Overview of Marina Boelter
Marina Pearl Boelter is a young mother, daughter, sister, aunt, sister-in-law, and friend. Petite in stature but with a big personality, her mother, Tressie "Cricket" Palmer, affectionately referred to her as her "little tornado". Marina's favorite color is purple; she loved to write poems when she was young and became a prolific journaler as she grew into a young adult. Her sister-in-law and biggest advocate, Ashley Boelter, is married to Marina's brother David and remembers falling in love with Marina instantly the moment she met her at age 6.
At the time of her disappearance, Marina was working at the deli counter at the local IGA grocery store in Bloomfield, IN, but Marina had bigger goals in mind. She took the job at the deli as a first step on the road to her dream career of becoming a pastry chef. Smart and loving, she was a good student in her early years in Ohio but became less engaged with school after the move to Indiana. However, she'd earned her GED and was even planning on applying to colleges to achieve her dreams of a culinary career when she went missing. She had become a mom to Landen - her child with her on-again, off-again 20 year old boyfriend Douglas "DJ" Lockhart - in April of 2014, when she was just shy of 18. She was a very good mom, but an incident occurred at her home where Marina lived with her mother Tressie Palmer, father John Boelter, grandfather Craven Palmer, sister Faith Boelter, and other siblings. A fight between her sister Faith and her boyfriend resulted in the child being involved in a tragic accident, and Marina subsequently lost custody. Landen was placed in foster care, and the fight caused a rift in the family that stands to this day. However, Marina was on her way to regaining custody and was actually supposed to get Landen back right around the time she disappeared.
On New Year's Eve 2014, Marina was looking forward to celebrating a new year and excited about the party she would be attending later that evening. She'd had a rough year, but it seemed things were looking up. She had just moved into a new apartment in Bloomfield, IN and she was on track to regain custody of her 8 month old son Landen. Marina admittedly had some struggles with the men she became involved with. Landen's dad DJ Lockhart was said to be abusive at times, but Marina's mom was convinced they loved one another and Lockhart would never harm her. Though they were not together at the time of her disappearance, it was clear Lockhart still loved her and in fact, wanted her to go to a party with him on the night she vanished instead of the party she was planning on attending. That party was being hosted by Marina's current boyfriend Toby Deem, who Marina was secretly seeing. Deem was an older married man who also happened to be a close friend of the family, particularly of Tressie Palmer. He'd helped Marina get an apartment just a few blocks from his home and his business Deemon Cycles and also helped her move in. The party was being held at Deem's home and his wife was also hosting, but Marina was still looking forward to attending.
At about 6:00 pm after her shift at the deli counter on 12/31/2014, Marina got ready to leave, but Lockhart had come by and tried to talk her out of going to Toby Deem's party. He wanted Marina to attend a party with him instead, but Marina declined. In fact, she was on the phone with Deem when Lockhart appeared at the IGA, and she said "Oh sh*t, it's DJ" and told Deem she'd call him back, but she never did. Witnesses reported Marina and Lockhart having words, and Marina accepted a ride home from an unidentified man who was reportedly a frequent customer of the deli. Lockhart stated he observed Marina getting into a car with a heavyset, middle-aged man wearing glasses, at the old Sunoco gas station gravel parking lot directly north of the IGA where Marina worked. The car was described as a metallic colored (gold, silver, or beige) Mercury Milan manufactured between 2009 and 2011 with multi-spoke rims, a spoiler, and a Bluetooth or shark fin antenna on top. That was the last time anyone ever saw Marina; she did not show up at the party that evening as planned.
When Marina didn't come to work the next day, her boss and coworkers at the grocery store became concerned and tried to track her down, as did Marina's mom. It's unclear whether Marina actually reached home that day; her apartment was later found with the door closed but unlocked, and there was no sign of a struggle. Her cell phone and purse were missing, and everything seemed undisturbed. Later, her mom would say she thought it unlikely that Marina made it home because if she had, her "little tornado" would have surely displayed evidence of clothing and belongings strewn about as she got ready to go out for the evening. It was later discovered that the only items that seemed to be missing from Marina's apartment were her journals. It seemed very odd that these would be the only missing items. It is later confirmed that Deem had a key to Marina's apartment, so it is possible there could be a connection of some sort.
