It’s easy for the public to ignore the cases of missing adults. The stories of children and the elderly often receive more press, because they are perceived as more vulnerable. For the families of missing adults, this drought of sympathy can turn an already nightmarish ordeal even more agonizing.
The family and friends of Bonnie Duvall have had to fight to keep her story alive for over 30 years.
Frankie Duvall, known as Bonnie to her loved ones, lived outside tiny Loco, Oklahoma. With a population under 150, it’s a sleepy near-ghost of a town. A typical, rural village where residents feel safe from the rampant crime of the big city.
It’s the last place you’d expect to find a decades-long suspicious disappearance, or hear whispers of a murderer in their midst.
On May 10th, 1986 Bonnie stopped by the local cafe for lunch before heading home for the day. It was the last time anyone would ever see the devoted wife and mother again.
As days turned to weeks, some suspected she had decided to leave her quaint country life for more exciting pastures. The majority of residents, however, felt it wasn’t in her character. She adored her children, would never leave them behind even if she did decide to leave town. Her family agreed.
Even as these suspicions mounted, there was little attention paid to her disappearance. As is so often the case, it’s difficult to get law enforcement involved with a missing adult case because it’s not uncommon for adults to just decide to leave. It’s even more difficult to garner media interest.
And so, the weight of finding out what happened to Bonnie Duvall rested on the shoulders of her loved ones. It’s a fight that has dragged on for decades.
Frankie Lyvone Duvall also goes by the name “Bonnie”. She is a white female. She was 40 years-old the time of her disappearance. Today she would be around 72 years-old.
She is 5’8″ tall and weighs around 180 pounds. Her hair is dark brown and in 1986 was cut short, curly, and had some signs of graying. Her eyes are blue.
It’s unknown what clothing or jewelry she was wearing at the time she disappeared.
She was last seen leaving a cafe in Loco. Her husband at the time reported she had come home, then presumably left. This means she could have potentially been spotted somewhere around that area.
Rumors and suspicions surround the Bonnie Duvall case. The majority of law enforcement and family members believe that Bonnie is no longer alive. This is likely the reason why her information isn’t entered into the national database for missing persons at NamUS. Still, there are a few hopefuls that pray Bonnie has somehow survived.
Here, I have gathered some of the more popular opinions of authorities, loved ones, and internet sleuths. As always, please do not take these speculations as facts. This is simply to give readers an idea of the intricacies of this case and to help you come up with your own conclusions.
Bonnie ran away and started a new life elsewhere.
As I mentioned before, this type of disappearance is relatively common across the country. In fact, this occurs so often there are entire blogs and websites dedicated to helping adults “run away from home”. Bonnie would not have had these guides, obviously, but it’s not that crazy of a theory at first glance.
However, it’s important to take into account the opinions of the people closest to her. To them, it seems preposterous to think that she would leave her kids behind. It wasn’t in her nature to be the type to abandon her family without a word.
That’s not to say she couldn’t have kept the desire to leave to herself for a long time. But given how close and devoted she seemed to her loved ones, I personally believe Bonnie disappearing by her own volition is unlikely.
Bonnie was murdered by her husband.
When it comes to suspicious disappearances and possible homicides, those closest to the victim are the first to fall under suspicion. Bonnie’s husband admitted to being the last person who saw her the day she disappeared. With no one else to back up his claim that she was alive and fine at the time, it makes his story seem sketchy to even the untrained public eye.
What’s more, in 2005 investigators felt there was enough supporting evidence of foul play they actually obtained a search warrant for the home Bonnie shared with her husband. They even went as far as excavating the property to search for her remains. Though her body was not recovered, law enforcement officials did claim they discovered some evidence that supported the case. (There would be another excavation attempt in 2017.)
Family members also suspect that Bonnie never left that location alive. So far, I could not find any outward accusations that the husband had murdered her. However, during the 2005 search, Duncan Police Lieutenant Jimmy Williams expressed renewed optimism that locals were more forthcoming with information:
“There are people calling in… And they’re even giving us pretty distinct locations on where to look… Twenty years ago, someone might have thought, ‘I need to keep my mouth shut,’ or ‘I just don’t want to stir anything up. Now, they’re looking at it as ‘This person deserves justice. If they’re a missing person, they need to be found’.”
Still, investigators have so far kept any incriminating evidence close to their chest. Thus any speculation about Bonnie’s husband’s story or his alleged involvement in her disappearance is still only a theory.
Bonnie was kidnapped and murdered by someone else.
Much like the idea of Bonnie running away, I find this idea plausible yet unlikely. It’s true that many women have fallen victim to opportunistic home invaders that have taken them away and later killed them. In fact, kidnapping and murder have been hallmarks of infamous psychopaths, such as Todd Kohlhepp and David Parker Ray.
What makes me doubt this theory are the circumstances and location. Firstly, Bonnie lived in a very rural area, which could by itself be considered an ideal location for someone looking for a place with few likely witnesses. However it would take a decent amount of time and effort for someone who wasn’t local to plan such a relatively elaborate scheme.
The criminal would have to have at least familiarized themselves with Bonnie’s route home and schedule. Which means they also would likely know she lived with a husband and children: Potential witnesses. I feel like the time it would take to stalk and come up with this plan would eventually raise suspicions.
We also have to consider the very real claims by her husband that he was the last person to see her alive. That means that, at least for part of the day, he was home with her. If a potential kidnapper/murderer planned to take her that day, it’s likely he would have either kidnapped the man as well, as in the Kohlhepp case, or would have murdered him outright.
Of course, with so few detailed facts or evidence released by investigators, it’s hard to determine which, if any, of these theories is the most accurate one. For now it’s still a long, troublesome wait for peace of mind.
Family and law enforcement continue to look for answers over 30 years later. In June of 2017, authorities were granted permission to once again excavate Bonnie’s former property. Hopes of finding her potential remains were dashed. However, family members say they left with more evidence, hope, and closure than they ever had before.
While there are, at the time of this writing, no specific details given as to what investigators found during the most recent search, the family stated to several news sources that they feel confident the property is indeed the last place Bonnie was alive. For them, finding Bonnie isn’t about justice, it’s about healing a family that’s suffered for three long, agonizing decades.
Gena Spain Franklin, Bonnie’s youngest sister, delivered this statement:
“This is not about accusations, this is not about a murderer, this is not about justification, this is about bringing Bonnie home to rest in peace… As long as my sister and I and our daughters are alive, this will never be over. Until either we bring Bonnie home, or you bury all of us. We’re family. You never forget family.”
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Frankie “Bonnie” Duvall is encouraged to contact the following authorities:
Stephens County Sheriff’s Office – 580 255 3131 (You may also email them or fill out the contact form on their website.)