A young girl who has premonitions that she will not live to see her 16th birthday is abducted and murdered.

Smiling Katherine Hobbs with braces

Katherine Hobbs

Kathy sitting on her bed in her bedroom writting something on a piece of paper

Kathy predicted she wouldn’t live past 16

CASE DETAILS

On the evening of July 23, 1987, 16 year-old Kathy Hobbs was reading a romance novel in her bedroom of her home in a Las Vegas suburb. At 11 P.M., she told her mother, Vivian Hobbs, that she was going to the local supermarket:

“She came out to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m going down to the store and buy a book. Give me a kiss before I go.’ And I said, ‘Why, I’ll be up when you get back?’ And she said, ‘Well, I’ll probably stop and talk to the kids, so you might be in bed when I get back.’ So I gave her a kiss. And that was the last time I saw her.”

Police officers and paramedics carrying Katherine's body onto an ambulance

Katherine’s body was found in the desert

Kathy often walked the block and half to the store late at night. Usually her friends hung out at the apartment swimming pool, so Kathy’s mother wasn’t worried. Assuming that Kathy would be with her friends, Vivian went to sleep. Then, at 3 A.M., she says a strange dream woke her up:

“I woke up out of a sound sleep. I felt like I had been hit on the head. And all of a sudden, I got a very peaceful feeling and I thought, ‘Well, it’s over now.’ And I fell back to sleep.”

The next morning, Vivian discovered that Kathy’s bedroom was empty. Las Vegas Metro Police Homicide Lieutenant Kyle L Edwards investigated the case:

“Within the first day, we had tracked down friends, relatives, and had done a very extensive media campaign on the television with Katherine’s picture. At the end of the second day, we were convinced that Katherine had probably been abducted.”

Kathy’s family had been terribly worried about her. As a child, she had frightening premonitions, several of them that she would die at an early age. When she was eight, she became even more specific, telling her friends that she would not live past the age of 16. Vivian did what she could to help her daughter:

“She did not have a happy childhood. Her father and I went through a divorce when she was eight years old. She and her father were extremely close. When she was in the 7th grade, a very good friend of hers died of a heart disease and that affected Kathy very much. One of the main reasons we moved to Las Vegas was to give Kathy another chance to get away from the environment she grew up in.”

A landline phone on a desk

Police received a call from a witness

After the move, Kathy blossomed and made new friends. But, according to her mother, as Kathy’s 16th birthday approached, her fear of dying returned:

“She got very teary-eyed one night and told me, ‘Mom, I don’t want to get any older. I want to be a little girl.’ And I told her, ‘Kathy, we all have to grow up, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but we all do it.’ And she told me, ‘I’m not going to.’ She didn’t think she’d make her 16th birthday.”

Kathy spent all her time in her room and would not leave the house. Then, on the morning of her 16th birthday, she was surprised and relieved to find she was still alive. She now seemed to have a new enthusiasm for life. Kathy’s sister, Theresa Hobbs, remembered how she began to go out again, and started making plans for her future:

“She was ecstatic. She came out and said, ‘I made it Mom, I made it. I’m 16. I did it. I’m alive.’”

a person holding an un folded letter

Several letters were found in Katherine’s room

After Kathy vanished, police assumed she had been abducted and issued photos to the media. Eventually, one crucial clue surfaced. A clerk remembered seeing Kathy in the supermarket the night she vanished. Store receipts confirmed that someone did purchase a paperback novel at 11:17 that night. Apparently, Kathy had made it to the store, but not home. Nine days after Kathy vanished, hiker Rick Pacult was searching for rock crystals out in the desert near Lake Mead:

“I was walking back to the car and was probably 150 feet, 200 feet from the road and was stopped by a very strong odor. I decided to see where it was coming from or what it was, and that’s when I found Katherine’s body. It was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen in my life. I had to sit down and gather my thoughts and make sure that what I was looking at was real.”

