Barbara Elms

Barbara Elms (Courtesy Iowa Department of Public Safety)

Barbara Lee Elms

Missing Person

Name: Barbara Lee Elms
Age at Report: 50 YOA
Date of Birth: April 2, 1943
Weight: 150 lbs.
Height: 5′ 03″
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Green/Hazel
Missing From: Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
Investigating Agency: Cedar Rapids Police Department
Case Number: 93019256
NamUs MP # 17054
NCIC Number: M-669943429
Fingerprints: Available
Classification: Endangered Missing / Disabled
Date Reported Missing: August 25, 1993


Linn County in Iowa
Linn County in Iowa
Cedar Rapids in Linn CountyCedar Rapids in Linn County

Barbara Lee Elms was reported missing to the Cedar Rapids Police Department on August 25, 1993.

She was last seen heading toward First Avenue East, wearing white shorts, a multicolored blouse, black hose, hi-top sneakers, and a Walkman with earphones.

The 50-year-old Cedar Rapids woman had prior episodes of leaving for days at a time, but those times lasted only a few days and she always took along all her jewelry, makeup and clothes.

Elms was separated from her husband seven years prior to her disappearance and her mental illness had been increasing. He took steps to finalize a divorce in the summer of 1993, but promised he would continue to support his wife.

There is no indication at Elms’ residence that she took belongings for a trip. She did not take her purse, identification, or clothes. Soup that she apparently planned to eat on the day she disappeared was left out.

Elms had endured episodes of mental illness and consumption of prescription medication and alcohol. She had no fixed income, but refused to apply for help. Instead, she chose to work the garbage containers behind First Avenue East with friends.

Her ex-husband helped with rent, food and a little spending money. She dressed oddly and often mixed a dance step or a twirl into her paces along the strip on First Avenue East between Coe College and the Hy-Vee store. The fear of change in her life may have sent her on the run.

The ex-husband and daughter thinks she may be a bag lady in some other city. Just one month before Elms disappeared, she was sprayed with a chemical, hit over the head, and robbed of cigarettes in a southeast Cedar Rapids park.

A DNA sample has been submitted and tests are complete.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Barbara Elms’ disappearance, please contact Lt. Craig Furnish at the Cedar Rapids Police Department at (319) 286-5478.


9 Responses to Barbara Elms

  1. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    Robin, for general information a Vietnam veteran and lawyer from New York, disappeared sometime in 2005 or 2006. He was tracked through Pennsylvania and Ohio, I assume he was using his credit card. Well, he ended up in Chicago, where he found his way to the Pacific Garden Mission. He was using a name in found on a empty medication container.

    He finally got with someone there and they checked and found he was a missing person from New York. He had PTSD, and was depressed prior to leaving. Also, he had walked through the twin towers sometime prior to them being struck.

    Also, it migh be an idea to see if they was any activity on her social security number or even Medicare. About a year ago, a New York State Police investigator, was trying to identify remains that had been found. They appeared to match the description of a woman who disappeared in Sullivan County, in New York, over 20 or more years before. They found the case report, and rechecked everything. That included her SSN, and found a woman with the same 1st name, but a different last name. She was a resident in a nursing home in Lowell, Massachusetts. They took the picture from their case file, and drove to Lowell. She recognized her picture. Her husband had died since she dsappeared, which did not bother her.

  2. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    Robin, this is only a guess on my part. I came across this disorder in an article about a missing woman from New York. Her sister was identified as an MD, and most likely works in the field of psychiatry.

    There are a number of articles about disappearances connected to this disorder. A couple of individuals have experienced several bouts of this disorder. If you get a chance Google the names Hannah Upp and Jody Roberts.

    This disorder has been written up in medical journals, but nothing in law enforcement journals. It would be nice if they could put something together such as a profile to say this person might have fled because of this. The other problem is to create a search protocol for law enforcement.

    I am a former police officer and detective, and worked at two VA hospitals in Chicago.

  3. Bruceseifert says:

    I think the one who had robbed her 1 month before is a goodvsuspect

    • Patrick Kerrigan says:

      Barbara, appears to have suffered a bout of dissociative fugue, which is a version of amnesia. This is triggered by depression, PTSD, marital discord. The person loses all their regular memories, assumes another identity and flees the source of trauma.

      She most likely is some where in the country, possibly living on the margins. I recommend that her family reach out to the Salvation Army, and many of the well known homeless shelters. One of them is Pacific Garden Mission.

  4. Notelling says:

    Has anyone tried to write letters to the mental health departments / shelters and churches of each state she coukd likely be with two part letters?
    The first letter would acknowledge respect for privacy and would be addressed to the social workers. The second would be directly to her and should include a promise of respect of privacy as well. Both would include a plea for confirmation of life.

  5. Robin lee Beggs Volpa says:

    This is my sister

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Robin, I’m so sorry there are still no answers in your sister’s unsolved disappearance. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be “not knowing” after all these years.

      If there’s any other information (or any other photos) you’d like to see included on your sister’s page, please feel free to contact me directly at jody at, and I’ll ensure it gets posted here.

      My thoughts are with you and your family.

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