The ISP (Indiana State Police) were notified and began to investigate. At first, Marina's cell phone records were unobtainable because of the type of phone she had, but her mom persuaded a store manager at Walmart (where she had purchased the phone) to help police recover the data. It was discovered that Marina's phone reportedly last pinged approximately 10 minutes after she left her to shift at the IGA, at an undisclosed location.
ISP put out an APB (all points bulletin) for the unidentified man in the car who gave Marina a lift home, but it took a full 3 weeks for him to come forward, despite it being all over the news media. He claimed he dropped Marina off at a permanently closed pizza place, which unbeknownst to him was directly across from her apartment, and then left. He stated that she told him to drop her off at the pizzeria because she didn't want him to know exactly where she lived. (Tressie Palmer later said that sounded exactly like something her daughter would do and say.) While it turned out this man had a very dark and criminal past, he had an alibi for that evening and passed a polygraph with flying colors.
There were no shortages of suspects for the case, and all were investigated. After the unidentified man who gave Marina a lift home was cleared, police had multiple other persons of interest to investigate. Marina's current boyfriend Deem was cooperative with the police and was eventually cleared. He participated in the search, but his friendship with Marina's mom - who was aware of his affair with Marina before she disappeared -- was never restored. Deem readily admitted to the relationship with Marina, and while Tressie Palmer didn't approve, she had tolerated it. But Palmer thought it very odd that the journals were the only thing missing from Marina's apartment and since Deem had a key to the apartment, she wondered if that was significant. Marina's ex-boyfriend and Landen's father, DJ Lockhart, was never really considered a suspect by police, but passed a polygraph and was cleared as well. Palmer was firm in her belief that Lockhart loved Marina and wouldn't have hurt her. An additional suspect, a neighbor of Marina's named Vernon Gayle Briner, was also cleared due to a rock-solid alibi.
At present, the family remains divided. The rift in the family had occurred when Landen was critically injured during a fight between Marina's sister Faith and her boyfriend; someone threw an object that hit Landen in the head and caused a traumatic brain injury. Faith Boelter was evading law enforcement due to a drug habit, and Marina's dad John Boelter was helping conceal Faith from the authorities. Marina, her mom, and her grandfather were on one side, with Faith and her dad on the other. Over the years there have been other issues as well; Tressie Palmer had also struggled with substances and in her grief over losing Marina, had exhibited some questionable behavior by posting falsehoods - including an inaccurate item that Marina's body had been found -- on her Help Find Missing Marina Pearl Boelter Facebook page. In March of 2021, she passed away without ever knowing the truth about Marina's whereabouts, or what happened to her that New Year's Eve night. The one constant, unwavering source of support has been Marina's sister-in-law Ashley Boelter. She has worked tirelessly to this day to bring attention to Marina's case, clarify the often conflicting stories that have been brought forward, and runs a separate Find Marina Facebook page to generate tips and interest in the case.
Marina's son will, sadly, never know his mother or his father. In a bizarre twist, 6 weeks after Marina vanished, Landen's dad DJ Lockhart was stabbed in the heart and subsequently died. His death was ruled self-defense. Landen, who had still been living with a foster family in Indiana at the time Marina vanished, has since been adopted.
Marina's case is considered to be open, but as the years passed, the case has turned cold. The authorities have stated that no tips or leads came up in the recent past, and Marina’s disappearance remains unsolved. Marina stands between 5' and 5'3" and weighs around 95 -120 pounds, and her blonde hair was dyed reddish-brown at the time of her disappearance. She was last seen wearing a purple and black plaid coat, a pair of jeans with rhinestone detailing on the pocket, and pink and white Nikes. She was wearing a cross necklace and carrying a purse with the image of the Philadelphia LOVE statue on it. She has pierced ears, a small scar on her lip from a piercing, and a tattoo on one foot of a star with butterfly wings. Her family may have split due to the rift, but they all agree on one thing -- they just want their dear Marina back.