Real Name: Heath Brian Vess
Case: Lost Brother
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Date: May 1974
Details: Sharene Vess Davis and her siblings are searching for their younger brother, Heath. Their parents, James and Wanda, were married in 1956; seventeen years later, they had nine children (six sons and three daughters). The oldest was sixteen and the youngest was ten months. James worked in construction and Wanda was a housewife. By all appearances, they were a happy and loving family.
However, in reality, James was a dangerous alcoholic; by 1973, his drinking binges had strained the marriage. He was often too drunk to work; he was also abusive to Wanda. Sharene remembered on one occasion that he had beat Wanda because she hid alcohol from him. Finally, she had enough; after he moved out, she filed for divorce. She was determined to make a new life for herself and her children. With little work experience, however, she was forced to work as a waitress at a local bar.
On May 27, 1974, at around 1am, James entered the bar (it was Wanda's 34th birthday). He tried to reconcile with her, but she refused. A few minutes later, he returned with a shotgun. After ordering the other patrons to leave, he then shot her multiple times. He was arrested at another bar an hour later after confessing to her murder. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison; he died there in 1983.
After losing their parents, the Vess children were separated. James Jr. was taken in by his grandmother. Sharene, Russell, Kenneth, and Wayne were placed in foster homes. Kendra, Heath, Dawn, and Kevin were all put up for adoption. Just three months after Wanda's murder, Sharene ran away from her foster home and began living on the streets. She sometimes slept in apartment hallways and other times outside. However, she was able to escape the streets and eventually went to business school. She later got a job as an office manager and now lives in San Diego, California, with her husband and two daughters.
In 1987, Sharene began searching for her missing siblings. In less than two months, she was able to locate James, Russell, Kenneth, and Wayne. Two years later, she was reunited with Kendra. In December 1990, she was able to get in contact with Dawn and Kevin. However, Heath is still unaccounted for. He was just six years old when the children was separated.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 11, 1991 episode.
Results: Solved. Heath, who is now married and living in Ohio, saw the broadcast, and called the telecenter. The next day, he spoke on the phone with Sharene. Four weeks later, he and his wife, Robin, traveled to Los Angeles, where they were reunited with his siblings.