A Kokomo, IN family hopes a $25,000 reward will help lead to new information in the disappearance of a woman missing since last November.
Esther Westenbarger, 51, went missing on November 12, 2009, and now all her family is looking and hoping for is closure.
“I feel in my heart that something bad happened to her,” said Esther’s brother Bill Pelfree.
Esther Westenbarger’s family has shared that same heartache ever since the week she disappeared nine months ago. Esther was planning to surprise her mother Ruby Pelfree for her birthday, but Esther was last seen just days before that party.
“She kissed me on the cheek and said, ‘Mom, don’t worry about me. I’m old enough to take care of myself.’” Ruby said. “That’s the last time I heard from her.”
After drinking at Miller’s bar in Kokomo into the early morning hours of November 12th 2009, Esther walked several blocks back to her car parked outside the Hoosier Bar. Her brother says the bar’s security camera caught her getting into her car just after 1:30 a.m., but neither her, nor her Gold 2005 Cadillac with personalized Ohio plates that say “Ms. Esther” have been seen since.
“I Believe the last time her phone was used was 1:38 in the morning,” Bill said.
Though the investigation remains open, the family hasn’t heard about any leads in the months since and Bill and his mother have lost hope that she’s alive.
“I know that she’s not (alive),” Ruby said. “Because she wouldn’t have been gone nine months without notifying someone.”
“With her being intoxicated the way she supposedly was, I just believe she got herself in a bad situation and somebody took advantage of that,” Bill said. “That’s what I think. I think something bad happened to her.”
Now, all this family hopes for is closure and a stop to the heartache.
“Somebody knows what happened on that morning that probably could come forward,” Bill said. “Either they’re afraid to tell or they just don’t want to get themselves in trouble, and we’re hoping that $25,000 reward will cause someone to talk. That’s really the only hope we have”.
Westenbarger is described as being five foot seven inches tall, weighing 135 pounds, with red shoulder length hair and brown eyes. She has a tattoo of a 1st Cavlary insignia on her upper left arm, and a tattoo of a parachute with wings on her left ankle.
She was last seen wearing creme colored three-quarter length V-neck shirt, blue jeans, flip-flops, and a dark colored jacket.
Also missing is Westenbarger’s good 2005 Cadillac CTS, bearing Ohio personalized registration plate MSESTER.
Westenbarger may have been walking from Miller’s to the Hoosier Bar, where her car was last seen. The Kokomo Police Department is also assisting with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Lt. Greg Hargrove at the Howard County Sheriff Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, telephone (765) 456-2031.