FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio -- Police here have identified a person of interest in the 1977 disappearance of 17-year-old Yvonne Regler from a Lorain Road gas station.
After two years of re-examing the cold case file and conducting interviews, detectives may have identified the person responsible for the girl's disappearance and hope to spur new tips from the public, Fairview Park Police Lt. Paul Shepard said Monday.
Police released the information, as well as a timeline of the day of Yvonne's disappearance and an age-enhanced photograph of what she could like like today, on the 39th anniversary of her disappearance.
Police believe Yvonne was abducted, but do not know if she is alive or dead, Shepard said.
The person of interest, whom police are declining to identify, is known to law enforcement and has been tied to similar crimes in the past, Shepard said.
"What a person does in their lifetime also draws attention," Shepard said.
Yvonne worked at a Sunoco in North Olmsted, but was transferred to the full-service Sunoco on Lorain Road near West 192nd Street in Fairview Park for the day. She called family and friends from the gas station that morning, saying she had planned to go to the wake of a friend's relative and meet up with some friends.
She was on the phone with one of her friends at 12:30 p.m. when a car drove up to the pump, drove away, then came back, police said.
Another customer bought gas at 1:25 p.m. and paid with a credit card. Yvonne initialed the receipt.
Sometime between 1:30 p.m. and 2:05 p.m., three people said they went to the gas station and there was no worker there. The door was unlocked and someone's purse was sitting behind the counter, but none of the people thought anything of it and didn't call police, Shepard said.
Yvonne left behind her purse, cigarettes and a book. There was no sign of a struggle and no money was missing from the register.
Investigators believe that a man abducted Yvonne while she was pumping his gas, Shepard said.
Fairview Park police pursued more than 100 tips in the case but never could track down Yvonne.
But the case got new attention in 2014, when a member of Yvonne's family offered to give a DNA sample to the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, so detectives had a sample to compare if they found Yvonne's remains, Shepard said.
Detectives decided to go back and interview all surviving witnesses, including coworkers and customers of the gas station, and Yvonne's friends and family members. During the investigation, police identified the man as the person of interest.
Police said they have not ruled out any of Yvonne's family members, but said Monday that they have found no evidence to suggest her family was involved in her disappearance.
Shepard declined to elaborate on what evidence led them to the man.
Fairview Park police urge anyone with information about the case to call them at 440-333-1234.