Lieutenant Kyle Edwards was first on the scene:

“Within probably 20 minutes of our arrival, we knew it was Katherine. There was no doubt in our own minds it was Katherine. It does get very quiet and you can’t help but look at it and see your own children and say, ‘For the grace of God, there goes one of mine.’ At the time your immediate feeling is to run home, grab your daughter by the arm and bring her to the scene, and say, ‘This is why I say, ‘No, you can’t go out late at night.’’”

Tire prints at the scene showed where a vehicle had pulled in, turned around and left. Investigators also found two rocks spattered with Kathy’s blood. The coroner concluded that she died from repeated blows to the head. Vivian recalled her daughter’s premonitions:

“She was 16 years, three months and three days old when she was killed. So she made it to 16, but not much after that. But she was right. She wasn’t going to live to be an adult.”

After Kathy’s death, several letters were found in her room addressed to each member of the family. They were dated one month before her 16th birthday. The one to Vivian read: “Dear Mother: In the event of my death, you shall get this letter. I hope you live happily and I don’t want you or anyone else to dwell on my death. I love you all very dearly. You were good to me and nobody else could have been a better mother. Keep me alive in your heart and don’t ever forget me. Love always, Kathy.”

Exactly three months after Kathy vanished, a call came in to the Las Vegas police department. Their answering machine recorded this message from a man who may have witnessed her abduction: “He grabbed this girl in front of the store on Desert Inn and Maryland. This was a few months ago. I’ve been out of town for a few months and I wrote this down because she was screaming. I pulled over in the car. She was very young girl, wearing a white jacket and pink pants. And the guy’s name he hollered to him, pushed her in the car, his name was Robbie.”

Lieutenant Edwards:

“The theory that we have is that she was abducted between the store and her apartment by one or more suspects. We think she was driven to the lake that night and killed that evening.”

The caller reported the license number of the car, but did not leave his name or phone number. The police checked the license number and discovered it did not exist.

Today the murder of Kathy Hobbs remains unsolved. Her mother and the Las Vegas police hope that the witness will call back and give more details, or that someone watching may recognize the voice of the mysterious caller.

Update:

While the witness never contacted authorities and was never located, this case has been closed. An alleged serial killer named Michael Lee Lockhart was a key suspect in Kathy’s murder. After his arrest for another murder, he was put on trial, convicted and has since been executed.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack in season six with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

36 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Lisa

    Lena Jo, this happened before he killed Windy( IN), Jennifer(FL) or Paul (TX). Windy was killed on October 13. Windy was my best friend so I am very familiar with the situation. It sounds like they tied him to this murder because of fibers in the vehicle. That is the vehicle he had when he killed Windy, the day after attacking someone in nearby Chicago. The person he attacked in Chicago survived and gave a description of the car and driver (Lockhart). He then made he way across the country and along the way ditched the Toyota and stole a Corvette (after killing Windy and prior to killing Jennifer). Then he made his way to TX and when spotted driving the stolen Corvette, ultimately killed Officer Paul Hulsey.

    Reply

  2. Avatar

    Jeff

    I am relieved to know that this case has been solved but I wonder now if the mysterious caller was in fact this Lockhart guy giving a fake license plate number to throw off the investigation

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    Jason

    Poor thing. So afraid to die. I can’t imagine the pain and frustration of the mother and other family members. I’m glad they closed the case.

    Reply

  4. Avatar

    Monikka

    “It was determined that her cause of death were a result from multiple blows from nearby rocks. Lockhart was linked to the murders through fibers found at the crime scene which matched fibers found in a car he had been using in the area at the time.”
    https://www.criminallyintrigued.com/blog/2018/1/6/the-crime-spree-of-michael-lee-lockhart

    Reply

  5. Avatar

    La Morena

    I want to know how they linked this Michael character to her death? DNA evidence or what? Secondly, I would never let my 16 year old walk anywhere late night, I dont care about friends either. No 16 year old has any business walking late nights anywhere, especially in a busy large city such as Las Vegas. I feel so sorry for her, sick world we live in and that’s why I dont like letting my kids out of my sight if I can help it.

    Reply

  6. Avatar

    Cody

    What proof is there that Lockhart killed her? What about what the witness said?

