Left and Center: Dean circa, 1981
Right: Age Progressed to age 53
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: February 5, 1981
Missing From: Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: September 24, 1966
Age: 14 years old
Height and Weight: 5’3″ and 110 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White Female, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Dean has a birthmark on her lower back, her ears are pierced and she was known to smoke cigarettes at the time of her disappearance, she may use the nickname “Deanie”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A brown ski jacket, a pink sweater, a size 34C Bali bra, white bikini parties, blue Levi jeans with length between 27 to 32 inches, a cream colored scarf with the word “Ski” written in dark colored lettering, and a pair of white knee socks
NCMEC Number: 603596
Details of Disappearance
Dean Pyle Peters was last seen in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 5th 1981. She was last seen at the Forest Hills Central Middle School at 5:00 pm. The school was located in the 5800 block of Ada Drive. She was at her younger 6 year old brothers wrestling practice with her mother. Dean told her mother that she was going to use the restroom and would be back shortly. She never returned to her mother and was never seen or heard from again.
According to other people who were at the school, Dean never actually made it to the bathroom and she was nowhere near that area. She was last seen exiting the gymnasium but it’s unknown what happened afterwards. It’s possible that Dean was heading to a friends house or that she simply stepped out of the building for a cigarette.
Investigators to not believe that Dean ran away. She left all of her personal belongings such as her makeup, purse, jewelry, clothing, and her wallet as well as several hundred dollars at her home.
Investigators believe that Dean was murdered and the victim of foul play. For a while, investigators considered the school janitor, Arthur Diaz, as a possible suspect in her disappearance. He told authorities that he was cleaning a school office during the night if her disappearance and never saw Dean.
Diaz did tell investigators that three older boys had pounded on the locked doors of the school and that he did not let them in as a result. One of the boys was seen wearing a Forest Hills leather jacket but he did not recognize them at all. It’s unknown of these boys had anything to do with her disappearance or knew anything.
Investigators checked the school incinerator and acted on the theory that her body may have been burned in it. No evidence was found in the incinerator and Arthur is no longer considered a suspect in her case. Investigators now suspect that local man, Bruce Bunch, was responsible for Deans death. He was high school junior at the time. He was 17 years old in 1981.
A female acquaintance stated that Bunch confessed that he killed a girl by running her over at a school. He said he either ran her over and backed onto her. He then stated that he had either buried her body on Snow Avenue. Some accounts state that he had dreams of the accident happening and that her body was located on the Young Camp Marine. Deans body has never been located despite search efforts.
Bruce’s first wife came forward and stated that he was violent and a shove towards her. He would blackout and forget things he did after he drank heavily. He once pushed her out of a moving vehicle and broke her ankle. He also threatened to run her off the road. Bunch died in 2008 from a heart attack. He was never questioned in Deans disappearance.
Dean did have an altercation with two other female students the day before she disappeared and they threatened her to stay away from a boy. Investigators have found no evidence to suggest the incident was related to her disappearance.
Dean did have some issues with moving to Michigan from California. She lived in and was from California before moving to Michigan with her mother, stepfather, and her younger brother. Her biological father lives in California. Her mother and stepfather have since moved to Arizona. No one she knew is considered a suspect in her case.
At the time of her disappearance, Dean was an 8th grade student and was described as a good student. She had dreams of being a model when she grew up. She was declared legally dead a decade after she vanished in 1991. In 2008, the investigation into her disappearance revived and investigators still hope to recover Deans remains. There have been several people questioned in her case but no one has been arrested.
Deans disappearance remains unsolved.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Kent County Sheriffs Office 616-336-3113