Josephine Doris Despard
Despard, approximately 1984
Date reported missing : 02/07/1984
Missing location (approx) :
Olean, New York
Missing classification : Endangered Missing
Gender : Female
DOB : 01/24/1958 (63)
Age at the time of disappearance: 26 years old
Height / Weight : 5'2, 102 pounds
Description, clothing, jewerly and more : A red hooded coat, a beige sweater, blue jeans and brown knee-high boots.
Distinguishing characteristics, birthmarks, tattoos : Caucasian female. Black hair, brown eyes. Depard's nickname is Josie. Her maiden name is Cottone. Her hair was cut short at the time of her disappearance. She has a Cesarean section scar on her abdomen and her ears are pierced.
Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : Despard was last seen in Olean, New York on February 7, 1984. She was separated from her husband and living with her mother and her six-year-old daughter on north Clinton Street, taking classes at Jamestown Community College. Her husband was in California.
On the day of her disappearance, at 5:00 p.m., Despard left her mother's home with a male acquaintance, Dale Vereecken. They were going to his residence to swap stereo components. Vereecken said they didn't go there after all; instead, they went to the Olean Mall for a cup of coffee. He said Despard met with friends at the mall and he left her there at 6:00 p.m.
Vereecken was considered a person of interest in her disappearance for some months afterward. After her disappearance he tried to leave the country, but was stopped at the Canadian border, charged with parole violation and drug possession, and returned to the United States. He committed suicide later in 1984, and his mother also took her life a few years later.
Vereecken is still considered a strong person of interest in Despard's disappearance. His identity wasn't publicly released until 2018, 34 years after she vanished. He and Despard were friends but were not romantically involved with each other.
Despard's loved ones don't believe she left of her own accord. She was fighting with her husband for custody of their daughter, and her family doesn't believe she would have missed her court date.
She is the oldest of seven children and was close to her relatives, especially her mother. Her sister adopted and raised Despard's daughter after her disappearance, and her husband has remarried. Despard's disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.
Other information and links : ncy
Olean Police Department
September 2021 updates and sources
The Doe Network
Unsolved in the News
The Olean Times Herald
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 Buffalo News
Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. April 3, 2018; Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : updated.