Family offers reward for information on remains of 13-year-old missing 38 years

Sharon Pretorius, who vanished while on paper route, is presumed dead

DAYTON — On a Friday afternoon in September 38 years ago, 13-year-old Sharon Pretorius disappeared off a Cornell Drive sidewalk while collecting for her Journal Herald newspaper route.

Now her family is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads them to her remains.

About a week after her daughter disappeared, Marycarol Pretorius remembered walking alone into the child’s empty bedroom.

“I kneeled down and I pounded my hands on her bed, and I said, ‘Lord, I will love you if my daughter is ... dead. And I will love you if she is returned.’ Then I had to pause, but I finally added, ‘And I will love you Lord if it happens that I never know,’ ” she said in a 1998 Dayton Daily News interview.

Her faith has not changed in the nearly four decades. When asked what has gotten her through her wait, she said Thursday, “My God has sustained and comforted me.”

The reward offer comes after an extensive search of a five-acre vacant lot at Hoover Avenue and Guenther Street by police during the past month. Dayton Detective Patricia Tackett said police were acting on a tip when they used heavy equipment, cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating laser equipment in an effort to find the teenager’s remains.

“Only people’s memories can help us now,” Art Fabian, Sharon’s uncle, said at a Thursday news conference. The family said police had launched an extensive search for the teen at the time of the disappearance.

Tackett said police have been in contact over the years with the officers and FBI agents in the original investigation.

“We believe there are people with information,” she said. “Those involved may be deceased, but their families may have information.”

Sharon was a freshman at Fairview High School and was described as 5 feet 7 and 140 pounds with brown pigtails.

Anyone with any information is asked to call (937) 333-COPS or Tackett at (937) 333-7109. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2290 or

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