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Debora was last seen walking to Rickards Middle School in the vicinity of 8th Street and Sunrise Boulevard in Pompano Beach, Florida between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. on February 29, 1972. It was about a mile-long trip between her home and the school. She never arrived at school and has never been heard from again. After her disappearance, her schoolbooks were found in a trash bin a block from her home.
Authorities initially believed Debora had run away from home, possibly back to Palestine, West Virginia; her family had moved to Pompano Beach from Palestine shortly before her disappearance. Debora's family has never believed she left of her own accord, and she did not have a prior history of such behavior. None of her personal belongings were taken.
Debora's family believes she may have been a victim of the serial killer Gerard John Schaefer Jr. A photograph of Schaefer is posted below this case summary. He worked with Debora's father and had visited her family's home. He was convicted of only two murders in the 1970s but is believed to be responsible for the murders and disappearances of many other girls and young women in the 1960s and 1970s, including Wendy Stevenson, Peggy Rahn and Carmen Hallock in 1969, and Pamela Nater and Nancy Leichner in 1966. Schaefer was never charged in connection with any of the cases, however. He was murdered in prison in 1995.
Debora's father died of a heart attack four years after her disappearance, and her mother died in 1995, but the rest of her family continues to search for her. Some agencies give the date of her disappearance as February 29, 1972. Her case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd.
Broward County Sheriff's Office