Donald Ping was a long-time employee at Elder Beerman with a good record. On Jan. 25, 2002, a Friday, he left the store when his shift ended at 6 p.m. He has not been seen since.
“It was literally like he just vanished,” said Dayton Detective Patricia Tackett. “Without a reason.”
Ping, who was 42 and did not drive, always took the bus to and from the store at the Northwest Plaza Shopping Center, and his apartment at 3826 Wayne Ave., both in Dayton. When he left the store, it was presumed he would walk to the bus stop around the corner on Siebenthaler Drive.
Tackett said police were unable to determine if he ever got on the bus or made it home.
On Jan. 28, 2002, a Dayton police officer took an incident report after speaking with Ping’s mother Anita. She contacted police after Elder Beerman called her, concerned because Ping did not show up for work.
“We had no leads, nothing,” Tackett said. “He was at work every day. He had a home, he had a child. He had a job, money in the bank.”
He had also paid his child support regularly for 16 years, according to his mother.
That bank account was never touched after Ping withdrew $42 the day he disappeared, his mother said. He ate lunch with co-workers that afternoon and they reported he was in a good mood.
“He didn’t disappear by choice,” Anita Ping said. “I mean, I can’t prove that, but that’s my feelings. Where would he go on $42?”
Ping was known for being well-dressed, wearing nice suits to work. His mother said “he always looked like he just stepped out of a magazine.”
Anita Ping said she doubted he ever made it home, because the clothing that his co-workers said he was wearing that Friday wasn’t found in his apartment.
His mother had him legally declared dead in January, so that his son, now 26, could get the money in Ping’s 401(k) account.
Anita Ping said her son “had his demons” liked to party, and “knew some unsavory people.” But Tackett said there was no evidence Ping was involved in using or selling hard drugs. A search of records in Montgomery County Common Pleas, Kettering Municipal and Dayton Municipal showed no criminal convictions.
“Some of them, you know their lifestyle created the disappearance,” Tackett said. “We are not aware of him living that type of life.”
Anita Ping said she believes her son probably is dead, but not knowing for sure makes it even more difficult.
“It nags at you,” she said. “It’s always in the back of your mind and you can’t help going over the different scenarios that you’ve gone over a hundred times before.”
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Donald Ping is asked to call Det. Patricia Tacket at (937) 333-7109
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