Carla Rebecca Corley, age 14, disappeared from her home at the Eastwood Projects in Birmingham, Alabama, on August 12, 1980 (some reports say August 8).
That night, Carla and her mother were watching television together. Carla’s mom eventually went to bed; Carla stayed up. The following day, Carla’s mom awoke to the television channel’s sound going off-air for the night (Back then, TV stations did not air shows all night, only up to a specific time).
Chairs had been pushed back from the living room table, and a soda bottle overturned. Carla’s sandals were on the floor where she had left them the night before. Her belt was found outside the exterior door; the door itself was standing wide open.
Carla’s belongings, including her purse, money, and seizure medications, remained in the apartment.
Eighteen years after Carla disappeared, police received information that in July 1980, a group of men abducted Carla. They took her to a nearby lake and raped her. The attack lasted three hours before the men took Carla home. However, Birmingham Police said no police report was ever filed over that.
A week before Carla disappeared, the same men showed up at Carla’s home, but she did not let them in.
According to her sister, Carla had seen something that could have had the men convicted. Carla’s family believes this group of men is responsible for Carla’s abduction and murder.
An investigator close to the case told WBRC that “someone came forward and said Carla had been seen around green track in south Alabama and she was well, and she was doing what she wanted to do and was just a runaway.”
Almost 36 years later, Carla remains missing. If alive, Carla would be 50 years old.
Several years after Carla went missing, her mother declared her legally dead.
The case is still open. Anyone with information about it can contact the Birmingham Homicide unit at -205-254-1764, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST, or Crime Stoppers 205-254-7777.
Sources: The Charley Project, WIAT.com
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
The names of the group of men who allegedly kidnapped and raped Carla in July 1980 have never been released as far as I can tell. I am assuming all or some of them lived at Eastwood Projects.
If the gang rape did occur prior to Carla’s disappearance, then I have to wonder why she wasn’t killed then, especially if she saw something that she shouldn’t have seen. Why did the group let her go? If the group is responsible for her disappearance, why did they take her this time and not let her go?
If the first abduction and rape was committed to scare her into not talking about whatever Carla had seen, I would assume that would haven done the trick. I don’t think Carla would have been dumb enough to threaten this group of men about going to the police after that traumatic experience. I think she would have been scared shitless of them. Perhaps the real killer knew about the gang rape and wanted to pin her murder on the group.
And I have to ask why did it take 18 years before police received information about the abduction and gang rape?
What was the relationship like between Carla and her mother? I’d like to know. After all, her mother was the last known person to see her, and all the info we have about the final moments leading up to Carla’s disappearance comes from her mother. In one article I read, Carla’s older sister Cat, who did not reside with Carla, explained how they always talked with one another on the phone. Carla would always call at a certain time every day. When Cat hadn’t heard from Carla, she called their mom who said Carla was staying at a friend’s house. So, why would the mother lie to the sister? Only after confronting her did the mom tell the story about watching TV and then going to bed. Now, I’m not saying that I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that the mom is hiding something, but one does have to wonder. Changing stories is never good.
Carla’s mom claimed that she woke up when she heard the television channel go off air for the night. She heard that but didn’t hear anything regarding Carla being taken from the house? The mom had also said that the time she woke up was around 4:30 a.m. Well, back then TV stations stopped airing shows for the night way before then. This was called sign-off and almost always occurred during the overnight hours, typically starting between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Sign-on would begin between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. So, if the mom awoke to the sign-off, it was way before 4:30 a.m.
To me, it feels as if the crime scene was staged. If she was abducted, I would think there would have been more evidence suggesting a struggle took place. All we have are chairs pushed back from a table; they were not overturned. The soda can was the only thing overturned. Some reports do say that furniture was knocked over, but I don’t know if that is true or not. Of course, if it is true, then there’s the evidence of a struggle. It’s so irritating reading different versions of what happened. All reports should be the same!
If there was a struggle, how did Carla’s mom NOT hear that but heard when sign-off occurred on the television? She didn’t hear chairs being knocked over?
And the belt, well, that’s just strange, isn’t it? I mean, how did the belt get off of her? Why was the belt found but not her pants or any other clothing she had on that night?
What about fingerprints? Did the police find any in the apartment?
I don’t believe the group of young men kidnapped and killed Carla. I think if this had occurred someone would have talked by now, whether that was one of the men or someone they told. I also think they would have inadvertently left behind evidence of some sort.
I’m not convinced that Carla didn’t run away. I know from experience that some children run away without taking any personal belongings with them. It’s not unheard of. Someone else could have helped her out. She could have made the apartment look like a kidnapping.
One last thought. If police believed Carla was a runaway and alive, how could her mother have her declared legally dead? Why did her mother do this without any evidence suggesting she was dead?
I could not find any info on Carla’s mom, not even a name. I found an old Facebook page set up in Carla’s name but it has not been active since 2011.
There was a similar case in July 1988. Brenda Kay Green, 15, was last seen in Abernant, AL, about 35 miles southwest of Birmingham. Brenda lived in Brookwood, AL but was visiting friends in Abernant when she went missing. Brenda and Carla both had brown hair, were around the same age and close in weight and height and disappeared during the summer. Both have never been found.
I hate the fact that almost 36 years later, there has been no justice for this young girl. That is an injustice in itself.