Left: Kellie circa 1982 Right: Age Progressed to age 48
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: May 20, 1982 from Novi, Oakland County, Michigan
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: November 5, 1964
Age: 17 years old
Height and Weight: 5’7″; 135 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White Female, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Kellie has double pierced ears and a capped upper front tooth, her ears are double pierced, Kellie has a slight heart murmur
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A long sleeved peach colored blouse, white painter painter pants, and Nina brand burgundy high heels
Circumstances of Disappearance
Kellie was last seen on May 20th 1982 in Novi, Michigan. She and her boyfriend, Mark Graves, took the bus to their high school that day but Kellie skipped classes that day. She hitchhiked to the Twelve Oaks Mall. She applied for a few jobs at several different stores and listed the Brownlees residence as her home address.
Kellie was seen by a friends mother who offered her a ride but she declined this as she wanted to place more applications before going home. It’s unclear which home she puddle return to. Kellie lived in her home with her family but at the time she was living with her boyfriend at the time. Kellie was never seen or heard from again after this.
Her boyfriend reported her missing when she never returned to either residence and since she didn’t call him by 9:00 pm. A search ensued quickly but no trace of the girl was ever found. Authorities ruled out her boyfriend and family as possible suspects in the case early on.
Kellie has left her family’s residence prior to her disappearance after she made allegations to her friends that her stepfather, Paul Brownlee, was a shove towards her. Some who knew the girl, said they noted that Kellie would have bruises on her body.
Paul had been previously found guilty of 4th degree criminal sexual misconduct after Kellies sister, Kim, pressed charges against him. Many believed that Paul may have been involved in Kellies disappearance. He was apparently visiting a father in laws grave and reportedly went to the gym when Kellie went missing.
He agreed to do an interview with police and stated he was innocent of anything he was believed to have done to Kellie. However, he hired an attorney and refused to take a polygraph exam in the same month. Paul also claimed he had not been abusive to Kellie and even placed a $1,000 reward for anyone who had information regarding her disappearance. Authorities had no evidence that Paul did anything to Kellie other then possibly abuse her.
Another possible suspect in the case is counterfeiting operator, James Mitchell DeBardeleben. He is believed to have committed many crimes against women. In November of 1983, United States Secret Service Agents searched James Virginia residence and found journals, tapes, and photographs of various women. They were being forced to do sadomasochistic acts against their will. He is suspected of attacking and killing many women.
James apparently had a thing for brunette female hitchhikers. Kellie was a brunette and often used hitchhiking as a method of transportation. Some photos of the women were shown to Kellies mother, Loretta, to see if she could identify Kellie in any of them. The photos were found not be those of Kellie and DeBardeleben has since been deemed an unlikely suspect in the Brownlee case. He is considered a suspect in the 1982 presumed abduction of Judith Chartier from Massachusetts. She has never been found but she fits DeBardeleben’s description of women he preferred.
Authorities still have their suspicions on Paul, who sometimes gives possible leads to authorities in the case. He refuses to cooperate with being reinterviewed or to take a polygraph exam. Authorities hope to at some point be able to reinterview Paul.
Surprisingly in 2018, Arthur Nelson Ream was named as a possible suspect in Kellies case. He’s been convicted of sexual assault which dates back to the 1970s. In 1986, Ream abducted and murder Cindy Zarzycki. She was dating Reams son at the time. He confessed to the crime in 2008 and led authorities to Cindy’s body which was buried in a shallow grave. The area she was buried in was 30 miles away from the site of her abduction.
Authorities also announced that Ream was a possible suspect in the 1970 disappearance of Cynthia Coon, the 1974 disappearance of Nadine O’Dell, the 1979 abduction of Kimberly King, and the 1981 disappearance of Kim Larrow. All of these young women vanished from Michigan. Ream had reportedly once bragged in prison that he was a serial killer with at least 4-6 victims. Authorities searched the land that Cynthia was buried in to see if he buried the other missing girls there but no remains were found. He has not been ruled out in the cases and remains a suspect. Another 2019 search of the area is being done and authorities hope to recover the girls remains.
Kellies case remains unsolved. Authorities do not suspect she left on her own accord as she had a good relationship with her mother and siblings. Foul play is suspected in her case which remains listed as a non-family abduction.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
West Bloomfield Police Department 810-682-1563
NCMEC Number: 600451