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