Doe Network

4946DMMO - Joel Wise Hoag

Joel is in the middle; circa 1967

Name: Joel Wise Hoag
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: May 10, 1967
Location Last Seen: Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri

Physical Description

Date of Birth: July 25, 1954
Age: 13 years old
Race: White
Gender: Male
Height: "5'6"
Weight: 100 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: He has a scar on his forehead and a dark complexion. His nicknames are Joe and Joey.


Dentals: Unavailable
Fingerprints: Unavailable
DNA: Unavailable

Clothing & Personal Items

Clothing: White T-shirt & blue jeans.
Jewelry: Unknown
Additional Personal Items: 1 scout shovel, flashlights, homemade lantern.

Circumstances of Disappearance

Joel disappeared with his brother, William Hoag, and a friend, Edwin "Craig" Dowell.The boys were last seen on the south side of Hannibal, Missouri between 4:20 and 5:00 p.m. They were carrying shovels and a flashlight, and said they were going to explore Murphy's Cave, near the Highway 79 construction project. The three boys have never been heard from again.

That day, the construction work resulted in a cave-in at Murphy’s Cave. Because of the circumstances, authorities theorized the three boys were trapped inside the cave when it collapsed and weren't able to get out. Extensive search-and-rescue efforts turned up no sign of any of them, however. In 2006, construction workers building a new elementary school on Highway 79 found a small cave about 50 feet long. Authorities checked it to see if the Hoag brothers or Craig were there, but they didn't find anything. Because nothing was ever found, there's speculation that the children weren't lost in the cave and something else caused their disappearances. There's no evidence to support any other theories, however. A memorial marker for the boys has been placed in the vicinity of the cave.

William and Joel left behind five brothers and four sisters. Their family owned Hoag's Tavern, a popular restaurant on Main Street. William attended A.D. Stowell Elementary School at the time of his disappearance, and was a member of the Royal Ambassadors, a youth group at his church. The three boys' cases remain unsolved. In 2010, author Charles Stewart published a book about them, entitled A Sorrow of the Heart.

Investigating Agency(s)

Agency Name: Hannibal Police Department
Agency Contact Person: Lieutenant John Zerbonia
Agency Phone Number: 573-221-0987
Agency E-Mail: Unknown
Agency Case Number: Unknown

NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: N/A

Information Source(s)

ABC News 7, KHQA
BGHS Missouri History

Admin Notes

Added: 4/26/2016; Last Updated: 4/26/2016

Submit an update to this case file.

Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team

** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.

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