Left and Center: Debra circa, 1984
Right: Age Progressed to age 44
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: July 9, 1984
Missing From: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: April 17, 1967
Age: 17 years old
Height and Weight: 5’6″ and 120 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Sandy/Brown hair, Hazel eyes, Debra has a few scars: a burn scar on her left calf, a scar located on the bridge of her nose, and a scar on her chest, she has facial freckles, her ears are both pierced, Debra’s hair was cut short of both sides but was was it length in the back at the time of her 1984 disappearance, she may use the nickname “Debbie”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A dark blue/black tube top with a white colored fishnet overlay, long length blue corduroy pants, Debra was wearing size 6-1/2 blue sneakers or tennis shoes and earrings at the time of her disappearance
NCMEC Number: 601379
Details of Disappearance
Debra was last seen in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 9th 1984. She went to the Mountain Bell Plaza located at 250 East and 200 South where her boyfriend worked at the time. Debra went there in order visit him and then afterwards, she told him she was returning to her residence and to call her later. She last seen attempting to hitchhike and get a ride home at approximately 10:00 pm. She never returned home.
Investigators initially believed that Debra might’ve left on her own accord. She was a habitual hitchhiker in 1984 and she had run away from home on a few occasions prior to her disappearance. However, Debra always maintained contact with her father or aunt whenever she did this. After her 1984 disappearance, she never contacted any of her family members again.
It was quickly determined that Debra likely didn’t run off. She was described as being happy at the time of her disappearance and she was even planning a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend. Debra disappeared just a day before she was supposed to travel to visit her brother, sister, and their mother. This was meant to get Debra away from the troubles she was experiencing in Utah.
Authorities early on suspected foul play was involved and believed Debra might’ve been abducted by a non-family member. For many years, investigators suspected due to the hitchhiking aspect of her case that Debra had been abducted and killed by a serial killer. However, no evidence existed to be certain of this and there were never any strong suspects in her case.
On April 8th 1986, a man identified as Raymond Joseph Malin was arrested and charged with the murder of thirteen year old Jana Dawn Hoecherl. Jana vanished after her father dropped her off at a local 7-Eleven store at 4715 South and 4015 West at approximately 7:30 pm on April 7th 1986 She was later seen at a local pool hall, Madrid’s Billiards which was located at 4085 West and 4700 South.
Witnesses saw Jana leaving the pool hall with an unidentified man at 9:30 pm and she was never seen or heard from again. Her mother reported her missing a few hours later. She searched their neighborhood through the early morning hours of Tuesday but couldn’t find her. Twelve hours later, her brother searched an area she was known to use as a short-cut to get between the convenience store and her mothers home.
The area was behind the old Mountain Bell switching station which is located at 4780 South and 4015 West. He discovered Jana’s body bending the building. She had been raped and murdered by stab wounds to her chest and her throat had been slashed.
Witnesses were able to give enough information to investigators for them to create a composite sketch of the man last seen with Jana before she died. Raymond was soon identified as the man and police staked out his residence in the area of 5400 South and 4200 West. He was arrested as he arrived home in the late evening and was questioned about Jana’s murder.
At 10:30 pm, Raymond was transported to downtown Salt Lake City and he was facing criminal homicide charges in Jana’s death. Following his arrest for the crime, investigators were anxious to speak to him about other unsolved cases involving young girls, women, and even elderly women.
On May 15th 1985, eighteen year old Christine Gallegos was found murdered on a roadway at 1384 Jefferson Street at approximately at 3:50 am. She had been stabbed multiple times and shot as well. Her murder has never been solved but investigators have found other more likely suspects in her death.
They also wanted to ask Raymond about the unsolved 1979 murder of seventy nine year old Jeanine Muir. She was found deceased in the kitchen of her residence located at 5182 South and 4820 West on December 26th 1985. This was just blocks away from where police found Jana’s body. She was last heard from when she spoke to her sister on the phone at 12:30 pm that day. When her sister arrived at her home at 1:00 pm, she found her body. She had been stabbed to over eighty times.