    Reply

  7. Avatar

    Ann

    I think this young girl was upset about losing her friend at an early age and not understanding her friends death so she grew up thinking she to would not live to adulthood because her friend didnt and no one explained to her in a way she could or would understand so it wasnt a premonition it was a fear..anxiety to blame her mother though wow ..I’m sure her mother blamed herself no she shouldn’t have let her daughter go out so late at night alone but most parents think kids at that age are safer more aware of their surroundings and 1987 was a hole lot different than 2019 I dont know what the area was like then but I know things didnt happen as much as they do now or I just didnt hear it as much but stop kicking that mother

    Reply

  8. Avatar

    Jason

    Why was she so fixated on her death? She sounded horribly depressed. The update said Michael Lee Lockheart was involved in her kidnapping/murder and was executed.

    Reply

  9. Avatar

    Boomer

    This case has NOT BEEN SOLVED!! Unsolved Mysteries needs to take this out of the “solved” category, now.

    Reply

    • Unsolved Mysteries

      Unsolved Mysteries Post author

      Unfortunately the police informed us that the case has been closed. Please let us know if it has been re-opened. Thank you.

      Reply

  10. Avatar

    Chris

    I just saw Katherine’s story tonight on “Unsolved Mysteries”. Such a sad story. I think a 16 year old walking out at night alone was not safe to begin with, but Katherine definitely did not deserve to die. Continued prayers and condolences to Katherine’s family and friends. xoxo

    Reply

  11. Avatar

    Curious too

    What about the phone call made to the police station?

    Reply

  12. Avatar

    Stacy

    What episode in Season One? Also what grocery store was this? I drive by DI and Maryland everyday and I know there is an Applebees, Sunrise Hospital, Carl’s Jr and a little strip mall now. Did they destry this store or is it just not on the actual corner? Such a sad story that has really stuck with me. I am precognitive, love to read and walk alone and could see this being me if I had lived in Vegas at that time.

    Reply

    • Unsolved Mysteries

      Unsolved Mysteries Post author

      Hi Stacy – this case is in S1:E16 on Amazon Prime & Roku, S1:E13 on Hulu (both with Robert Stack) and in S6:E5 with Dennis Farina.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      J

      That intersection was different back in the 80s there was no addition to sunrise hospital and Carl’s Jr. Etc was probably not there there used to be an Albertsons where Office Depot sits today

      Reply

  13. Avatar

    Lena Jo

    There’s a book about Michael Lee Lockhart. It’s called “A Perfect Gentleman”. He killed a girl in Indiana, in Florida, & killed a police officer, Paul Hulsey, in my hometown (Beaumont, Texas). That’s where he got caught, arrested, tried, & executed (Texas). So somewhere in between killing the first 2 girls, he must had went to Las Vegas & killed Kathy. And then went to Texas after. Just my opinion.

    Reply

  14. Avatar

    gin12

    Rest in peace, your death was not in vain it helped me keep my children at a very close range and not roam around as you and I did as children. your death helped me to see the dangers in the world and keep my children and grand children safe. I will never forget you nor did I know you when u were on earth, rest in peace. Thanks!

    Reply

  15. Avatar

    Curious

    Michael Lockheart had a signature. He stabbed his victims and left them with their clothing manipulated in similar ways. What proof did they have that he was her killer? I am just wondering because Serial killers don’t often change their rituals.

    Reply

  16. Avatar

    S

    Then she is who I think she is and I remember when this took place. Very sad. Sorry for your family.

    Reply

  17. Avatar

    Trina

    My sweet dear friend Kathy….I think about you often and sure wish I could see your beautiful face again! You were such an amazing soul and friend…xoxox

    Reply

    • Avatar

      heidi wilkus

      I think about Kathy often too. She babysat me when I was in first or second grade when they lived in Reno. Then they moved away, I remember my mother getting a call, her expressions and reactions were heartbreaking. I had no idea what the call was about.. but for some reason I said “that better not be about Kathy”. My mom started balling, and was in shock I sensed something. I don’t know how the feeling came over me something happened to her, I was in 3rd grade.

