Joan Gay Croft:
Real Name: Joan Gay Croft
Case: Lost Daughter/Sister
Location: Woodward, Oklahoma
Date: April 9, 1947
Deatils of Disappearance
The small town of Woodward, Oklahoma, was cut off from the outside world on April 9, 1947, due to a telephone operator strike. A tornado formed nearby on the same day. Many residents were unaware of the strike because of it. As night fell, it slammed into the town, razing it to the ground. In a matter of minutes, over 1,000 people were injured and over 100 were killed. Joan Gay Croft, a four-year-old survivor, is still missing today.
Joan Gay grew up in one of the most prominent families in Woodward. Olin, her father, was a prosperous sheep rancher who provided a comfortable lifestyle for his family. He and his wife, Cleta, raised Joan Gay and Geri, Olin’s daughter from a previous marriage, who was twelve at the time. Aunt Ruth remembered the sky turning ominously dark on the day of the tornado. The tornado wreaked havoc throughout Woodward.
Ruth and her daughter, Marvella, went to the town’s only hospital that night to look for their relatives. Hundreds of people were killed or injured on the grounds. Ruth learned from a nurse that Cleta had been murdered. She also discovered that Olin had been seriously injured and that Joan Gay and Geri were trapped in the basement. Fortunately, they were not seriously hurt: Joan Gay’s knee had been pierced clean through with a pencil-thin piece of wood, and Geri had cuts and bruises all over her body. Ruth returned outside to find her mother and brother. They went to another hospital, where Ruth began to assist the injured.
Ruth returned to the basement in the morning. Geri informed her that some men had arrived in the middle of the night and kidnapped Joan Gay. A nurse confirmed this, claiming that they were transporting her to an Oklahoma City hospital, over 120 miles away. Calls to hospitals in the area, however, yielded no results. She was never seen or heard from again.
Three other girls, ages 12, 4, and 8 months, were killed in the tornado but were never identified. Ruth was invited by the local mortician to examine their bodies to see if any of them were Joan Gay. One of them, about four years old, resembled her; however, after inspecting her body, Ruth was certain that she was not Joan Gay.
The unidentified victims are buried in Woodward Cemetery. It’s possible they were picked up from a town hundreds of miles away that was hit by the tornado, carried in the funnel, and dropped in Woodward.
Joan Gay’s family reported her missing, sparking a massive search. The FBI was later called in, but she was never found. The identities of the two men who came to the hospital and took her away remain unknown decades later. Surprisingly, a nurse confirmed that they had specifically requested the Croft children.
Several women have approached authorities over the years, believing they or someone else was Joan Gay. None of them proved to be her. She was four years old at the time of her disappearance, with blue eyes and blond hair. She spoke with a slight lisp. She may still have scars on her left calf as a result of tornado injuries.
The case remains unsolved. Joan Gay is thought to have died as a result of the passage of time. It’s also possible that she died as a result of her injuries shortly after going missing.