Ethel Louise Atwell
Atwell, approximately 1978; Sketch of possible suspect in her disappearance; Andre Rand, approximately 1987; Rand in 2004
Date reported missing : 10/24/1978
Missing location (approx) :
Staten Island, New York
Missing classification : Endangered Missing
Gender : Female
Age at the time of disappearance: 42 years old
Height / Weight : 5'4 - 5'6, 156 pounds
Description, clothing, jewerly and more : A long blue coat and black shoes.
Distinguishing characteristics, birthmarks, tattoos
: African-American female. Black hair, brown eyes. Atwell wears dentures. Her ears are pierced.
Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : Atwell was last seen at the Staten Island Developmental Center (formerly called the Willowbrook State School), the institution for mentally disabled children where she worked as a physical therapy aide, in the New York City borough of Staten Island, on October 24, 1978. She arrived at 6:00 a.m., parked behind Building 47 and locked her car.
Before she could get from the parking lot into her building, two female employees inside the building heard a male voice outside say "Come on, come on," and Atwell say "No, you'll beat me." Then she screamed. The employees called the police after hearing the screams. The parking lot was still dark, the streetlights were off, and it was difficult for them to see anything.
When authorities responded, they found Atwell's tan pocketbook, one earring, one black shoe, three black coat buttons and half her set of dentures scattered on the ground at the left side of her car, which was locked. Her keys turned up in the woods about seventy-five feet away.
An extensive search of the area turned up no sign of her; Atwell has never been seen or heard from again. A composite sketch of the suspect in Atwell's disappearance is posted with this case summary.
Andre Rand is considered a possible suspect in Atwell's disappearance. Photos of him are posted with this case summary. Rand, whose birth name is Frank Rashan, was convicted of the 1987 kidnapping of Jennifer Schweiger, a twelve-year-old girl with Down Syndrome who was murdered on the grounds of the Staten Island Developmental Center near his campsite, and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He was not convicted of her murder; the jury could not reach a verdict on that charge.
In 2004, Rand was convicted of kidnapping seven-year-old Holly Hughes; the child disappeared in 1981 and was never found. He is also believed to be connected to the disappearances ofÂ Alice Pereira in 1972, Tiahease Jackson in 1983, and Henry Gafforio in 1984, among other missing persons' cases. There is speculation that Rand may have been involved with the 1977 disappearance of Audrey Nerenberg as well.
All of the victims vanished from the Staten Island area, with the exception of Nerenberg. Rand reportedly confessed his crimes to a cellmate in prison and compared himself to the serial killer Ted Bundy.
It hasn't been proven that Rand was involved in Atwell's case. She lived in the 80 block of Schuyler Avenue in Newark, New Jersey in 1978. Her presumed abduction remains unsolved.
Other information and links : ncy
New York Police Department
September 2021 updates and sources
A missing person is a person who has disappeared and whose status as alive or dead cannot be confirmed as their location and condition are not known. A person may go missing through a voluntary disappearance, or else due to an accident, crime, death in a location where they cannot be found (such as at sea), or many other reasons. In most parts of the world, a missing person will usually be found quickly. While criminal abductions are some of the most widely reported missing person cases, these account for only 2–5% of missing children in Europe.
By contrast, some missing person cases remain unresolved for many years. Laws related to these cases are often complex since, in many jurisdictions, relatives and third parties may not deal with a person's assets until their death is considered proven by law and a formal death certificate issued. The situation, uncertainties, and lack of closure or a funeral resulting when a person goes missing may be extremely painful with long-lasting effects on family and friends.
Several organizations seek to connect, share best practices, and disseminate information and imAge at the time of disappearance: s of missing children to improve the effectiveness of missing children investigations, including the International Commission on Missing Persons, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), as well as national organizations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the US, Missing People in the UK, Child Focus in Belgium, and The Smile of the Child in Greece.
The Staten Island Advance
October 12, 2004. November 30, 2018; Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : updated.
Interactive Missing Person Search Map