Doe Network ID: 1DFND
Name: Barbara Louise Cotton
Missing since: April 11, 1981
Disappeared in: Williston, North Dakota
Date of birth: November 10, 1965
Age now: 50
Height and Weight at time of disappearance: 5ft 2, 100lbs/45kg
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female, brown hair, brown/hazel eyes, curvature of spine that causes a slight limp, left ear is noticeably lower than right ear, pierced ears, dark brown mole on upper right side of chest, mole on right side of neck
Clothing: Jeans, blouse, loafers
Dentals: Available, excellent teeth
DNA: Mitochondrial DNA available in CODIS
X-Ray of scoliosis available
Cotton does not have a NAMUS profile
Circumstances of Disappearance
Last seen leaving a local restaurant and walking down Main Street in Williston on the evening of April 11, 1981. She had dinner there with a friend and her boyfriend, the latter offered to accompany her home afterwards but Cotton declined. Her boyfriend watched her walk to Reclamation Park which was five blocks from her home. She never arrived home. Originally treated as a runaway situation for the first few days then changed to a missing person report as family did not believe she would run away. Her younger brother stated that he was very close to her and she never t old him of any plans to leave home. No personal belongings with her. Left behind clothing, glasses, money from savings, last pay check, carton of cigarettes.
Area assumed where Cotton was last seen
Extensive searches for Barbara have yielded no results or evidence as to her whereabouts. Authorities now believe that Cotton may have been abducted. The prime suspect in her disappearance, a former boyfriend, is now deceased.
Cotton’s case is the first featured case in the first index of the Doe Network yet there is not much information about her. In 1995, Cotton’s mother was quoted to have said that they still hold out hope, “I want to try and find her one more time”.
Sandy Evanson, a childhood friend of Cotton who was 17 when her friend disappeared said to the Williston Herald some thirty years later, “Barb Cotton was my best friend along with her younger sister Kathy and older brother Kent. We did everything together from the time we grew up ’til the beginning of high school. She was a very beautiful, sweet girl – shy to those she didn’t know, but fun and full of laughter with those she did! I couldn’t have asked to grow up with a better person.”
Her boyfriend at the time stated that he saw her walk from the Plainsman building to Reclamation Park (now Recreation Park) where she had five blocks left to her home. Her path home would have led her on Main Street, up Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue West.
Possible UIDs are few and far between. The closest one so far is a female doe aged between 19-20 found in 1984 in Matanuska Susitna County, Alaska. (https://identifyus.org/en/cases/12846). Remains found are believed to be victim of serial killer Robert Hansen. There is not much known about this doe other than she had brown hair. DNA is available. Is it possible perhaps that Cotton ended up one way or another in Alaska?