Above: Donna circa, 1980
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: November 10, 1980
Missing From: Trinity, Trinity County, California
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: July 5, 1973
Age: 7 years old
Height and Weight: 3’0″ and 40 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White Female, Blonde hair, Blue eyes, Donna’s baby teeth were still present on the upper portion of her mouth at the time of her 1980 disappearance and her bottom adult teeth had grown in by that time, she has healed skull fracture from when she was two months old in 1973, she has a 1 inch scar between the second and third toes on her right foot
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A brown multicolored smock shirt, a pair of brown jeans, and brown suede shoes
NCMEC Number: 601335
Details of Disappearance
Donna Lee Fowler was last seen in Trinity, California on November 10th 1980. Donna was kept home from school that day for unknown reasons.
Donna told her grandfather that she was running away and he believed this to be joke and helped her pack her bags. She was last seen near the Joss House Historical Museum on Main Street downtown at approximately 2:30 pm. She vanished afterwards and was never seen or heard from again.
Donnas mother reported her missing at 11:30 pm that night. An extensive search uncovered no trace of the young girl.
In 2008, Wayne Harvey Smith confessed to killing Donna on the day that she disappeared. He lived near her home and was family friend of the Fowlers. Smith was considered a suspect in the onset of Donnas disappearance but he left the county several days after she disappeared and refused a lie detector test.
Smith is currently serving a life sentence for the 1983 shorting murder of 18 year old Stacey Belcher who resided in Rowland heights at the time of her murder. He was due to be executed but in exchange for his life, he confessed to Donnas murder.
Smith stated that Donna came to his home and refused to leave so he became angry with her. He strangled her and disposed of her remains in a local landfill. The landfill was described as a pit that locals threw their garbage in. Authorities deemed her remains to be unrecoverable and decided not to dig.
Smith will not be prosecuted for Donna’s murder and her case has since been closed by investigators. Donnas family has since held a memorial for her. Donnas remains have not been located.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Trinity County Sheriffs Office 530-623-2611