The Disappearance of Amy and Scott Fandel

I have stated before that whenever I see a television show or read a book about a true crime case that I think sounds interesting or I would like to know more about I add it to a list that I have.  I generally watch those types of shows in my "office" as my husband is not into them as much as I am.  However, from time to time I will be in the other room and something will come across the news or something and I will write a name down to add to the list later.  I knew I had a piece of paper with a name or two on it and although sometimes I will add a few words to give me a hint or remind me of what the case was, this one did not have anything but names.  It simply said Amy and Scott Fandel.  To be truthful I am unsure where I found this other than possibly seeing an advertisement scrolling through Facebook.  At any rate, today I gathered that piece of paper and threw those names into Google and it feels as if I was thrust into not just another world but an unsolved, and very strange mystery spanning almost forty years!  I find it very interesting that I have not heard of this case but then when I think about it I find it less surprising.

I have a relative that lives in Alaska and even today in 2015 with the World News and the Internet while Alaska is obviously considered in the United States it seems that news just does not travel from there.  Sure you have some television shows that focus on lives and or crimes in Alaska but in every day news it just does not seem to get to the lower 48.  Just recently there were major wildfires in Alaska that were very threatening to many residents and their homes.  At the same time there were major fires also in California.  Our local and national news reported the ones in California but I never heard anything except from the relative about the ones in Alaska.  I know she often complains about how many online retailers will not even ship at all to Alaska so while officially it is considered one of the 50 states, it seems more like another country. So, in 1978 when two children went missing from the cabin they shared with their mother it did not seem to get a lot of press.  Even today there is not the abundance of information available about the case but like most some of the information is conflicting but it also appears that this case has become one for the Internet Sleuths to solve.  In fact, just this month NBC posted a very brief article on the case stating just that. This is likely where I came across the names. I do not usually start searching Facebook for people related to a story or do any sleuthing myself but it was almost as if I could not stop myself from doing a little digging into things I do not generally do.

I do want to state before I get too much further into this case that the only names I intend to publish are Amy and Scott's.  I know the names of other players in this and I may give you some information but I will not reveal their names. As often happens in cases, especially those that are unsolved for so long, or those involving children there is every theory under the sun and a lot of accusations thrown out against people in which there is no proof.  I will not contribute to that.  That is not to say that I will not give a theory of my own if I have one, nor does it mean that you as a reader cannot find the names yourself.  I just hope that after you have read things here you too can determine that there is not any proof or evidence against any one individual to warrant any sort of harassment.

First I am just going to tell the story as it was, or has been told, without any sort of narration or comments so that the facts, or those known are clear.  On September 5, 1978 sometime between 10 and 10:30 pm eight year old Amy Fandel and her thirteen year old brother, Scott, were dropped off at their remote Sterling Alaska cabin by their mother and her sister who had just arrived in Alaska on that day planning to live with them.  I should state that most information states this was a 2 bedroom "cabin" but there are a few reports that called it a trailer so I cannot be certain as to which it was.  Several years later the residence apparently burned completely so I can only report what I have found.  They had all gone out to dinner that evening at a bar/restaurant (that now is apparently a strip club) and the mother and aunt said they intended to go visit a friend but after not being able to find the friend they went to at least one, or a few different bars, returning home between 2 and 3 AM.  In the meantime apparently Scott and Amy had gone to their neighbors house and played with their children for a while.  The last they were seen was when they left the neighbors house (although I could not confirm a time).  Presumably a different neighbor later reported that they saw a light in the Fandel home about 11:45 pm but when the mother and her sister returned home they said there were no lights on.  The mother thought the fact there were not any lights on was immediately suspicious, or at least she later reported so, since according to her both of the children were scared of the dark and left lights on when sleeping.  The mother and her sister also reported that when they got home they found macaroni noodles and a can of tomatoes on the counter, but even more strangely found a pot of boiling water on the stove.   Presumably at this point they checked on the children to find that they were not there and by their own account assumed that they were staying with the neighbors as they often did and both mom and aunt went to bed.  The following morning the mother left for work about 8:30 in the morning for work.  Reports stated that sometime that morning she called the school to talk to Amy and was told that she had not arrived.  The mother later said that she was worried but that her boss had refused to allow her to leave work.  After the end of school the neighbor children went to the Fandel home to see why neither of them had been in school that day.  This is when the aunt was informed that the children had not gone to school or spent the night with the neighbors and called the mother informing her. At 5:15 pm a missing person's report was filed on the children.  They have never been found.

