:47 am

    OK, so I wasn’t the only one who hasn’t heard anything about these sisters. What, no one missed them? Relatives never asked where the girls were, and neighbors didn’t notice either? I know 30 years is a long time and records weren’t kept well, buit c’mon, how can nobody notice??

  19. Donna April 8, 2009 / 2:50 am

    Sorry, I meant to say how can nobody NOT notice they are gone? I agree I thought they were older women by their names.

  20. Aimee April 9, 2009 / 1:28 pm

    Karen’s comment aroused my odd, erratic curiosity and I looked up the Branch Davidians to see what sort of names they went in for. My conclusion: Jessie and Fannie would not have been typical of BD-ians. SOme of the names of the BD kids I found: Startle, Hollywood, Serenity Sea, Star, Bobbie-Lane, Chanel and a pair of unfortunate twins named Chica and…
    Little One. I swear. Little One.
    If I had to classify Jessie and Fannie, I would say they’re more likely to find them in an Amish community. Fannie, at any rate. Jessie is not all that uncommon, at least not as a nickname for Jessica, which was of course wildly popular in the mid-seventies.
    Ah, what a tangled, convoluted trail we set,
    When we search the Internet.

  21. Anthony April 9, 2009 / 2:44 pm

    “Startle”?? Yikes. And “Little One” is only allowable because they did not name the infant the infinitely-more-white-trashy “L’il Bit.”

  22. Aimee April 9, 2009 / 3:25 pm

    Little One is like they didn’t know they were going to have twins, and when the second baby appeared they were so stunned and unprepared, they just stuck on that non-name. Maybe little Startle’s mother was just as surprised. Wouldn’t Startle me, them being very strange cultists and such.
    Reminds me of once looking at a list of the people who died at Jonestown. They had some very odd names too, and not just the kids who were born into the cult either. One old woman was named, and I swear upon my mother’s honor this is ture: Love Life Georgia Belle Lowe.
    It all makes me feel that much better about my own very common-sounding but not-so-commonly spelled name.

  23. Justin April 16, 2009 / 4:58 pm

    My gut feeling is that this is an abduction by a family member because the NCMEC lists the investigating agency as the Humboldt District Attorney’s Office. Now I cannot swear to this because I don’t know how they do things over there, but I would think that if the children were simply lost in the wilderness or if this was a stranger abduction, then the LE handling the case would be a police department or the Humboldt Sheriff’s Office. I don’t think these cases get turned over to the DA’s Office unless they know who the abductor is and there is a warrant out for their arrest. If you look at cases where a DA’s office is the contact for a child abduction, it is almost always a family abduction. Besides, if two little girls were taken by strangers or lost together, I think there would be more information floating around on the internet.

    • Meaghan April 16, 2009 / 5:53 pm

      I hadn’t considered the DA’s office thing, Justin. That is quite correct and you may be right about the Stuart sisters being taken by a family member. Even if they weren’t, though, it doesn’t surprise me there’s nothing about them on the internet. In a case from the same time period in California, a mother was murdered and her house burned and her three children, plus another child spending the night there, disappeared. And there was almost NO INFORMATION on them online AT ALL. My friend had to call LE and find out what was going on.

  24. Justin April 17, 2009 / 8:01 am

    Are you talking about Ivy and Violet Matory, Yolanda Williams and Sir Kristopher Marshall from Compton in July 1977? Is the Charley Project where all the information about the case first got on the web? By the time I first noticed the case, the information about it was easy to find. I think Marshall was on the NCMEC first, then the Matory sisters and Yolanda Williams were put on the CDOJ website about four years ago.

    As far as the Stuart sisters go, I have to admit that the NCMEC not stating that this was a family abduction type situation does make me wonder. They usually state it on their webpage even if they don’t identify the abductor by name. Honeydew, California is a pretty rual area and I suppose they could have gotten lost, but the DA’s Office wouldn’t get involved unless it was determined that a crime had been committed. Do you think the DA would get involved if the sisters did get lost in the wilderness and the reason the DA is involved is because they charged the parent(s) or guardians of neglect for allowing that to happen? There are a lot of different possiblities here.

    Now that their photos are out on the Internet and are getting noticed, the question of what kind of case this actually is might get answered.

  25. Meaghan April 17, 2009 / 11:35 am

    There was nothing about the Matory/Williams/Marshall disappearances besides their NCMEC posters, until Annie Keller of For the Lost called law enforcement and had a long talk with them about it. She put the info on her site and the rest of us followed her lead.

    I really hope something tangible comes up re: the Stuart girls, so we can see if your family abduction hypothesis is correct or not. It may very well be.

    • Justin August 19, 2009 / 10:37 pm

      I sent my last e-mail off too soon.

      An article came out today that explains the whole case.

      This may take up too much space, but I don’t know how long this article will remain accessable, so I am pasting everything.

      Cold disappearance case reopened by DA’s office
      Allison White/The Times-Standard
      Posted: 08/19/2009 01:30:09 AM PDT

      A nearly 32-year-old case involving the disappearance of a Honeydew woman and her two children has regained momentum, according to Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office investigators who announced Tuesday they have new leads and are looking for more.

