ST. LOUIS — On March 11, 1987, 18-year-old high school senior Diana Braungardt finished her shift at the local Venture (now Kmart) store and headed out to her family’s 1982 yellow Ford Escort in the parking lot. It was 10 p.m., and she was heading to her family home, where she resided with her parents.
When Braungardt hadn’t returned home after a specific time, her parents, Jane and Marvin Braungardt, drove to the Venture store. They found her car in the parking lot, but no sign of the teenager.
Her worried parents began calling Braungardt’s friends in the middle of the night. None of them had seen her.
When morning came, her parents filed a missing person report with the local police department. Police went to Venture and searched the parking lot for evidence. They found nothing, not even Braungardt’s purse.
Before her disappearance, Braungardt fought with her parents and stayed overnight at a friend’s house. However, the police said she told her parents where she was, and they do not think Diana left voluntarily because Braungardt would have telephoned her parents if she could.
Since her abduction, police have amassed 11 binders and three boxes of paperwork related to her disappearance.
In 2007, the police interviewed a local man whose appearance matched the description of someone seen talking with Diana in the parking lot before she disappeared. A woman spotted them when she pulled onto the store’s parking lot to change her baby’s diaper, Pruneau said.Leah Thorsen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 11, 2012
“He hasn’t given us a reason to clear him,” Pruneau said. The man was never arrested or charged. He’s in prison on an unrelated conviction.
It is believed that this man went through her checkout lane in Venture.
Diana was well-liked by many people, and her disappearance shocked the community. Her parents are now in their 70s and early 80s and have given up hope she will be found alive.
If alive today, Diana would be 45.
Update: Marvin Braungardt died on Dec. 9, 2015, at age 85, followed by his wife on Jan. 18, 2017.