Now, I know as a reader of this very limited (but really there is not much more) information you have massive questions.  Well, you are not alone, so did apparently the authorities, the families and now Internet Sleuths.  Of course the mother has received a lot of criticism in this case, especially in the beginning but nearly 40 years later it does continue. While I will state AGAIN that there is no evidence that points conclusively to anyone that does not mean everyone is innocent, but it also does not obviously mean everyone is guilty.  First as far as the parents go the information I found stated that the mother and Amy's father met when Scott was two years old.  He carried the Fandel name but apparently he obviously had a different biological father.  Whether he was legally adopted I cannot say and I can tell you that I know from experience that at least in that time period it would not have been required, even when entering school. Yes, I know, anyone who saw the movie "Yours, Mine and Ours" (the original with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball) may argue this but again, I know of a case in which a child used the name of their mother's current husband when entering school without any formal adoption.  The mother and father were together for approximately ten years but by most reports they were "troublesome" and likely violent and abusive years.  The father had left the family in January of 1978 (approximately 9 months prior to the disappearance) and had apparently moved to Arizona.  Either prior to the divorce (and/or separation) or because of, the mother had apparently not only had a rough time having to work many hours to support her children but also had reportedly developed a drinking problem. It is likely that the financial strain was why her sister had arrived to apparently move in with the family and help her sister.  Her first evening there was spent out, first with the kids for apparently a late (although this may have been a normal time for them) dinner and then out drinking with her sister.  Although it was not "officially" reported, it is likely that the fact that they were out several hours drinking that they returned home shall we say less than sober.

I would also like people to keep in mind that this was a different "time." Oftentimes those of us who raise our kids in a different era tend to look back at cases in the past and criticize parents for being what we think is less than attentive.  You have to realize that Scott was 13.  I was babysitting at 13 so he was of adequate age to watch his sister.  Their cabin was remote and apparently there was no concern that the lock was broken, and maybe that was ok.  I live in an area now in 2015 that we rarely lock our doors and in 1978 that would have been even more common, especially in a remote area so the fact that the lock was broken has likely been made more of a significance over the years in which we have become a society that is less trusting. And, in fairness, we are warranted to feel that way, but not in 1978.  With that said, even in 1978, and a remote area it still seems strange that not only were the kids out that late on a school night but then went to a neighbor's house who also had children up very late, in my opinion, on a school night.  Again, however, playing devil's advocate here, apparently the families were rather close and the children spent a lot of time at the neighbors house.  The fact of the matter is that the neighbors sent them home so it does not seem like there was maybe a lot of communication among the parents... is that because the mother worked a lot of hours and was not home a lot after the father left? We were also still (although we were slowly emerging from it) in an era where neighbors mind their own business when it came to other kids.  Sure CPS was available and sure they got calls but nothing on something like children who were capable of caring for themselves were home alone while their parent was out working a lot, and even if mom decided to go out from time to time, most felt that was warranted.  There were reports that the mother had a drinking problem but I found nothing about her leaving them alone like this on any other occasion (although she very well could have).  Then again there's very limited information about this story.

