Bethany Leanne Markowski (Missing Person)

Date:
March 4, 2001 (Sunday)

Location:
Old Hickory Mall, Jackson, Tennessee

Situation:
Missing

Bethany Leanne Markowski

Nickname: Unknown
Alternative Name: Bethany LeAnne

Disappearance

Missing from: Old Hickory Mall, Jackson Tennessee (or possibly Little Rock, AR)
Date Missing: March 4, 2001 (Sunday)
Taken By: Woman

Circumstances:

In early 2001, Bethany’s parents (Johnie and Larry) had recently separated after a very messy split. Her mother (Johnie) accuses the father (Larry) of being an increasingly domineering and abusive man, whose behavior towards Bethany was becoming increasingly concerning. One troublesome incident in the months leading up to the March disappearance occurred when Larry supposedly appeared at Bethany’s school and attempted to take Bethany. He is accused of pushing the teacher and dragging Bethany into the hallway where he was intercepted by other teachers who heard the shouting.

Eventually, Johnie obtained a temporary, no-contact restraining order and took Bethany with her to Nashville while Larry remained in Gleason. However, the restraining order did not include Bethany, and Larry was awarded unsupervised visitation rights.

*The claims of Larry’s abuse are based solely on his ex-wife’s claims and have not been substantiated beyond a letter that supposedly mentions the scuffle at school.

Since Johnie and Larry were to have no contact, they agreed that Bethany’s Aunt would drive her up to the Waverly exit off I-40 (approximately half way between Nashville and Gleason) for the exchange. After the established time, Larry would bring Bethany back to Waverly.

On Friday (March 2), Larry picked Bethany up as usual, and they drove up to Little Rock, Arkansas to visit Larry’s friend. They remained there overnight, heading back to Gleason around 10:00pm (22:00) on Saturday. This was an approximately 4:30 hour drive without stopping. While it is not clear when exactly they arrived, it was likely sometime Sunday morning (March 4).

Johnie and Bethany Spoke on the phone Sunday morning around 9:38am, where they confirmed the exchange in Waverly was planned for that afternoon around 5:00pm (17:00).

According to Larry, Bethany wanted to visit Claire’s and the game goom at the Old Hickory Mall in Jackson first, so they headed down to Jackson.

*Some have pointed out that Jackson would have been about an hour out of the way for Larry, but the significance of that is not assured.

The projected trip for Larry and Bethany during the weekend of March 2 - March 4.
The projected trip for Larry and Bethany during the weekend of March 2 – March 4. Visit the Google Map of Bethany’s Disappearance (Link)

*It is at this point that two potential timelines appear. Timeline one (link) / Timeline two (link). Discrepancies between the two could however be reasonably explained by distant memory and the possibility that Larry slept in the van longer than he planned.

Timeline One:

Map of proposed timeline of the disappearance of Bethany Markowski

Larry and Bethany arrived at the Mall around 3:30pm (15:30); whereupon Bethany ran inside to pick up what she wanted while Larry napped in the car. Around an hour later at 4:30pm (16:00), Larry awoke and realized Bethany had not returned. He hurried into the mall to search, but couldn’t locate her. He contacted Mall security shortly afterwards around 5:15pm (17:15).

*In this case, the timeline would be rushed. In order to get to the Waverly meeting place (another 1 hours drive) before they were to meet the aunt, Bethany would have only had 30 minutes to run inside. By napping until 4:30pm, there was no way to get to the drop-off spot on time at that point. The best explanation for this would be, given he had been driving all night and was likely tired, Larry expected Bethany to just run in and out but fell asleep and didn’t notice the time elapsing. This would line up the time he awoke with the time he contacted security.

Timeline Two:

Alternative timeline of the disappearance of Bethany Markowski

Larry and Bethany arrived around 2:30pm (14:30) and napped outside in the car for a while. At some point Bethany ran inside to check out the stores while Larry napped in the car. Around 3:30pm (15:30), Larry woke and realized Bethany had not returned. He went into the mall and searched, but could not locate her. He contacted Mall security around 5:15pm (17:15).

Larry maintained a similar timeline both in his call that evening with Johnie, during his interviews with investigators, and in his interview decades later with True Crime.

*In this case, one must wonder why he spent almost two hours just wandering the mall rather than going to security earlier. That said, leaving the mall around 3:30 would have put them in Waverly at the right time for the drop-off. In some interviews, Larry changes the time to 1:30-2:00pm instead.

Either way, police were called in around 6:00pm (18:00) but Bethany was never found.

According to investigators, security cameras failed to capture Bethany in the shopping mall and no one recalled seeing her. Ultimately, there is no proof that she was ever there except her father’s testimony.

Suspect in the disappearance of Bethany Markowski

Several witnesses later did report seeing Bethany (or a girl who looked like Bethany) accompanied by an unknown woman up to a month after her disappearance.

In April 2001, the woman attempted to register the child at a school in SE Tennessee, but was rejected when she did not have the girl’s school records. One witness also claimed to have seen the two visit a café three days in a row in northern Tennessee. They were also later seen getting on a bus together headed for Moline, Illinois, but did not get off at that stop. Without video evidence however, it has never been proven that this girl is Bethany.

Johnie claims the woman resembles a distant aunt of Larry; Larry claims the woman resembles Johnie’s mother.

Suspect Details:

  • Female
  • 42-44 y/o
  • 5’4″ – 5’5″
  • 185lbs
  • Blonde Hair — frizzy & damaged
  • Brown Eyes — circles around her eyes
  • Unkempt appearance (unbathed, torn clothes, shoes mis-tied)
  • May have been suffering from a hangover.

Key Descriptors

  • Date of Birth: February 1, 1990
  • Age at Disappearance: 11
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian
  • Nationality: American
  • Gender at Birth: Female
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eye Color: Green
  • Height: 4’8″ (142cm)
  • Weight: 95lbs (43kg)

Distinguishing Marks or Factors

  • Was missing her baby molar teeth
  • Mole on left breast
  • Freckles

Clothing

  • Green Shirt
  • Blue Jeans
  • Black Shoes

If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact the FBI or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-TIPS

Missing person poster in the disappearance of Bethany Markowski

References

  • Goode, S. (2019) ‘Bethany Markowski still missing 18 years after disappearing in Tennessee’, NBC News, 1 March. Link
  • u/lisagreenhouse (2019) ’18 years today, Bethany Markowski, 11, went missing. Her father says she disappeared from a mall in Jackson, TN, but there’s no proof she was ever there. Will we ever know what happened to Bethany?’, Reddit. Link.
  • WBBJ (2018) ‘Mother remains hopeful for missing daughter 17 years after disappearance’, 16 May. Link
  • Shields, B. (2019) ‘Mother of girl missing from Jackson since 2001 returning TN Missing Children’s Day vigil’, Jackson Sun, 28 February. Link
  • Searching for Ghosts (2019). Link
  • WBBJ (2018) ‘Missing girl’s father speaks out for first time in 17 years’, 18 May. Link
  • “Help find Bethany Markowski’. Facebook Page. Link
  • Alund, N. (2017) ‘Vanished: Learn more about Tennessee’s missing children’, Tennessean, 29 March. Link
  • Mattero, J. (2018) ‘What happened to Bethany Markowski? Girl remains missing after reported mall disappearance’, True Crime Daily, May 18. Link
  • Willard, M. (2019) ‘Madison County: Bethany Markowski’, Middle Tennessee Mysteries, Link.
  • 411Gina. ‘Bethany Leanne Markowski’, Link.
  • NAMUS. Link

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