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Author Topic: Andy Sims 11, TX Missing Dec. 9, 1961 Police "re-looking" at case  (Read 2925 times)
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« on: December 27, 2008, 08:23:06 PM »

47 years later, boy's disappearance remains a mystery
By JESSICA LANGDON Wichita Falls Times Record News
Dec. 27, 2008, 12:16PM
WICHITA FALLS — Children don't just disappear...

That's what most people living in Wichita Falls in the 1960s thought.

But Dec. 9, 1961, 11-year-old Andy Sims vanished, launching what has become a 47-year-old mystery — What happened to Andy?

Andy, who was in the fifth-grade at Jefferson Elementary School, lived at 4600 Stanford, a corner house tucked into a quiet neighborhood not far from what today is Southwest Parkway. That part of town has developed a lot since the early 1960s when it was a newer suburban area still surrounded by dairy and pasture land.

Andy was home with his brother Donald, who was older by a year, that morning while their mother, Ellen, a nurse, was working. The boys' stepfather, William Sims, was in the National Guard and had been called up with the 49th Armored Division to go to Fort Polk, La., during the Berlin crisis.

Saturday morning dawned with fog ghosting across Wichita Falls, but about the time Andy — dressed for winter in a coat and knit cap — was said to have gone outside to play early in the afternoon, bits of blue sky were starting to peek through the clouds.

Any other day, Andy might have ridden his bicycle; but on that day, it was broken.

The temperature broke briefly from the colder, drizzly weather that had settled over the area. The mercury spiked into the 50s before frigid winds rattled it down to freezing by the next morning. The cold would seize the city for days, the chill not letting up as volunteers, many summoned by pleas on television broadcasts, joined law enforcement and emergency workers in massive but fruitless searches for Andy.

That same Saturday, hundreds of miles away in California, Steve Douglass turned 2, unaware as he would be for decades that Andy Sims existed, and that Andy was his older half brother.

Growing up, Douglass knew his father had been married before. He knew his father had a son, Donald, but didn't come across the first mention of Andy until he started researching his family's history after his father, Donald Ace Douglass Sr., who was Andy's biological father, died in 2001.

Steve Douglass, who lives in Gahanna, Ohio, and is retired from the police force there, traveled to Wichita Falls this year with longtime colleague and friend Becky Wolfe to see what they might be able to learn about Andy's life and disappearance.

Douglass doesn't hold out much hope for finding Andy, who would now be a 58-year-old man, alive. He is prepared for the probability of a far less favorable outcome, one many others share.

"As a police officer, I find it very difficult to believe that he simply wandered off and succumbed to the elements and they never found a body," Douglass said.

If something happened to Andy, whether he fell victim to the weather or other circumstances or met with foul play, Douglass wants to find out what happened.

Even if they can't solve what happened to him, Douglass hopes to find Andy to give him a proper burial.

Open investigation

Wichita Falls police, who were first notified that Andy was missing about 8 p.m. Dec. 9, 1961, also still hope to learn what happened to him, mainly to bring whatever closure they can to Andy's family, said Sgt. Bill Henning, who supervises the Criminal Investigation Section.

Andy was home between noon and 12:30 p.m. that Saturday when Ellen Sims called the house and talked to Donald, the investigation showed. Donald reported Andy left the house between 12:45 and 1 p.m. to go out to play, Detective Tony Fox said.

"That was the last time he was actually seen by anyone," Fox said.

Fox has taken the lead on the decades-old case, which is still an open investigation. The documents from the 1961 police work add up to a stack a couple of inches thick.

Ellen Sims returned home about 2:30 p.m. She had done some shopping, the case records showed.

Members of Andy's family were the first to search for him. The boys' mother sent Donald out to look for his brother, and other family members joined in the unsuccessful search.

The family called the police about 8 p.m., and later called again.

Andy's disappearance is classified, as it has always been, as a missing person case with the Wichita Falls Police Department.

"We're currently re-looking at the case," Henning said.

Although some of the information was probably lost with people who have since died, there are still people living today who might hold key details; and investigators hope to have another chance to see if they can help piece together what really happened that December nearly five decades ago.

Detectives received information over the years, but not really any new leads. They want to see if memories now might be able to unlock some new paths to investigate. Sometimes, people remember a vital piece of information after a case has gone cold. Perhaps that detail didn't seem to mean much at the time. Other times, people want to tell something they held back at the time, something they might have been afraid or reluctant to share, or something they have lived with over the years that they want to get off their chests now.

Fox has been able to talk with some of the original officers who worked on the case.

"It's really good to be able to call those guys," he said.

It didn't take more than a few words — a child who disappeared in 1961 for the case to register.

Andy.

"He knew the name," Henning said of one of the investigators.

Just as there are cases Henning and Fox will never forget, the same thing holds true for their predecessors, Fox said.

Charles Trainham, who retired from the department as a major in 1991, was working there when Andy disappeared. A copy of the case stayed in his office for the rest of his career.