The next thing that I found strange about the mother and the aunt's behavior was finding the boiling pot of water on the stove and yet determining, without apparently questioning, that the children must have spent the night at the neighbor's house and going to bed.  It was said that the children did stay there often, but the condition of at least the kitchen seems disturbing and while I could give the mother a pass at not immediately going to the neighbors at 3 in the morning to check, in my opinion, if I could have slept at all not knowing for sure where my kids where I would think that she should have verified this before going to work the next day.  There really is a fine line between allowing freedom and trusting children as well as friends and family and being necessarily informed.  

The next thing we are informed is that the mother tried to contact Amy at the school.  No reports state why she was calling her 8 year old daughter at school or even that she had called to verify they were in school.  Reports just simply state that she called the school to talk to her and that she was informed Amy was not at school.  This I think is important.  The mother went on to state that she became worried but that her boss would not her leave work.  Now, many of us would say, and a lot have when it comes to Internet forums, they would not have stood for that.  However, once again I am going to give mom a pass on this.  This was now a single mother who could not afford to lose her job so if her boss said she could not leave... then she really could not.  However, my pass for her ends there.  I have been left wondering a few things. First, why did she not then call to see if Scott had gotten to school?  And secondly, why did she not then call her sister, or the neighbors?  It seems as if nothing else was done until the neighbor children go to her door after school is released.  She obviously had access to a phone as she had called Amy's school and later her sister obviously had access to a phone (whether it was at her home or the neighbors) to inform her that the neighbor children said neither Scott or Amy had gone to school, nor had they spent the night at their home.  This whole thing bothers me. It was reported that once she was made aware that neither child had been seen since the night before she then contacted the police.  

A massive search was made.  There apparently were some shell casings found near the cabin but it has never been determined whether they were related to the case or not.  It does not seem that anyone hear any shots but then again, maybe they did and just thought nothing of it as it was very remote and hunting is a big thing in Alaska.  It was stated that pretty immediately the mother attempted to contact the father and apparently could not reach him but talked to family members who ensured her that he did not know where the children were and there is a report that once he was made aware of the situation he flew to Alaska to help in the search for the children.

So what had been discovered in the last 40 years?  Well, that answer kind of depends on who you are.  There are obviously a lot of theories.  Reports said that not long after their disappearance (although a specific time was not given) that the mother moved back to Illinois near her family where she was originally from.  Her family, or at least a brother, maintains that Amy's father was involved in the disappearance.  It is his theory that Scott was killed (either by accident or on purpose) soon after they were taken and that Amy is actually still alive.  In fact, he has opened named a few specific cities in which he claims she may be living in but he has no proof and law enforcement has obviously found nothing. Here is what I can say pertaining to this.  I discovered the mother (who has been remarried for many years and apparently happy and stable), Amy's father, and both the mother's brother and sister via social networking.  And yes, I am certain that these are the correct individuals. There is more than one Amy Fandel's (as a maiden name) on Facebook, one in which is friends of the father. The uncle claims that another one of the father's children stated they had a sister named Amy in a way in which indicated they knew Amy personally which would not have been apparently possible (and be the same Amy) if she had not survived.  Some of these reports state that the children were taken and raised by the father's family.  However ONCE AGAIN THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF PROOF of this! The mother has made statements that indicate that she has not found her children in any way or indicated she knows anything so it does not appear as if she may believe this claim herself.  Apparently one of the mother's siblings is an administrator of a Facebook page dedicated to this case and it does not seem that they feel it was the father that was involve either (although I am uncertain who this is).  That page has some interesting, as well as what I consider quack, posts on it. Some seem to be legitimate works of help while other posts are from psychics claiming to have information... but to each their own.  

