Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Real Names: Laura May and Dawn Marie Stark
Case: Lost Sisters
Location: Illinois
Date: February 16, 1964


Details: Jackie Dragon was born in 1964 and grew up in a middle class home near San Francisco. She knew she had been adopted, but she had no idea who her birth parents were. Curiously, she always had an unusual fascination with films and television shows about women in prison. She recalled having a sense of security when watching them.
Like most children, Jackie had a mischievous side. At age twelve, she went into her parents' bedroom and looked through her father's closet. As she went through a box of important documents, she discovered her adoption papers. Over the next few years, she searched off and on for her birth family.
In 1986, Jackie learned that she hadn't been born in the hospital. Instead, she had been born in a prison. Her mother, Marge Rider, had been incarcerated at the time of her birth. She had been born at the Dwight Reformatory for Women in Chicago. Marge had been serving a one-year sentence for her part in an armed robbery. Ten months later, she made one of the most difficult decisions of her life: she put Jackie up for adoption.
Marge decided that she wanted to give Jackie a better life: a stable home with two loving parents. At that time of her life, she knew that she would not be able to give her any of that. Indeed, Jackie's adoptive parents provided a stable home for her. However, she was always curious about Marge. She wondered if she was able to "clean up" her act, or if she had gotten into more trouble.
After more than nine years of searching, Jackie finally learned of Marge's whereabouts. She feared being rejected by her, but decided to contact her anyway. On July 26, 1990, she spoke with her for the first time in her life. Fortunately, Marge was overjoyed to hear from her. However, one of the first things she said to her was: "I never thought any of you girls would be calling me". She then told her that she had given up two other daughters for adoption.
Jackie and Marge talked for over two hours. Marge told her about her own troubled childhood. She dropped out of high school, fell in with the wrong crowd, and got pregnant at seventeen. She admits that she made many mistakes in her early life. However, she has managed to rise above her past; she is now happily married and lives in Winchester, Illinois. Inspired by Jackie's open-hearted love and understanding, she now wants to find the other daughters she gave up for adoption more than twenty-five years ago.
Marge's first daughter, Laura May, was eighteen-months-old when Marge went to prison. She was left in the care of Marge's grandmother. At the time, Marge was already eight months pregnant with Jackie. She claims that once she was in prison, her grandmother attempted to get legal custody of Laura May. Shortly after her sentence began, a lawyer came to visit her. He convinced her to sign a document which he said would allow her to keep Laura May. However, she believes that he was actually working for her grandmother and trying to help her adopt Laura May away from Marge.
Eventually, the courts stepped in because Marge's grandmother was too old to raise a child. Laura May was ultimately taken by the Cook County Welfare department and became a ward of the state. Marge never saw her again. After Jackie was born, she cared for her in the prison's nursery. However, ten months later, she gave in to outside pressures and put her up for adoption. A few weeks later, she completed her sentence and was released. She never got in trouble with the law again. However, she did give birth to a third daughter, Dawn Marie, whom she also gave up for adoption.
Marge later gave birth to a fourth daughter, Tracy. At that point, she finally felt comfortable raising a child and kept her. She often thought about what would happen if her other daughters came looking for her. She wondered how she would explain that she gave them up for adoption. However, she has realized that she was giving them better chances at life by giving them away to loving families.
On September 20, 1990, Marge flew to California and met with Jackie for the first time in more than twenty-five years. Jackie had dozens of questions about her life and family history for Marge. For her, the reunion with Marge meant the end of one search and the beginning of another. She hopes that her sisters know that they were adopted and wonder where they came from. Marge wants them to know that she loves them; she finally wants to make her family complete again.
Extra Notes: This case first aired om the May 1, 1991 episode.

(left to right) Jackie, Marge, Susan, and Laura May

Results: Solved. On the night of the broadcast, Laura May and Dawn Marie were both located thanks to viewers' tips. Laura May is now married and living in Mississippi. Dawn Marie, whose adopted name is Susan, owns her own business in Santa Barbara, California.
Three months after the broadcast, Laura May and Susan traveled to Jackie's home in Glendale, California, where they were reunited with her, Marge, and Tracy.
Sadly, Marge passed away on August 30, 2013, at the age of sixty-nine.