(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): Welcome to Missing Pieces. Missing Pieces is a program designed to raise public awareness and encourage communication of information between people who can help locate or identify individuals in cases that have been classified as unsolved, missing, murdered, and unidentified. Tonight we have Barb Kinsey sister of Patty Brightwell Vaughan. Welcome.
BARBARA KINSEY (Guest): Hello Todd.
TODD: How are you doing?
BARB: I'm doing great.
TODD: Now that we've got the formalities over with, we've got the floor and I think you've got back from the Cue Center Rally.
BARB: I did. I just got back yesterday.
TODD: So you probably had a lot of information that you gathered there.
BARB: It was incredible. An incredible amount of information.
TODD: But Patty, she went missing on December 25, 1996; this has been over 10 years.
BARB: Correct. Patty disappeared on Christmas Day, 1996.
TODD: Ok. Can you give us a little background information on that?
BARB: Well the last time I saw Patty was on Christmas Eve at a family gathering, she and her children came. And then Christmas Day her estranged husband was to come to her home to celebrate Christmas with the children and later that evening she was to go to another relative's house and she never showed up with the children. Her van was found on the 26th of December 20 miles from her home and the tire had been intentionally deflated, the driver's seat was pushed all the way back, the carpet had been shampooed, and there were no fingerprints in the van.
TODD: All cleaned up.
BARB: Umm hmm. And her estranged husband whose name is RJ Vaughan gave a statement to police and to us and said that they had had a terrible fight and that she had gotten into a car on Christmas Day and drove away. And anyone who knows Patty knows that she would have never left her home or her children on Christmas Day or any day. She would have never of left her children. She was an incredible mother and her whole world revolves around her children.
TODD: But now obviously something was wrong, one of your family members actually made a note that she had looked like she had been crying.
BARB: Actually she had spoken to one of our family members in the early afternoon, she answered the phone and she was told to get off the phone by JR but she was crying on the phone and she shouldn't talk. And the night before on Christmas Eve I do want to tell you that Patty came into the kitchen where I was and she was in a great mood but she seemed a little distracted and she asked me if I knew how to get a restraining order.
TODD: Was this normal, did they often have problems during the relationship?
BARB: No, they had never…not…they had problems. She was not happy. She had asked him for a separation earlier in the year and in October he had finally moved into his own apartment, so they were separated.
TODD: So these were just normal circumstances? It wasn't because of an abusive relationship?
BARB: There was a lot more of a control abusive relationship; derogatory comments, very controlling, very controlling person. In the last year before she left him there had been bruises and then there were stories and then actually he had at one point hurled a mayonnaise jar at her in front of a relative.
TODD: Well often there are a lot of things that go wrong in a relationship that lead up to a divorce and separation and sometimes these things lead to violence.
BARB: Well she had not been happy for a very long time but she had not worked for their entire marriage. She really wasn't allowed to work and in the last, in that year before, I guess it was 6 months before she disappeared she started working. She went to work at an electric company; in an office. And asked him for a separation and finally had taken a stand to change her life and to become, you know to be a happier person and to make a better life for her and her children.
TODD: So this could have been the beginning maybe and JR didn't want to take this course of action then.
BARB: No he didn't and it's also important to tell that Patty did start seeing an old boyfriend. One that she dated a long time before she married JR. But he had recently gotten divorced and they ran into each other and then they started dating and JR had just found out that they were dating in December. He found out in December.
TODD: So anything can happen when somebody finds something like that out.
TODD: It could actually spark a lot of violence.
BARB: She didn't, Patty was not one to air her dirty laundry, she was the kind of person that was very protective of her children and her family life. She was very involved in her church and so was her husband so she was very family oriented. It was hard for her to leave him. So she didn't talk about a lot of things that went on. I mean it had to really bother her for her to actually talk about it to other people, but she did come to me the night before at our Christmas gathering and ask me if I knew how to get a restraining order and I told her that I thought things were better and she was like no they are worse and she didn't want to talk about it, she wanted to get together for a lunch the following week so we could talk about it, you know away from Christmas and family and the kids. And we never got that chance. We never got a chance to have that.
TODD: Well no matter what happened there's really no excuse for someone to have to die or to go missing.
BARB: No. No. Patty was a great person and she didn't deserve any of this and you know even bad people don't deserve this. But she wasn't, she was just so in love with her children and we all knew right away that she would never have gotten in her van and driven away.
TODD: How many kids did she have?
BARB: She had 3 children. Brittany is her oldest. I think Brittany is 19 now and she has 2 sons and they are probably 17 and 16, I think.
TODD: Do you have a relationship with those guys now?
BARB: No, never seen them again. Right after Patty disappeared, shortly after, we were completely cut off from the children. And then a short time later he took the children and moved away. He hired a lawyer, refused the lie detector test, and he moved away. He moved to south Texas for several years, he didn't live too far from the Mexican border and then…
TODD: How convenient.
BARB: Yeah. Now he and the children live in Colorado but we've never seen them again and we were a very close family. Very, very close.
TODD: I mean how do explain to somebody I want to cut your nieces and nephews away from you.
BARB: You know that’s just the thing, he didn't have to explain it; he didn't have to do anything. He was JR Vaughan and he did what he wanted, and he left.
TODD: 'Cause I don't know how I'd tell my mother-in-law and father-in-law ok Lori's gone, I don't know where she's at and you're cut off. I mean that is almost a sign of I got something to hide.
