North American Missing Persons Network
Joe Douglas Tarkington

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Above Images: Left: Joe, circa 1999;
Right: Age-progression to age 6 (circa 2002)

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: April 9, 1999 from Trinidad, Texas
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: June 24, 1996
  • Age: 2 years old
  • Height and Weight: 2'6-2'8, 22-25 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Sandy blond hair, blue eyes. Joe's nickname is J. D. He may use the last name Gray.

    Details of Disappearance
    Joe and his younger brother Samuel were both abducted by their non-custodial mother, Lisa Gray Tarkington. A photograph and vital statistics for Lisa are posted below this case summary. Lisa had been married to the children's father, Keith, for three and a half years when she took Joe and Samuel and left him on April 9, 1999. Keith sought a divorce and custody of the children and Lisa did not challenge his petitions, but Keith's custody order has not been enforced and he has not seen his sons since 1999. Lisa's father, John Joe Gray, is a member of the Embassy of Heaven Church, an Oregon-based Christian sect that rejects government authority. A leader in the Texas Constitutional Militia, he was charged with two felonies in connection with a Christmas 1999 scuffle with police officers and afterwards barricaded himself and his family inside his 47-acre property on the banks of the Trinity River. Lisa, Joe, and Samuel are believed to be living in the compound, but authorities are refused admittance there. No one has actually seen the children there since 1999, and there are rumors that they may have moved out of state with other relatives. Keith believes his children are in the compound and may be in danger. The Tarkington children remain missing. They are believed to still be in Lisa's care.
    Lisa Gray Tarkington
    Above: Lisa Gray Tarkington
    Distinguishing Characteristics: Red hair, blue eyes. Lisa may be going by her maiden name, Gray.

    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Henderson County Sheriff's Office

    Source Information
    Texas Department of Public Safety
    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    Vanished Children's Alliance
    The Houston Chronicle
    Essembly of Heaven: God's Government on Earth