The longest standing open major case on the books in Lawrence County now has a major reward offered.
The parents of Christene (Nickle) Seal are offering a $25,000 reward for information to resolve their daughter's disappearance on June 19, 1972 from the family's mobile home a mile and a half from Verona.
"Maybe somebody remembers something. Who knows?" said Trudy Nickle, Seal's mother.
Trudy and Doyle Nickle, Seal's parents, saved the settlement money received from Doyle's exposure to Agent Orange and created the reward. The money is being offered for "information that results in the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for the abduction" of Seal.
A reward of this size has not been offered in the case previously.
"This has to lead somewhere," Trudy Nickle said.
The Seal case has perplexed authorities from the outset. An attractive 22 year-old who worked at Duane's, a Monett beauty shop, Seal was at home with her young son after her husband went to work on the day she disappeared. A mail carrier found the boy crying at the door, looking for his mother. Her husband found only her pajamas and a light coat missing, in addition to his wife.
Without a body, there was no proof that a crime had been committed. Lawrence County Sheriff Marvin Quade stood by the thoroughness with which his officers investigated leads, even putting out a national alert.
Leads stopped surfacing by 1980 when David Tatum became sheriff. By the 10th anniversary of the case, Tatum said he considered it "very unlikely" that Seal was alive, but that she would not be declared dead until a body was found and identified. Whenever bones have surfaced in subsequent decades, officers have always considered the possibility of solving the Seal case.
The Nickles are asking information to be shared with the Barry County Sheriff's Department, by calling 417-847-6556, or the Cassville Police Department, at 417-847-4700, extention 20.
Mrs. Nickle said the family's relationship with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department was strained, especially since the original file on Seal's case disappeared. Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly and Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr agreed to take the lead in the case.
"I can understand any pent-up frustration. I'm sure I'd feel the same way," said Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay. "I've spoken with Dana [Kammerlohr] not long ago. She's developed a relationship with the family and has agreed to help."
DeLay said Lieutenant Mike Madewell has made major progress recreating the lost Seal file. Madewell continues to work the case.
"Some information resurfaced recently when a book was published," DeLay said. "There have been other incidents around the area, some getting resolved. The family has got to wonder what happened. Sadly, we can work on it, but we're way behind the eight ball. We're losing potential witnesses every day who are dying. Î hope for a break in the case. Offering a reward may be the next step."
Mrs. Nickle remained hopeful.
"You can't ever stop. She's my daughter," Mrs. Nickle said.