BARB: And you know I think he was trying to protect the children in a way from everything that was going on because members of my family had absolutely no problem standing up and saying we want to know what you did with her, we know you did this, there is more to it than that. When the police eventually did go in and search the house, Patty's home, the last place she was seen alive, with JR, they luminaled parts of the house and they luminaled the master bedroom and they found swipe marks and wipe marks behind the bedroom door on the wall and on the floor and drag marks and shoe prints and then there was a very positive reaction to a mop and a bucket that were found in the garage. And the luminal led them to actual blood samples that they took from the baseboards and on the floor and other areas and…
TODD: So the DNA actually matched?
BARB: The DNA matched all that blood to the house. Also I didn't tell you this but in the van there were blood spatter and stains in the van but the carpet had been freshly shampooed.
TODD: But the luminal showed it up.
BARB: But the luminal showed it and the blood samples taken from the van actually was Patty's blood as well. All blood found in the house was Patty's, as far as I know. As far as I know.
TODD: And we'll have a link to your website where people could actually look at that and there is a lot more detailed information on your website. Now how do you explain, Patty is gone, her blood is in this van, her blood is in the house, how does somebody walk away with that?
BARB: I don't know. The house was never cordoned off as a crime scene. JR and his sister, Marilyn Oviedo were both allowed to stay in the home while they searched it and while they processed the house. But once the blood was found and the luminal test came back it was never cordoned off as a crime scene. There were several jurisdictions, law enforcements, that were involved and our communication with law enforcement has been shoddy at best. It's been little to none and pretty much any time that we've had gotten any results at all or any answers, is when we have gone to the media.
TODD: Did anybody ever say at any point, there is a possible homicide, they found her blood, we've tied it to her…I mean how did you manage to get them to do the DNA test? They went through a lot of trouble it seems for nothing.
BARB: Well in the affidavits for the search warrants to actually get the DNA test, because JR would not voluntarily let the children be tested or to himself, give his DNA or take a blood sample so they had to get a search warrant to do it. It says that, in the search warrant it says that there is enough blood evidence in the home to believe a murder is committed. That’s what they wrote that's not what I wrote. It's in the search warrant. I don't know how that you can just walk away because pretty much in the state of Texas it's very hard, I only know of 2 cases where you have a conviction without a body.
TODD: And this happened in what town in Texas?
BARB: La Vernia, Texas. It's a small town just south east of San Antonio. They had a ranch home out in the country. And it was made to look like Patty had gotten a flat tire on the side of the road and someone picked her up; like she was abducted. But I've never heard of too many abductors that actually wash your van or car.
TODD: No. I wish someone would steal my car, wash it and bring it back. Explain it how did that happen?
BARB: Well when we got there, the speed limit on the road I believe was like over 40. Its either 40 or 50, I can't remember, it's been 10 years. But I remember thinking that if she had a blowout or even if it was a slow leak in a tire, you would have some sort of damage to the rim because Patty drove like I did. If the speed limit was 40, she was doing 45. She didn't speed a lot but she was going to go a little bit over. And it was 2 miles off the freeway so she had a ways…she had gone far enough to get up to speed to go, so if she had a flat tire, there was no damage to the rim and when they re-inflated the tire I think it held air until the crime lab release the van, almost a year later it still held the same air that it did that day. Also when the tire was deflated it picked up the glass that it was sitting on in the treads and front tires don't do that. I mean it does that if it's deflated where it sits.
TODD: You've done your homework. It sounds like somebody depressed the valve core and left the air out.
BARB: Well and you know I noticed that…because when Patty first disappeared we called the police and they said oh she's an adult, maybe they got into a fight, maybe she'll be back, give it 72 hours and they found her van on the 26th and we said now we have her van it's been abandoned, you've got to come look and they said we'll call us back and let us know. So we went right out there to the van and the first thing that I noticed was that the seat was pushed all the way back and I believe when the officer did finally come out, they asked the people who had moved the van if he had to push the seat back and he did not. So…
TODD: So the only other alternative would be that she staged it and that's not likely.
BARB: And it's also interesting to note that the van was on the road that Patty's office was on. It's like it was pointed in the direction like she was going to work but her boss and two co-workers drove by that spot that morning and her van was not there. They drove by at noon and her van was not there. When they came back from lunch at 1:30 the van was there and the manifold was still warm on the hood on the van. So it had just been put there on the 26th.
TODD: So now the old boyfriend that she was had rekindled the relationship with, was this person ever…
BARB: Absolutely, he went right away down to the police station and gave a lie detector test. He said I will do anything to help, whatever you need to do to get me out of the way so you can find out what happened to her. He went to every search with us in that very beginning. He went to the search with us; he had an alibi completely on Christmas Day. He was with his family and actually had had his sister call Patty's house several times to speak to her but could never get a hold of her. He wanted to make sure that she was ok because he knew that JR was coming over that day.
TODD: So he went in and just eliminated himself from the process so they can actually get on with it.
TODD: Well it sounds like he is a lot more cooperative than the husband?
BARB: He was very cooperative. He helped us with the search. He came out with us on several searches. JR never helped us once. In fact, at one point my mother and I taken over a stack of fliers, I believe it was on the 27th of December, taken over a stack of fliers to Patty's home for JR to take the children and pass them out and to help us with the search and a couple of days later we went back over there to get more clothes for the search dogs and those fliers were still sitting in the same place where I left them. They were never touched. He never left the home to help us search for her, not once.
