What happened to Dorothy Delilah “Dee” Scofield?

Published: Updated: 0 comment

OCALA, Fla. – Dorothy Delilah “Dee” Scofield was an honor student at North Marion Elementary School in Citra. She was a good kid and came from a close-knit family.

Born to Joseph “Joe” Scofield II and Lena DiNovo Scofield on Jan. 8, 1964, she was the youngest of five children and named after her paternal grandmother. Her family called her “Dee,” often spelled “Dee Dee” and “DeDe.”

The Scofields moved from Hilliard, Ohio, to Florida in 1975 after Dee’s father quit his longtime job with a beverage distributor. They settled in a mobile home in Citra, and her parents opened Jo-De’s Barbecue restaurant in Hawthorne. 

All but one of Dee’s siblings remained at home; the others were older and living on their own.

Life for the Scofields was good, and they loved the Sunshine State. But what transpired on one hot summer day turned their entire world upside down forever.

On July 22, 1976, Lena Scofield, 48, had to renew her driver’s license, and Dee wanted to return a pair of broken sandals she had purchased at J.M. Fields department store. So, mother and daughter drove to Ocala, about 17 miles south of Citra.

According to Ocala Star-Banner, the store opened in May 1968 with a whopping “90,000 square feet of selling space, with wares being offered in 100 separate departments.” Fields Plaza sat at 2720 E. Silver Springs Blvd, the current location of Marion County Library Headquarters.

They stopped at the Florida Highway Patrol station on East Silver Springs Boulevard, commonly called the “Boulevard” to locals, so Dee’s mother could renew her license. 

An impatient Dee asked if she could walk next door to J.M. Fields. Her mother was not thrilled about Dee going there alone but let her go anyway, telling Dee that if she finished first to return to the FHP station. In turn, her mother would go to J.M. Fields if she completed her license renewal before her daughter.

Around 1 p.m., Dee did not return to FHP, so Lena Scofield assumed her daughter was still at the department store. But when she arrived, she could not find Dee. She asked store employees if they had seen Dee, and they said yes. At least one employee saw the girl exit the double doors at the store’s entrance. 

Lena Scofield walked back to the FHP station, thinking she must have missed Dee somehow, but her daughter was not there. She reported her missing to the officer in charge at FHP.

Dee’s frantic mother called Scofield at 4:05 p.m., saying she could not find their daughter. 

Lena and Joe Scofield in 1977 (Photo credit: The Orlando Sentinel)

Dee was last seen wearing a red body shirt with embossed blue flowers and snaps at the crotch, blue jeans, and brown tennis shoes. She wore glasses with teardrop-shaped gold frames and had braided her long brown hair before she left home.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers interviewed Dee’s mother, who told them Dee was obedient, intelligent, and from a close-knit family. Afterward, police did not believe Dee ran away, but someone likely abducted her.

Ocala Police Department ran the investigation and waited 24 hours, a standard procedure in 1976, before searching for Dee. 

Police had little evidence in the case. They searched Fields Plaza, the neighboring bowling alley undergoing construction, and across the Boulevard to the Sears Town Plaza but found no sign of the missing girl.

They interviewed department store employees and learned that Dee had returned the sandals. Then she purchased a watch at the jewelry counter for her 14-year-old brother Joe Jr.’s birthday.

Investigators requested assistance from the FBI because of the possibility of a kidnapping. However, the bureau denied their request when there was no physical evidence an abduction had occurred.

Authorities conducted an extensive air and ground search for Dee but never found her.  

There were some sightings of Dee after she disappeared.

At 2:30 p.m. on the day Dee vanished, a female clerk at Nuby’s Texaco and General Store, now Forest Food & Fuel, on Highway 40 and State Road 314 in Silver Springs, told police that she sold the girl a soda. The girl was with a man waiting outside for her, and the girl appeared distraught. Some reports say the girl was with two men.

Investigators did not believe the girl was Dee, but the clerk gave police a description of the girl and what she was wearing. Everything matched with Dee, “right down to the embossed blue flowers on her red body shirt,” Lena Scofield said in 1977. 

Police were unable to locate the girl and the man.

Ocala detective Sgt. Gordon Welch received a tip in Daytona Beach. A man had reported seeing Dee, and when Welch visited a residence and knocked on the door, “I almost had a heart attack. It was Dee, right down to the wire-rimmed glasses,” Welch told Mike Thomas of The Orlando Sentinel in July 1977, near the first anniversary of Dee’s disappearance.

While the girl looked nearly identical to Dee, she was not the missing girl. 

The Scofields searched for their daughter and put up a $1,000 reward for information about their daughter’s whereabouts. They had received hundreds of letters from people who thought they had spotted the missing girl.

A South Georgia man reported seeing a girl matching Dee’s description shortly after she went missing. 

“The man was ready to sign a statement he saw her,” Scofield said.

Sometime after, the Scofields spent a week in another South Georgia town after receiving information from a preacher about a girl sitting in a car with a woman. The girl seemed nervous, and the preacher heard the woman call the girl Dorothy.  

The Scofields never found the girl and woman, and it seemed all roads led anywhere but to their daughter.

On Jan. 23, 1978, nearly two years after Dee’s disappearance, Trisa Thornley, 8, vanished from Ocala after leaving school. Immediately, some wondered if her case was connected to Dee’s, but police had no evidence linking them together.

Trisa’s mutilated and naked body was found in a plastic bag over a month later. 

Police arrested Aubrey Dennis Adams, Jr., 20, on March 17, 1978, and charged him with murder. Adams was a close friend of the Thornley family, and his arrest shocked Trisa’s parents.

