Author's note: Patch's Unsolved Cases generally features cases from southwestern Pennsylvania. On a trip this summer, I passed right by the small town of Tyrone, just north of Altoona. Tyrone, to me, has always meant Kathy Shea. Her face, which appeared in newspapers and on TV at the time of her 1965 disappearance, has haunted me since I was a child because she was just a few years younger than me. As I looked over at Tyrone from the new highway, I knew I had to share her story.
It's a tale that's happened too many times—a young girl on her way to or from school vanishes into thin air.
And that is the story of Kathleen Ann Shea of Tyrone, PA, who was 6 years old when she disappeared on March 18, 1965. She was last seen traveling north between 15th and 16th streets, walking from her home to Adams Elementary School—about four blocks away.
Kathy was last seen splashing in rain puddles on her way to school, according to a 2010 story in the Altoona Mirror. Along the way, the story says, a crossing guard helped her across 15th Street, and she spoke to a woman who was watching from her North Avenue home to make sure her own daughter reached the school safely.
Hours passed before anyone realized Kathy was missing. The kindergarten teacher thought Kathy was out sick, and her mother thought she was at school, hours passed before anyone realized she was missing, according to the Mirror.
What makes Kathy's case disturbing is that it happened in a small, central Pennsylvania town, a place where people felt safe. According to The Doe Network website, talk of Kathy still generates a lot of interest in the area around Tyrone.
Despite the best efforts of local and state police, no trace of Kathy has ever been found. Law enforcement officials checked out many leads, all with negative results. Her disappearance is considered a non-family abduction.
At the time of her disappearance, Kathy was only 3 feet 11 inches tall and weighed just 47 pounds. She is described as having blue eyes and brown hair. Kathy was last seen wearing a brown hat, beige coat with a fur collar, red gloves, red-knit sweater, brown jumper, red tights and yellow boots with black soles.
She would be 53 years old today.
Her parents, Mary Alice and James Shea, never gave up hope before their deaths in 1997 and 2006, respectively.
Anyone with information about Kathy's disappearance or whereabouts is asked to contact Trooper Aungst, Pennsylvania State Police, at 814-696-6100. Callers may remain anonymous when submitting information.