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Vanished: Searching for Deanie Peters

"Everybody knew about it. There was nobody who didn't know in this area, for hundreds of miles out," ponders Ken Kleinheksel.

Kent County - "Everybody knew about it. There was nobody who didn#39;t know in this area, for hundreds of miles out," ponders Ken Kleinheksel. How could a young woman simply vanish without a trace? It's a question that has haunted the retired Kent County detective for 26 years." It's a strange case. It's just so strange."The disappearance of 14-year-old Deanie Peters is a mystery that still grabs people's attention in the Grand Rapids area as well. Peters was with her mother and four-year-old brother for a wrestling clinic at Forest Hills Central Middle School. Deanie left the gym and has never been seen or heard from since. That was February 5th, 1981." We got dozens and dozens of clues but nothing to lead towards her," says Kleinheksel. No one was ever named a suspect.

Kleinheksel says they interviewed persons of interest, a custodian at the school even a 17-year-old from Lowell." We believe that he had a girlfriend at Forest Hills that he was seeing and this girlfriend and Deanie somehow got into a disturbance or fight or whatever and that's why he was at the school that day," says Kleinheksel. Nothing tied either person to Deanie's disappearance, and a massive search of the area found nothing. "We searched by foot, horseback, and helicopter. We had in on television," says Kleinheksel. Throughout the years, all kinds of theories are tossed around about the Deanie's connection to the Lowell teenager."I did question him. There's a story that maybe he hit her with a car, but not proof, no eyewitnesses, just rumors."The mystery still grabs the headlines more than two decades later. And 12 and half years into his retirement Kleinheksel is still hard at work on the case."I still do some checking and receive phone calls. If I get a phone call, I follow up on it. Last year I checked at least two burial sites. Possible gravesites and did some digging, and nothing turned up."Within the last 4 to 5 years, some new information has surfaced. "There were two couples coming down the river in a canoe, and one man said he knew she was buried there, and he was at the bar telling the same story."That story was reported several times and led to searches at the young marines camp where Deanie was supposedly buried."The sheriff's office did go out with sniffing dogs for bodies and did some digging, but it's a huge area, and we're talking about 20 years later."Kleinheksel believes that Deanie peters is dead, but the how and why still eludes him."What did I do? What didn't I do? We messed up someplace. Did we have the clues and didn't find him, or did we overlook something? I don't know. We tried so hard, you know?"If you have information about this case, you should contact the Kent County Sheriff's Department.