Seeing Ida Mae Lee living…maybe

I’ve decided to add a bunch of super-old cases to Charley today, beginning with Ida Mae Lee, who disappeared in 1956. She was working at a hotel at Grand Canyon National Park at the time.

Anyway, I went to and searched for the phrase “Ida Mae Lee” Arizona and found some interesting results:

The Arizona Republic, December 1, 1953:


(There were several other mentions of Ida Mae Lee attending Arizona State; an October 1953 article says she lived in Nutrioso, which has a current population of 26. There’s also articles from January and March name Ida Mae Lee among the honor roll students at Round Valley High School, which is in Eager, Arizona, a 21-minute drive from Nutrioso. And in 1952, Ida Mae Lee and some of her fellow Round Valley HS students staged a fashion show.)

And then there’s this, from the Arizona Republic, September 21, 1955:


I’m pretty sure the Ida Mae Lee who married Mr. Jones is the same one that attended Round Valley High School and Arizona State; note the reference to Nutrioso in the marriage announcement. And I think that photo looks an awful lot like NamUs’s picture of the Ida Mae Lee who vanished in 1956 — though I’m not prepared to swear to that, I am not good at all at identifying faces.

So, the 64k question then, assuming all these Ida Lees are in fact the same person: what happened to Mr. Jones during the 14 months before Ida vanished? The fact that she’s listed as missing under her maiden name suggests they were separated or divorced by then.

I did find this obit for a Niles Lee Jones who died in Mesa, Arizona in 2011, age 76. No mention of any survivors, but a search of addresses for Mr. Jones mentions Nutrioso, Arizona as well as other cities.


11 thoughts on “Seeing Ida Mae Lee living…maybe

  1. Laurie September 17, 2016 / 2:32 am

    The one who went missing in 1956 was definitely Native American, while Mrs. Jones (née Lee) looks very Caucasian to me in the 1955 wedding announcement.

    • Meaghan September 17, 2016 / 10:05 am

      I can’t tell the difference. If I didn’t see Ida Mae listed as Native American I’d have assumed she was just a dark haired white person.

      • Makoons Miller Tanner September 26, 2016 / 4:51 pm

        Being Native myself I have sort of a keen eye for classic Native features. The Ida from Namus most definitely looks Native: slightly darker complexion, high cheekbones, dark hair, etc. The photo you found through research looks much more Caucasian and generally doesn’t look like the Namus Ida to me at all. It’s probably just a by-product of the Cross-race effect so I wouldn’t feel to bad about not being able to tell the difference immediately.

  2. Laurie September 17, 2016 / 2:48 am

    Lee is a pretty common last name for Navajo people, as well the Havasupai, a tribe that has lived in the Grand Canyon for at least the last 800 years.

  3. Laurie September 17, 2016 / 3:20 am

    I take it back. Lee is more of a Hualapai name, not Havasupai. I bet the missing Ida Mae Lee was Navajo.

  4. KER September 17, 2016 / 10:13 am

    according to the 1940 census the Ida Mae Lee pictured in the wedding announcement is white. The census also lists her parents and siblings. Her siblings were born in Kansas. I did find a couple of native americans named Ida Mae Lee in Arizona. For one Lee is her married name.

    • Meaghan September 17, 2016 / 10:27 am

      Ah, probably not my Ida Lee then. Oh, well. She sounds like a lovely person anyway.

  5. Aili McKeen December 18, 2016 / 4:47 pm

    I agree with the others, the two Ida Mae Lees don’t resemble each other enough. If you contact her case investigator, I’m sure he’d have info on her parent’s names. That would cinch the relationship, if any. I see that DNA has been submitted, so there must be family living.

    However, while I was looking around for other info, I found this geneaological entry for what looks like the same couple in the wedding announcement, only NOT Jones. Weird.

  6. Cynthia Ramer April 15, 2018 / 9:23 pm

    Not the same Ida Mae Lee. I know her personally…the Ida Mae in the newspaper and ftom the hoghschool. You got your scent all wrong.

  7. Cynthia Ramer April 20, 2019 / 2:07 pm

    I know Ida Mae Lee from Nutrioso. I am her daughter in law!

  8. Ken P June 24, 2019 / 6:45 pm

    So is there more information surrounding the case that can be made available? When was the last time she was seen? What did co workers say? Was she dating anyone? Did she take any of her personal effects? Did she have a car?

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