Elizabeth Ann Campbell: Gone in the Night

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Elizabeth Ann Campbell, 20, disappeared from Killeen, Texas, in 1988 after leaving her boyfriend’s house on foot following an argument. Several witnesses spotted her in the days and weeks afterward, often accompanied by a young Asian male, but police never found her or the mystery man.

The Disappearance of Elizabeth Ann Campbell

On April 25, 1988, Elizabeth attended classes at Central Texas College. Later, she headed to her part-time job at the 7-Eleven convenience store on Rancier Avenue in Killeen, about 30 miles from the Campbell family’s home in Lampasas. Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Ricky Ray, lived in Killeen. He picked her up after work, and they went to his home to study for tests. 

Elizabeth took her maroon purse and school books with her. She wore a white shirt with a design imprinted on the front, new blue jeans, and white tennis shoes. Elizabeth also carried a lemon-colored vest-styled jacket, and a 7-Eleven polo with three pockets, a green collar, and her name tag attached.

Ricky and Elizabeth later argued over their studies. She wanted to go home, but he refused to take her. Elizabeth left Ricky’s home around 10 p.m. Police said that Elizabeth intended to walk the 30 miles back to Lampasas.

Elizabeth’s sister, Carol Ann Hone, said Ricky, who was close to the Campbell family, burst through their door the next day.

“He says, ‘have you seen Elizabeth? She didn’t get home last night,'” Hone recalled on KCEN-TV 6 News last year.

Elizabeth’s family attempted to file a missing person report, but there was confusion about which police department had jurisdiction—Copperas Cove, Killeen, or Lampasas. The family was also told they had to wait 48 hours or 72 hours before filing the report. Lampasas Police Department filed a missing person report on April 26, 1988. However, Copperas Cove authorities later took over the case and backtracked on the events of that night.

Lt. Rick Counter of the Copperas Cove Police Department told 6 News:

“We found a call from the dispatchers the night before that someone had reported seeing a juvenile female they described with long black hair, a basic description that would have been similar to Elizabeth walking eastbound on Highway 190 near Clark Road. That’s kind of the last piece of information that we had at that point in time.” 

It is puzzling that Elizabeth walked eastbound when she intended to trek home to Lampasas. Clark Road sits between Copperas Cove and Killeen. So, if she was walking eastbound, she was heading toward Killeen, not away from it.

Another witness reported they had seen Elizabeth walking along the side of the road. He was Elizabeth’s Central Texas College classmate and drove a green AMC Gremlin. He said he took her to the 7-Eleven store, now Mickey’s Convenience Store, at Highway 190 and Martin Luther King Boulevard in Copperas Cove, about 10 miles from Killeen and 20 miles from Lampasas. 

Police confirmed that Elizabeth was in the store and called Ricky using the store’s payphone, asking him to pick her up. However, he refused, citing the late time as an excuse, police said.

Elizabeth said she would call her brother Tom Campbell III, but she never did. Witnesses saw Elizabeth enter a white or silver vehicle with a maroon vinyl top, heading toward Killeen between 11 p.m. and midnight.

Someone found Elizabeth’s purse at a gas station off Interstate 10 in Ozona in 1992. Ozona is 230 miles west of Copperas Cove. The purse contained her makeup and hair brush, but her keys were missing. Someone had turned it into the Crockett County Sheriff’s Department. “A deputy who was cleaning out their property room happened upon it and found Elizabeth’s ID card inside, ” wrote Melissa Guz for 6 News.

“When he ran it, it showed that she was reported as missing, ” Counter said. “So immediately, their agency contacted us and they started working backwards trying to find who may have turned the purse in.”

CCSD did not have documentation regarding who turned in the purse, the date that occurred, or which deputy took it and stored it in the property room.

“Since the purse has been in our possession, it has been sent to the laboratory for fingerprints,” Counter said. “There were no leads developed from the purse at all.”

Authorities ruled out Ricky Ray as a suspect in Elizabeth’s disappearance.

Parents Desperate Search for Missing Daughter

Sam Soon and Tom Campbell newspaper photo holding Elizabeth's flyer
Austin American-Statesman, October 3, 1988

Tom and Sam Soon Campbell were determined to find their daughter. They spoke with the classmate who gave her a ride in his Gremlin. He told them he had worked late in the computer lab on campus and recognized Elizabeth when he spotted her walking. He gave her a ride to Copperas Cove because that was as far as he went that night.

The Campbells sold a couple of homes and some cattle to fund the search. They searched for Elizabeth all over the U.S., created and printed boxes of fliers, and distributed them throughout central Texas. They also sent them overseas to other countries, including Sam Soon’s native South Korea. 

The Campbells were instrumental in getting Elizabeth’s disappearance featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in 1988 and on Season Two of “Unsolved Mysteries” in 1989, in which Tom Campbell, Ricky Ray, and a few witnesses appeared.

