Inside Five People’s Decades-Old Disappearances Along the Snake River

Inside Five People's Decades-Old Disappearances Along the Snake River

Steven Pearsall was a homebody who enjoyed cheering up others, particularly kids. He was an accomplished cartoon character illustrator as well.

According to his younger sister Rhonda Albright, “He was a very brilliant artist, so he would draw pages of cartoons to try to cheer you up, or he’d make up a cartoon of you and draw stuff of you as a cartoon.” He consistently made an effort to make others happy.

His family was shocked when Pearsall, 35, mysteriously disappeared from Lewiston, Idaho, on September 12, 1982. According to Albright, “I only remember being devastated and watching my dad being heartbroken.” “He would look each day. He would get in his car, drive around, seek in ravines, and inquire with bystanders about any sightings or sounds they may have heard.”

Pearsall, a janitor at the Lewiston Civic Theatre, had attended a retirement party the evening of September 12 before being dropped off at the venue so he could use the laundry facilities and practice his favorite clarinet.

Detective Jackie Nichols with the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office recalls that the theatre was dark and it was around 12:15 a.m. “[Steven’s girlfriend] witnessed Steven open the theatre door, walk-in, and turn on a light.”

Inside Five People's Decades-Old Disappearances Along the Snake River

The clarinet that Pearsall had was at the theatre when police started their investigation, but his clothing was missing. According to Nichols, when police inspected his residence, they discovered that “nothing was in disarray, but also nothing [said] he was intending to move out or go anywhere.”

Pearsall was one of five teenagers who vanished between 1979 and 1982 in the Lewis Clark Valley of the Pacific Northwest, which is on the border between Washington and Idaho, with three of them later being found dead.

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The disturbing case, which is the focus of tonight’s episode of People Magazine Investigates, is still unsolved. The episode, titled “Valley of Death,” streams on discovery+ and airs on Investigation Discovery at 9 p.m. ET. (The video below is exclusive.)

The first disappearance occurred on April 28, 1979, in Asotin, Washington, when 12-year-old Christine White disappeared after visiting her friend’s house and the county fair.

Kristin David, a 22-year-old college student, was last seen riding her bicycle from Moscow, Idaho, to Lewiston, Idaho, on June 26, 1981. Her fragmented bones were discovered in trash bags by a fisherman along the coast of the neighboring Snake River, close to Clarkston, Washington, eight days later.

Stepsisters Jacqueline “Brandy” Miller, 18, and Kristina Nelson, 21, also vanished on the same day that Pearsall went missing. They had just left Nelson’s apartment to go to a grocery shop close to the Lewiston Civic Theatre, where both of the young ladies had previously worked as janitors. Nelson, a budding artist, informed her partner in a note that they would soon be returning home.

Inside Five People's Decades-Old Disappearances Along the Snake River

They failed to succeed. Miller and Nelson’s corpses were found on March 19, 1984, some 40 miles outside of Lewiston, down a hillside off of Highway 3. Their deaths were judged homicides by the coroner.

Albright dreams of discovering her brother’s fate someday. You simply want to know where he is, she explains. He gave her Steven’s clarinet just before her grieving father passed away. It’s the last of his possessions I still have, she says.

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Mary

I'm a researcher and behavioural therapist with a PhD in Social Media. I also love to travel and drink coffee. Follow my adventures around the world, or just know that I really need to be back at the library.