Andy was last seen on May 30th, 1976. He opened the Texaco station at the intersection of I-25 and HWY 165 in Crow Junction, Pueblo County, Colorado, where he had worked part time for two years.
He opened the station between 6:15 and 6:30 AM and took a newspaper to a restaurant adjoining the gas station where he joked with a waitress. He was last seen under a gas station canopy near the gas pumps at 6:45 AM. Shortly thereafter, customers wanting to buy gas discovered the station unattended.
The police were called, and a short time later, they and Andy's manager discovered his 1967 pickup truck parked in the Texaco's lot with the keys in the ignition.
Inside the gas station, the manager discovered his CB radio with it's microphone ripped out and all the cash (between $50-$100) from the register was missing. Although he disappeared in a high-traffic area in the daylight hours on Memorial day weekend, no one saw or heard anything suspicious.
In the days following his disappearance, volunteers, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, and the FBI conducted a widespread search both on foot, by horseback, on four-wheelers, and via helicopter. Local psychics were tapped and even hypnotized two waitresses from the restaurant adjoining the Texaco, and they described a possible suspect.
He is described as a middle aged, white male with graying, sandy colored hair, blue eyes, and a medium complexion, and was about 5'11 and 175 lbs. He was seen leaving the Texaco at approximately 7:00 AM, and is said to have been driving a "flashy" two door, late model car, possibly a Pontiac Grand Prix, silver or white in color with maroon trim and maroon top. He was towing what appeared to be a hand made plywood trailer, 4-5 feet long and covered with a tarp. He told the two women that he was en route to Wyoming and was waiting for the gas station to open. He has never been identified.
A Colorado college professor who lived in the same county has since come under suspicion. Four days before Joe disappeared the professor’s wife vanished. The professor remarried and his second wife died under suspicious circumstances. The remains of the professor’s first wife was found four years after she and Joe had disappeared. The man later committed suicide. Law enforcement officials, including a group of retired FBI agents, reviewed his case in 2005 believe the professor is somehow involved.
His mother, Betty Lepley, believes that her son caught whoever stole the money and when he went to call authorities he was attacked and then abducted.
At the time of his disappearance, Andy was a senior at Rye High School, and was just days from graduating. He was an honors student and was studying motorcycle mechanics in a vocational program, as well as being a pole-vaulter, football player, and basketball player, and former class president. He had planned to spend the summer after graduation working for his father as a plumber's apprentice, then enlist in the Air Force and attend Adams State College.
The Colorado City Lions Club donated $100 and an anonymous donor gave $1,000 to pay for a reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever kidnapped Joe. Within a week the reward climbed to $8,000 for Joe’s “safe return.” The reward would later climb to $10,000 “leading to location of Joe regardless of the circumstances involving his disappearance.”
Andy's case remains unsolved. FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED.
Source Information: http://blogs.denverpost.com/coldcases/2012/06/02/rye-senior-disappears-gas-station-days-graduation/4309/3/
http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/l/lepley_andy.html (Information retrieved from NamUs.gov)