Friday marks the third anniversary of the disappearance of Sarah Burton, a 28-year-old Joplin woman.
Joplin police say they’re still seeking public input on what they consider one of their primary cold cases. A succession of detectives have checked out numerous leads and tips over the years. Some searches of properties have been conducted, and some persons of interest questioned.
A $5,000 reward put up by the FBI two years ago remains on the table for the provider of information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for Burton’s disappearance.
But, to this day, the investigation has been thwarted. If police have gotten any closer to knowing what happened to Burton, they have not made what they know public, most likely out of a concern with jeopardizing successful prosecution of the case.
Joplin police Capt. Will Davis said Thursday that police still receive tips in the case from time to time. They are hoping the anniversary of Burton’s disappearance might generate fresh input from the public.
“We’re always looking for new input and angles to go at in the investigation,” Davis said. “Somebody out there knows the truth of what happened.”
The mother of two young boys was dropped off by a friend at 10th Street and Rex Avenue in the early morning hours of July 16, 2018, in what initially was thought to be the last sighting of her.
Her disappearance was not reported until a few days later and police did not go public with it until the following month.
Her parents, Ron and Stephanie Burton, last saw their daughter on July 8, 2018. Her father had bought her a used SUV to replace a car she had wrecked earlier that year, and she took it for a drive. They subsequently learned from others that she had crashed the SUV on July 11 in Pittsburg, Kansas.
A couple of months after her disappearance police announced that they had learned Burton actually was seen later the same morning that the friend had dropped her off at 10th and Rex. That sighting had been at a residence in the 100 block of North Pearl Avenue.
A property southwest of Joplin in Newton County was in the process of being searched by Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team agents in April 2019 when a tip was received that the property might be tied to the Burton case.
Divers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol were called in to search a pond on the property. FBI crime lab technicians also were involved in the search of the property, all to no avail.
That was not the only time that leads obtained by law enforcement pointed to locations in Newton County as possibly figuring into her disappearance.
Globe efforts to contact Burton’s family Thursday were unsuccessful. A show of support originally scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday at Mercy Park has been canceled.