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Darlene Russell

A young woman's remains are discovered in a field two days after she vanished

  • Last updated: October 6, 2022
  • Wayne County, IN
  • September 20, 1981

Overview of Darlene Russell

Darlene Russell was a kind-hearted, sweet, caring girl who had her entire life ahead of her.

Darlene was born on October 5, 1959 in Estill County, KY. Later, her large family moved north to Connersville, IN. Darlene was one of 12 siblings in her family. She attended Connersville High School and was living with her mother in her Connersville home at the time of her death.

“Darlene wouldn’t hurt anybody. She liked everybody. She had a good personality.” - Ray Russell, Darlene’s brother.

Darlene was described as having no ill will towards anyone, being very sweet, caring, friendly, giving, and easy-going. Darlene enjoyed spending time with her siblings and her friends, and she was known to always help someone in need. She was also known to be a very trusting person, possibly to a fault. Darlene loved and trusted everyone she met.

"She was very caring, likable, giving and easy-going and enjoyed hanging out with friends. She would help anyone out if she could've." - Gary Russell, Darlene’s brother.
Darlene Russell

Darlene spent the night before her disappearance out on the town.

Darlene was seen at two local bars in Connersville, IN on the evening of September 19, 1981; Jerry’s Bar and the Lamp Light Cafe. After returning home that night or into the following morning, Darlene prepared for a trip to Kentucky.

Darlene leaves her home to hitchhike to Kentucky.

Darlene was last seen around 4:30 am on September 20, 1981 when she left her family’s home. According to reports, she told family members that she would be hitchhiking to Kentucky, but would be back in time for her birthday at the latest, on October 5.

Darlene’s body was found two days later.

Two days after Darlene left her home, on September 22, 1981, her body was discovered by a passing motorist on the side of Fayette County Line Road in Wayne County, IN. According to the motorist, he noticed her body after seeing a pair of blue jeans stuck on a barbed wire fence. When he went to investigate, he found Darlene’s partially-nude body, wearing the same clothes she was wearing when she left her home two days earlier.

Authorities investigate the scene where Darlene's body was found.

Two days later, Darlene’s autopsy confirmed that she had been murdered. The forensic pathologist who conducted her autopsy determined that she had died from blood loss due to a knife wound on her neck. He also determined that she had suffered several blows to the head and estimated that she had been killed 2-3 days earlier, likely on September 22, 1981.

Where the case stands today.

In October of 2013, investigators received their first tips in years in Darlene’s case, thanks to an article published in the Connersville News Examiner newspaper. According to authorities, two of the tips they had received were “valid” and included information not mentioned previously.

“We just need closure on it. Someone come forward. If they hear anything, contact the state police. That’d put us at ease. She didn’t deserve to die like that. For somebody to do that, they don’t have a heart. They’re the devil. I don’t know how they can sleep at night knowing what they did to her.” - Ray Russell, Darlene’s brother.

Despite the slight surge in valid tips in 2013, Darlene’s case remains unsolved, as it has for the past 41 years. If you have any information regarding Darlene’s case, please contact the Indiana State Police at (765) 778-2121.


  1. Date Missing:September 20, 1981
  2. Date Found:September 23, 1981
  3. Birthday:October 5, 1959
  4. Age at Incident:21
  5. Race:Caucasian / White
  6. Gender:Female

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