Monroe City man still missing after 42 years

Thursday night's unsolved mystery takes us to Monroe City, Missouri.

That's where a 16-year-old man went missing 42 years ago Wednesday night.

John Wagner's body never was found, and his family wants to know what happened to their loved one.

KHQA's Rajah Maples spoke with Wagner's father, sister and an investigator about where the case stands now.

John Wagner took his younger brother Mark to a dance in Monroe City February 17, 1968. But John never returned. The next day, the family found John's truck in Monroe City. His keys, gloves and coat were inside, but there were no signs of John. It was the first time John's sister, Peggy Porter, had seen her father, Luther, cry.

Peggy Porter, "The story is, as everybody knows, is that John and another guy got into an altercation and possibly John fell back and hit his head and was killed. At that time, these persons of interest didn't know what to do. I think the altercation was probably over a girlfriend being interested in John. I mean if they would just come forward and tell us that this is what happened, and this is why it happened."

Wagner's family has heard stories about what happened to John's body -- none of them pleasant.

Luther Wagner, "Threw him to the hogs, burned him up with a bunch of old junk cars, put him in a hog feeder."

Nevertheless, the family has searched multiple farms, ponds, wells....even dug up wells that had been filled. Porter asked the Marion County Sheriff's Department to reopen the case about 10 years ago. Sgt. Regina Webb and other investigators gathered files from all of the surrounding counties, since the crime happened right in the middle of several jurisdictions.

Webb said, "We got the most information from the family. We re-interviewed a lot of people. Some people we believe were persons of interest refused to speak with us after all these years and refused to cooperate. I think that was telling within itself."

Wagner's brother and mother passed away a couple of years ago. They went to their graves never knowing what happened or why.

Porter said "She felt like when she passed away, she said she would finally know, and that she was going to be with both of my brothers."

KHQA asked both Porter and Wagner what they'd like to see happen. Both of them told me they wouldn't prosecute those responsible. They just want closure.

Porter said, "We have no desire to put these people in jail. I'm sure if they have any conscience at all, I'm sure they suffered. They would've had to unless they don't have any feelings."

Wagner said, "I'd just like somebody to come forward and come out in the open and tell us, who knew about what happened, and we'd close it."

The Wagner family bought a tombstone for John a couple of years ago. It's located in the Palmyra cemetery.

Sergeant Regina Webb told KHQA she plans to collect DNA from John's sister and father to enter it into a national database. That way, if a body ever surfaces, authorities can positively identify the remains.