TODD: It reminds me of another guest, Glendene Grant had a daughter that disappeared and her daughter's boyfriend cared to help circulated fliers either.
BARB: It was a deep red flag to us. But we all knew. We all knew that there was something terribly wrong the minute he said that she left her children on Christmas Day. I mean this would have never happened.
TODD: So in '96 she is 32 years old, a 120 pounds, 5'7", has hazel eyes, brown hair, and you go list with the NCIC, was that difficult? And I've had a lot of guest that actually talked about the difficulty of getting things into the NCIC or was that automatic? BARB: It was not automatic. It was not automatic but eventually it did happen. It was several years actually. We didn't know anything about this, you have to understand, honestly for 10 years we had been told to sit down and shut up and to let them do their job and we didn't know what to do. We didn't know that their were advocates out there for missing people. We did not know that there was the Cue Center or the Angel Garden of Hope. We didn't know that there were people that would help you build websites and help you get billboards, and posters, and t-shirts, and buttons, and we had no idea. We had exhausted so many funds the first year. My entire family put out on private detectives, it was just incredible. We didn't know that there was help out there. No one told us. I wish that the police could have handed me a business card and said contact these people they'll help you because of course the police don't have the resources to go looking.
TODD: Yeah. Well to me it's something to keep you busy too. This keeps you occupied rather than…do you see how hard it is? I mean your sister is missing, sit down and shut up and wait, well for how long? You don't have something to keep you busy and it's productive. I can see Jill's trademark over this. Jill being in with the Angel Garden of Hope, so obviously she's been around here.
BARB: Yes, Jill's my little angel. She actually helps so much and all I did was to send her one little email and she actually answered me back. I just asked her who do I contact to build a beautiful website like what you've done and she was like I'll do it for you and not only that she put in contact with so many people that have helped. She has put me in contact with people that have put me in contact with people that have put me in contact with people. And that's actually how I found you.
TODD: She's keeping busy there.
BARB: Yes, she is doing her thing and Jill is an angel straight from heaven.
TODD: And I keep tripping over the same people even when I go a round about way, I can come full circle and I'll run into Cue Center or I'll run into then Doe Network again. Inside their own circle, you run into the same people that are working really hard trying to promote these cases and keep everything alive. BARB: I would love to see the laws change and to see missing persons treated as a crime until proven otherwise. They would do a mandate that they would have to file a missing person's report as soon as its reported because I realize that there are a lot of people that just get up and walk out of their lives, but when you have someone and they go to a police officer and they say this person would never get up and walk away from her children, her career, not that Patty had a career, but I'm just saying in general, this is out of character for this person to do this, this to those mothers, listen to those sisters, listen to those fathers we know what we are talking about when we are telling you that there is something wrong here. And I would like to see the laws changed where at least the DNA…get a sample from a family member and put it in NCIC, CODIS…there are so many missing people out there and there are so many unidentified bodies that we need a marriage between the two. TODD: Well that's not easy. I think a lot of what we are trying to do is individual advocacy. NCIC is an automated process as far as the system itself, the basic NCIC. Once you use the trick of getting it into the NCIC, it's sort of automatically kicks out some things but it needs a human hand, a helping hand and that's what we try to do a Doe Network and all these great organization like the Cue Center. You try to actually get in there and manually manipulate this data, its going to take that because obviously their in a spot where their unsolved because something is missing. Something is fragmented in the data, something is left out, something is just wrong somewhere.
TODD: I see that you said Patty was last seen wearing a bracelet, a watch, and a wedding band.
BARB: I don't know that she was wearing a wedding band. I didn't say that. I don't know that she was wearing a wedding band. I do know that she wore shell earrings and she had a key chain with a little wooden cross on it that her son had made her in Sunday school. But she did wear, on occasion to wear diamond earrings or gold hoop earrings. Who knows what she was wearing Christmas Day because she got up that morning, I don't know if she put her jewelry back on.
TODD: Well when she was last seen she was wearing the bracelet, the watch.
BARB: She did wear the watch and she did wear a bracelet and I don't know if she had a wedding band on. She did not have it on on Christmas Eve. But I know that she have a heart shaped diamond necklace on, a gold one on Christmas Eve because Gary gave it to her for Christmas.
TODD: Now on the website is there anyway that you could actually get some kind of imagery to represent that particular necklace and maybe a watch or the bracelet that might have worn? I know you can't get the actual picture or the actual artifacts…
BARB: You know what I actually happen to work for one of the largest retail dealers in America in the marketing department so I think I can probably get a hold of a picture of it.
TODD: How convenient.
BARB: How convenient.
TODD: I actually heard that last night and I had a feeling you were connected with that.
BARB: Yeah. So I can do that. That would be interesting to put on there and I can probably also get a picture of the ring that she always wore.
TODD: Well I've seen a lot of the possible matches been made based on jewelry. You know between a missing person and an unidentified person. It might not help but what it could it hurt.
BARB: What's it going to hurt? I do believe that necklace is with her. I do not think she took it off. One of the biggest things that drives me Todd is that I don't want her children to think that she just go up and walked away from this. I want them to know how much she loved them and that she would have never done that. That's my biggest thing is that I know that Patty is gone and she is not coming back and we can't change that but if we find her body then they will know that she just leave them.
TODD: I know you are curios to know what they know. To know what they think.
BARB: I have no idea. They have been with him for 10 years and I'm sure that it's not good; whatever they have been told is not good. There was an incident in the very beginning, we had a relative go after him, physically…it's just one of those things. Emotions run high in these situations and sometimes you just can't control that.
