This week’s Flashback Friday case — like my MP of the week for this week — actually multiple cases: Cynthia Robin “Cindy” Gooding, age sixteen, and her twelve-year-old friend, Teresa Armanda “Terry” Alfonso. The pair disappeared from Marathon, a small town in the Florida Keys, on August 20, 1974 — exactly 41 years, 11 months and 8 days ago.
Teresa and Cindy were dropped off at a movie theater and planned to hitchhike to a party. I’m not sure whether their parents knew about the party or whether they were allowed to go. The girls may have said they were going to see a movie when they really planned to go to the party.
I’m not sure of much of anything in this case; there is very little information available. In 2007 an article about Florida Keys missing persons and UIDs talked about Teresa a little bit and had a quote from her mom, but the article didn’t have any info I could use and, worse, didn’t even mention Cindy at all. That seems like lazy and irresponsible journalism to me; even if they couldn’t find any of Cindy’s relatives to interview, they should have at least said Teresa disappeared with another girl.
(I did, however, find a 2010 article from the Key West Citizen. I had to buy it on Newslibrary. It talks only about Teresa, but does mention she disappeared with her friend Cynthia Gooding, and has some background info for Teresa and Cindy that I’ve added to her casefile.)
I wondered about the serial killers Gerard John Schaefer and Gerald Stano, both of which preyed on young girls and women in Florida in the 1970s, but Schaefer was imprisoned by 1974 and Stano’s stomping ground seems to have been central Florida, not nearly as far as south as the Keys. (I’m basing this on the back that Susan Basile and Gail Lorraine Joiner, both suspected Stano victims, disappeared from central Florida towns more than a five-hour drive north of Marathon.) This Instagram post (which doesn’t mention Teresa) suggests Cindy was a victim of the serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins, but I have no idea where that source is getting the information from. As far as I know Gaskins only claimed victims in the Carolinas, but I don’t know much about him.
Those men certainly weren’t the only psychopaths running around the southern U.S. in the seventies, though. If I were to guess, I’d say probably the girls were hitchhiking and got picked up by the wrong person.