Leigh Marine Occhi

Left and Center: Leigh circa, 1992

Right: Age Progressed to age 31


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: August 27, 1992

Missing From: Tupelo, Lee County, Mississippi

Classification: Non-Family Abduction

Date Of Birth: August 21, 1979

Age: 13 years old

Height and Weight: 4’10” and 95 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: White Female, Blonde hair, Hazel eyes, Leigh has small scratch scars on her right leg and bumps on the skin of both her knees, a strawberry birthmark on the base of her skull, Leigh has a left lazy eye and she wears eye glasses, her blood type is either A or O, her ears are pierced and she was known to wear glasses at the time of her disappearance

Clothing/Jewelry Description: A nightshirt and green or yellow silk material boxer shorts

NCMEC Number: 771656


Details of Disappearance

Leigh Occhi was last seen in Tupelo, Mississippi on August 27th 1992. She was last seen at her family’s home which was located on the 100 block of Honey Locust Drive. She was last seen by her mother, Vickie Felton, at 7:35 am as she left the house to go to work.

Leigh was staying at home by herself to wait for her grandmother to come and pick her up. Leigh was planning to attend an open house at her school. There were very bad weather conditions that day due to Hurricane Andrew moving over the area. Vickie became concerned for Leigh and called her at least twice at 8:30 am, both calls had no answer.

Vickie left her job immediately and returned home. She returned to the house and found that the garage door was open and the light was on. This would mean that the door was opened in the past few minutes before Vickie found it. She also discovered that another door of the house was unlocked.

Vickie could not find her daughter anywhere and called police at 9:00 am to report her daughter as missing. Investigators went to the house but found no signs of a forced entry. They did find signs of a struggle inside the home, however. They found blood in various places of the home. It was fresh and still wet. It also matched Leigh’s blood type.

Investigators found the blood on the walls, the carpet, and a bathroom counter. One of Leigh’s nightgowns and her brassiere were found in a laundry basket. Both items were bloodstained. Leigh was known to be wearing the nightgown when her mother left the house. There were also signs of an attempted cleanup in the bathroom but investigators could not find anything that could’ve been used to clean it up.

Blood was found trailing through the hallway to the living room. It stopped at the backdoor of the home, the door had blood and hair stuck to the doorframe which suggested that Leigh hit her head on it. Leigh was never seen or heard from again afterwards.

It was found that Leigh’s reading glasses, shoes, some clothing, and her sleeping bag were missing from the home. Investigators searched various areas for Leigh and even utilized tracking dogs, they could not find a scent for Leigh due to the weather that occurred on the day she vanished.

On September 9th, her mother received a mysterious package in the mail. The envelope was addressed to “B. Yarbrough”. This was the name of Leigh’s stepfather, Barney Yarbrough, he was separated from Leigh’s mother at the time. The envelope was postmarked from Booneville, Mississippi which was over 30 miles away from Tupelo.

The envelope also had 6 stamps on it and had the street name “Honey Locust” spelled as “Hony Locust”. The envelope contained Leigh’s missing eyeglasses. There was nothing else in the envelope and forensic examination led nowhere since the stamps had been wet with water and no DNA was present on the envelope. Handwriting analysis found nothing either.

Whoever mailed the glasses to Leigh’s house has never been identified and investigators suspect that they were mailed to mislead the investigation into Leigh’s disappearance.

Investigators gave polygraph exams to both Leigh’s stepfather and Vickie. Barney passed the test. Vickie was given a total of 3 exams and she failed each of them because she showed signs of deception. Investigators have not named her as a suspect in her daughters disappearance but consider her a person of interest.

Investigators have questioned several people in connection to Leigh’s disappearance but no one had ever been arrested for her disappearance. Leigh’s mother disputes the possibility that she was involved with her daughters disappearance.

Vickie has stated she believes that local man, Oscar McKinley Kearns, was responsible for Leigh’s presumed death. 9 months after Leigh disappeared, Kearns broke into the Memphis, Tennessee home of a 15 year old girl and abducted her. He raped her and then released her afterwards.

He had known the girl through a Tupelo church. He was convicted of her rape and was sentenced to 8 years in prison. He was released after serving 4 years in prison. After his release, he abducted a married couple and raped the wife. He was sent back to prison afterwards and was released in 2019.

Kearns refuses to be interviewed in Leigh’s case and has also refused a polygraph in her disappearance. He has not cooperated in the case. Investigators have not named him as a suspect but he is considered a person of interest as well. He knew Leigh through church as well.

After Leigh’s disappearance, her father got emergency leave from the military and organized searches for his missing daughter. He stated that he knew from the moment his ex wife called him to inform him of Leigh’s disappearance that she was dead. He believes someone best Leigh to death inside her home. He also believes someone in the family was the one responsible for her murder.

He and Vickie has divorced in 1981. He said he didn’t get to see Leigh often because of his obligations to the military but they had a close relationship. He was stationed out of state when his daughter disappeared. Vickie was also a veteran of the armed forces. Her stepfather has since died and her mother has moved to Michigan.

At the time of her disappearance, Leigh lived alone with her mother and was due to start the 8th grade at Tupelo Middle School. She also had a boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. He was never questioned about her disappearance.

Leigh’s disappearance remains unsolved. Foul play is strongly suspected in her case and it remains classified as a non family abduction by law enforcement.


Investigating Agency

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Tupelo Police Department 662-841-6491

Federal Bureau of Investigation 202-324-3000


Source Information

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Charley Project

The Doe Network

NamUs

CNN

Medium

411GINA