Left and Center: Darren circa, 1973
Right: Age Progressed to age 55
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: March 12, 1973
Missing From: Norfolk, Norfolk City County, Virginia
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: March 6, 1959
Age: 14 years old
Height and Weight: 6’4″ and 150 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Male, Brown hair, Hazel eyes, Darren has a round and indented chicken pox scar on his nasal bridge between his eyes, his weight is an estimated guess
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A green Army jacket, a black/red striped shirt, red bell bottom pants with white stripes down the pants, a belt, and a pair of boots
NCMEC Number: 1123666
Details of Disappearance
Darren Hillis was last seen in Norfolk, Virginia on March 12th 1973. He left his home at 7:00 am to catch the school bus located 6 minutes away from his home. He never arrived to the school bus and was never seen or heard from again. He wasn’t discovered as missing until 9:30 am when the Blair Junior High School notified his family that he never arrived for classes that day.
The search began at 5:00 pm when his parents arrived home. His father and brother, Dana, searches the woods across the street for Darren but found no sign he was in there. His two siblings originally assumed he was playing hooky which he had never done before. His brother and sister were both home sick that day.
Investigators are unsure of what happened to Darren while he was walking to the school bus stop. They’ve investigated the possibility that foul play was involved in the case. There’s been speculation that Darren was a victim of serial killer Dean Corll. Corll is responsible for the murders and sexual assaults of 28 boys from Houston, Texas.
Dean also had two accomplices, David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, who would both help lure young boys to Corll. They both eventually turned against him and Henley shot Corll and killed him in August of 1973. After his death, investigators recovered a photo from one of his accomplices possessions. The photo depicts a young boy who physically resembles Hillis.
The photo and it’s possible link to Hillis was discovered by Polly Penwell who also assisted in solving another case. She sent in a tip which ultimately identified a Jane Doe as Michelle Garvey who went missing from her home in Connecticut in 1982. She believes the boy in the photograph is in fact Darren and has pointed out possible evidence he was involved.
Penwell was able to uncover that there was a period of time in 1973 when Corll stopped abducting boys in Houston. Darren went missing during this time period. She also found out there was an area that Corll allegedly buried his victims which was pointed out by one of his accomplices. The area has not been searched despite Penwell’s insistence that Darren’s remains might be buried there.
The boy in the photo is apparently wearing the same pants as Hillis was wearing when he disappeared. There’s no evidence that Corll or his accomplices were involved in Darrens case, if they were it could prove that Corll has victims out of Texas. Corll is also a suspect in the 1973 Texas disappearance of Norman Prater who went missing two months before Darren.
Darrens family believes he may have left on his own accord. They apparently received strange phone calls over the holidays and birthdays before they moved away. They believe he’s still out there and hope he’ll contact them to verify his well-being. At the time of his disappearance, Darren was described as a normal somewhat quiet kid who wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up.
Darrens case remains unsolved and there’s been no sign of him since 1973.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Norfolk Police Department 757-664-7046