In June of 1993, Soul Asylum released a wildly popular song called "Runaway Train." The music video is haunting and unmistakable. It begins with the screen caption: There are over one million youth lost on the streets of America.
At around the 1-minute mark, Wilda Mae Benoit appears with her beautiful smile and tear-drop earrings. She is the first child of many that appear throughout the video - children who have been lost on the streets of America.
Despite being featured in a Soul Asylum video, it seems not much is known about Wilda Mae herself. Wilda, who would be in her 30s now, was barely a teenager when she went missing. At 14, I would expect that she was getting ready to enter high school - a time that can be equally exciting and scary for kids.
The Day She Disappeared
Little is known about the days leading up to Wilda's disappearance on July 23, 1992. It is widely reported that she had just returned home from the hospital for an injury that she had sustained to her shoulder. Reports say that she was heavily sedated for pain and that she was still wearing her hospital gown when she went missing. It is not known how she injured her shoulder.
Wilda's disappearance was reported to law enforcement; however, officials were quick to dismiss her as a runaway. It is not clear whether Wilda had a history of running away or if law enforcement assumed this was the case. Parents often encounter this challenge when reporting a child missing, especially at this time when we were less informed and sensitive to the dangers that lurk for children. Her family, however, never believed this was the case.
There are reports that she may have been headed to Florida. It is unclear, though, what would have drawn her there.
Matching To Unidentified Remains
Websleuth and Reddit sleuths have dedicated a fair amount of time to matching Wilda's physical characteristics to Unidentified Person profiles on places such as The Doe Network, The Faces Lab, and NAMUS. So far, they have not been able to make a match.
Want to help bring Wilda home? The Uncovered Community has a dedicated space for those interested in the work of making matches between Unidentified Persons and Missing Persons. You can find more here about joining our community.
A Message For Wilda
In October 1993, Wilda's step-sister left her a message on the Unsolved Mysteries message board.
If Wilda Mae happens to read this I would like to let her know that he has been sober for quite a while now, and is by far the same person!!!!! (Speaking from being his step-daughter and knowing what he's like now, and what he was like before). Wilda Mae doesn't have to talk to her Dad if she doesn't want to, but we would like some kinda of way to know that she's alright. That's all we're asking for here, and if she wanted to give more than that IT WOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM!
If you know anything about the disappearance of Wilda Mae Benoit, you can contact the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office at Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office.