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Missing Pitchers  -  Danielle & Dorothy  -  05/23/93


Friday, September 24, 1999

Woman on quest to find mother, sister
Pain does not go away after 6 years

The 2 disappeared in May 1993 after leaving their Arizona house to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Staff writer

Dawn E. Pitcher plans to celebrate her mother's birthday today with her brothers and sisters and some childhood friends.  They'll bake a cake and tell stories about their mother, Dorothy Pitcher, and about their shy blond sister Danielle.
But their mother won't be there.
Neither will Danielle.
Both have been missing since May 23, 1993. They never returned from a convenience store where they had walked that sunny afternoon, and authorities have no leads in their disappearance.

It happened in Sunizona, Arizona where Dawn's father, John, her mother lived with six of their 15 children. Dawn Pitcher, 27 who now lives in Springfield, spends hours each day still trying to find out what happened to her mother and sister.

"You have all these unanswered questions, thoughts and fantasies. You have nightmares, constantly," she said. "Some days, to even think about it puts that lump in your throat." 

Dorothy was 47 the day that her husband, John, asked her to get him a pack of cigarettes at the store. Fourteen-year-old Danielle went along. Detective Joseph P. Knoblock, who is in charge of the case at the Cochise County Sheriff's Office in Wilcox, Arizona, said there has never been an official suspect.

"We get leads every now and then, and we follow up on those." he said. "We're following up on a lead regarding two men who lived in the area at the time."

Dawn Pitcher, her long hair pulled back in the a ponytail, talked about the case while her 14 month-old son, Gene Daniel, removed all the spoons and other utensils from a kitchen drawer.

When Pitcher picks him up and holds him at eye-level in their living room with the framed pictures of her smiling mother and sister, he points at his grandmother's picture and says repeatedly, "Nana, Nana."  At the time of the disappearance, pitcher lived in Boston, where she managed a restaurant. Later she met her husband, Gene Stroh, a construction worker. After she moved to Springfield to be with him, she got jobs substitute teaching in Longmeadow and northern Connecticut.  Her 15 year-old brother, Ceajay, has been living with them since their father's death in 1998. 

Pitcher said that, back in 1993, when a sister called to tell her that their mother and sister had been missing for 48 hours, her first reaction was shock. Then she became very angry.

"I'd call the police and yell constantly," she said.

Now, she said, "I found a way to deal with it, which is trying to find out what happened."

She said, though, that she wishes she could find a support group to share her frustration with people in similar situations.

"It's hard when no one knows what you're going through,"she said.
After her son goes to bed at 8 or 8:30 p.m., she usually goes to her bedroom and takes out the cardboard box overflowing with files and folders. Then she stays up until 1 or 2 a.m. She goes on the internet or talks on the phone, following leads or trying to generate some. 

A friend in Arizona recently printed up stacks of "missing persons" posters with pictures and information about Dorothy and Danielle that she and her friends will distribute on each coast.

"We want to put it to rest," she said.

Three months after the disappearance, Pitcher appeared on the "Jerry Springer Show" with a psychic hired by the producers. The psychic said on TV that she had visions of the mother and daughter getting into a car with two men. She said she envisioned the men driving off toward the woods and she thought they had both been raped by both men.  At that point on the show, Pitcher broke down in tears, and Springer had the psychic stop. But in her box, she still keeps a copy of the psychic's remarks which conclude with the psychic's belief that the pair were killed.

She watches the tape calmly now, as well as her appearance six months later on "Geraldo."

But she said there are other times when "it just hits you - my wedding, when I had my baby, my sister's birthday, the holidays."

Pitcher said she's gone back several times to those woods in the Coronado National Forest, driving around the area and talking to people. Authorities said they couldn't search the area because they had no specific location to concentrate  on.

She said her mother loved her children and was simply not  the type to walk away.


"In my heart of hearts, I know that they're not living," she said. "But there is always that little bit of you that hopes they'll come back."

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