On May 31, 1958 nineteen-year-old Carol Ann Hlavac and her husband of two weeks, Dennis, were living in an Oklahoma motel. Originally from Chicago suburb, the couple moved to Moore, Oklahoma where Dennis was stationed at Norman’s Naval Air Training Center. Boarding at the Crown Motel was only temporary while they looked for more suitable housing closer to the naval base.
Dennis last saw his wife when he left for work shortly before midnight on May 30. He drove their car to the training base and Carol was to catch a bus into town the next afternoon for a house-hunting excursion.
The olive-skinned, freckle-faced new bride dressed in a beige suit and high heels complimented by her gold and black class ring and wedding band, perhaps excited at the prospect of finding new grounds in which to plant roots. She grabbed her small white purse which only contained about $35 and walked fifteen feet to the bus stop by the highway.
Carol never caught that bus.
Witnesses claiming to have seen Carol in her last moments by the highway gave varying accounts to the authorities. Motel employees thought they saw her talking to someone in a car and heard the car’s tires squealing away hurriedly but didn’t see her get into the car.
One lead pointed towards a Chrysler station wagon near the motel, but authorities checked all matching vehicles registered in the state. None of them were proven in the location on the date and time Carol went missing.
Loyal Vanderpool noticed a man donning a western-style hat parked in a gray 1953 Ford truck near Carol as she waited. As with other witness statements, Vanderpool couldn’t say for certain whether or not Carol left with the man.
In the midst of increased attention on the disappearance a corroded key to the Batterman’s room was mailed to the Crown Motel with no postmark. While this was a bizarre occurrence, police eventually determined that the key was unrelated to Carol’s disappearance and returned by a former tenant.
Dennis and Carol’s relationship was scrutinized in the media. In mid-June when Dennis spoke to a news outlet to plea for his wife’s return he also refuted rumors that she had potential flames back in Illinois or that she’d had many boyfriends in the past.
The same day the article was published in which Dennis defended the strength of their relationship the Chicago Tribune ran an article which cast a shadow on that sentiment. Dennis and Carol’s courtship had not been lengthy and she was previously engaged to her Proviso Township High beau, Joseph Pohl Jr.
Joseph, also in the navy, left for the Mediterranean several days before the article hit newsstands.
In September 1958 the feeling that Carol was abducted intensified after Mrs. J.E. Kelly, the manager of a resort at Reynolds Lake came forward with a new lead. She told police that she witnessed a woman matching Carol’s description with two men in a white station wagon at the lake about a week after the disappearance. The woman had tried to get out of the car but one of the men pulled her back inside. Several days later two suspicious men without fishing gear asked Kelly for shovels to dig worms.
This led to a civilian-manned and fruitless search of Reynolds Lake and surrounding grounds, of which footage can be seen around the 10:44 mark in the following video.
Within three years 21-year-old Dennis had moved to Tennessee, was in a serious relationship with another woman, and wished to divorce his missing wife. The St. Petersburg Times reported that Dennis wanted Carol’s disappearance to be “forgotten.” According to a biography on the Proviso High Class of 1957 site Dennis remarried in 1960.
Carol’s parents were more optimistic than Dennis about the possibility of her return, at least for the first few years. Her disappearance baffled them because they didn’t believe that she had left on her own yet police were unable to find any proof that she had been kidnapped or murdered.