Skip to main content

60 years missing: What happened to these teen lovers?

In 1958, two teenage lovers eloped from San Pedro, California to Las Vegas, Nevada -- and then disappeared without a trace. Now it's been nearly 60 years, and the questions that have hovered over this case for decades remain unanswered. What happened to Donnis Redman and Michael Griffin?

Eighteen-year-old Michael Griffin and his 14-year-old girlfriend Donnis Redman ran away together, eloping to Las Vegas on March 1, 1958. This was the last time anyone had seen either of the teens. However, the car belonging to Griffin was located in Williams, Arizona several days after they were seen in Las Vegas. The 1951 Dodge Clipper had been abandoned, but no other information has ever been made public about the discovery of the vehicle.

Very little is known about either of these missing people, and sadly no newspaper archives (searchable online) appear to show any media coverage of the case. It's a mystery, and a bit like a Romeo and Juliet type story. These teen lovers had to run away from home to be together, and fled to the big city lights of Sin City -- where they very possibly got married, as has always been the "thing to do" for those who elope. Did they ever leave the city of Las Vegas, or did they drive away toward Arizona, where Griffin's car was ultimately found? Did they disappear together, unaware that their faces would be featured for several decades as missing people?

During the 1950s, Las Vegas was experiencing a population boom and tourism boom that cemented its place in America as an iconic major city. This was also the era of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby -- a hey day, if you will, for Nevada's City of Lights. While the 1950s were memorable years for money, tourism and entertainment in Sin City, it was also the era during which organized crime prevailed. With the controlling interest of organized crime, unorganized crime became more or less unnoticed -- at least when it came to unsolved missing cases and the murders of women and girls who led "high risk" lifestyles. Maybe it's because many of those missing/murdered women and girls were victims of organized crime, directly. Or perhaps these numerous cases slipped through the cracks of justice for other reasons.

To get to the point: It's likely that the disappearances of Michael Griffin and Donnis Redman occurred right her in Las Vegas, but with the circumstances being what they were, they went totally unnoticed. Los Angeles police have long been in charge of the investigation, and it seems that they've never gotten anywhere in this case, either. It's possible that, back in the 1950s, the investigation went stale when nothing could be found in the vicinity of where Griffin's car was located. Meanwhile, that abandoned car could have very little to do with the location of these two missing lovers.

A theory in a decades-old case
Two naive lovers show up in the notorious city of Las Vegas. They've run away from home, eloped. Their naivety and inexperience in life has opened them up to the dangers of predators -- which have always existed, no matter how "simple" the times may seem. Redman, a beautifully charming 14-year-old girl, is a vulnerable target -- and her 18-year-old groom, a boyish young man, would be no match for a determined criminal with violent intent.

In this scenario, that predator wasn't a Las Vegas local. He took the car belonging to his young victims and after disposing of them (wherever that may be), he took off and drove south, toward Williams, Arizona. Perhaps the car broke down in Williams, or maybe our hypothetical culprit simply wanted to shed himself of the evidence of his crimes. He abandoned the vehicle, and then escaped to get away with whatever he had done for nearly 60 years -- his entire life if he was a grown, adult person at the time of the disappearances.

People don't just disappear for more than half a century
Donnis Redman was a 14-year-old girl who had no known reason to cut complete and permanent contact from her loved ones. Of course, nothing is even known about her loved ones, so for all intents and purposes she had no known reason to want to keep in touch with them after disappearing. Nonetheless, it's not typical for a runaway teenage girl to go completely off the grid for the rest of her life. If Donnis and Michael didn't meet foul play, it'd be more likely for them to reach out to loved ones not long after eloping -- or at the least after Donnis would have turned 18-years-old. That never happened, though, which leads me to strongly believe that these two teens were murdered.

That means someone has gotten away with their murders, and very likely went to their grave without ever sharing that dark secret. That also means that the bodies of Michael Griffin and Donnis Redman are out there, somewhere, waiting to be discovered -- if they haven't unknowingly been discovered already.

Comments