      Reply

  18. Avatar

    Lou

    Sure you can blame the mother.. You could blame a permissive lifestyle.. Most families won’t let their teens out at night after 11 pm unless its a weekend and they are not alone.

    Reply

  19. Avatar

    Stacy

    I grew up in Reno…Sun Valley NV. I think she lived there before moving to Vegas.
    Does anyone know for sure?
    I believe I knew her and the girl that died from heart issues.

    Reply

  20. Avatar

    Jennifer

    I live in Las Vegas and I know exactly what area she was walking around that night. I don’t know how it was in 1987 (I moved to Las Vegas during Christmas of 2000 and would never live in that neighborhood) but I can tell you it is NOT a safe area at night and crimes in that area are constantly on the local news, including an instance where a friend of mine – a single girl in her 20s – was mugged walking home from the store around 2 am. She survived but was severely beaten and hospitalized for several days. That being said, that area being rather low-income, the only residents that live around there that have cars are mostly college students from nearby UNLV (who either brought cars from home/out-of-state or whose parents bought them the car). It’s entirely possible that Kathy’s mother didn’t have a car so Kathy walking to the store was most likely something she did every day. Regardless, blaming the mother is one cruel, heartless and unacceptable position for anyone to take.

    Reply

  21. Avatar

    susan

    Why on earth is ANYONE blaming the mother?? Do you not have even the slightest compassion for what she must feel? As the mother of a missing child myself, every single day I live with the guilt of letting my daughter walk out the door. People don’t realize there’s nothing we could have done to stop our children but we’d go back and do it over if only we could.

    Reply

  22. Avatar

    Angelia

    I am the girl in the TV show I played Katheryn Hobbs, I often think about her family and her case I hoped it was solved..

    Reply

  23. Avatar

    Maureen

    Rest in peace baby girl..so sorry your life was cut short

    Reply

  24. Avatar

    alysia

    Being a mother myself I can’t even fathom what this girls mother was thinking letting her 16 year old daughter walk to the store at 11 pm and going to sleep before she got home. This is a dangerous world we live in and nobody of any age should walk alone anywhere after dark much less a young girl.

    Reply

  25. Avatar

    Anonymous

    Is there any real prof that she had these “i wont live to 16” ideas? or is it just what her family is saying? have the writing in those “if i die” letters been compared to school work ect..? things are rarely as strange as they seems at first glance, and this case makes me think this whole story is a postconstruction done by her family as a cover up/media whoring. Sorry for bad spelling, english is not my native tounge.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Keri

      I totally agree. It’s tragic what happened to her but the “dying premonitions” sound like a boatload of melodrama made up after the fact.

      Reply

  26. Avatar

    Anonymous

    She was my friend I think about her often

    Reply

  27. Avatar

    Anonymous

    This goes to all Parents:dont let your kids go walking late past 10pm especially if your kids keep telling you about a “premonition” of dying before16 years old! Stay with your kids, walk with them, the mother in this case could have drove her daughter to the store and waited for her in car! its a sad case but a learning tool about being safe! the world is full of crazy people and we cant just look the other way and pretend it does not exist! Be safe everybody!!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Jennifer

      You’re being rather presumptuous here. I live in Las Vegas and am familiar with the area where Kathy lived. I don’t/wouldn’t live there but I know full well that it’s high crime and low-income so it’s more than likely that Kathy’s mother didn’t own a car and couldn’t afford to live in a better neighborhood. If the store was that close that she walked there often AND she did mention something about hanging out with friends at the apartment pool (other regular occurrence) her mother had no reason to question her safety, likely believing a friend would accompany here for the short walk. Regardless, your accusations are presumptuous and completely devoid of merit.

      Reply

  28. Avatar

    vernon l hobbs

    Never knew about you i only wish we could have met . Heard about you thru my mom finally saw episode after years of searching i met kathrine from watching unsoveled mysteries episode in shock to see i had another sister was able to find her with the help of my other sister bonnie we all got together to find dad we met and it was to short he has since past. thank you , unsolved mysteries for keeping a archive of your episodes.

    Reply

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