TODD: Well now you say that at least one of the children is now an adult.
BARB: The adult one Brittany is 19 and we do believe that she was in the home when this happened. The boys were out, according to JR's statements, the boys were outside playing basketball and Brittany was inside in the living room which is right off the bedroom And he said the were yelling and screaming at each other at the top of their lungs, so…those were his words.
TODD: What do you think about possibly calling that oldest child? And I know it's hard to pick up that phone and do that, but locating her and…
BARB: You know part of me is really scared; I don't want to mess with her head. I've always wanted to let law enforcement, have them question her, have them talk to her because I didn't want to talk to her first where there was any miscommunication or like I put words in her mouth or ideas in her head, but I don't know if law enforcement is going to be able to do that or not. I do think about contacting them, I mean all of us…
TODD: Well it's been a decade now; you would think if they were going to that they would already have done it.
BARB: Well there was an attempt to contact the daughter, her daughter Brittany on My Space. She had a My Space page and as soon as the message was sent she took her page down so it’s a huge red flag to me that she doesn't want anything to do with us.
TODD: Well if you could say something to her right now and if she were listening. She's going to hear your words; she is just not reading your words now she's actually hearing your words.
BARB: I would tell Brittany that we love her so much and her brothers, Ray and Tyler and that her mother loved her more than life itself and would have done anything for her and that I promised her the last time I saw her that I would find her mother and I still mean that today.
TODD: That's a big promise to make.
BARB: Well…I mean it. I'm not going to stop.
TODD: I know you mean it. I know you are going to do your best to fulfill that promise. Not just for her but for yourself and for Patty.
BARB: Yes. Absolutely. Patty so deserved better. She deserved more. And you know no one deserves to die but at least she deserves the respect of a decent funeral. A place for her children and her grandchildren and her great grandchildren to go. And its just heart wrenching to know that someone did this and they are still out there walking the streets today, has remarried, has moved on with their life, and has walked away with absolutely no consequences and I just think that it's time that that changes.
BARB: Yes it is.
TODD: Now Barb that is a different thing than NCIC.
TODD: Even though they are under the same header that another process all together. How did you manage to prove that to happen?
TODD: Texas has taken the lead in a lot of this as far as the DNA database. I've seen a lot of cases in other states leading back to Texas. BARB: Well I'll tell you it was very difficult for our family because originally Patty's house was in Wilson County; her car was found in Bexar County. So Wilson County Sheriff's Office, Wilson County had the case but they called Bexar County to process the scene and then Wilson County took over the investigation and then passed it back to Bexar County and then it went to Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers are also involved. I can't tell you how many detectives have had this case in their hands.
TODD: Sometimes jumping a jurisdiction will help a case and sometimes it hurts a case.
BARB: So if you asked me who helped do what, I probably couldn't tell you without going and dig out the paperwork because I haven't had one entity helping. It's been several.
TODD: So if they receive any tips?
BARB: They've received several actually we are working on one now that came in 10 years ago and that was brushed to the side. I can tell you that about 3 years ago JR had Patty legally declared dead and tried to collect her life insurance and my family went to court and had life insurance…we blocked it. We actually started a wrongful death lawsuit and had the money put in a trust for the children for their education.
TODD: Well that has to be a big show for these children that you are on their side. Do they even know it?
BARB: Well he told the media when they interviewed him, he told them that we were trying to get the money for ourselves, that we were trying to collect the life insurance. That's the furthest thing from the truth. We have never…it's never been about money for us. We spent more money trying to find her then definitely more than he ever did. He didn't even waste the gas to drive down the street.
TODD: So then there's a possibility that these children can be under the impression?
BARB: Right. So anyway when our attorney, Mark Dubose, who just has been incredible. He actually came to us and he volunteered his time and his services because of the amount of time and the amount of money that this man would have cost us with everything he has done for us to far, I'd have to find a new career, anyhow, he found a tip that was called in 10 years ago and was completely ignored and so he found it and now we are following up on it. It costs the county and city and Department of Public Safety or whoever a lot of money to do a search so the Cue Center, Monica Caison at the Cue Center is helping us start this search this search and I'll actually be down in San Antonio next weekend. It's a very viable lead and it makes more sense then anything and the poor man called it in 3 or 4 times and nobody would listen to him.
TODD: Well I know it could get frustrating, you're trying to find someone that's helped and it just doesn't get followed up on.
BARB: Right. We have since dropped the wrongful death suite because we thought that it would be more detrimental to the children in the long run because of the amount…with the funds that it would take for JR that they would suffer. So I can almost guarantee that if have not found Patty by the time that their youngest one graduates from high school, we will go back for the wrongful death lawsuit. Hopefully though we will have Patty by then.
TODD: Well I'm seeing that on January 13, 2007 thirty-two balloons were released into the air, 1 for each year…
BARB: I have an interesting story about that. Just yesterday… Yes in January we had a memorial service for Patty at the Catholic Church there in La Vernia and they were just wonderful in hosting for us. And there were so many people that showed up for the memorial service and all we did was put a blurb in the newspaper and the obituary. And we released 32 balloons in the air, one for each year that she was with us and attached to each balloon looks like a miniature of her missing persons flier with her information on it as well as her website, the findpattyvaughan.com and when you go to the website my email is on the website, well yesterday I got an email from a man in Lake Kentucky, Kentucky. Who said that he found Patty's balloon with a flier attached near the lake on March 15 and wanted me to know that he was praying for our family and that he was going to post the little fliers he found up in the laundry mat because that's the most popular place in town.
