Select It Sunday: Benita Gay Chamberlin

[Whoops! Accidentally told the computer to put this up on Friday, not Sunday. Oh, well. You get your Select It Sunday two days early.]

This MP selected by Shelby Blue, who like in the previous week’s case, contacted me via Charley’s Facebook page. I decided to put it up as a Select It Sunday case rather than Flashback Friday, although Benita Gay Chamberlin disappeared prior to 1985.

Benita was 24 when she vanished without a trace from Eugene, Oregon on February 23, 1978. Her car was later found abandoned at a nearby factory. Her casefile could use updating; I did a basic info search for writing this entry and found new info. Via Websleuths I found this article and this one which discuss her case. Both have photos that aren’t on the Charley casefile, though only one of those is of sufficient quality to use. I also found a Facebook page for her. It looks like she has three children: Maryanne, Melissa and Michelle.

There isn’t much I can see that’s terribly unusual about Benita’s disappearance except one glaring detail: she had just given birth and was nursing a baby (Michelle), who was still in the hospital due to premature birth and low birth weight. Benita had been having to visit the hospital daily (indeed, probably multiple times daily) in order to feed her infant daughter. She was supposed to be able to take the baby home later that day; instead, she vanished, and three kids, including a brand-new baby, was left motherless.

I have a hard time imagining that a nursing mom would walk out of her life like that. Especially one described as a “devoted mother” who cared enough about her child to make trips to the hospital so often for its care. Especially when she was supposed to be able to take Michelle home that very day, and had even called a friend to share the happy news.

Benita was in the process of a divorce at the time of her disappearance and was separated from her husband, but I haven’t found anything that says he’s a suspect in her case. From my (admittedly inexpert) observation, it’s pregnant women rather than new mothers that are more likely to be killed by their partners. I do know that homicide is the most common non-natural cause of death among pregnant women in America.

In any case, it seems unlikely that Benita survived very long after her disappearance 36 years ago. But what happened? Chances are someone, and possibly multiple someones, knows the answer. She deserves a proper burial, and her family deserves to know her fate.