Missing since December 7, 1958 from Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon
Classification: Endangered Missing
Circumstances of Disappearance
Kenneth and Barbara Martin and their three daughters, Barbie, Virginia and Susan, set off in their nine-passenger, cream and red 1954 Ford Sedan station wagon (license 1G-7156) on December 7, 1958, on a trip to the Columbia Gorge to collect Christmas greenery to decorate their home on Northeast 57th Avenue in Portland. They never came back.
The Martins had bought 5 gallons of gasoline at a service station at Cascade Locks the day they disappeared. The attendant said it was late in the afternoon. The Martins were also seen leaving a Hood River restaurant in the late afternoon, heading west, back to Portland.
The search began when Ken Martin, an employee of an electric company failed to report to work on December 9, 1958.
Police said the Martins had no financial problems and seemed to have no dark personal secrets.
A day after their disappearance, a stolen white Chevrolet was found east of Cascade Locks. Close by, someone else found a stolen .38 Colt Commander automatic. Two ex-convicts in the area were arrested for car theft. Investigation files reveal the gun that was found had been stolen from Meier & Frank. It is unknown if the events are related.
In February 1959, a searcher discovered one-way tire tracks leading off a cliff above the Columbia River, near The Dalles. The tracks matched the tires on the Ford.
In early May 1959 a river drilling rig hooked something heavy and metal on its anchor. Before it could be brought to the surface, it fell loose from the anchor. It was near the site where the tire tracks had been found.
In the next couple of days the bodies of the two youngest Martin girls, Virginia, age 12 and Susan, age 10, were found downstream in the Columbia, near Bonneville Dam. They had drowned. A series of clues -- some perhaps not relating to the disappearance -- led investigators to think the family either accidentally had driven into the river at the Cascade Locks or had met with foul play, been abducted and pushed in their car off a cliff near The Dalles.
In 1959 an attempt was made to search the Cascade Locks. But when a diver nearly lost his life, the dive was stopped. Police agencies had run out of money, and diving equipment was primitive in 1959. No search of the river in The Dalles was made. The investigation was closed.
Investigators Dalles Police Department
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Multnomah County Sheriff's Department
Dalles Police Department
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