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Lacking in Mississippi: What Occurred to Leigh Occhi? | by Jenn Baxter

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Jenn Baxter

A younger woman vanished after being left dwelling alone, abandoning solely blood and a thriller that’s now nearly 20 years previous.

Leigh Occhi (Photograph offered by Assist Discover Lacking Leigh Marie Occhi Fb web page)

The remnants of Hurricane Andrew have been headed for Tupelo, Mississippi on the morning of August 27, 1992, however the storm hadn’t hit but when Vickie Yarborough left for work round 7:50 am. Her daughter, 13-year-old Leigh Occhi was awake when Vickie left for work however nonetheless in her nightgown. She promised her mom she could be dressed and able to go when her grandmother got here to choose her up later that morning; she was going to an open home at her center college and didn’t wish to be late.

Lower than an hour after she arrived at work, Vickie known as dwelling to inspect Leigh. Every time she known as her daughter, she would let the telephone ring twice, cling up, then instantly redial. This ensured Leigh knew it was her mom calling and would reply the telephone. On that morning, nevertheless, Leigh failed to choose up. After attempting just a few extra occasions, Vickie couldn’t shake the sensation that one thing was improper. She left work and made the quick drive dwelling to verify Leigh was okay. Her blood ran chilly when she pulled up in entrance of her home and noticed that the storage door was extensive open, and the sunshine on the automated door opener was lit. For the reason that gentle would flip off about 5 minutes after the door opener was used, it appeared somebody had simply left.

When Vickie obtained into the home, she was horrified by what she noticed. There was blood smeared on one of many partitions and trailed down the hallway. Yelling for Leigh, she shortly checked all of the rooms in the home however couldn’t discover her daughter. She ran outdoors into the yard, checked the shed, then got here again inside and known as 911.

Police arrived inside minutes, and instantly knew that they weren’t coping with a runaway teenager. The 2 officers who had been dispatched made the smart choice to name for a detective to return to the home; Lead Detective Bart Aguirre obtained the decision and headed straight to the residence. He took a cursory look across the dwelling, and observed blood and hair on a door body, a pool of blood on the carpet, and drops of blood main down the hallway.

Vickie confirmed him the nightgown Leigh had been carrying when she final noticed her; it was stained with blood and had been thrown right into a laundry basket. In the master suite’s toilet there was proof that somebody had tried to wash up, leaving a pink sheen of blood on the counter. Nothing else within the dwelling gave the impression to be disturbed, and there was no signal of pressured entry.

Leigh (Photograph offered by NCMEC)

Police and volunteers began looking the encompassing space for Leigh, however the stormy climate made it troublesome. Bloodhounds had no luck in choosing up on a scent path, and the climate was too dangerous for aerial searches. Detectives started interviewing everybody who knew Leigh, beginning with instant household. They have been hoping to uncover clues that might cause them to Leigh.

As quickly because the storm handed, a helicopter was dispatched to fly over the world. Detectives have been hopeful that an aerial search may reveal proof they’d missed throughout the floor search, however the helicopters didn’t have any luck both. Unable to search out any proof outdoors, detectives went again to the house and continued on the lookout for clues. They advised the media that foul play gave the impression to be concerned in Leigh’s disappearance; though they’d no suspects at the moment, they’d not dominated anybody out. Everybody was thought-about an individual of curiosity till they’d sufficient proof to level in a selected route.

To ensure that each angle of the case was lined, the Tupelo Police Division created a process pressure on September 1st. They canvassed the world on the lookout for anybody who may need seen one thing uncommon on the day Leigh went lacking. Whereas native residents desperately needed to assist discover Leigh, nobody had witnessed something odd. Nobody recalled seeing any unusual vehicles within the neighborhood, and nobody heard anybody screaming or preventing. In fact, lots of the locals had been preoccupied that morning. With Hurricane Andrew headed straight for them, most had been finishing their pre-storm preparations.

On September 4th, a group faculty pupil in Booneville, Mississippi known as police after seeing a lady who regarded like Leigh. The kid had been inside a truck that went via the drive through of a McDonalds. Investigators went to Booneville, positioned about 30 miles north of Tupelo, and after finding the kid in query they decided it wasn’t Leigh.

Vickie known as police on September ninth to report getting an odd package deal within the mail. It was addressed to Barney Yarborough, her ex-husband, and the postmark indicated it had been mailed from Booneville. Inside have been Leigh’s studying glasses. Though there was no ransom notice included, the FBI joined the investigation at this level and despatched the package deal to their crime lab for forensic evaluation. Detectives have been hopeful that the package deal is perhaps the break they wanted to unravel the case. Sadly, technicians within the crime lab had been unable to search out helpful proof. The stamps had been moistened with water, not saliva, and the package deal yielded no fibers, fingerprints, or DNA proof.

Three weeks after Leigh vanished, her dwelling was sealed off and a well known forensic professional from Hattiesburg, Mike West, was known as in to undergo the home. Police have been tight-lipped about what, if something, had led them up to now, and the entire outcomes of the forensic evaluation weren’t launched to the general public.

