Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Carol was last seen between 8:00am and 4:30pm at her residence in the vicinity of W. Elm Street and N. Hudson Avenue in Sturgeon Bay, WI. Carol Jean's husband, Richard Gale Pierce, told authorities the two had coffee before he left for work as a crew member on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mesquite. According to Richard Pierce, when he returned from work his wife was gone. Richard Pierce told authorities at the time his wife had left him.
At Richard Pierce's Coast Guard retirement party several weeks later, Carol Jean's mother, Pauline Fillion, learned for the first time that her daughter was missing. At Pauline Fillion's request, Pierce finally reported his wife's disappearance.
Visitors to the couple's mobile home shortly after her disappearance told authorities they saw the then-35-year-old Carol Jean's purse, a prized record collection, and her cat in the home. Records state Richard Pierce also made a short, but unscheduled trip to the couple's property in Cheboygan, Mich., shortly after she vanished.
Before she vanished, Carol Jean Pierce wrote to her mother about her marital difficulties. The letters stopped shortly before Pierce was last seen in September 1975. Sturgeon Bay police treated the Pierce case as a domestic dispute, even though evidence gathered years later showed that running off would have been inconsistent with her other statements and actions. The Sturgeon Bay Police Department did not thoroughly investigate Carol Jean's disappearance until around 1982 or 1983.
Today, investigators believe Carol Jean is dead and have identified her husband as the suspect, but no charges have been filed despite a grand jury investigation, assistance from the state Attorney Generalís Office and the work of a police investigator who logged more than 5,000 hours on the case from 2004 to 2011. In a 1982 interview with police Pierce denied ever committing an act of violence against his wife.
Besides her mother, Carol Jean left behind a son, and a brother and sister.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Sturgeon Bay Police Department
Green Bay Press Gazette