Over 60 years have passed since the last time Dorothy Wiggs’ family heard from her. The 27 year old had an appointment at the Canfield Clinic on Jefferson Street on June 30, 1959. No one reported her missing until later when she didn’t show up for her shift at Amerock on Auburn Street.
Dorothy had recently divorced her husband Donald. The couple had been married for about 9 years. They had four children ranging in ages from the oldest girl who was 7 down to the baby boy who was 21 months old.
Dorothy struggled with the financial aspect of leaving her husband but she moved back into her parent’s house while she looked for an apartment. She finally found one on the west side of town near the plant where she worked and was excited to be on her own. Dorothy even ordered a new couch for her place. Her parents helped her save money by watching the children while she worked. Her ex-husband was ordered by the court to pay $50.00 a month for child support but the money never came.
The police didn’t seem to take Dorothy’s disappearance too seriously. Divorce was still frowned on back in 1959 and Dorothy was young and attractive. They thought that she had become overwhelmed with the pressure of supporting herself and the children. They believed she had decided to run away with another man. There was never any evidence to this claim, however.
Dorothy’s father, William and her mother Alta must have thought differently. They hired a private detective named Donald Blanchard who owned the Black Hawk Detective Agency. He had a 100% record for finding missing people. It was Blanchard who finally convinced the police that something bad had happened to Dorothy. He told the police the fact that she never picked up her last paycheck and was a diabetic and she hadn’t taken her medicine with her. None of Dorothy’s personal items were missing. Using these facts, Blanchard finally convinced the police to look into the case in January 1960- a full 6 months after Dorothy went missing.
According to Blanchard, the last time anyone saw Dorothy was when her friend dropped her off at the clinic on Jefferson Street. Her friend mentioned that Dorothy was a little sad that day and hadn’t even told her mother goodbye when they left her parent’s house. But her friend insisted she would have mentioned if she was leaving.
The last article about the case was from 1984. Dorothy’s children, so little in 1959 that most of them didn’t even remember her, were adults by then. They were searching for answers and had contacted the Rockford Police Department. Captain Sam Gaynor was helping them look into their mother’s case. The article described the children’s life after Dorothy’s disappearance.
As one can imagine, relations between Dorothy’s parents and her ex-husband were very difficult and Donald Wiggs didn’t want his young children influenced by their grand-parents views of him. He couldn’t keep them but arranged for their placement in an orphanage down by St. Louis. The three older children were placed there while William and Alta kept the youngest boy with them. The children were allowed trips for short visits with their grandparents. Eventually their father remarried and brought them home to stay with him. But according to the article, those years took their toll. The children seem torn about what to believe in their mother’s case.
The youngest daughter felt compelled to find out as much as she could about her mother’s disappearance. While the other three think that Dorothy left and didn’t want to be found, they are supportive of their sister. Captain Gaynor stated that the case was considered active again. He mentioned that they had contacted Blanchard’s family to see if they could gain access to his files on the case. Unfortunately, Blanchard had passed away in 1983 and those files were destroyed.
A long time has gone by without any answers for Dorothy’s family. There have been no traces of the young woman who seemed on the verge of creating a life for her and her children. Her mother and father were certain that she would have somehow gotten word to them if she had chosen to leave. They went to their graves without finding the truth of what happened to their daughter. One can only hope that her children can find their answers before they too pass on.
Anyone with information about any of these cold cases is urged to call the Rockford Police Department at (815) 987-5824, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Police Detective Bureau at (815) 319-6400 or Crime Stoppers (815) 963-7867.
Copyright © 2019 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events