Mark at age 11 and an age processed photo of what he would look like at 27.
Mark Himebaugh was just 11-years-old when he vanished from his Del Haven, New Jersey home on November 25th, 1991. That day, a neighbor asked Mrs.Himebaugh to drop him off at a local garage. Knowing she would only be 5-10 minutes, she dropped Mark off at home and told him she would be back soon. Before leaving, Mark had asked if he could check out a massive fire that was taking place down the road in the marsh. Firefighters were at the scene extinguishing the fire and his mother permitted him to go but reminded him of their evening plans. Due to the fire, all the local routes were detoured to side streets, making her effortless errand into a difficult 40 minute drive home. When she returned, she didn't see Mark, and had assumed he was playing with neighborhood children, but he was never heard from again.
His mother reported him missing around 6:00pm. There are unconfirmed witness reports that placed him at a local park and on the beach in the area that same day. These reports claim that a girl his age was walking with him. The girl has been described as having dishwater-blond hair, weighing around 70 to 75 pounds, and wearing a dark blue ski parka with a hunter orange stripe on the back. This girl and her family have never come forward and authorities believe she could have valuable information about the disappearance.
Sketch of possible witness
After the marsh cooled from the fire, over 200 volunteers scoured the area where he may have went. Many trudged through freezing, muddy, waters up to their waist looking for any sign of the boy. State Police and FBI became involved in the search. A New Jersey State Police helicopter that was equipped with infrared cameras swept over acres of land near the Himebaugh home. Dogs could not pick up an accurate scent on Mark, and the only thing ever recovered was a left foot sneaker of his, 75 yards from his home. At the time, Mark was recovering from a fractured foot which may be the reason his shoe was off.
Police called off the search early in December of '91. Temperatures on the days after Mark's disappearance had dropped into the low 30s. Police believe that if he was outside, it was likely he would not have survived the conditions.
Police also reviewed video footage that was taken of the fire hoping to catch a frame of Mark anywhere in the area where he was heading that could have indicated a time and location to help with his search. He was never seen on any tapes. Due to all the detours, there were many cars and people in the area which may have sealed Mark's fate. Police eventually classified the case as a "non-family abduction".
Many tips came in and the FBI announced in late December of '91 they were "aggressively" pursuing a suspect in connection with his disappearance. The lead ended up going no where and they were back where they started. There was a sketch drawn of a dark haired man that was seen talking to Mark. The sketch was circulated, but no other leads came in.
In 2004, a man living in my hometown was named a suspect in the murders of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Gehris and 42-year-old Joyce Koenen, and the disappearance of Amy Matthews, 24. Jack Lee Colin Jr. was living a couple of blocks away from the victims' homes in 1983 and 1984. He was arrested some time in 1984 for federal weapons charges. When he was convicted, police had found a bloody glove and hammer during their search of his home and vehicle, but were only able to match a blood type at the time. He was released from prison two years later and moved to Cape May County in 1987. Speculation began to swirl that he was responsible for Mark's disappearance as he not only lived about 20 minutes away, but also drove through Del Haven to get to work. Many believed that he may have been detoured onto a side road coming home from work and ran into the young boy who was never seen or heard from since. Colin is currently in prison, serving time for child pornography and guns found in his home. He has a long history of mental health issues that date back to 1972 when he murdered his parents. He was acquitted by reason of insanity, but was prohibited from owning firearms due to his mental health status.
It has been 17 years and police have said that Mark Himebaugh's case will not be considered cold as they are still following leads. They usually are left investigating tips that come in about bones washing up on the beach and people who will remember something from that day. Most of the remains found are that of animals, but they have not been discouraged, just baffled. They hope that their efforts will eventually help to solve this crime and bring Mark home.