Runaway Train: Martha Wes Dunn

          Next up in the Runaway Train series, we’re headed to Texas. Two teens disappear after one argues with their parents. Despite a few promising leads, the case is cold over thirty years later. What happened to Martha Wes Dunn, who vanished alongside her boyfriend Eric Owens? Let’s explore.

Who Is Martha?

          In the available reporting online, there is not a very good sense of who Martha was as a person before she disappeared. All we know is that she was in a relationship with Eric Owens, and that they were both involved with drugs at the time of their disappearances. Again, if you knew either Eric or Martha, I would love to add more detail to this post to remember them as more than the day they went missing.
          Martha was born on June 22, 1975. At the time of her disappearance, Martha stood at about 5’4 and weighed around 95 lbs. She has brown eyes, brown hair, and scars from her right eye down to her jaw, though they are faint. Eric was born on March 13, 1973. At the time of his disappearance, he stood at about 5’10 and weighed around 140 lbs. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

The Disappearance

          Martha’s parents last saw her shortly after 2 PM on September 4th, 1990. She had just returned to Texas from visiting family in Oklahoma. School was due to start soon, and Martha was not happy. She and her parents argued before she went to her room. The specifics of that argument are not known, but it seems that Martha was not happy to be back in Texas. The next known contact Martha had with anyone was a call to her boyfriend at 10 PM. It is unknown what they spoke about. The next day, both Martha and Eric were nowhere to be found.

The Investigation

          Both Martha and Eric were considered runaways at first. Considering the fact that they were caught in the cycle of addiction and Martha had fought with her parents the previous day, this is not an unreasonable conclusion for the investigators to draw. It was thought that the pair may have been traveling to Oklahoma or Kansas. Eric had an aunt that lived in Durant, OK, and his mother lived in Kansas. While nothing came of the Kansas theory, there were several sightings of Martha and Eric in Durant.
        In fact, a friend of Martha’s father called him to say that he definitely saw Eric and Martha in Durant. They were both worse for the wear, but the friend cleaned them up and fed them. By the time Martha’s father was able to alert the authorities and get someone out there to investigate, there was no sign of the pair.


          It is clear with this case that Martha and Eric did leave Texas of their own accord. The fact that they showed up in a town he had family in also lends credence to the idea that this was a planned runaway. The fact that both Martha and Eric were stuck in the cycle of addiction also makes it likely – to me, at least – that they were likely unable to establish lives wherever they ended up. I think it’s unfortunately likely that they ended up living on the streets in order to afford their addiction. And, again unfortunately, the unhoused are often unclaimed. I believe that Martha and Eric likely lived on the streets and either still do, or possibly died unidentified. This is an avenue I will continue to look into.

Investigating Agencies

          If you or anyone you know has any information about Martha or Eric’s disappearances or whereabouts, please contact the proper authorities. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 903-645-2232 in reference to case number 09067034. Martha’s National Crime Information Center case number is M-573741172, and her National Center for Missing and Exploited Children case number is NCMC745077.


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