Search Shifts Focus in Case of Missing Butler County Woman

Search Shifts Focus in Case of Missing Butler County Woman
By: Lauren Keith

Poplar Bluff, MO -- There’s a gruesome twist in the case of Mary Lee Grobe.  Since September of 2003, investigators have treated this as a missing persons case.  Now, new undisclosed evidence led crews to drain a sewage pond, located a few hundred yards from Grobe's Poplar Bluff home.

Police say, it’s possible Mary Lee Grobe may have taken a walk near the area.  It wasn't until a few days ago when Sheriff Mark Dobbs used a satellite aerial photograph to survey the area and discovered the sewage pond. He immediately asked county workers to start draining the pond.  "We determined it was the most logical place to dispose of a body,” said Akers.

Because there are no arrests yet in this investigation, Butler County Investigator, Jim Akers can't tell us the exact evidence, that leads him to believe foul play caused 74 year old Mary Lee Grobe's disappearance, but he certainly told us why his crews will continue working until this sewage pond is completely drained.  "Her house being several yards from her, if foul play was involved, you're going to need to dispose of her quickly,” said Akers.  

Akers narrowed a list of possible suspects down to one unnamed person, and once this pond is empty, he hopes he'll have more evidence in the case.  "If we find nothing there, then we're going to go to the next most logical place," said Akers.

While these investigators continue working, some members of Mary Lee's family continue a much different search of their own.  "I have no reason to believe my mother is dead.  I do not believe that, until someone shows me my mother is dead, I'm not going to believe that. I can't think of any reason or any family member who has reason to harm my mother," said Ken Grobe, Mary Lee Grobe’s son.

Investigator Jim Akers says his crews will continue draining and searching for clues in that sewage pond into the weekend, unless they get rained out.  If you have any information in this case, call the Butler County Sheriff's Department. Extended Web Coverage

Missing Persons Facts
  • Each year approximately 30,000 people are reported missing, half are aged under 18. 

  • While 99.5% are located, most within hours, the impact on families, friends and the missing people themselves, is devastating.
  • People go missing for all sorts of reasons. There may be family conflict, mental ill-health (including depression or anxiety), financial difficulties or many other reasons why someone might think "I want to get away from everyone and everything", or, "I just want to start a whole new life".

Source:  National Missing Persons