TODD: Wow. And that even though that person didn't have the missing piece to your case, you made contact with somebody that…
BARB: In Kentucky from South Texas.
TODD: And he is going to pray for you.
BARB: Exactly. And he took the flier and he blew it up and he's posting it in the laundry mat and I just thought that that was just so wonderful. Out of 32 balloons I got one person in Kentucky that called me about her, emailed me about it yesterday. I got that right after I spoke with you yesterday. So we did have a memorial service, it was absolutely beautiful and it was probably the closest thing we thought at the time and still think that we'll have for a funeral for her. We just wanted to show her some respect and to let her know that even though that she is physically gone from our lives she will never be gone from our lives.
TODD: In fact I think you tend to hold on tighter.
TODD: Because it's an unexplained death. When you have an older relative or a sick relative that passes away, it hurts and it'll always hurt but you have a way to close it off. It's a natural process, we're all going to die, there's no doubt about it.
TODD: We're all destined to die. And we have to except that even though it's not easy but when you just really don't know…
BARB: And that's what I said was Patty just deserved to be buried with the respect of a funeral a place for us to go and grieve and to celebrate her life and to grieve with her and her children, and for her children and her grandchildren to go. It's…you just don't let go. If you love somebody you just can not let it go and every member of this family, on this side of the family is still holding on tight and we all do our job, we all work together. I'm a little more vocal about things. My children are grown and gone so I have a little more time but my sister Cathy and Patty were almost twins. They were completely inseparable and my sister Cathy is very involved in starting a foundation for Patty as well in her name. We would like to call it My Sister's Place. Trying to help people in Texas so that if you have a missing loved one you have a place to go to and that we can help them. Just give them direction on posters, fliers, billboards, and places to go and what to do and this is what to do. It took us many, many years to figure out where to go and what to do.
TODD: Well even though there's many organizations now and there's more every day, you can't help too much. There's just no way to have too many outlets.
BARB: Sometimes it's just having somebody on the other end of that phone or the other end of that key board that will just listen to you talk because no one knows what you are going through except someone who is going through what you are.
TODD: And that is one reason why we do this show it's so we can have a conversation. It's not really an interview so much as it is conversation and so many people that I've interviewed for this are so accustomed to a media interview where its like ok you've got 2 minutes spill it. And you have to struggle to get everything out and nobody knows exactly how you feel other than your upset. And it's painful for you.
BARB: It is painful but you know I've worked at the same job for 6 years and only recently, probably in the last 6 months a few even know I have a missing sister because I don't want to draw attention to me, it's not about me. If I could tell them that and I knew they'd go out and look for her, I'd be telling all of them. But it's only been recently that I've really said something about it because I have a new outlook on it. I have a different outlook I should say. I guess I'm getting older and I'm a little more wiser about it and that if we don't do something no one else is going to do it. The only way you are going to get anything is to ask for it. The only way we are ever going to find her is if we go look for her.
TODD: So do you think that you are getting obsessed, and its not in a bad way?
BARB: My family would probably tell you definitely yes. But like I said, my children are grown and gone, I have more time. Yes, it's an obsession and I'm not ashamed of it. I'm glad that I'm doing it because I have the resources to do it. I'm a little more savvy with the computer than some of the members of my family. A little more time; I just have a more time. And I do have a drive. I do have a drive. You can call it an obsession but like you said I don't think it’s a bad one.
TODD: Well you take care of your kids. Your got your children grown, you did your duty as a mother and got everybody taken care of and so now you've actually turned back towards your sister. So you've not forgot your sister, you never did forget your sister but you did…you took care of your children, that's a big thing.
BARB: My children miss her terribly. They are very in love with their Aunt Patty. I mean a lot of holidays spent together, Mother's Day, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving… Thanksgiving was always at Patty's house and the kids miss her terribly. They always have and we do talk about…and we did talk about her when they were growing up. My sister Cathy also has 4 children and they were close. So they kids all grew up together and so they were just kind of snatched out of our lives. And I think my children would be proud of me for doing this and I know that they want desperately to have contact with their cousins again but apparently that's not to be at this time.
TODD: So you really lost much more than just one person?
BARB: Yes. That's been my point. We lost more than Patty. We lost Patty and all three of her children and I just know if this were me or my sister Cathy or Jimmy or Dean or Eddie or any of them, Patty would be doing the same thing. She's a dog with a bone. She would not have stopped until she found us and that drives me too. That makes me get up and go and do what I have to do.
TODD: So you feel like you are doing what your sister would have done for you?
TODD: No more, no less?
TODD: Now your website, Jill does a really good job if she's asked to design a website. She's learned all the tricks and has put everything there in a really good format. I see you have a chat forum?
BARB: Yes I do.
TODD: How has then been effective? Have you noticed that it's…
BARB: I haven't noticed much activity on it a whole lot at all. I did a lot of postings on the message boards. You know on the first page there a message board at the bottom and I get a lot of that. I don't get a lot of activity where people have to sign in and where I guess where there IP address can be traced or whatever, they don't have a whole to say. I can tell you that a few years after Patty disappeared maybe 3 or 4, someone created a website for Patty that was very dark and dismal. They had pulled different pictures from different places. She actually, the lady actually came to our mother as a physic originally and then build this website and I knew nothing about websites. And this website was not Patty. It was very dark music. It had a chat forum in there that wasn't like ours where you have to sign in to say what you want to say. You kind of just put whatever you wanted on the blog and there was horrible. Horrible language was used and I thought to myself, I do not want her children to see this. There was a lot of fighting back and forth between JR's family and our family and I don't care who is right or wrong, you don't need to use the language in a public forum. I just think its disrespectful to Patty and its very detrimental to the children. So I contacted Jill and had the site taken down and Jill put that site up and since the site has been built a lot of people don't come on because the have to identify who they are.