Elizabeth Campbell's boyfriend, Ricky Ray on "Unsolved Mysteries"
Screenshot Season 2, Episode 8 of “Unsolved Mysteries”

“Elizabeth called me from the convenience store and wanted me to pick her up,” Ricky said. “We got in kind of a little disagreement there because I was asking her why she left my house without telling me. And that kind of frustrated me a little bit. I didn’t understand, really, why she would do something like this because it’s not like her.”

Sightings of Elizabeth Ann Campbell

Roger E. Anyon worked at a convenience store in Waco, about 70 miles from Copperas Cove. On April 29, 1988, a girl matching her description entered his store. 

Witness Roger E. Anyon

“This car drove up to the fuel tank and a man got out of the car and took a young woman by the arm and brought her into the store with him, holding on to her arm. It wasn’t as if it was a boyfriend-girlfriend type hold. His hand was above her wrist. He came up to the counter and pushed a twenty-dollar bill out with one hand, off of a row of money. And I said, ‘Is there anything else I can get you?’ And he just shook his head. The girl looked up at me, and I said ‘Yes, could I help you?’ He said something to her in a language that I didn’t understand, and she dropped her head. Looked down, as if she was being punished or something, you know, for trying to say something. She just put her face down, and that was the end of that. Her mother came in the store a couple weeks later, asking could she put up this poster in the window about a missing girl. And [snaps fingers] it hit me just like that. I’ve seen that girl. And she showed me another picture, a photograph, and I said, ‘That’s the girl I saw with another man in the store a couple of weeks ago.'”

Michelle Christenson worked at a Copperas Cove ice cream shop. A woman matching Elizabeth’s description entered her shop with an Asian male two weeks after Elizabeth disappeared.

Witness Michelle Christensen

“The first thing that caught my eye was that he had a real mean, rough look to him. He gave the attitude that he didn’t want her to talk, just to stay silent, and that’s a weird situation because if someone wants to talk, they usually talk. But she didn’t. When I handed the strawberry cone to him, Elizabeth Campbell looked up at me. When I said, ‘You look very sad today,’ she immediately dropped her eyes back down and wouldn’t look back up at me. Elizabeth Campbell looked like she was being pulled around. She wasn’t with him by choice.”

Roger and Michelle described the Asian male as 5’7 “, 25-30, 160 pounds, with facial acne scars and plucked eyebrows. In both sightings, he wore a silver martial artist medallion on a gold chain.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reported in September 1988 that another witness saw Elizabeth and the Asian male on May 18 and May 20 at a store in Lampasas County. The man bought blue cream soda, Elizabeth’s favorite, and drove a 1972 or 1973 faded four-door Chevrolet that was either light green or light blue.

However, the police were skeptical that Elizabeth was the woman under the control of the Asian male. Then, on July 10, 1988, Virgie Johnson claimed to have seen Elizabeth at a gas station in Garland, 15 miles northeast of Dallas. Virgie had just put gas into her car and was walking into the store. She bumped into Elizabeth coming out of the store. The two women exchanged, “Excuse me.” 

Witness Virgie Johnson

“Elizabeth acted as if maybe she was frightened of someone, or maybe she was being watched, or that she was speaking to someone she shouldn’t be. And I felt like she was really wanting to say more than, you know, excuse me. When I saw a photograph of Elizabeth, I automatically knew that that was the girl that I had bumped into in Garland. Because she had a tooth that overlapped on the right handside when she smiled at me. I was just positive that that was Elizabeth Campbell.”

Investigators were unable to confirm the sightings. They hope the DNA from Elizabeth’s purse will lead them to a suspect. She disappeared when DNA testing was in its infancy. Counter said the police received a tip in 2022 of “possible remains found in an area that they couldn’t disclose to 6 News due to it being an ongoing investigation.” (Guz) Investigators followed up on the tip and searched the area but Counter did not elaborate further.

Elizabeth has been missing for 36 years. It’s time she came home.

About Elizabeth Campbell

Elizabeth Campbell was born on May 31, 1967, the youngest child of Tom Campbell, Jr., and Sam Soon Campbell. Tom met Sam Soon while stationed in South Korea during his military service. Elizabeth has four older siblings, three sisters and one brother. The family resided in Lampasas, Texas, in 1988. 

Elizabeth was popular in high school and had many friends. She was a good kid; she never drank or smoked and earned good grades. She was also an excellent artist, earning an award for her work in 1982. 

Elizabeth graduated high school in 1985 and attended Central Texas College in Copperas Cove, Texas. She was later accepted into Texas A&M University in College Station to study marine biology. She was due to start classes in September 1988. Unfortunately, she disappeared before she could finish her courses at Central Texas. 

Her father died in 2018 and her mother continues the search for her.

TCD’s Thoughts

The following is strictly the opinion of this author.

I believe the witnesses on UM. They were positive the young woman with the Asian male was Elizabeth Campbell. I think they remembered her because the man she was with was acting strangely. Plus, it was right after she vanished. Well, Virgie’s sighting was three months later. Now, the young girl in her account might not have been Elizabeth. She never mentioned the girl being with an Asian male. And I don’t think he would have let her enter the store alone. Nevertheless, Virgie was sure Elizabeth was the young woman who bumped into her at the Garland gas station.