Jeanine’s car was missing from her driveway when her sister arrived to the home. Investigators found it abandoned and parked behind a business several days later. The location of the car was approximately several miles away from her home and the murder scene.
On February 17th 1986, fourteen year old Tiffany Hambleton went missing after being last seen near 3900 South Main. She had attended a concert that day with friends. Her mother reported her missing after she never returned home and never heard from her again. Tiffany’s body was discovered by a rancher in a ditch near 1100 South and 3400 West on March 31st 1986. She was stabbed over fifteen times and might’ve been sexually assaulted as some of her clothing was missing.
The 7-Eleven store where Jana’s father dropped her off is just down the street from where twenty six year old Maurine Hunsaker was kidnapped on February 23rd 1986. She was taken from the Gas A Mat station at 3995 West and 4700 South. Her body was discovered in the Big Cottonwood Canyon on February 25th 1986. A man was later charged with her murder.
Investigators looked into the possibility that all the incidents were related and might’ve been committed by the same person. However, this is unlikely as other suspects have developed in the other cases and there was no evidence to say that Raymond was involved in Debra’s disappearance as her body has never been located.
For many years, Debra’s younger brother, Frank Frost, has spent countless time and money to search for his long lost sister. He was six years old when she vanished and he began his search when he was ten years old. He constantly bugged the police to continue investigating her disappearance and he also sent letters to television shows like Americas Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. They all turned down the story, however.
In 2011, a local television station did a segment on Debra’s unsolved case and new information regarding her disappearance was uncovered as a result. Investigators received an anonymous tip from a man who stated that Debra was in Rock Springs, Wyoming after she was reported missing in 1984. They also found that Debra had some form of contact with the police in Rock Springs on July 21st 1984, twelve days after she vanished.
Police say the nature of the contact is unknown because the records from that time were purged in the intervening years since it occurred. Investigators and Frost have stated that Debra’s only connection to Rock Springs was through a man identified as Fred Martinez. He was thirty years old in 1984 and was friends with Frost at the time of her disappearance. Some reports indicate that a Sweetwater County sheriffs deputy stopped a vehicle and found Debra inside with Martinez.
Based on information gathered from people who knew Martinez and Frost at the time, the two were “semi-dating” and Martinez was said to have a crush on Debra but she wasn’t interested in him like that. There’s also a likely possibility that drugs were involved in Debra and Fred’s relationship at the time. A man, who provided police with the 2011 tip, said he was well aware of Frost being in the Rock Springs area but he didn’t come forward for years.
The man stated the reason why Debra was in Wyoming was because Fred was attempting to get her to date him. He stated that Debra and Fred had been friends for about a year before she disappeared and they frequently hung out with each other and with other friends as well. The man also confirmed that Debra came to parties and did drugs.
Martinez grew up in Rock Springs but he lived in Salt Lake City in 1984 but frequently returned to his childhood home. The tipster says he believes Martinez was grooming Debra the entire time they were friends with each other. According to the friend, Debra and Martinez got into an argument one day while they were in Rock Springs and she stormed off, intending to return to Salt Lake City. Martinez realized she was missing ten minutes later and he took off after her.
Martinez was said to be violent and had a “dark side.” He supposedly hid all of this under his generally charismatic personality. The friend said he waited years to come forward with information because he feared Martinez and other people they were associated with. He said that at one point, Martinez brought up Debra’s disappearance and “jokingly” admitted he was involved in her disappearance and that he killed her in 1984.
Investigators never got a chance to question Martinez because he committed suicide in 1995, eleven years after Debra went missing. While he isn’t considered a suspect in her case, he has been named as a person of interest and most believe Debra died at the hands of Martinez. Her family also suspects this. If he did indeed kill Debra, the friends stated he wouldn’t have ever told anyone where he buried her.
At the time of her disappearance, Debra lived on Montgomery Street with her boyfriend’s parents. Her father passed away in 2005. Her younger brother and the rest of her family continue to search for answers to her disappearance. Foul play is suspected in her case which remains unsolved.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Salt Lake City Police Department 801-799-3734
Source Information ￼