Flashback Friday: Patricia Lee Otto

This week’s Flashback Friday is Patricia Lee Otto, missing from Lewiston, Idaho since September 2, 1976. Charley does not, at present, have much on her; in fact, the The Doe Network has a little more than I do: it notes she wasn’t actually REPORTED missing until October 8, over a month after her disappearance.

However, one of the things about these weekly blog features is every time I run one, particularly if there’s a paucity of information, I check to see if I can find anything else on the missing individual. I found a Lewiston Tribune article on the case from 1997 and bought it — your donation dollars at work!

According to the article, Patty got into a “raging argument” with her husband, Ralph, left the house angrily, and never came back. Their relationship had always been volatile, and Ralph drank. Patty left behind two daughters, then aged five and three, who were raised by their paternal aunt.

The head of the police investigation was a guy named Duane Allor, and suspicion focused on Ralph Otto from the onset. Less than a year after Patty’s disappearance, Ralph was found guilty of hiring a hit man to kill Allor — but that verdict was overturned by the Idaho Supreme Court in 1981. A few years after that, Ralph Otto died of a heart attack while in police custody for an unrelated charge.

According to Ralph’s sister — the same woman who raised Ralph and Patty’s daughters — Patty had left on her own before and come back, and in the spring of 1976 she filed for divorce, but quickly reconciled with her husband. All this leads Patty’s daughters to hope that she really did just up and walk out of her life in 1976 and may still be out there somewhere.

Really, though, the family just wants answers. And, after all this time, I doubt they’re going to find them.