TODD: That is a big stop you know. A lot of times people don't want to log in and log their IP address on something like that.
BARB: That is absolutely fine with me. I want nothing but…you know what you have every right in the world to state your opinion. You can say what ever you want, it'll be posted but when you start cussing and calling names, and mudslinging and saying bad, derogatory things about, not even just Patty just different members of my family and then of course my family and other people are going to go back and say what they think about the people that wrote that and then it just turns into a girls locker room, seventh grade mudslinging and I don't want that. And that’s not what our family wanted for Patty. So we wanted this and I told Jill what I needed and she did exactly what I wanted. Something that was just positively and about Patty and a place that people could go and give ideas or leave memories, just chat, other mothers. With my email address on there I'm always talking to somebody's momma. I'm always talking to another mother who is going through what we are going through and its been the power of this website that that has happened.
TODD: Well now you have had some media exposure in this case before. You've been very successful in that and I think something happened, there was a time when this happened that kind of over shadowed your particular case.
BARB: What was that?
TODD: Was it the Jon Bonet Ramsey?
BARB: Oh yes the day Patty disappeared we got the media involved right away and all four networks came out, FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC, all came out and did interviews and filmed the van and where Patty was missing from and filmed her home and we gave statements and we told what we knew and at the time it was very little other than she would not have walked away. All we knew was that she was gone and that her van is here. And we didn't know that they found blood stains in the back of the van, we just knew that the carpet was wet so it was very early on in the case and it was all over the news for about 20 minutes and then Jon Bonet Ramsey disappeared. And so then Patty's case was completely thrown under the bus and…which is understandable I mean, God bless her little heart, Jon Bonet Ramsey, but it was the same exact day that she disappeared. So Patty's case took a hit for that.
TODD: So now you have a $5,000.00 reward. Now how did that reward come about?
TODD: Now this is a hard questions I think, has Patty's case every been compared to an unidentified body? Has there ever been that possible match that has come up and possibly ruled out?
BARB: Never. Not that I know of.
TODD: Not to your knowledge?
TODD: Now that would be a hard moment.
BARB: Yes, it would be.
TODD: I mean that's what you are looking for. That's what your…your hoping to find her.
BARB: Well I don't think it would be harder than…that's exactly what we are striving for, is to find her so once we find Patty we will have closure in several areas. So one of the closures is we will be able to put her to rest and her children will know what happened. And the person that did this and is responsible will go to prison for this. And won't be on the streets to do this again. So that would be the ultimate goal. So if we found a match that would be wonderful. I would love that. Our whole family would love that.
TODD: Her former husband, is he remarried?
BARB: Yes he remarried and moved to Colorado.
TODD: Ok. I wasn't sure if he remarried. So how do you think he might get involved, say a body is found and it turns out that its her, what do you think? Is it something you think that he would get involved in? I'm certain you are going to hear from the children at that point.
BARB: Your certain I'm going to, excuse me?
TODD: I'm certain you'll probably hear from the children at that point.
BARB: I would hope so. He does have sisters that are very protective of his children. When we went to court three years ago to block him collecting the life insurance he tried to bring his oldest daughter into the court room to testify for him that he was an excellent father. The judge chastised him and had Brittany removed from the courtroom. That is the only time I've seen her and she had both her aunts on either side of her and she was shielding her face from me and from mother and from the other family members that were in there. They would not let us see her. So I think that even though he will be responsible, he will be held responsible for what happened to Patty, I do believe that with all my heart, I think its going to take a lot more time to get the children to understand the scope of what really happened. And they are children, you have to remember they are so sheltered from so many things and things are not always black and white, there are some very gray areas in this. And they are children and they aren't going to understand that.
TODD: So you just go down and check lists and…
BARB: I do.
TODD: That’s the thing to do.
BARB: And if I miss one then I send them her info and I get her in there.
TODD: Now on the Bexar County Sheriff's Office website where I'm seeing a picture of her, now I'm seeing a lady that looks a little different. But I've been on your website. What they are using obviously is a different photograph. BARB: Oh I see what you are talking about, that was many years ago, that one was taken when she was…that picture was probably 8 years old, 7 years old from the time that she disappeared. The one in the Bexar County Sheriff's I think, its her driver's license picture. The one that's taken on her missing person's flier and the ones that were at the Cue Center, they were all taken, the one on her missing person flier was taken the night before. It was taken on Christmas Eve and then there was another one that was her walk through a…Patty was very involved with her Methodist Church and they had a women's retreat and it was called a Walk to Emmaus and we used that picture. She is one of the happiest that I've seen her in a long time. Yes, her hair was blonder just depending on the time of year and how much color she just got done to it.
TODD: Yeah because she looks quite a bit younger here.
BARB: I know what picture you're talking about and she was probably 24, 25 when that picture was taken.
TODD: Now you mentioned the church, now how involved have they been?
