Marilyn “Niqui” McCown
An Indiana woman vanishes three weeks before her wedding.
Weight: 115 lbs.
Defining Characteristics: Small scar on right side of face, small scar over left eye
Niqui and her fiancé
On July 22, 2001, 28-year-old Marilyn "Niqui" McCown of Richmond, Indiana, stormed into her mother's kitchen. She was upset over two "creepy" men who had harassed her at the laundromat. Niqui's mother, Barbara McCown:
"I laughed at first, because she was such a pretty girl, I just thought that some man was making a play. I said, 'Niqui just calm down,' because she really was really upset."
Niqui may have been upset, but police believe she returned to the Laundromat anyway. No one knows for sure, because on that day, Niqui disappeared. Police had trouble believing that Niqui would take off when her wedding was just three weeks away. They suspected foul play, but without a body and with no apparent motive, they had nothing to go on.
The day she disappeared, Niqui set off to do the laundry, while her fiancé, Bobby Webster, met his best man to be fitted for their tuxedos. Michelle McCown-Luster is Niqui's sister:
"She spent so much money on this wedding. She wanted it to be the perfect wedding. She wanted her face to be perfect, her hair to be perfect, her body to be perfect."
But Niqui's wedding was not to be. Police believed that if Niqui returned to the laundromat, she may have been confronted, if not abducted, by the two strangers.
On Monday, July 23, the day after Niqui's disappearance, Bobby Webster contacted Richmond Police to report that his fiancé was missing:
"Filling out all the information on that missing person's report was very difficult. You never really think in your wildest imagination you'll be in such a situation until it really happens. It was very confusing."
Shortly after Niqui disappeared, Bobby began acting very strangely. Instead of postponing the wedding, he cancelled it entirely, demanding a full refund from the reception hall. Next, Bobby tried to return his wedding band for cash. But the manager refused. Niqui had paid for the ring and her name was on the receipt. Allegedly, the argument nearly turned violent and Bobby had to be escorted from the store. Bobby says the reason for his behavior was that he needed the money to help pay for Niqui's search:
"I was to the point where it was like, this wedding doesn't matter. Niqui's wellbeing is what matters right now."
But detectives weren't convinced. They asked Bobby to take a polygraph. At first, he refused, but later he agreed. According to Richmond, Indiana, Police Sergeant Bradley Berner:
"One of the questions that was asked to Mr. Webster was, 'Did you have anything to do with the disappearance of Niqui McCown?' He says, 'No,' and the needle about jumped off the chart. So not only did he fail, he failed miserably."
Bobby denies that he failed the test. He claims neither he nor his lawyer ever saw the results.
Niqui was gone for three months before detectives got their first break in the case. On November 5, 2001, her SUV was found at a large apartment complex in Dayton, Ohio, 45 minutes east of her home in Indiana. Police believed it had been there for weeks. The door lock was punched-out, the ignition had been hot-wired, and the stereo was missing. Michelle had hopes that the car would lead to her sister:
"We kept being told by the police, 'We've got to locate this truck. It's a big piece of the puzzle.' And when they located it, it was a little relief that now they can find Niqui."
Sergeant Berner believed an important clue was left in Niqui's SUV: her neatly folded laundry:
"The clothes looked like they had come just from the laundromat. They were neatly folded and did not have the appearance that someone had gone through any of the items."
If Niqui had been abducted from the laundromat, why would her clothes be neatly folded in the back seat of her SUV? And who drove her car from Richmond to Dayton? Then police were surprised to discover that Niqui had an ex-boyfriend who lived in the same apartment complex where her SUV was found. But after further investigation, he passed a lie detector test and had a solid alibi. It was another dead-end.
However, police later discovered that Niqui made a phone call to a co-worker who lived about a mile from where her SUV was found in Dayton. They talked about beauty products and the friend told Niqui she could purchase the items she was looking for in Dayton.
Police began to wonder if something had happened to Niqui in Richmond, Indiana, in Ohio, or somewhere in-between. Police believed her SUV might have been left in Ohio to distract attention from Richmond. That theory lead police back to Bobby Webster and his strange behavior after Niqui disappeared. Niqui's sister, Tammie Hughes, has trouble believing Bobby had anything to do with her Niqui's disappearance:
"I love Bobby to death. And there's no way he could do this. He'd have to be the devil himself to be able to walk around here and still see us face to face. I mean, everybody has their limits."
Niqui's mother, however, isn't so sure:
"As a wise old woman once told me, 'Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.' So I stuck with him like glue because I figured if Bobby did do this, or if he knew anybody did do it, he would come to me."
Police continue to follow up on other possible leads, while also keeping a close eye on Bobby Webster.