Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Real Name: Jacklyn "Jackie" Harrington
Case: Lost Sister
Location: Hartwick, New York
Date: August 3, 1934


Details: Sixty-two-year-old Wilson "Bill" Purinton (formerly Harrington) is a retired businessman from New Hampshire who is searching for his long-lost sister, Jackie. In 1934, the Harrington family lived in Hartwick, New York; they were struggling to survive the Great Depression. Six of the Harrington children stayed at home alone during the day while their parents were at work. On August 3, 1934, the Harrington children had a birthday party for Bill and his younger sister, Jackie. That afternoon, however, their lives were changed forever.
Neighbors had felt that the four younger children were being neglected. They reported the Harringtons to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The social workers arrived while the parents were working and the birthday party was in progress. After the celebration was finished, the social workers took the four youngest children away, while the two oldest children were left behind.
Bill, then eight, was the oldest of the four. The social workers told him that he was going on a "trip". He was excited until he realized that he would not be returning home. He, Jackie, and two other siblings were put up for adoption. All four were placed with different families in New York.

Bill purinton.jpg

Bill lived with his adopted family until his teenage years, in which he then joined the military and went off to serve in the Second World War. When World War II ended, Bill began searching for his siblings and his parents. He made no progress until 1976, when he wrote to the records clerk in Hartwick, New York. Just as the clerk was replying to Bill's letter, a visitor arrived and gave the clerk an address for Bill's older sister Wanda. She gave him a cautious reply, telling him to call her if he wanted more information about the family. The two were reunited soon after.
Within a year, Bill was able to track down all of his siblings, except two: Jackie and Ed. Also, in 1977, he was able to locate his mother in California, but sadly she passed away before he was able to reunite with her. He also learned that his father died in 1955.
In 1980, a New York Children's Aid Society researcher was able to locate a phone number for Bill's brother Ed, now named Ed Orvis. On Christmas Eve, the two siblings talked to each other on the phone for the first time in over forty years. By the fall of 1988, Bill was able to locate and reunite with all of his siblings, except for Jackie. Bill and his siblings are still searching for Jackie.
The family has a few clues that may lead them to Jackie. She was adopted by the Frank Breeding family of New York City. They moved to Spokane, Washington in 1936. She graduated from Central Valley High School in Veradale, Washington around 1943. She trained as a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital in 1944. In November 1946, she married Ed Roper. In 1949, she divorced him and moved to either Utah or Montana.
Extra Notes: This segment was featured as part of the February 1, 1989 episode.

Harrington family reunited

Results: Solved. Several tips came in from the broadcast, most from people who claimed to have known and gone to school with Jackie in the 1940s and 1950s. Some claimed that she had married and adopted two children, and that one had since died. However, the tipsters did not know of Jackie's present whereabouts.
A local historian, Anita Harrison, learned about Bill's search through the Unsolved Mysteries broadcast and tried to help in his search. Then, surprisingly, in September 1997, Jackie Purinton herself came to Anita. A family that Jackie was visiting in Hartwick knew about Bill's search through Unsolved Mysteries and knew that Anita had been looking for Jackie. The family sent Jackie to her. Anita got in contact with Bill again and within a few days Jackie and her husband were reunited with Bill and his wife. In 2000, she was reunited with the rest of her long-lost siblings: Betty, Mary, Wanda, Shirley, and Ed.
Sadly, Bill passed away in 2008; he was eighty-two. Wanda passed away in 2016 at the age of 95.