BARB: I can tell you that Patty was a vocalist, an incredible musician; she played guitar. All she ever do or be in her life had to do with music. She was in choir and she was also the lead singer in her own Christian rock band and it was called Prism and Patty was very involved in her church, with her children, and with her husband. And when she and JR separated JR went to the church, went to the minister for counseling and also went to the minister when he found out that Patty had a boyfriend and they asked Patty not to sing in the choir or with the band any more because she was not a good Christian representing the church and that devastated her. That was shortly before she…that was within weeks before she disappeared. And she was devastated about that.
TODD: Now your other family members, now we've talked about you and the children, you're obviously the spokesman for the group.
BARB: I've got the biggest mouth.
TODD: You take the leading role. You took the public vocal role, but I know you have to have a support system in your family because this is not easy. This is not easy. You have to have somebody.
BARB: Patty's Aunt Jenny lives in San Antonio, very, very close to her. Lots of pictures of her with Patty. We have all grown up together. All the cousins and sisters, and brothers, and our mothers were very close so we just grew up together. We lived in Germany together, Georgia, New Mexico, Florida, and eventually we all moved to Texas together. So we are all very close. Some of us are a little crazier than others but we are a very good, loving family. There's not a bad one in the bunch. Not one with a mean bone in their body. Not the smartest bones in some of their bodies…but they are all real lovable. So we're all a very close family and like I said Cathy and Patty were inseparable growing up. And then there is baby sister Jeanie. She lives in San Antonio. Brother Dean and his wife, they live in San Antonio. And then a brother Eddie that lives in Florida.
TODD: Now as I look through some of these pages like I told you the hair color looks different, now on Project Find Me it says her hair is blonde and eyes are green. BARB: Her eyes are green. In that Project Find Me poster, that's her driver's license picture and I don't know anybody that can take a driver's license picture that looks that good. Mine certainly doesn't.
TODD: No it’s a good picture.
BARB: Yeah her eyes are green. Patty had very green eyes. And they used to have a hazel in some places and green in another. But she had green, green eyes. Her hair was a dark blonde naturally and she wore highlights. It was very curly and very long. She had long, curly blonde hair.
TODD: Well you got an education in this as you came along in like you said before, you didn't know a lot about it, now when people see this, the clothing actually says on finding, wears a watch, bracelet, wedding band, and possibly a thumb ring. Just because a body is found and it doesn't have these artifacts on, hopefully the listeners will realize, most of them will, because most of our listeners are people who are very well versed in this type of stuff, that doesn't mean that in the lack of this that its not her.
TODD: We really need to take a distinctive eye to that and make sure that people realize that. I used to have a huge problem with forensic art years ago before I started working with Project EDEN, that's the forensic art project.
TODD: I didn't understand. Well I didn't know what it was. I knew I saw photographs, reconstructions; some of them were really bad. I've seen some that were really pitiful and some that are very good. But you don't know the process that goes into those photographs, the remains. The thing that necessitated a sketch in the first place. You don’t know what's been done with its skeletal, was it fairly new material, you really don't know. No two sets of remains are created equal. There starting from something different. So people need to really keep that in mind and focus on some of the key features, like the distance between the eyes and that type of thing. Really focus on those features rather than the removable things like certain types of clothing. Because how easy would it be to just switch something out.
BARB: Right. And we don't know what she was wearing when she disappeared honestly because JR was the last one to see her alive and he said a cream colored top and black pants and I'm not even sure that that's correct. I have no idea what she was wearing. I mean I don't know if she had…I know she didn't have a wedding band on Christmas Eve, but I don't know if she had it on Christmas Day. I'm not quite sure but I think…the good thing is that in the NCIC and in the DNA database they do have her dental records as well as her DNA. So we were blessed enough to get Patty's DNA in the very beginning…
TODD: The dentals are so much quicker when you are trying to compare to analysis. They are something that you can just visually look at rather than run a process and waiting on DNA is not an easy process.
BARB: No and the system is so back logged and just to test the DNA doesn't take that long but the back log is so backed up it takes months and months, month, and months.
TODD: You are really waiting around for little while so its still…I think a lot of people see DNA and they say we got DNA so that’s the top thing so that’s all we really need but its really not, you really need…
BARB: No actually dental records is the absolute best form of identifying human remains if you do get them, the dental records.
TODD: What about fingerprints, you didn't have any fingerprints for her?
BARB: No Patty as far as I know had never been fingerprinted, but like I said there were no finger prints in the van, not even Patty's. Why I say not even Patty's is because there were no fingerprints in the van. There was on glove print on the trunk and that was it. The van had been completely cleaned on the inside. Completely. Like ArmorAll cleaned. Do you know what I mean? Just really clean. So there were no fingerprints. So as far as I know, I know she had never been arrested, as far as I know she had never been fingerprinted for any reason and back then they didn't thumb print you at the Department of…when you go get your driver's license like they do now.
TODD: I'd like to thumb print everybody at school, in high school and make sure that everybody has something on record.
BARB: Well in Texas now when you go get your driver's license you have to give them your thumb print. They didn't do that back then but that would also really help because teeth and fingerprints are the two easiest, quickest best ways to identify someone.
TODD: And its not something a lot of people want to think about. I don't want to think about my wife going missing or my children but I know it’s a reality.
TODD: I try to be prepared just in case because I see so much of it now. I do know where to get the dental records. I know where to go very quickly. And we take other precautions. Everybody can get their DNA. The little fingerprint kits. Those are so readily and easily.
