Overview of Sarah Burton
Sarah Elizabeth Burton was a devoted mother to two young children, who never took advantage of the time she was able to spend with her friends and family.
Sarah was good-hearted, though she faced her own hard times throughout her life. Sarah's childhood was seemingly average; she was a cheerleader in high school and a great student, with a good social and home life. Unfortunately, Sarah fell into addiction after graduating high school, leading her to spend a short amount of time in prison in 2010. Sarah's mother explained in interviews that after her daughter had been released from prison, she was headstrong and determined to turn her life around, which can be seen in several life changes she had made since her release. Once she was released, she was able to obtain a steady job, the first step to making big changes in her life.
In the months ahead of her disappearance, Sarah was living with her parents in Joplin, Missouri as she was waiting to be placed in a local residential treatment program after stressful events in her personal life led her to relapse. Just after midnight on July 16, 2018, Sarah is dropped off by a friend on the eastern side of Joplin, Missouri. According to this friend, Sarah had asked to be dropped off at 10th Street and Rex Avenue so she could walk the rest of the way to her parent's home. This was believed to have been the last time Sarah was officially seen until later in the investigation. Sarah was reported missing by her mother on July 20 after the friend who had dropped Sarah off four days earlier returned Sarah's purse and other personal belongings, which had been left in her car, to her parent's home. Two months after her disappearance, in September of 2018, authorities announced an updated location where Sarah had last been seen on the night of her disappearance. Officials announce that Sarah had been seen at a residence on the western side of Joplin shortly after she had been dropped off by her friend. Officials did not offer any additional information at this time, though they did note that Sarah did not have access to a car at the time.
On December 18, 2018, the residence where Sarah is believed to have last been seen was searched by authorities, along with two vacant lots adjacent to the building. Two days later, a property in Pittsburg, Kansas is searched by authorities. The property consisted of a home, two outbuildings, and the surrounding property. Officials did not release any information about their search, though Sarah's mother did note in an interview that the property had been searched more than once and that investigators told her that they had developed a potential suspect.
Later, on April 2, 2019, the largest search related to the investigation begins just outside of Joplin. The search, which was initially started due to a drug-related investigation, included the participation of several different agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, the Newton County Sheriff's Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol diving team. During the search, which lasted several days, items found on the property led investigators to believe that the property could be related in some way to Sarah's disappearance. Officials do not discuss any of the information gathered from the search, though they do note that they were waiting for test results from samples that were gathered from the scene to be returned from the FBI's crime labs.
Where the case stands today:
Though there have been no concrete updates on Sarah's disappearance since the various searches conducted by multiple agencies, on the third anniversary of her disappearance, Sarah's family released an open letter to the public through law enforcement. In the letter, the Burton family expresses their wish for more information, along with a plea for answers. In a heartfelt plea for the public to come forward with information, the letter states the following.
"Three years is an eternity with no answers and no word from our daughter. We desperately need to know where she is! The most important thing now is bringing her home! PLEASE HELP US! Her oldest son asks questions that we heartbreakingly cannot answer. It’s devastating! Someone, or many, knows what or where. If you know anything, please help us bring Sarah to a final resting place. Speak Up! Do it for Sarah, her two boys, and her family."
Sarah Burton, who was 28 years old at the time of her disappearance, is described as a white female with light brown hair and blue eyes, who is 5'7" tall and weighs around 120 lbs. Sarah has a scar on her forehead and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a purple and white shirt, and black flats. Today, Sarah would be 56 years old, and she has remained missing for the past four years with no sightings.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for her disappearance. If you have any information, please contact the Joplin Police Department at (417) 623-3131 ext. 440.