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Police: No new leads 40 years after teen disappeared

(Photo courtesy Fairview Park police)
Yvonne Regler in the months before her Aug. 8, 1977 disappearance.

By KEVIN KELLEY
FAIRVIEW PARK – An image showing what a local teen who disappeared in 1977 might look like today has led to numerous tips. But none has helped Fairview Park police determine the fate of Yvonne Regler, a 17-year-old North Olmsted resident last seen Aug. 8, 1977, working at a Sunoco station on Lorain Road.

At a news conference a year ago, police released an age-progression image created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children showing what Regler might look like in her mid-50s.

(Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
Yvonne Regler as she might look like today at age 54.

About two dozen people called police from across the country to report seeing someone who looked like the woman in the image, Lt. Paul Shepard said. But none was Regler, he said.

Another slew of calls came in about two months ago, Shepard said. The age-progression image was included in a missing persons leaflet that was part of a direct mail coupon package sent to thousands of homes across several southern states.

Again, police followed up on all the tips, but none led to Regler.

One tip involved an unidentified murder victim in Texas, Shepard said. Police compared the DNA from that body with a DNA sample provided three years ago by one of Regler’s two surviving brothers. The genetic material did not match.

Last year, police revealed they had identified a person of interest in the case. They are saying little about the man, except that he is currently in prison in another state on an unrelated charge. Shepard personally interviewed the man, who denied involvement in Regler’s disappearance. The man was unknown to Regler at the time of her disappearance, Shepard said.

On Aug. 8, 1977, Regler was weeks away from starting her senior year at North Olmsted High School.

She reported for work at 7 a.m. at the Sunoco station at Clague and Lorain roads. An hour later, she transferred to another Sunoco at 18990 Lorain Road because the worker there was a mechanic and the Clague Sunoco was backed up with mechanic work. Regler, who lacked a car or even a driver’s license, was driven to the Fairview gas station by a co-worker.

At noon, when her manager brought her lunch, there was no sign of trouble.

About 1:25 p.m., a customer purchased gas with a credit card and Regler initialed the receipt. The gas station had only one working full-service pump because it was being converted to self-serve status, Shepard said. In the days before self-serve gas stations, employees like Regler would pump the gas, carrying up to $50 in cash to make change for the transaction, Shepard noted. One theory police had is she was abducted in a robbery, he said.

Yvonne Regler in 1997.

Two would-be customers and a coffee machine repairman later told police they were at the station between 1:30 and 2:05 p.m. and found the station empty except for Regler’s personal belongings. When another employee arrived to relieve Regler at 2:45 p.m., he found the station empty. Her manager was called and found only Regler’s purse, cigarettes, a book and her partially eaten lunch. The register held $300. Police were called at 3:30 p.m.

When she disappeared, Regler was described as having blue eyes and brown hair, although some color photos taken a few months earlier show her hair as more blond. She was 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds.

Fairview Park police reopened the case file and began re-interviewing all surviving witnesses in early 2015.

“Every tip that comes in, we investigate it,” Shepard said.

As indicated by the age progression drawing, police have not completely dismissed the possibility that Regler is alive.

But given the circumstances of her disappearance, Shepard is not optimistic.

“Realistically, I think something bad happened to her that day,” he said.

If that’s true, police need to find Regler’s body if the case is to be solved, Shepard said.

“Somebody knows what happened to her,” he said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Shepard or Det. Mark Miller at the Fairview Park Police Department at 440-356-4415.

 

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