Others who have covered this case do not believe the witnesses saw Elizabeth because they do not think the Asian male would have been spotted so many times with someone he was trafficking. However, that is the confidence and power of a trafficker or another dominant male; they know their victim will not speak or run out of fear of being hurt or killed. He likely warned her before entering the stores and might have carried a weapon.

What’s bothering me a bit is Ricky Ray. What really caused Elizabeth to flee Ricky’s home at 10 p.m.? The argument over studying? That seems odd to me. I wonder if Ricky lied about the true nature of the fight. It seems silly to storm out of a house over homework. Also, why did he refuse to take her home while she was still at his house? He knew she had no other way of getting home. Did she originally intend to spend the night at his house?

When she called Ricky from the 7-Eleven and asked him to pick her up, why didn’t he? As mentioned above, he cited the time as an excuse. Did he even ask how she got to Copperas Cove? Again, why did he refuse, knowing she was on foot? He was closer to Copperas Cove than her family, and the drive would have only taken him an hour or so. I wonder if he lives with that guilt to this day.

Interestingly, Ricky told Carol Ann that Elizabeth never made it home. How did he know that? Why did the police rule him out?

Who drove the white or silver car with the maroon top? Witnesses saw Elizabeth enter the vehicle. From what people said about her, she doesn’t strike me as the type of person who would accept a ride from a stranger. However, numerous people hitchhiked in the 70s and 80s, so she might not have known him. The driver never came forward, which is suspicious. 

Elizabeth never called her brother that night. I wonder if the unknown driver heard her conversation with Ricky inside the store and offered her a ride.

There is the possibility that she called another person she knew. Elizabeth might have said to take her back to Ricky’s. The car was headed toward Killeen, where Elizabeth attended school, worked at the 7-Eleven, and Ricky lived. She had to know other people there. Maybe the driver lied and said he would take her back to Ricky’s.

Roger Anyon said the male spoke to her in a language he could not understand. I would bet money that the male was Korean and KNEW her. What are the chances that a KOREAN trafficker spots her alone and kidnaps her? What if she called HIM, and he drove the car witnesses saw at the Copperas Cove 7-Eleven? Maybe he took her for his own personal use. If Elizabeth was the girl in the sightings, she and her kidnapper stayed in Texas for a few months.

According to Counter, someone called the Copperas Cove Police Department on the night Elizabeth vanished. 

“The caller stated that they were a resident here in Copperas Cove and had passed her on the highway, and when they got home, they called the police department,” Counter said.

“When police tried to follow up with the caller, the caller provided a bad address, had a name that didn’t exist in their system at the time, and placed the call from a payphone on Clark Road, not from a residential phone in the city as they claimed.” (Guz)

Clark Road stretches across the U.S. Army base Fort Hood, renamed Fort Cavazos in 2023, between Copperas Cove and Killeen. All kinds of shit happens there. There have been several deaths — accidents, suicides, and homicides — and sexual assaults of female soldiers.  

Dallas and Houston police told Elizabeth’s father there was an “underworld pipeline that supplied Asian sex workers from Killeen to those areas.” (Price, 1988)

According to a thread in a Facebook group, part of the fun in Killeen in the 1980s was to “watch all the hookers getting off the chartered buses from Dallas and Houston on GI payday.” Apparently, Avenue D, known as “D Street” to the locals, was the hot spot for this kind of action. Another commenter said the women would arrive in Greyhound buses.

Elizabeth and the Asian male were in the Dallas area in July 1988, per Virgie Johnson’s account.

Because of Fort Hood’s shady past, I would not be surprised if soldiers had a prostitution ring directly on the base in the 80s. Hell, they had one as recently as 2015.

The anonymous caller was likely a soldier at Fort Hood, and Counter had to know this. Now, why call to report a sighting but not come forward?

“So anybody that knows that person, or has ever heard from somebody making mention of that call, we would love to speak to them,” Counter said. Yeah, good luck with that. It’s been 36 years.


Cadwallader, Robert. “Still Searching.” Waco Tribune-Herald, September 29, 1988.

Good, Meaghan. “Elizabeth Ann Campbell.” The Charley Project. https://charleyproject.org/case/elizabeth-ann-campbell (Accessed April 22, 2024)

Guz, Melissa. “Gone Cold | Copperas Cove’s Elizabeth Campbell vanishes 35 years ago.” KCENTV.com, April 25, 2023.  https://www.kcentv.com/article/news/investigations/gone-cold/gone-cold-elizabeth-campbell-35-years-later/500-bad8f45c-ac04-47e0-be7d-df6b4e10fe9d (Accessed April 22, 2024)

Unsolved, “Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack – Season 2 Episode 8 – Full Episode,” YouTube video, 45:03, March 1, 2019, https://youtu.be/3N9ukpsooA8?si=yrStgQ64nd06PHmS.

Elizabeth Ann Campbell - missing person flyer

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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.

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