Overview of Nancy Eagleson
Who would kidnap and murder a 14-year-old in rural Ohio?
Nancy Lee Eagleson was born on July 3, 1946, to Don and Bettie Eagleson. She was their firstborn child and the light of their eyes. Don, her father, managed the Paulding bowling alley, and her mom worked at the local drive-in.
By all accounts, Nancy was well-liked and had many friends. One of the most treasured mementos for the Eagleson family is Nancy’s “Joke Book” where she kept jokes, riddles, and stories that made her laugh. Her family and church were very important to her.
At only 14 years old, Nancy was just beginning her journey in life. Like many girls her age, Nancy longed to grow up a little bit faster than her parents might have wanted.
In her book “I Was A Mother To A Teenage Girl,” Bettie shares how Nancy pleaded with and begged her for months to buy her a pair of high-heeled shoes so she could be like the other girls. Nancy knew that this purchase was something that would be a luxury purchase for her family, but like many kids her age, she kept at her mom until she relented. On Saturday, November 12, 1960, the pair finally went shopping for her first pair of high heels.
A day later, Nancy and her 5-year-old sister Sheryl missed their ride back home after church. Ominously, Nancy told a friend that it must be an unlucky day for her, superstitiously noting that it was the 13th day of the month.
No one would be able to grasp the weight of her comment until later.
November 13, 1960 began as a typical Sunday for 14-year-old Nancy Eagleson.
Nancy attended church, had a meal with her family, and in the evening, then she and her 5-year-old sister Sheryl went out to the movie theater a few blocks away. Nancy and Sheryl had just left a double feature and decided to get sodas from a local restaurant before they started their walk home.
By 7:00pm it started to get dark when they began their walk home. At some point, the girls noticed a car was following them. While at an intersection just yards away from their home, the driver of the car pulled up next to the girls, stopped, and asked if they needed a ride.
The girls declined, but the man was relentless.
The man pulled in front of them, shoved Sheryl to the ground, and grabbed Nancy, forcing her into the car. Sheryl remembers Nancy going limp, as if she was knocked out by something, and then the man shut the car door before getting in and speeding off.
Sheryl, young and terrified, ran screaming to the safety of a neighbor’s house urging them to call the police.
A frantic search for Nancy ended when, not more than 6 hours later, raccoon hunters found her body in a clearing about 100 feet from the road.
She had been shot twice in the head, and sexually assaulted.
An extensive search of every local vehicle that matched Sheryl's description and multiple interviews with community members was undertaken.
The Sheriff believed that the suspect was outside of the community, though many citizens believed it had to be someone local given where her body was left. Because she was only 5 at the time, Sheryl's description of the man is limited, though he may have been wearing glasses. In fact, a quote attributed to the Sheriff at the time: "We only know two things for sure ... it was a man and he drove an automobile." still stands to this day.
Sheryl was even put under hypnosis in hopes that she could recall details from the kidnapping.
New Media Attention, New Theories
Thanks to extensive media attention with the help of podcasters and journalists alike, Nancy's cold case has been heating up.
Nancy's body was exhumed on October 24, 2022. Days later, a new autopsy of Nancy's remains took place at the Lucas County Morgue by a forensic pathologist.
“Since day one, according to the initial autopsy report, the cause of Nancy’s death was a single gunshot wound from a .22 caliber firearm. It was believed she was shot under her chin and died as a result. New evidence reveals Nancy was shot twice by a .22 caliber firearm. Once under her chin, and once in her right eye. The shot in her right eye is what killed her, according to the forensic professionals,” stated Sheriff Jason K. Landers.
The forensic pathologist discovered a .22 caliber projectile in Nancy’s remains. He, along with the forensic anthropology consultant, were able to determine the paths of the projectiles from the shot under the chin and the shot in the right eye to determine which projectile was recovered in 1960 and which one they recovered during this autopsy.
Also recovered during the recent forensic examination were 5 small fibers from the pelvic and upper femur region. These fibers will not be tested by the lab.
Most recently, a former resident of Paulding has come forward 60 years later to share that while she was just 8 years old, a local man cuffed her hands, pushed her into the back seat of a car, and took her to the local jail and sexually assaulted her.
"I remember being locked in the jail at this specific time, and he was holding a gun to my head," the survivor said.
She was certain that the man was Clair "Bud" Paulus, a deputy for the Paulding County Sheriff's Office.
Brian Dugger with WTOL 11 has received many tips about Bud, namely that on November 5, 1987, Paulus was indicted by a Paulding County grand jury, accused of abusing a girl.
A law enforcement source told Dugger that the girl was a family member. A record of that indictment doesn’t exist, but a law enforcement official and former prosecutor John Webb confirmed to us that it happened. Paulus then killed himself, shooting himself in the chest with a .38-caliber handgun. No police record exists of the incident, but a death certificate was signed by Dr. Don Snyder, who identified the caliber of the gun, interviewed witnesses at the scene, and provided the date of his death: November 6, 1987.
Beyond these chilling details, a new interview with the current Sheriff Jason Landers shines a light on the fact that old evidence in Nancy's case was lost, possibly disappearing and being covered up by members of the police department in the 60s who were protecting Paulus.
This is a developing story.
With this case remaining unsolved since 1960, Nancy Eagleson's family is still searching for answers to her murder from more than 60 years ago. This case is extensive with more than 300 public media sources. If you know something about this crime, please call the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office at (419)399-3791 or reach out to Brian Dugger at [email protected] / (419)708-8093.