      Mary Stuart, 32, and her two daughters, Fannie, 1, and Jessie, 2, disappeared from Honeydew on Dec. 10, 1977, after they left to get groceries. The family’s station wagon was found a few miles from their home on Jan. 19, 1978, on an old logging road. Groceries were still in the car and the car’s gas line was broken, according to a Jan. 20, 1978, Times-Standard story following the investigation.

      The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office initially reported that there was no evidence of foul play and no sign of a struggle near the car, according to the story.

      Chief Investigator Mike Hislop said the District Attorney’s Office picked up the case from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office about eight months ago and found new leads within the last few weeks. Foul play is suspected.

      ”We talked to a few people who were never talked to before and we want to see if anyone else will come forward with information,” Hislop said.

      At this point, Hislop suspects Stuart and her two children are likely dead with so much time having passed since their disappearance but he said his office will continue to investigate all aspects of the case.

      The lead suspect is Mary Stuart’s husband, Byron M. Stuart, who died Oct. 3, 1996 — at the age of 48 — in Santa Rosa, according to the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office.

      Byron Stuart had a violent history and a hot temper, Hislop said.
      ”He would fight at a moment’s notice,” Hislop said.

      Byron Stuart was 28 years old when the three disappeared and was originally a suspect. The Sheriff’s Office did not have enough evidence to prosecute him, but past and current deputies are now assisting with the investigation, Hislop said.

      ”Some of the retired officers who worked during this case are coming from out of state to help … ,” Hislop said.

      Efforts now are centered on finding a burial site that could be anywhere in the Honeydew, Panther Gap, or Petrolia areas. Hislop hopes more information comes to light that pinpoints a more specific area to search.

      One of the reasons to open a case like this where the main suspect is dead is to catch others who may have been involved in the case, Hislop said. It is unclear at this point how many people were involved in the disappearance.

      ”You look at the pictures of these two gorgeous kids and what can you say?” Hislop said. “They may not have had a life and that’s the big deal.”

      The DA’s office also tries to close cold cases to bring closure to surviving family members. Mary Stuart’s daughter from a previous marriage is currently living out of the area — she is in contact with the DA’s office.

      ”There’s a daughter out there who wonders what happened to her mother,” Hislop said.

      The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is helping the investigation through this week, said John Harris, Project ALERT representative for the center.

      ”We provide a lot of the technical resources,” Harris said.

      The center’s volunteers help track down people involved in the case if they have moved, run data through the center’s database and may create an aged photo of the children and Mary Stuart if it appears they are still alive.

      Anyone with information should call the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office at 445-7411.

      Allison White can be reached at 441-0506 or

  26. forthelost April 17, 2009 / 5:50 pm

    To clarify, the Matory/Williams kids weren’t on NCMEC until after I called, just the CA DOJ. Yolanda Williams was listed as a stranger abduction, but it was later listed that she could be with James Williams, and Marshall was on there as a family abduction but as a non-family abduction on NCMEC. The little I found was so confusing I eventually just called LE and asked what was up. The woman I talked to gave me the story I now have on my site.

  27. Shewil53 April 20, 2009 / 11:29 pm

    These children definitely look neglected. It is possible that they were part of a hippie commune. That also might explain the “non”ordinary names. There were plenty of groups raising their children together in the rural areas of Califronia during that time frame.

    Could be the families of the parents took the kids because they thought they weren’t being taken care of…which looks like the case. Or, it could be that they were obducted by someone else who knew the weren’t necessarily being closely watched, etc.

    • Meaghan April 21, 2009 / 2:36 am

      I think it’s a bit much to judge child neglect based on just one photograph of each kid. Yes, their hair is uncombed and their clothes don’t exactly match. But they were toddlers, after all. Toddlers have a tendency to make a mess of themselves really quickly.

  28. Justin August 19, 2009 / 10:13 pm

    I see the NCMEC has finally put the photograph of the mother Mary Elizabeth Stuart on their website in connection with the dissappearance of the two girls.

    According to them, foul play is suspected for all three.

    Since this case has been turned over from the Humboldt Sheriff’s Office to the Humboldt DA’s Office, I wonder if they have a suspect?

  29. jennifer garvey September 26, 2013 / 9:10 pm

    hi my name is jennifer garvey i have my dad last name my mom is going by helen reyoldns that is her real name it might be jessie we both live in i been trying to help her so far no luck my mom has a sister in california she goes by dora reyoldns she could be fannie stuart this is so true if you go to national center for missing exploited and children type in fannie stuart or jessie stuart and the mother name is mary stuart or mary danckert pleasecheckout the website my mom fake birthday is september 17 1968 the real one is january 10 1976

  30. jennifer garvey September 26, 2013 / 9:20 pm

    i left a message about fannie stuart and jessie stuart my name is jennifer garvey my mom helen reyoldns we both live in east liverpool ohio i said she might be jessie and dora reyoldns could be fannie stuart please help us anyway thank you

  31. Nora August 26, 2017 / 12:15 am

    why haven’t the families of these people searched for them?

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