Mystery in the Mountains: The disappearance of Elmira’s Nancy Erickson

National News

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WFFF) — According to the National Missing and Unidentified Person database, there are more than 600,000 people reported missing. One is a woman who disappeared nearly 50 years ago in Vermont, and her family is looking for answers.

It’s not unusual for someone to come to the police with a report of a missing person where that be a friend or a loved one, but for Brattleboro’s Det. Lt. Jeremy Evans, this missing person’s report he received was different. “In May of this year, Michael came to the station to ask if we had found his sister,” he said.

Evans recalls the time Nancy’s brother, Michael Erickson came to Brattleboro to ask about her. He said no one had heard from or seen her since she checked out of a halfway house 48 years ago. “We have her through the fall of 1973 here in Brattleboro in Vermont—in the Windham County area, but definitely in Brattleboro—up until October of 1973 and then, nothing,” Evans said.

Nancy Erickson was around 22-years-old when she disappeared after an auto theft arrest in Bellows Falls. She came from Tampa, Florida, but how and why she landed in Vermont is part of the mystery her family wants to solve.

“We have no idea why she went to Brattleboro,” Michael Erickson said. “Why she ended up there.”

Some background on Nancy’s life may provide some answers. She is one of four children—two brothers and one sister. They were born on Long Island and moved to Elmira, New York when their parents separated. Nancy and her older brother Michael went off to college after graduating high school in Elmira.

“She went on to Corning Community College where she got her RN degree,” said Michael Erickson. “I got married and went right on to Wilmore, Kentucky Asbury Theological Seminary.”

Their mother Rose Marie remarried and moved to Tampa with the two younger children, Sandy and Kevin. Sandy Eslick recalled when Nancy moved in with them. “After she graduated she came to Florida and was living with us and she was an RN at Tampa General Hospital,” she said of her sister.

The siblings said they immediately noticed a change in Nancy. “She was giving a man who had a heart attack or something,” said Michael. “She was giving him chest compressions and she was doing it for some time and he died and she took that really quite hard.”

Kevin said Nancy would come home from work sad and mentally drained. “When Nancy was working at the hospital I know that she would come home a lot of times very very depressed,” said Kevin Erickson. “I think her job was absolutely impacting her kinda mentally.”

Eslick said that at one point, she had her sister admitted to the hospital for her wellbeing. “She came home and I was the only one home, and she came into our room and she started packing her big duffel bag,” she said. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ And she said, ‘I’m leaving.'”

The trail lead to Vermont when their mother got a call from the Bellows Falls Police. “My mother got a call that she was up in Vermont and she had gotten arrested for taking somebody’s car,” said Eslick.

According to the Brattleboro Reformer, Nancy Erickson was charged with stealing a car in Putney in October 1973. In the article, Nancy tells police she only had six cents to her name and that the car she was driving ran out of gas. She said that she was on her way to visit friends in White River Junction, but her siblings have no idea who she would’ve visited.

“It was just like—like she disappeared,” Eslick said.

Nancy could have faced two years in jail, but instead, the district judge placed her on probation for up to two months. She was also placed in a halfway house in Brattleboro, the last place she was seen.

“My mom and I went and bought a couple of outfits and we shipped them to her up to the halfway house. It was like, I don’t know. A week later, a month later—those packages came back,” said Eslick. “My mother tried to call to find out what was going on and that’s when we found out that she walked out.”

The last thing family members received was Nancy’s W-2 forms from the Brattleboro retreat where she worked. “It seems a little odd,” said Det. Lt. Evans.

When their father died in 1985, Nancy received a share of the estate. To this day, that money remains unclaimed. “He just may have got 1500 or $2,000 dollars apiece for each of us kids, and Nancy never collected that,” said Michael.

Their mother died a year later still not knowing where her daughter might be. The family is still trying to figure that out.

“Maybe she was just passing through,” Michael Erickson said.

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