"Some cases just kind of touch at you, draw at your heartstrings," he said. Andy's was one of those. He was there one day and gone the next. There was no crime scene, no tangible evidence, Trainham said.

Andy merely vanished; and although the investigators at the time had their suspicions about what happened to him, without being able to pinpoint exactly where he might be, it was impossible to say for sure what happened, impossible to recover any remains, Trainham said.

There were a lot of searches, he remembered.

"The initial investigation was very thorough," Fox said.

Fort Sill, Civil Defense, Marine Reserves, members of the Sheriff's Mounted Patrol and others worked with volunteers to comb the area, searching Andy's usual hangouts and places it seemed a child might have gone to escape the cold.

Volunteers searched a cemetery within eyesight of the family's home.

One person reported seeing someone who matched Andy's description at the Boy Scout Hut near Lake Wichita about 3 p.m. Dec. 9, just a few hours after Andy left his house.

Lake Wichita was searched several times, and it was dragged, Fox said. Still no sign of Andy.

The surrounding neighborhoods, which were undergoing quite a bit of development, held plenty of places to look; but nothing turned up any trace of Andy despite searches by land and by air. A helicopter flew over the area, offering a new look at the scenery.

Some of Andy's friends told police he liked to play in some caves near Fairway Boulevard, but checks there turned up nothing.

Patrol officers brainstormed, thinking of people they knew who might harm children. Detectives talked to people who in those days were known to "have a liking for children." They visited the jail to follow up on information from conversations.

The tools detectives had at their fingertips were far different than the ones they have today. Cell phones wouldn't come into their hands for a few decades still, and land-line long distance calls were expensive but necessary to keep connected with agencies outside the city that might be able to offer some insight. E-mail also didn't exist, so any written correspondence took longer.

Still, the efforts stretched far from home. The department connected with agencies in the area and across state lines as authorities worked to track down any trace of Andy Sims.

One report suggested the boy might have wanted to visit his grandparents in Little Rock, Ark. He never turned up there.

People reported sightings in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri; and investigators followed up on all of those tips, Fox said. The FBI became involved as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety. Andy was listed in a missing persons bulletin, much like the ones DPS issues today.

A sweet kid

Andy's family had lived in Wichita Falls for just a short time.

Before he left for his military duties, Bill Sims, the boys' stepfather, taught English at Midwestern University.

Bill Sims welcomed Ellen Sims' boys into his world, getting to know them even when they were young, his widow, Janie Sims, said. Janie and Bill married after Bill and Ellen divorced in the early 1980s. Bill Sims died in August. Janie Sims described reading some of his diaries from the days when he was dating Ellen. He would baby-sit her boys, and she knew that he had always liked Andy.

"Bill always said he was a sweet kid," Janie Sims said.

He didn't tend to talk a lot about that time in his life, she said.

Photographs of Andy show a little boy with a bright smile that didn't fade as he grew older.

Andy and Donald took Sims' name, but they were born with the last name Douglass. Andy's full name at birth in summer 1950 was Scott Andreas Douglass. His brother, born in 1949, was Donald Ace Douglass Jr.

Their birth father moved to California and was settled into marriage and family life, which included Steve.

Donald Douglass Sr. and Ellen Sims had married in their teens, and they divorced while the boys were young, Steve Douglass learned as he delved into his family's past.

As he started his research, he didn't expect to feel a connection to the half brother he never knew, but Andy has become a member of his family.

He noticed the resemblance as he studied pictures he has received. He saw a picture of his father as a child, and looking at that one next to his own and photographs of Andy, he sees striking similarities.

"When I was his age, we looked a lot alike," Steve Douglass said.

He wants to learn as much as he can about the older half brother he grew up not knowing he had.

"I get the impression he was a very active kid," Douglass said during his trip to Wichita Falls.

He also came across some information indicating that Andy had been involved a couple years earlier in a traffic accident that had left him with some lasting effects.

Scary time

Iris Carter and her family lived next door to the Sims family, who hadn't lived in the neighborhood long. They didn't really know one another, she said, but Andy's disappearance came as a shock.

"We'd see those boys out once in a while," and they would wave, Carter said.

The mystery from so long ago has never escaped Carter. She has wondered many times over the years what happened to Andy. It was such a quiet neighborhood, she said.

This type of thing didn't happen.

News of the disappearance shook some of the families who lived nearby.

"I was only 11 years old at the time, and it just scared the bejeebers out of me," said Mary Swatzell, who lived down the street from the Sims family on Stanford. Andy's family lived at the end of the block. Her family lived in the middle. Swatzell, who knew Andy only slightly, now lives in Tulsa, Okla. "Back then, people just didn't disappear," she said.

"All of us kids went up and down the block at all hours of the night," she said.

In those days, it was nothing for a child to be blocks, even miles away from home during a day playing outside until after dark, Henning and Fox acknowledged.

But it was something different altogether for a child not to return home.

No word

A note penned to the side of a fifth-grade class list sums up one of the only certain things anyone can say about what happened to 11-year-old Andy Sims.

