News

Missing: April Dawn Andrews

White female, strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, buckteeth, 5 feet 4 inches, 100 pounds, brown sweater, black halter top, light brown corduroy pants and multicolored sneakers. Nov. 18, 2006 was the last day April Dawn Andrews, 15 at the time, was seen alive. She had told her mother she was going to Pea Ridge Church of the Nazarene, down the street from her family’s home at King Lane Apartments in Pea Ridge, Ark., to look at clothes the church was giving away. She never made it there. The last person to see her was an eight-year-old girl, who said she saw April speaking with a white male in a beat-up, older model, full-size, single-cab brown pickup truck, which had just pulled up beside her. April—for all appearances willingly—entered the truck before it pulled away, going south.  Her mother reported her missing that evening. 

At the time of her disappearance, April had few friends and was being bullied at school. She was reportedly worried about being a financial burden to her family—her father had died a few years before her disappearance, leaving April’s mother alone to support her children. 

Cpl. Mitch Brown, Pea Ridge schools’ resource officer, spoke with April not long before she disappeared.  In an interview with KSFM-TV, Cpl. Brown said she was “very proud of herself—said that she was doing better, she was focused on school, things were getting better.”  Cpl. Brown also said that he believed that April would have to be comfortable with the individual driving the truck she was seen entering. “I don’t believe she was the type to get into a stranger’s vehicle.”

April’s half-sister, Tonya McGehee, does not believe April ran away. “I could never see her leaving home and not contacting her mother,” McGehee said in a 2008 interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “She always had stayed very close to her mother. I really do believe something happened to April. She just would not have run off without a word or at least a phone call.” 

The case took a strange turn when the responding officer and first lead investigator, Sgt. Cerilla Doyle of the Pea Ridge Police Department, herself disappeared on Oct. 27, 2008, leaving behind her identification, cellphone, vehicle and other personal property. She was last seen alive buying a bus ticket at a Rogers gas station on Oct. 28. Her skeletal remains were found in Mason City, Iowa, in 2018. Investigators stated that there was no indication of foul play in her death; however, an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and death continues. Doyle’s daughter, Danielle Doyle, said that her mother was suicidal after her husband’s death several months before. Charles Thomas, Doyle’s former boyfriend, said that she had talked about the method in which she might commit suicide. Doyle’s mother, Betty Counts, doesn’t believe her daughter killed herself. “I think somebody put her there,” Counts said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. 

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office, which inherited April’s case from the Pea Ridge Police Department in 2012—in great part because it had the resources and manpower that Pea Ridge lacked—does not believe there is a connection between Doyle’s disappearance and death and April’s case. Benton County Sheriff’s Office CID Detective Lt. Hunter Petray, the case lead, regrets not being able to interview Doyle while she was alive concerning the night she responded to the report of April’s disappearance and her following efforts. 

“The report [on April’s disappearance] was pretty vague—not a lot of information.  There was no canvass of the apartment complex done at that point in time …” said Petray in a 2018 interview with KNWA. 

“This is a solvable case,” said Petray in a Nov. 2020 interview with FOX16 and KARK4.  “This is still very much an active and open investigation.  Some cold cases go cold because there are no leads. We do not feel like this is the case in this case. We’re constantly getting tips on this case that we follow up on.” 

“We have some suspects identified,” said Petray. “It’s very difficult to prosecute a case without a body … if you just have witnesses or people talking, that’s not good enough. Our hope is that we can find her either alive or deceased and … bring some closure to the family one way or another.” 

When asked what he would say to the aforementioned suspects should they be watching, Petray said the following: “I actually hope they’re watching. And if they are, then they should know this—that we are not going to rest, we are not going to stop searching for April, we are not going to stop talking to people, we are not going to stop approaching them, we’re just not going to quit … this case will not rest.”

According to NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System), more than 600,000 persons go missing in the United States annually. Roughly 89% to 92% of these people are recovered the same year, alive or deceased. As of Dec. 31, 2020, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) contained 89,637 active missing persons records.  Youth under the age of 18 account for 30,396 (34%) of these records.  Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action—created by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and the Arkansas Crime Information Center, in association with law enforcement agencies and NGOs, such as the Morgan Nick Foundation—is a website that raises awareness of missing persons in Arkansas.  The site lists 481 currently missing Arkansans, including April, who would now be 30 years old.

Anyone who has any information regarding April Dawn Andrews’ whereabouts or the circumstances of her disappearance is asked to contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at (479) 271-1008.