Ann Thornley said, “She would have gone anywhere with Dennis.” Adams was given the death penalty and executed in May 1989, just months after Ted Bundy.

Then in 1994, police investigated a possible link between Dee and a convicted serial killer.

Lewis S. Lent Jr. had lived in DeLand, about 60 miles southeast of Ocala, when Dee disappeared. Angela Sigrid Ramsey, 16, vanished from a DeLand motel on June 21, 1977.

Police in both cases investigated possible links to Lent but found nothing tying him to their disappearances. Like Dee, Angela is still missing. 

Police in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, charged Lent with murder in early January 1994 after James Denardo, 12, was found dead by hunters in November 1990. Authorities had arrested him the week before for attempting to kidnap a 12-year-old girl, who managed to escape and notify the police. 

Lent admitted to abducting and killing Sara Anne Wood, 12, of Frankfort, New York. Sara disappeared on Aug. 18, 1993, while riding her bicycle. Lent drew a map of where he disposed of her body. After an extensive search of the area, police never found any remains. 

Lent admitted that her body was not there. According to The Charley Project, “he refused to divulge the whereabouts of her remains, saying he had another body buried nearby and did not want that one to be found.”

Lent later recanted his statements about Sara but was still convicted of her murder. Police never found her body.

In July 2013, Lent confessed to killing James Donald Lusher, Jr. James, 16, who disappeared from Westfield, Massachusetts, on Nov. 6, 1992. Police in that crime decided not to file charges against Lent because he was already serving life in prison. James’ body has never been found.

Lent is currently in a Massachusetts prison. Police believe he may have killed other children.

Following Dee’s disappearance, the Scofields closed their barbecue restaurant in 1977 after spending nearly $20,000 searching for their missing daughter. They divorced in 1981.

Joe Scofield died on Jan. 13, 1991, just shy of his 64th birthday. Lena remarried and moved to Georgia. She died in Canton, Georgia, on Dec. 26, 2014, at 86 years old.

Dee’s sister, Antoinette “Toni” Scofield Harms, passed away in Canton on March 31, 2021. She was 28 when Dorothy disappeared. Dee’s surviving siblings reside in Florida and Georgia. 

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

This one is tough. Dee vanished without a trace, and police had virtually no evidence. No one witnessed an abduction or anything out of the ordinary in J.M. Fields’ parking lot. 

Whoever abducted her likely committed the same crime again, maybe even before Dee. 

The store employees saw her walk through an exit, so she intended to walk back to her mother, but someone kidnapped her before she arrived at the FHP station.

I think it’s someone local. I realize that Florida had all kinds of serial killers roaming its city streets in the 70s, but I’m not convinced one abducted and killed Dee. However, one I am interested in is George Stano. He was convicted of killing several girls and women in Florida and Pennsylvania in the 70s. Stano was from Ormond Beach, 60 miles east of Ocala. He killed Cheryl Ramona Neal in Daytona Beach, about 65 miles east of Nuby’s, in May 1976. To get there from Nuby’s, one would take Highway 40.

Stano confessed but recanted to killing 13-year-old Gail Lorraine Joiner in September 1972. She disappeared from Thonotosassa, about 95 miles south of Ocala, near Tampa. Gail was last seen walking her pet raccoon alone. Police never found her body. 

Dee’s case reminds me a bit of Adam Walsh. No, I don’t think Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis O’Toole kidnapped Dee, nor do I believe O’Toole killed Adam, but that’s another story.

The similarities are that they were children, and both disappeared from shopping centers in broad daylight with little evidence of an abduction. And they had both been with their mothers but were separated from them.

I feel like Dee’s abduction was more of a moment-of-opportunity crime. The kidnapper saw Dee in J.M. Fields and followed her outside, or he saw her after she exited the store. What I don’t understand is how he managed to kidnap her without Dee causing a commotion. But she was probably scared out of her mind.

Did she know him, and he offered her a ride to the FHP station? Or did he somehow lure her into his vehicle?

The sighting of Dee at Nuby’s is the best tip police ever had in her disappearance, and I believe it was her. The drive from the department store to Nuby’s is about 8 miles and would take roughly 15 minutes to get there. However, that sighting occurred at 2:30 p.m. Lena headed to the store at 1. So, where was Dee between the time the employees saw her exit the store and the Nuby’s sighting? And why would the kidnapper let her go into the gas station alone? She could have signaled for help, although he probably threatened her to keep quiet.

I don’t get the different reports of either one or two men with Dee. Early reports state one, but more recent ones say two. That makes no sense unless one man was the driver and had been sitting in the vehicle. But why is only one man mentioned in the 1970s news articles?

If the kidnapper(s) went east on Highway 40, the route would have taken them east through Ocala National Forest. I believe police searched the forest, but it’s big, so any remains possibly buried there could stay hidden forever.

Now it’s possible that after leaving Nuby’s, Dee and the kidnapper(s) traveled northeast on State Road 314 toward Jacksonville and Georgia. The road would have led back toward Ocala if they had traveled in the opposite direction. And I doubt they would have gone that way.

Was Dee the girl in South Georgia with the woman? Maybe. South Georgia is about two hours from Ocala. Considering the two separate sightings in South Georgia, the girl could have been Dee. If so, who was the woman, and where did she take Dee after the sightings? What happened to the man she had been with at Nuby’s? Did the woman pay him to kidnap any girl Dee’s age?

I want to think Dee is alive somewhere but doesn’t know who she is, brainwashed or drugged by the people who took her. However, she is probably deceased.

Leave a Comment

About Me

True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

You cannot copy the content of this page!

Skip to content