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Letinen was last seen gardening in front of her residence in the 1500 block of Parkwood Street Napa, California on June 15, 1976. She didn't show up for work the next day at the naval base on Mare Island in Vallejo, California, where she was an officer, and has never been heard from again.
The next morning, when Lehtinen didn't show up for work, her supervisor got concerned and called her one of her neighbors, who went to her house to check on her. The neighborhood gained entry through an unlocked window and discovered Lehtinen was missing. The house was in neat and orderly condition, with no indications of a struggle and no note. Lehtinen's Navy uniform was found laid out as if she'd been getting ready to go to work. Her car, bicycle, keys, purse and identification were left behind.
The Navy initially listed Lehtinen as a deserter, then eventually they reclassified her as deceased. There was no indication she was suicidal at the time of her disappearance, and she wasn't having any financial problems or personal problems that might have made her want to leave on her own. Her career in the Navy was going well; she had enlisted at age eighteen and had risen to officer status, with secret clearance. Lehtinen was declared legally dead in 1986. Foul play is suspected in her case, which remains unsolved.