Flashback Friday: Carlene Tengelsen

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Carlene Sessions Tengelsen, a 16-year-old (who for some reason has never been on the NCMEC that I know of) who disappeared from Macon, Georgia on June 21, 1972. That day Carlene took the family car to a shopping center, and left a note at her boyfriend’s workplace there. She had only just gotten her driver’s license and this was the very first time she’d driven anywhere alone. She was supposed to pick up her sister from summer camp, but never did. She never returned home. The car turned up abandoned in a donut shop parking lot, unlocked, with the windows rolled down.

In a heart-wrenching detail, when Carlene’s family moved out of town a year later, they left a note behind for her and a special telephone hooked up to a missing person’s hotline. The new owners of the house kept the phone in service for two years but Carlene never did show up. Her family later returned to Macon. Last I knew, Carlene’s mother and sister were still alive, still waiting for answers.

8 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Carlene Tengelsen

  1. Peter Henderson Jr. October 8, 2016 / 8:06 am

    Carlene is a typical ‘70’s missing teen case. The cops were clueless; and condescending with her family at best.

    The Macon Police would not take a formal missing person’s report for 24 hours and when they did they said Carlene was not missing, she was just a teen runaway who would be home soon. But Carlene never came home.

    Carlene’s case was treated like most missing teen’s in the seventies, “toe-tag-cold from the get-go,” her sister Joanette wrote in 1999.

    Two years later the Macon police wrote her mother a note asking if she had come home yet, they wanted to close her file. They said it was still a “active investigation.” Her family laughed. If that was the case why did they not know she was still missing, they wondered.

    Her family moved from state to state after she vanished. First to North Carolina then Kentucky before ending up back in Macon once again. Not at the old house where she and her little sister once shared a room, but close by.

    Close enough that they can pass by the old house and see the handprints and names in the driveway. Most have deteriorated with time, but not all.

    There in the middle of the driveway one handprint and signature still stands out.

    A young girl’s handprint and a child’s scrawling signature — “Carlene”

  2. Dell January 19, 2017 / 9:16 am

    There is an article in The Macon Telegraph today (January 19, 2017) stating that Carlene’s mother died just after Christmas, 2016.

    • Melanie Tengelsen Thompson January 16, 2018 / 10:28 pm

      Stumbled upon this and just wanted to comment: Fun fact- at Carlene’s mother’s funeral there were FBI agents onsite just in case she or somebody related to the mystery showed up. That or random gawkers. I know this as Carlene would have been my Aunt and her mother being my grandmother. Interesting to see people still talking about the 40+ year old case.

  3. Monique Davis-Gaye July 2, 2017 / 2:24 am

    Could Carlene be a victim of serial rapist/murderer Christopher Wilder? I say it’s possible. Read about him and his crimes by googling his name.

    • Meaghan July 2, 2017 / 3:45 am

      Unlikely. Macon, GA is eight hours away from Wilder’s stomping grounds in South Florida, and Carlene disappeared over a decade before Wilder began his murder spree.

    • Peter Henderson Jr. July 2, 2017 / 7:59 am

      The first USA murder attributed to Christopher Wilder was that of Rosario Gonzalez, who was last seen on February 26, 1984, at the Miami Grand Prix auto race, 10+ years after Sheryl Tillinghast vanished.

      There is no information placing Wilder outside the state of Florida during September of !973.

      • Peter Henderson Jr. July 2, 2017 / 8:06 am

        Sorry, got my victims mixed up. However, the fact that there is no information placing him outside the state of Florida during that timeframe is accurate.

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