Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Alyssa Bustamante and the Murder of Elizabeth Olten

She's Just a Small Town Girl

Map of Mo. with St. Martins and Jefferson City locators.
Map of Mo. with St. Martins and Jefferson City locators.

The two neighboring communities from which the girls came in Missouri, St. Martins and Jefferson City, epitomize small-town America. St. Martins, where Olten lived, has just over one thousand people. Everyone knows each other. So when Olten failed to make it home on Wednesday, October 21, from a friend's house just a quarter-mile away, there was cause for alarm.

The search began almost immediately. Though there was a two-lane highway that ran the stretch from the friend that Olten had been visiting to her own house, she had oddly taken a shortcut through the woods, curving around and behind neighboring lawns and backyards. By the time the search started, with the aid of hundreds of volunteers, it was dark and cold, and the weather had turnedit started pouringsearching the woodsy terrain turned into a difficult process. Dave Wininger, a volunteer firefighter who joined in the search for Olten, was quoted by the Associated Press as describing the search area as "brushy" and "hilly." "There's a lot of rocks, trees, and brush piles. It's a very rough place to be," he said.

The searchers included dogs, firefighters, police, helicopters, FBI, and highway patrol. They went over and over the area, but were unsuccessful. Olten's cell phone initially gave them a hint, but by Thursday morning, the battery had died.

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