Left and Center: Marlena circa, 1987
Right: Age Progressed to age 29
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: April 16, 1987
Missing From: Union City, Obion County, Tennessee
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: February 17, 1983
Age: 4 years old
Height and Weight: 4’0″; 38 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Blue/Hazel eyes, Marlena has silver caps on her upper and bottom front teeth at the time of her disappearance, her ears were also pierced
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A purple/white checkered shirt with lace trim, light purple pants, and pinks jelly style shoes
NCMEC Number: 600739
Details of Disappearance
Marlena was last seen in Union City, Tennessee on April 16th 1987. She was last seen playing in front of her family’s residence. Her mother went to check on the child after she heard the sound of car brakes. When she went out there, Marlena was gone.
Bailey stated she did not get a good look at the driver of the car but Marlena’s 7 year old stepbrother and a store owner who worked two blocks away stated they saw a man in a car talking to Marlena before she vanished. The two witnesses statements matched what Bailey said. The driver of the car has never been located or identified.
The vehicle in question is described as an older model two door red car with McCracken County, Kentucky license plates. Marlena has never been seen or heard from since. Authorities suspected that the child was abducted.
Her mother made many conflicting statements regarding Marlena’s disappearance. At one point she stated that she sold Marlena for drug debts and another time she stated that Marlena was abducted by a family friend who had sexually abused Bailey as a child. Non of these have been substantiated.
About 2 months after Marlenas disappearance, her mother confessed that she hit Marlena while trying to discipline her and ended up killing her accidentally. She stated that a local man helped her dispose of Marlenas body. The man was questioned but he claims he was not involved and he had an alibi for the day that Marlena disappeared. The man knew Bailey but hadn’t seen her for two years.
Marlenas remains were never found and Bailey retracted the confession soon after. She said she made up the story due to stress and depression.
Bailey was initially charged with second degree murder in Marlenas presumed death but the charge was lowered to Voluntary manslaughter. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence. Prior to Marlenas disappearance, no one reported that Bailey was abusive to her.
There were sightings of Marlena in Alabama after her disappearance. She was apparently staying with a family who had the same last name as her but were not related to her in any way. The family has a habit of harboring other people’s children and neighbors who lived next to them in Alabama identified the girl as Marlena based on her pictures.
Marlenas case revived after her mother was arrested in 2002 for the attempted murder of her 12 year old son. She stabbed him at a local cemetery in Kentucky. She pleaded guilty to Attempted murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She was released thereafter.
Marlena has never been found. Her case is and has always been classified as a non family abduction. Authorities suspect that foul play was involved in her case. Marlenas disappearance remains unsolved.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Obion County Sheriffs Office 731-885-5832
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children