This month’s missing persons case brings us back to the great state of Illinois, in the somewhat great decade of the 80s. When a young mother goes missing and her toddler is found locked in their home, you’d think there would be dozens of news articles about the disappearance. That’s what happened to Regina McCorkle in 1981, though, and hardly any news stories survived the ages – if they were written at all. So – what happened to Regina McCorkle on the morning of August 14, 1981? Let’s explore.
Who Is Regina?
Regina McCorkle was born on October 16, 1961. She went by the nickname Gina with those close to her. At the time of her disappearance she was a divorced young mother, and a good one by all accounts. She and her son lived in East Moline, with her mother, Emma Mason. She was dating a man after a not-so-amicable divorce, and had a job as a janitor at Rock Island Arsenal. At the time of her disappearance, Regina was 19 years old. She stood at 5’7 and weighed around 130 pounds.
Emma spoke to Regina shortly before she left for work around 8:30 on the morning of August 14, 1981. Regina was reportedly behaving normally and nothing in the house was out of the ordinary. After her mother left, Regina spoke on the phone with her boyfriend, making plans to take him around town to fill out job applications before she had to report to work later that day. Again, nothing out of the ordinary was reported from this exchange. Regina was supposed to drop her son off with a babysitter before going to work, but she did not arrive as expected.
When Emma arrived home at 4:45, confused to find Regina’s car in the driveway. When she attempted to head into the home to investigate, all doors to the home were locked, and Emma could hear her grandson crying from somewhere inside the house. In order to get to her clearly upset grandson, she found an unlocked window and climbed through it to find him locked in Regina’s room.
There were no signs of a struggle in the home. As with the car (which had a full tank of gas), all of Regina’s belongings were left in the home. And when I say all of her belongings, I mean all. All of her clothes were left behind, aside from the nightgown she wore to bed the night before. Her purse and all of her money were also still in the home. The only sign of something being wrong was in the basement – a screen to a window was on the floor, but investigators could not tell if it had been removed from the window from inside the home or outside of it.
Because literally everything was left behind, Regina’s family did not believe for a single moment that she left voluntarily. Investigators believe foul play was involved with her disappearance, though I’m not sure at what point in the investigation they came to that conclusion. Regina’s boyfriend took and passed a polygraph. Her ex-husband, however, admitted that he was at the home around 10 AM the morning of Regina’s disappearance. He refused a polygraph and apparently stopped cooperating with officers after that request. No sign of Regina has ever been found, and the case is cold.
With cases like these, there is always a theory that stands out above the rest. If you’re at all into true crime, you’re probably already ahead of me. Who is the one person who likely had something against Regina? Who admitted to having been at the house? The ex-husband. However, I am hesitant to point to his refusal to take a polygraph as a sign of guilt. Polygraphs have been notoriously inaccurate, and one’s refusal to take one could just be a form of self-defense for the innocent. The lack of other cooperation is unsettling, though.
The thing that confounds me about this disappearance is the fact that the house was locked up. The only way out was that basement window – why would someone force Regina out of that specific window? Was it obscured from view? Was there a car waiting? It’s bizarre. If this was somehow a Wrong-Place-Wrong-Time sort of situation, it doesn’t make sense to make Regina leave in such a strange way. The only other thing I can think of is that Regina may have pulled the screen out and crawled out of the basement window because she needed to get away from something. However, that doesn’t totally make sense either because why would she leave her son behind, if she was scared enough to take such a strange escape route? I can’t wrap my head around the window.
If you or anyone you know has information regarding the disappearance of Regina, please reach out to the East Moline Police Department at 309-752-1542. It has been over 40 years since Regina was last seen, and her family deserves answers.