Home » Willie Ann Rucker, 27: Disappeared While On The Way To Pick Up Kids
As a child, David Barnett grew up believing that his mother died in a car accident. He was just one year old when he lost his mother, so he and his siblings—Kim, 10, and Deena, 9—were sent to be raised by their grandmother. David grew up to become a high school football star who was later drafted into the NFL, and just ahead of his move into the big leagues, he learned at a family reunion that his mother, Willie Ann Rucker, had actually disappeared back in 1979.
In an expansive interview with The New York Times, David spoke candidly about the “taboo” topic of his mother’s case. His budding football career allowed him to travel from one end of the country to the next, and often, he would meet people who shared his mother’s last name. He told The Times that he would wonder if they were any relation to the mother he never knew.
“I had gone all my life trying to figure out what actually happened. Every time I’d ask somebody, they’d be like: ‘Go ask him. Go ask her.’ They kept pushing it around,” said David. By the time he entered high school, one of his sisters had graduated college and petitioned to be his legal guardian. He moved to Arkansas to be with her. IAll of the siblings were raised without knowledge of what really happened to Willie Ann Rucker.
“I always felt that not having a mom was a big factor in my life,” he said in the Times interview. “I missed never having that person you can come home to and call Mom who will put her arms around you and tell you she loves you.”
It was April 8, 1979, when Willie Ann Rucker was finishing her shift as a cocktail waitress at a local club in Waterloo, Iowa. The 27-year-old mother of three called her sister from a grocery store to say that she was working late and to take the kids to her apartment where she would meet them. It’s reported that Willie was recently divorced and had been having trouble with an ex-boyfriend. Just days before she disappeared, Willie was said to have told the police that this ex was frightening her. Her relatives have stated that she would never have walked away from her life and abandoned her children.
David told The Times that he did not grow up having a relationship with his father. The identity of Willie’s ex is unknown, at least in public reports.
At the time of her disappearance, Willie Ann Rucker stood 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 110 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. She would be 70 years old at the time of this publication and would go by her middle name, “Ann.”
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Waterloo Police Department at (319) 291-2515 or their local authorities. The agency case number is W79-3223.
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