Leigh (Photograph offered by NCMEC)

Early within the investigation, detectives gave polygraph examinations to Vickie, Barney, and Leigh’s father, Donald Occhi. The outcomes have been stored confidential for years, however authorities would later state that Barney and Donald had handed their exams and weren’t thought-about suspects in Leigh’s disappearance. The identical couldn’t be stated for Vickie. She failed the primary polygraph the native police gave her. The FBI then administered exams to Vickie on two separate events, and she or he failed each of those as effectively. Since polygraphs usually are not admissible as proof in court docket, police can solely use them as an investigative device and might’t arrest somebody solely as a result of they failed a polygraph. Vickie has continued to keep up her innocence within the case and says she solely failed the exams as a result of she was wired and anxious concerning the state of affairs usually.

As months glided by, investigators grew extra pissed off. They have been sure that Leigh had been a sufferer of foul play, however they continued to return up empty of their seek for bodily proof. Vickie, irritated that police believed her daughter was lifeless, employed a non-public investigator to begin trying the case over from the start. She additionally introduced that she was elevating the reward for details about Leigh from $2000 to $5000.

Leigh’s case remained at a standstill all through most of 1993. Then, there was a attainable break. On November 2nd, a farmer harvesting soybeans was stunned to discover a human cranium in his discipline. He instantly known as police who did a cursory look of the world however didn’t discover every other bones. The cranium was despatched to the state medical expert’s workplace so pathologists might try and determine it utilizing dental data. Simply 4 days later, it was introduced that the cranium belonged to Leigh. Her household was heartbroken. A restoration crew was despatched out to the world the place the cranium had been discovered, and some hours later they introduced that they’d recovered the remainder of the stays.

Two days later, residents of Tupelo have been shocked when it was introduced that the stays weren’t Leigh’s in spite of everything. The state medical expert, Emily Ward, famous that many of the tooth had been lacking from the cranium after they initially obtained it, however insisted that they’d not made any errors within the course of. As an alternative, the pathologists had carried out the perfect they may with the restricted proof they’d.

Except for the blood discovered inside the house and the eyeglasses obtained within the mail, there have been no clues present in Leigh’s disappearance. The case continues to be thought-about an open and energetic investigation, and ideas nonetheless are available often. Barney Yarborough died years in the past, however Donald continues to be alive and continues to hope that Leigh will at some point be discovered. He firmly believes his daughter is lifeless, however would love to have the ability to give her a correct burial. Vickie left the Mississippi space; in 2017 she was dwelling in Michigan together with her dad and mom. Though she insisted for years that she believed Leigh was alive, she thinks she is aware of who’s behind the disappearance and has come to comprehend that there’s little probability Leigh continues to be alive.

Age development picture of Leigh (Poster offered by MCMEC)

There are a number of completely different theories about what may need occurred to Leigh. Detectives shortly dominated out the likelihood that she ran away from dwelling; if it was certainly her blood discovered inside the house, she wouldn’t have been capable of get very far on her personal. Likewise, suicide could be dominated out as her physique was by no means discovered, and an unintended loss of life is unlikely. Leigh was nearly definitely kidnapped and murdered; the one query is who did it.

Initially, native residents appeared to imagine that Barney could have had one thing to do with the disappearance, however after he handed a polygraph and police stated he had an alibi and had totally cooperated with investigators, this rumor started to die down. There had been whispers from the very starting that Vickie is perhaps concerned, and as soon as police appeared to clear Barney the brunt of native suspicion was transferred to Vickie. Even those that didn’t imagine that she had truly dedicated the crime herself believed that she knew greater than she was telling police.

Police had their very own doubts about Vickie, particularly after she failed three polygraphs. Nonetheless, they have been hesitant to name her a suspect. Detective Aguirre felt that Vickie’s model of what had occurred on the morning Leigh vanished was incomplete, however admitted that it could have been practically not possible for her to kill Leigh and conceal her physique. When the detective arrived on the crime scene, the blood within the dwelling was nonetheless recent and hadn’t began to congeal. This indicated that it hadn’t been there for for much longer than quarter-hour, and Vickie had been out of the home for greater than an hour.

Vickie believes a person who was later convicted of raping a baby was chargeable for Leigh’s disappearance. This man is presently in jail however did reside within the space when Leigh went lacking nevertheless police haven’t been capable of hyperlink him to Leigh and her case stays open.

Leigh Marine Occhi has been lacking since August 27, 1992. On the time of her disappearance, she was 13 years previous, 4’10” and weighed round 95 kilos. She had gentle blonde hair and blue inexperienced eyes, and had a strawberry birthmark on the again of her neck. Every ear was pierced as soon as, and she or he wore glasses for studying. If in case you have any details about Leigh’s case, please name the Columbus Police Division at 614–645–4545. You might keep nameless.

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