Gail Lorraine Joiner

Above: Gail circa, 1972

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: September 22, 1972

Missing From: Thonotosassa, Hillsborough County, Florida

Classification: Non-Family Abduction

Date Of Birth: July 22, 1959

Age: 13 years old

Height and Weight: 4’10” and 100 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Blue eyes, Gail has a scar on her cheek and facial freckles

Clothing/Jewelry Description: A navy blue pullover shirt with white stripes and denim Levi jeans

NCMEC Number: 775400

Details of Disappearance

Gail was last seen in Thonotosassa, Florida on September 22nd 1972. She arrived home from school and made herself a sandwich. Afterwards at 5:00 pm, she told her parents that she was going for a walk. She took her pet raccoon, Bandit, with her on a leash.

Three witnesses came forward and claimed they had seen Gail on the evening of her disappearance. One of the witnesses was a man who had known Gail. He said he saw her walking west on Thonotosassa Road at 5:30 pm. Another resident reported seeing Gail walking on MacIntosh Road which was about a mile from Thonotosassa Road at 7:30 pm.

Gail never returned home and was never seen or heard from again. Extensive searches with over 150 searchers on both foot and horseback and even helicopters were unable to find Gail. Waterways and Lake Thonotosassa were also searched with no success whatsoever.

On September 25th 1972, investigators received a tip which said that a woman saw Gail walking near an Orange Grove near the intersection of State Road 579 and Pruitt Road. The tip stated that Gail was naked except for newspapers which were wrapped around her. The tip gave hope that Gail was alive but she was not found.

By the time 6 days had passed since she disappeared, investigators announced that they believed Gail was abducted. Several witnesses stated they had seen Gail standing near a white car. The car is described as possibly being a small white 1962-1965 Chevy II or automobile of some type.

An unidentified man was possibly seen standing against the vehicle. He is described as being Caucasian and stood between 5’10” and 6’0″ tall. He weighed approximately 180 to 190 pounds and was approximately 28 to 30 years old in 1972. He was a medium to dark complexion, had short dark brown colored hair and had long side burns.

Bloodhounds also traced Gails scent to a spot beside Thonotosassa Road very close to her home. The trail ended at that location which indicated that Gail either got into a vehicle or was placed in one there.

It should also be noted that Gails pet raccoon, Bandit, also never returned home. He had a burn on his foot and a scared on his nose. Investigators found and brought in approximately 17 deceased raccoons but non of them turned out to be Bandit. He has never been found.

Gails parents both stated that their daughter would never have left on her own accord. She was close to her older brother at the time and had no problems at home. They believe that whoever abducted Gail gained her trust through Bandit. Gail enjoyed showing him to people.

Investigators checked to see if Gail could be a possible identity for the bodies of various murdered women found in Hernando County, Florida. One of the bodies found came from a 13 year old girl. The body was not Gail.

Three people have claimed responsibility for kidnapping and murdering Gail. One of these people was serial killer, Gerald Stano. Stano confessed to killing 41 women from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. He confessed that he caused Gails death and gave investigators a description of the location of her remains.

Gails remains were never found and Stano was never charged with killing her. He also confessed to the 1975 Florida murder of Susan Basile, a 12 year old girl who went missing from Port Orange, Florida. Her body was never found. Stano was executed in 1998.

At the time of her disappearance, Gail had recently moved to Florida from Romulus, Michigan just a few months before her disappearance. She enrolled at Greco Junior High School about 3 weeks before her disappearance. She has 6 siblings. Her parents never gave up hope of finding her. Gails disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.

Investigating Agency

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

Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office 813-247-8000

Source Information

For The Lost

The Charley Project

The Doe Network


The Tampa Tribune 09/24/1972

The Tampa Tribune 09/25/1972

The Tampa Tribune 09/28/1972

The Tampa Tribune 03/28/1981