What Happened to Jennifer Pandos? High School Sophomore Vanished From Her Bedroom In 1987

An unsettling note on the teenager’s pillow read: “Do not call the police. I can easily find out if you do.”

Jennifer Pandos, pictured here smiling, is a Caucasian female with brown hair and hazel eyes. When she went missing, she was around 5'2" and 100 pounds.

Jennifer Pandos, a 15-year-old high school student in Virginia, suddenly disappeared without a trace, but the question remains: Did she run off, as a note left behind seemed to indicate, or did something more sinister happen to her?

Photo by: The Charley Project

The Charley Project

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A 15-year-old high school student in Virginia suddenly disappeared without a trace, but the question remains: Did she run off, as a note left behind seemed to indicate, or did something more sinister happen to her?

On the morning of Feb. 10, 1987, Ronald and Margie Pandos discovered their daughter, Jennifer Lynn Pandos was missing from her bedroom at their Williamsburg home, along with her purse.

An unsettling note left on the girl’s pillow claimed she had gone away with a man: “Your daughter’s with me. She's fine. She's having some problems and needs some time away,” the message read, according to The Charley Project.

The note, which was all in the same awkward penmanship and reportedly didn’t match Jennifer’s handwriting, then switched to what was purportedly the teenager.

“I'm fine, I just need time to think,” the note read. “Both of you please go to work tomorrow ‘cause I will try to call you. I won't call you at home, only at one of y'all's work. Do not call the police. I can easily find out if you do. I may never come back home. Don't tell my friends about this. Just tell them that I'm sick.”

At first, the couple complied, but three days later, they contacted the James City Police Department and told officers their daughter had run away.

“There was no reason to believe any foul play had occurred,” Steve Rubino, the former deputy police chief, explained to Dateline.

Jennifer’s childhood friend, Woods Woolwine, told the news program that everyone at the time “was just trying to figure out what happened and how she went missing.”

“The adults were nervous in the neighborhood, because there was a lot of uncertainty over what happened,” Woolwine recalled. “There wasn’t really much information out there, to be honest.”

In the ensuing days, months and years, Ron and Margie allegedly invented excuses to explain away the girl’s disappearance to friends and family, The New Yorker reported.

Detectives had few clues to go on, and during their investigation, they learned Jennifer and her on-again, off-again boyfriend had been having problems. But authorities eventually ruled him out as a person of interest, according to the Charley Project.

The organization also noted the high school sophomore “didn't use drugs or alcohol” and she “wasn't having any apparent problems with her parents, her friends or at school” when she vanished.

In the HBO documentary Burden of Proof, however, a friend claims she was on the phone with Jennifer the night she went missing and heard the teenager and her father get into an argument.

According to the docuseries, Jennifer’s older brother, Stephen, was away at college when his little sister purportedly ran away and he believes their father, Ron, may have been involved.

In Burden of Proof, Stephen alleged Ron was abusive, quick-tempered and may have been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in Vietnam.

“He really wanted to find out what happened to his sister, and he was convinced that his father was responsible,” the documentary’s director, Cynthia Hill, told Variety. “We tended to believe that as well. That’s what the cops were telling us and the case file that we had access to led us all to believe that that likely was the scenario. So, for us it was not necessarily a whodunit.”

Besides the note, police were unable to track down any clues that might provide answers about what happened to Jennifer or help determine if she’s still alive.

“There’s never been any evidence to explain her disappearance” and “her body has not been recovered,” Chief Rubino noted.

Jennifer’s parents moved away from Virginia in 1990 and later divorced. They both deny they had anything to do with their daughter going missing.

In the 2000s, investigators reportedly wanted to take a closer look at the cold case but they discovered the files related to the case had gone missing.

If you have any information on her case, please call James City County Police Department at (757) 253-1800.

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