Disappeared... No word.

A faint pencil line runs through the typed letters that spell out Andy's name on the list for Mrs. Beasley's class in Room 6 at Jefferson Elementary School. He was a fifth-grader during the 1961-62 school year, one of 18,601 students enrolled in public schools in Wichita Falls at the time.

Jefferson Elementary School opened in 1959; and as it prepares for its 50th anniversary celebration, a collection of memorabilia has come in, highlighting faces, names and events from the school's half-century of history. Principal Pat Page found the book with Andy's class list in the collection, and seeing Andy's name after hearing for the first time about his disappearance gave him goose bumps.

"Andy was kind of a quiet boy, just a good guy," Leroy Chaddick remembered. Chaddick, who has spent his career at the Wichita Falls Fire Department, was in his first year at Jefferson that year, and he was also a fifth-grader in Andy's class.

He and Andy were school friends, the kind who talk about what's going on at school and play together at recess and eat lunch together, but don't really see each other outside the school day. He and Andy were probably pretty similar in nature, he thinks. Neither was loud nor the first to speak up.

"I think everybody liked him," Chaddick said.

And then Andy was gone.

Chaddick first learned about Andy's disappearance from his parents, who saw it on the news.

Hoping for the best

Andy was a Tenderfoot the first rank in Scouting and new to Boy Scout Troop 22, of which Bill Fortune was the cubmaster.

Fortune is still involved with Scouting and that troop today.

As Wichita Falls was getting ready for Christmas that December, the Scouts were making preparations for a campout despite the cold weather. Andy disappeared a short time before his troop was supposed to have gone on that outing.

People searched the grounds the scouts used, traveling the area on horseback and looking in buildings, but they didn't find anything.

The boys, who were prepared for their night of camping, still went on the outing; and they just hoped Andy would show up, Fortune said.

"But he didn't," he said.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6183387.html
just adding the link
« Last Edit: October 08, 2011, 03:37:20 PM by Nut44x4 » Logged

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Nut44x4
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...and Injustice for most


« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2008, 11:13:33 AM »

The Doe Network:
Case File 3942DMTX
Scott Andreas Douglass Sims
Missing since December 9, 1961 from Wichita Falls, Texas
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics

Date Of Birth: Summer 1950
Age at Time of Disappearance: 11 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 4'11"; 90 lbs.
Distinguishing Characteristics: White male. Blond hair; blue eyes.
Clothing: A black coat over a black turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and a black knit cap. Andy wore glasses.
AKA: Andy

Circumstances of Disappearance
On December 9, 1961, 11-year-old Andy Sims vanished. Andy, who was in the fifth-grade at Jefferson Elementary School, lived at 4600 Stanford, a corner house tucked into a quiet neighborhood. Andy was home with his brother Donald, who was older by a year, that morning while their mother, Ellen, a nurse, was working. The boys’ stepfather, William Sims, was in the National Guard and had been called up with the 49th Armored Division to go to Fort Polk, La., during the Berlin crisis.
Andy was home between noon and 12:30 p.m. when his mother called the house and talked to Donald. Donald reported Andy left the house between 12:45 and 1 p.m. to go out to play. Ellen Sims returned home about 2:30 p.m. She had done some shopping.
Members of Andy’s family were the first to search for him. The boys’ mother sent Donald out to look for his brother, and other family members joined in the unsuccessful search.
The family called the police about 8 p.m., and later called again.
Fort Sill, Civil Defense, Marine Reserves, members of the Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol and others worked with volunteers to comb the area, searching Andy’s usual hangouts and places it seemed a child might have gone to escape the cold.
One person reported seeing someone who matched Andy’s description at the Boy Scout Hut near Lake Wichita about 3 p.m. December 9, just a few hours after Andy left his house. Lake Wichita was searched several times, and it was dragged. Nothing turned up any trace of Andy despite searches by land and by air.
Some of Andy’s friends told police he liked to play in some caves near Fairway Boulevard, but checks there turned up nothing.
Andy’s family had lived in Wichita Falls for just a short time.

Investigators
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Wichita Falls Police Department
Detective Tony Fox
940-761-7792

Source Information:
The Timesrecord News

http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/3942dmtx.html


Andy -- handsome young lad
« Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 05:36:19 PM by Nut44x4 » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2013, 09:04:22 PM »

Andy's case was entered three years ago in the NamUs Database. I hope he can be found, even so many years later. 


https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/4667/31
NamUs Missing Persons Data Base

Case Information
Status - Missing
First name - Scott
Middle name -Andreas Douglass
Last name - Sims
NamUs MP # 4667
Scott Sims

Wichita County, Texas
11 year old white male



Nickname/Alias - Andy
NCMEC number - 1165700
Date last seen - December 09, 1961 12:45
Date entered - 01/10/2010
Age last seen - 11 to 11 years old
Age now - 63 years old
Race - White
Ethnicity
Sex - Male
Height (inches) - 59.0
Weight (pounds) - 90.0
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  " Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  - Daniel Moynihan
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