One thing that did come out which is likely part of the reason why some may believe the father was involved, although obviously he was an early suspect anyway, is that several years after the disappearance woman who had allegedly dated the father in 1978 when the disappearance occurred contacted one of the father's uncles and apparently said for $5,000 she would give details of what happened to the children.  This was presumably investigated by authorities and nothing came of it.  I was not even able to determine if they were able to prove if she had even dated the father at all, let alone had any information.  There has also been rumor made about the reputation of the father's family.  Now, granted we have to remember that much of this is rumors and "talking" on the Internet is like playing the game "Telephone."  A story starts out one way and by the time it is over it is completely different.  Also rumors and assumptions spread much more quickly.  There were discussions that the father's family was a rather "rough" sort and may have been less than helpful to people looking into the case.  From my understand, again, the father was an initial, common suspect (although admittedly I never heard any rumors that the mother was a suspect, but then again, it could have been that "era" thing) and law enforcement looked into things and have cleared him as a suspect.  We have seen multiple cases in which someone is presumed to be a suspect and hounded and hounded, whether it is by authorities or by others after they refuse to believe the authorities when they say there is no evidence.  Maybe the family was just sick and tired of being accused?  But... with that being said and knowing really, nothing more than all that I have said here, I am going to say that I believe the odds of the father being involved are probably rather slim.  Why?  I know from personal knowledge that not only are flights to and from Alaska expensive (and we're talking 2015) they are nothing that really happens fast.  You do not just up and decided to fly to or from Alaska and expect to necessarily leave anytime real soon.  Ok, so what difference would that make?  Well unless the mother was in a habit of leaving the children every night like she had that night then this was an isolated incident that would just be too coincidental that the father got from the lower 48 on that particular night.  Most of the people close to the children claimed that Scott was not only streetwise but also very protective of his sister. Some use this as a point saying he would not have left with a stranger so that it would have had to have been someone they knew.  In the same respect though, I think that same behavior could tell you that it could have been a stranger and he was going because he was not letting his sister be hurt.  Who is to say the lights being off and the boiling water left on the stove was not left that way on purpose thinking it would leave a clue? Now of course I am speculating but so is everyone else.  The Charley Project, a website dedicated to finding the missing, states that the case is classified as a "non- family abduction" although I cannot be certain where or how this classification has come from.

This case does seem to be a true mystery... something that you do not often come across.  It seems unlikely that unless someone comes forward with proof of what happened that it will ever be solved.  No one it seems will ever know what happened to these two children. 

Comments

  1. It's a mystery, but my conclusion is it was an attack of opportunity, and the kids are buried somewhere in Alaska. The killer may well be long dead. The father loved the step-son Scott. I'm sure he loved his daughter. He left because the mother was irresponsible, and he couldn't take it. He didn't want to leave the kids because he knew they would be in jeopardy due to their mother's completely irresponsible behavior. And sure enough, the worst happened. But I definitely don't think he was involved, just heartbroken and took the media hounding by being intimidating.
    I think someone in town knew about her lifestyle, and planned to take those kids when she went on one of her nights out drinking. Could have been a drifter, around for a few months. It's really hard to say. It's one of the most unforgettable cases on Charley Project.
    There are some other really interesting mysteries akin to this one - David Vernon Lovely. That'll keep you up at night, too.
    Elizabeth Ann Campbell is another one I spend a lot of time thinking about - again, I'm sure it was just an opportunity. You only need to be stupid once and pay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't kniw5whst youre talking about. ROGER DID NOT LOVE SCOTT and AMY NOR MARGARET, He was/is a very evil man. HE left thay fsmily Broke and destitute. He took off to be the thug he is today @ Who are you yo make any statement!

      Delete
  2. Please visit Scott and Amy Fandels FB Page. I have linked to this blog from it, this is of the best commentaries on the case that I have read. I am Terry Schonfelder, an uncle and administrative of their page.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How do you know that Roger Fandel was the loving father you make him here? Did you know him? I have a different take on him, he was and is directly involved in the disappearance and may have been the cause of it. He revelled in the hurt this caused to the mother and her family. Amy is alive and and will not come forward for reasons that are not clear at this time. I am her uncle and administrative of their FB page.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Have the police been able to confirm it is really Amy?
    My heart goes out to your family, Terry.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Matthew Heikkila

The Quinn Hanna Gray Kidnapping

Patricia Rorrer