BARB: Absolutely. Like with all the people in our family I never, I mean we never would have thought that this would have happened to Patty. I mean she was just very routine. Everything by the book. Everything very routine. It would have been…she didn't have a wild streak, she didn't drink, she didn't smoke, she wasn't crazy, and she didn't have a wild lifestyle. No one would have thought that this would have happened to her. And it could happen to anybody. Our story is living proof.
TODD: Its when you least expect it. Those are the things when you least expect it.
BARB: And on Christmas Day, I mean who does that on Christmas Day? Its just heartless.
TODD: I don't think anybody would.
BARB: Just cold, calculating, and heartless.
TODD: Yeah I don't think anybody would build up for that, especially somebody who is so closely tied with the family.
BARB: Right. For years I can tell you Todd that we did not celebrate Christmas in our family. We had always before celebrated Thanksgiving at Patty's house and Christmas at Cathy's house because Cathy has a bigger home and with all the children and all the presents, she had the biggest tree so we would celebrate there. And since this happened we never once got together again as a family. We would celebrate in our own homes with our own children but we never got back together as a family and this past Thanksgiving my sister Cathy and I said you know what Patty would not want this, absolutely not. And it was about that time that I said let's do something. We need to stand up and do something and make a difference. We need to find out what happened to her as well as let other people know that if this happens to you this is what you can do. And we celebrated for the first time, we celebrated Thanksgiving and then we celebrated Christmas together and we had a place at the table for Patty and we said a prayer for her and it was not gloom and dim, it was very joyous. It was a lot of fun. She was with us all day in spirit. She really was. I think she would have been really proud of that.
TODD: So you are a family trying to heal. Even with this missing piece out of your family, you're still doing your best to try and heal and still doing what you can to help her out. So if anybody has as tip the Texas Department of Public Safety has an 800 number it's 1-800-346-3243. There's numerous ways to contact any officials or Barb about this particular case. You can find it on the website and your website address for Patty is findpattyvaughan.com
BARB: And Vaughan is spelled V A U G H A N
TODD: My mother was actually a Vaughan and its without the "a" so this case I've actually got an Aunt Pat Vaughn and that name just struck me when I saw it in the suggestion box, I thought wow my aunt's name is Pat Vaughn.
BARB: Well then she must be pretty special.
TODD: Oh yeah. They all are. I couldn't think of any of them being gone. And I don't know how you guys do it. I've said many times I often don't know how you manage to hold yourself together, go to work, raise your children, you did what you had to do.
BARB: Well I think when you have children that a whole different animal, you have a driving force. It kind of helps you and protects you and shields you from going absolutely insane. And I think…I understand crimes of passion now, I really do. I understand being so upset with someone that you want to hurt them but our rational thought does not let us do that. Our rational side of us does not let you go and do that. You must focus on what is important and do what is positive and good to make the difference.
TODD: Well God makes them cute so you won't kill them. The children…
BARB: I was talking about…someone else.
TODD: But children, I'll tell you…no one has ever made me as mad as my own children have.
BARB: It's not like I would wanted to hit my children. I've never wanted to hit my children. In fact, that's probably what's wrong with them, they never had spankings.
TODD: Mine need more too. Mine need a lot of spankings but they don't get them and I don't think I'm doing them a favor by not spanking them but I just don't have the energy.
BARB: But we just got focused on raising our kids and then we just didn't know what to do. We had no idea what direction to go in and now we do and now we have some direction with people like Jill Bennett from Angel Garden of Hope and people like Monica Caison with the Cue Center. There's just angels out there. There are angels among us that are going to help us and then we can help another family someday but that's really…it's about finding Patty, doing the right thing, and making sure that her children know that she loves them. We all love them very much and we miss them and we just want to make the difference.
TODD: Well just like we said last night, you are actually part of a huge loving family now that nobody wants to be involved in, nobody wants to be a part of this family.
BARB: We are part of an elite club that no one volunteered for that's for sure.
TODD: You get drafted I'm afraid.
BARB: That's ok we'll soldier on and we'll do what we have to do and hopefully maybe then when you get the word out there it may make it a little bit harder to hide a missing body or hide a person or to get away with this and maybe it'll send a message that you can not murder your wife in Wilson County and get away with it. You can not murder your wife and hide your body in Bexar County and get away with it. Hopefully this will deter some of those rages, you know those incidences where this happens to people.
TODD: Well now you are part of this family too so we will be back in touch with you.
BARB: Todd thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to our story and to help us get the word out there about Patty and if anybody knows anything just please shoot me an email. My email link is on the website and I'll be glad to answer any questions or I'll take any tips I can get.
TODD: You'll have a permanent archive on Missing Pieces and I know that your anxious to hear something from somebody so if anybody has anything please let us know. We'd love to get some type of closure for this family and at the very least we can offer them support and…
BARB: What you do is wonderful by the way, I just wanted to tell you that.
TODD: I appreciate that. I just hope it helps.
BARB: It's just so wonderful and it's out of the goodness of your heart and I just so appreciate what you do for us and our little elite club. So really.
TODD: Well it’s a very low tech grass root approach. I've had all these conversations with people and I thought we're going to have to find a way to save them and pass them on and share them with other people because I'm getting where I can't remember them any more and passing it by word of mouth, I have to pave it now so that I can pass it on. But people like you, you give me such little nuggets that you can take from one family and pass to another. So we will definitely be in touch with you and I thank you for being here tonight.
BARB: Thank you so much Todd. God Bless.
TODD: I'll definitely be talking to you soon.
BARB: Thank you sir.
TODD: Good night.
BARB: Good night.
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