Franklin County Deputies and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are searching an area of the county for the remains of an Oklahoma woman who went missing in 1975.
The search began Tuesday for a woman who disappeared from the Tulsa area nearly 40 years ago (April 30), according to Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen.
Authorities say the victim is Shirley Joann Banning, who also went by the name Shirley Joann Snow.
Her family, who called her Joann Snow, says she went missing from Tulsa County, Okla., May 23, 1975. Her older sister, Pauline Norman, says she remembers the day her sister went missing.
Norman also says the family believes her sister’s boyfriend, Alex Banning Sr., who Joann called ‘Ace’ was behind her disappearance.
“She never did come back home,” Norman said. “We always knew Ace killed her, I always knew. She told me one time, she said, ‘Pauline, if I ever come up dead, you know Ace has killed me and buried me someplace.'”
A missing persons report shows Snow was last seen in the Broken Arrow area with Banning. The mother of three told her family that she was going to Arkansas with her boyfriend.
Authorities say they now have reason to believe that her body was dumped in a well in Franklin County. The property being searched currently in Franklin County is owned by relatives of Banning, according to both the victim’s family and Boen.
“Some informants gave us some information that our missing person might be buried in a well up here in [Franklin] county,” Cpl. Kyle Hess, with Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.
Last week Boen brought in two cadaver dogs, both of which picked up a hit on a well located just off of Highway 23 South near the Logan County line.
Authorities did name Banning as a suspect after Snow went missing, but charges were never filed. Banning died of a heart attack in 1993 while he was in prison serving time for unrelated charges, according to authorities.
Tim Snow, the victim’s youngest son, is satisfied he might finally learn what led to his mother’s death and get some sort of closure, according to Tulsa County deputies.
“[We were] real close and we wanted some kind of closing, but didn’t actually want it to be this way,” Norman said. “We were a close family and it’s been really sad for the whole family.”
“We’re just waiting to see what they find and if she’s gone, hoping it’s her so we can just put a closure on this,” Norman said. “I mean, I dream about her all the time [hoping] she comes home.”
Authorities say nothing was discovered during the initial search, but that they are working to obtain a search warrant for an adjacent piece of property, which they say also belongs to Banning’s relatives. Once they have that, they will continue the search for Snow’s remains, according to Boen.