Missing since 1964, woman found by family nearly 30 years later

August 4, 2017 4:48 pm Last Updated: August 4, 2017 4:48 pm

Lorene Roberts wasn’t unlike other high school kids in the 1940s from Dripping Springs, Texas where she grew up. She was a member of the pep club and played on the basketball team in addition to attending classes, according to Unsolved Mysteries.

At age 16, Lorene Roberts left high school and started waitressing.

(Photo Credit: Unsolved Mysteries, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

In 1949, Roberts met a man whom she married just 10 days later. By the time they moved to New Jersey, her husband’s hometown, in 1956, they had three children. Lorene was not welcomed by her husband’s family. In fact, they disliked her so much, they even purchased a ticket for her and her children to move back to Texas! She took them up on the offer and, upon returning to Texas, divorced her husband.

Life was not easy for Lorene and her kids. She worked while her oldest son watched the younger children. When the reality set in that she could not support her family, she gave her children up for adoption. The anguish caused by this was too much for Lorene. She was distressed emotionally and her mental health began to decline rapidly.

It was difficult times.

(Photo Credit: Unsolved Mysteries, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Lorene asked her sister Ruby to take her to the state mental hospital, and between the years of 1957 and 1961, she was hospitalized on five different occasions. Between those stays, she would work as a waitress, which ultimately would cause her enough stress to admit herself back to the hospital once again.

Lorene appeared at Ruby’s house in 1959 to inform her sister that she was engaged to a college professor. Ruby wanted to help her sister, recognizing immediately that she was not well. That would never happen, however, because Lorene left her sister’s home. Several weeks later, Ruby received a bill in the mail for an engagement ring that Lorene had purchased for herself, but was unable to make payments on.

Then Lorene went missing.

The last time Lorene Roberts was seen was February 24, 1964, when she visited a mental hospital. After that she seemed to have just disappeared.

Lorene’s mother passed away in 1984 and left $100,000 in her will to Lorene. Each of her siblings inherited the same amount. The courts appointed an attorney to find Lorene so she could be given her inheritance. The following year, Debbie Russ, Lorene’s daughter, found her mother’s family, only to learn that her mother had been missing for years.

All joined in the efforts to find Lorene in hopes of reuniting with her and giving her the inheritance that her mother had left for her. They feared at the time that she might be homeless and may not have known her own identity.

A TV show helped solve the mystery.

(Photo Credit: Unsolved Mysteries CC-BY-SA 3.0)

The popular television show “Unsolved Mysteries” aired the story about Lorene on December 11, 1991. Coincidentally, Lorene was watching it! She was indeed alive and living in Little Rock, Arkansas where she worked as a housekeeper. She called the show to inform them that the Lorene they featured in that episode was her, and that she had lived in Little Rock for the past 30 years.

She was happily reunited with her family.

Lorene (“Vera”) reuniting with her sisters in 1991. (Photo credit: Unsolved Mysteries CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Vera Lorene Roberts-Houtkin, her full name, was going by the name of “Vera,” which complicated previous searches that had been attempted to find her. Her sister Ruby went directly to Little Rock to reunite with her sister and bring her back with her to Austin, Texas.

“Vera” was subsequently reunited with her children, her other sisters, and other family members. She was finally given her inheritance and returned to Little Rock three months later. Lorene (“Vera”) was 64 years old when she passed away in 1997.