On March 1, 1979, Selinda Jean Winegar left her family’s home on Forest Street in Burlington, Vermont. She was planning to visit a friend. When she failed to return home, her parents reported her missing. At the time, investigators believed she ran away from home, but there has never been a confirmed sighting of Selinda and she has not made contact with her family.
Seventeen-year-old Selinda was the youngest of six children, and she was a student at Burlington High School. Selinda had reportedly been involved with a “bad crowd” and been using drugs (some sources specify marijuana), though few details are available about her friends or lifestyle.
Selinda’s family had been receiving threatening phone calls in the months before her disappearance, forcing them to get an unlisted number. The calls were targeted at Selinda. A few days after she was last seen, a man called Selinda’s family claiming that Selinda was dead and her body was tied up at the bottom of the Winooski River. The caller was never identified and the river was not searched.
In 1981, Selinda’s father, John, drowned near the family’s home. His death reignited the search for Selinda. Friends of the family contacted local media hoping to reach Selinda, but Selinda did not contact her family. A relative claimed to have seen Selinda at the church during her father’s funeral, but no one could corroborate the story. There were other possible sightings of Selinda, including by a cousin who believed he saw her on Church Street in Burlington. He said that Selinda ran when he called her name. No sightings were ever confirmed to be her.
The police believe it is likely Selinda left home by choice, and she may have stayed in the Burlington area. However, they have never stopped looking and the investigation remains open. Selinda’s siblings think it is possible she ran away and is still alive, but continue to search.
At the time of her disappearance, Selinda was about five feet four inches tall, weighed 105 pounds, and had strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. When she was last seen, she was wearing jeans, a green and white shirt, and a ring on each finger. She has a cross-shaped scar on her left ankle. She may use the name “Cindy.”
Anyone with information about Selinda can contact the Burlington Police Department: (802) 658-2704. Tips can also be submitted anonymously at vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit, or by texting VTIPS to 274637 (CRIMES).
Sources and additional information:
Vermont State Police: Selinda Jean Winegar
The Charley Project: Selinda Jean Winegar
63-Year-Old Found Dead Near Home
Selinda Jean Winegar, Missing, March, 1979 At Age 17