The Lost Ones: Gloria White Moore McDonald - Polk County woman has been missing for 22 years
Just over twenty-two years ago, a Mena woman out on a walk with her family seemingly disappeared into thin air.
On January 26, 2001, Gloria White Moore McDonald, her husband, her husband's son, and the son's girlfriend, went to Queen Wilhelmina State Park, in Polk County. All four of them went down the trail toward "Lover's Leap." About 150 yards down the trail they found several trees across the trail. At this point, Gloria McDonald decided not to go any further. Instead, she returned to the park's gift shop and restaurant while the others continued to "Lover's Leap." When they went to the lodge later that afternoon they could not find Gloria.
Arkansas State Police Special Agents were contacted by Polk County Sheriff's Deputies at Mena on Saturday, January 27th after a search of the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge area failed to produce any clues into the whereabouts of McDonald, who was 68-year-old at the time. It's as if she simply fell from the face of the earth. McDonald had traveled the same day to the lodge with her husband, step-son and a friend of the step-son. The group arrived about noon and set-out hiking along one of the nature trails that borders the lodge property atop Rich Mountain. About 150 yards into the hike, McDonald told the group she was returning to the lodge because of trees that were blocking parts of the trail.
McDonald was a reporter for the Mena Star newspaper who wrote stories about court proceedings, and a couple of her friends reviewed her notes and articles to see if a clue might exist about her disappearance and found nothing. The family theorizes that she may have “walked up on something” involving illegal drug activities and been killed to silence her. McDonald was described by her family at the time of the disappearance as being in good physical condition. Weighing about 120 pounds and standing 5-feet, 6-inches tall, McDonald was wearing a bright yell
Arkansas State Police senior special
agents Lynn Benedict and Hays McWhirter conducted the state police investigation along with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department the Polk County Sheriff at the time -- Mike Oglesby-- said only one room at the lodge had been rented. “There were about six guys there who work for the state park, the kitchen help, and waitresses. Add to that a few men who were piling brush and cleaning up after the storm and that’s it,” Oglesby told newspapers. McWhirter said during the same time period bloodhounds searched “all over the mountain” and no remains were ever found.
"The bloodhounds followed a scent which led down to a paved road below the lodge, but they lost the scent at the road,” said McWhirter, recalling the initial investigation. “There are no suspects and we don’t know what happened to her,” said McWhirter at the time. Almost nineteen years later that remains the case. The case is also listed with the FBI missing person files. If you know anything about this case, please contact Arkansas State Police via e-mail or by calling one the following law enforcement agencies: Polk County Sheriff's Office at (501) 394-2511 or the Arkansas State Police at (800) 553-3820.