Centralia missing child case from 1991 remains unsolved - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Centralia missing child case from 1991 remains unsolved

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CENTRALIA (WSIL) -- Joshua Mahaffey lived in rural Marion county with his mother and attended Centralia High School his freshman year. 

The 15 year old and other teens would hang out at a shopping center in town. It's one of the last places that he was seen before being reported missing on October 12, 1991. 

Secretary of State Police Alan Rose says his father was a Marion County deputy who initially investigated the disappearance. Rose himself would later get involved in the case. 

"He met with friends on a continuous basis," Rose explains. "From my understanding at some point, he vanished." 

Investigators began interviewing Mahaffey's friends and family and believed something could have happened to him.

"There were grievances between Josh Mahaffey and others," Rose says. 

Terry Martin has long been named a suspect in the case. He and Mahaffey robbed a grocery store that once stood at a now empty lot.

"They were either located at the grocery store or quickly thereafter and interviewed, which that could have been a catalyst to why Josh is missing," Rose said. 

Mahaffey worked with police on the case and gave evidence against Martin, who according to court documents, was fined days after the teen went missing. 

In 1993, Martin was arrested in Clinton County for allegedly beating a man with a baseball bat. Then-Sheriff Mike Kreke, says an inmate snitched on his cellmate who was talking about Mahaffey's disappearance. 

"The person who he was getting the information from was telling him that the this person was missing and hadn't been seen since x day," Kreke recalls. 

But that information came to a dead end. "No leads came out to where they were going to make an arrest, or find Mahaffey, or a body," Kreke says. 

Around 2003, Alan Rose got personally involved in the case. The suspect in the Clinton County jail began talking to another inmate in northern Illinois after being rearrested. 

"We attempted to conduct overhears in this case to gain information about a suspect in this case," Rose remembers. 

He says the wiretap was unsuccessful and that the suspect was later told about the investigation, "It was frustrating. That was something that was out of my control."

Several years after Mahaffey's disappearance, a woman claimed to be a witness saying that he was murdered and buried in Centralia woods, known as Devil's Playground. 

Kreke says the deputies searched the area as best they could, but another disappointment, "They were unable to find anything that was related to the case." 

Kreke and Rose both want the family to know what happened to Mahaffey when he went missing. 

"I feel attachment to all cases where somebody has been injured or hurt," Rose adds. "It’s a 15 year old that hasn’t had the chance to live is what it feels like." 

They hope this story will jog someone's memory who knows about his disappearance, or that someone will come forward with information that they've known for years. 

If anyone has information, they're asked to call the Clinton County Sheriff's Office at (618) 594-4555.

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