At family holiday gatherings, Wanda Boxley left most of the cooking to her granddaughters but enjoyed slicing and chopping salad ingredients — her way of contributing to the family meal.
Christmas dinner this week wasn’t the same without her. Boxley, an 82-year-old great-grandmother from northern Missouri, has been missing since Nov. 16.
“We just don’t know what to do,” said her son, Donald Bingham. “We all miss her very much and wish she would come back home.”
Boxley vanished soon after leaving her home in Laclede, Mo., and driving about five miles to the County Line convenience store in Brookfield. There the retired waitress bought $10 worth of gas and a few lottery tickets. After that, Boxley headed to visit a granddaughter but never arrived.
She last was seen driving her yellow 1991 Mercury Marquis on Ivy Road, just outside of Brookfield, said Linn County Chief Deputy Sheriff Butch Eskew. Small stuffed animals lined the car’s rear window.
Jamie Matheney, a granddaughter, said the family got together Saturday to celebrate Christmas “just so we have time together for our kids so they can have a Christmas. But we really haven’t had much to celebrate.”
“It’s been torturous, really,” she said.
Bingham said that since his mother was reported missing, he and other family members have searched the region and passed out fliers. They are offering a $1,000 reward. Bingham even climbed into an airplane and searched.
He also drove to Springfield, his mother’s hometown, but saw no sign of her, Bingham said.
“I am sure she would’ve not went all the way down there on her own, but I’ve checked everywhere,” he said.
Bingham said his mother’s routine almost every day was to drive to the convenience store and purchase a few scratch-off lottery tickets. She seldom ventured outside a 10-mile radius of her home.
Boxley previously owned two restaurants, including one in Linneus, Mo., Matheney said.
“She loved to cook fried chicken, roast beef, any home-cooking, the stuff that’s not good for you,” she said. “She would always make us sugar cookies; they were the best sugar cookies ever.”
Boxley enjoys spending time with family, often speaking with them by phone and taking her great-grandchildren to the park near her home.
She would let them play even if she didn’t feel up to it, “because that is where they wanted to go,” Matheney said.
Family members hope Boxley soon returns home. They are afraid that someone may have slipped into the Marquis without her knowing and carjacked her after she left the convenience store.
“Basically, we just want to get some closure,” Bingham said.