Three decades ago, one night, Deborah Poe disappeared into thin air, leaving her purse and paycheck locked inside her new red Toyota Celica parked outside her night job at a Circle K convenience store in east Orange County. To this day, no one knows what happened to her that night, and her disappearance is still unsolved.
The Disappearance Of Deborah Poe
Twenty-six-year-old Deborah Deann Poe, nicknamed Debbie, had two full-time jobs in 1990, one at a newspaper and another at the Circle K convenience store near Hall Road and Aloma Avenue in Orlando, Florida. She worked the night shift alone, five nights a week, at the time of her February 4, 1990 disappearance.
Debbie’s boyfriend saw her inside the store at approximately 1:00 AM. A friend who drove by the store at 3:00 AM saw her standing behind the counter. At between 3:15 and 3:30 AM, a lady customer came into the store and saw a Caucasian man behind the counter.
The man was between 19 and 25 years old, had long black hair and dark eyes, and was wearing a black t-shirt with the Megadeth rock band logo and a dragon spitting fire, a skull ring on his finger, and a wire earring with a cross in his right ear. He appeared to be the only person in the store and the customer assumed he was the clerk.
She wanted some cigarettes, and had to point them out to the man because he did not know where they were. He used the cash register and made change when the customer made her purchase. This man has never been identified and it’s possible he was just another customer, but investigators would like to question him and find out what he knows about Debbie’s case.
Debbie’s store was discovered unoccupied at 4:00 AM. The customers who realized the store was unattended called the police. A cup of coffee and a carton of chocolate milk were on the floor behind the counter, and Debbie’s Circle K smock was also inside the store.
Her car was undisturbed in the parking lot with her purse in the backseat. Her paycheck and car keys were also inside it. There was no sign of a struggle at the scene, the cash register was locked and there’s no evidence of a robbery. It appeared as if the store had simply been abandoned. Tracker dogs traced Debbie’s scent to the rear of the store, over a fence and to a road, where they lost the trail, which suggests she got into a vehicle. She has never been heard from again.
Was Debbie Abducted And Murdered?
Debbie’s boyfriend said that some men, some of them drunk, frequently bothered her while she was working the night shift at the Circle K, and he’d been concerned for her safety. A naked man chased her around the store two weeks before she vanished, until she was able to lock him out.
Authorities said that they had a suspect in Debbie’s disappearance in March 2002, but refused to publicly identify the individual. Investigators searched an area of land near the Chapel Hill Baptist Church in Orange County around the same time. The location is in 8800 block of Trevarehon Road near State Road 417.
Authorities stated that a re-examination of the evidence in Debbie’s case led them to the suspect and to the area. They have led to the possibility that she was the victim of a serial killer in the area. Six months earlier, on August 6, 1989, clerk Donna Callahan disappeared in Gulf Breeze. Five weeks later, on September 18, clerk Darlene Messer was abducted from Lake City. She was later found murdered, and police suspected that they were all abducted and murdered by the same person.
Alive Or Dead, Debbie Has Never Been Found Again!
Although Donna’s body was found and her killers identified, both Deborah’s disappearance and Darlene’s murder remain unsolved. There is some speculation that Donna’s killers, Mark Riebe and William Wells, were also responsible for Debbie’s disappearance. The two were together the weekend of the abduction and had a close relative in the area.
Debbie grew up in northern Virginia. She took ballet lessons for fourteen years and dreamed of becoming a professional dancer. She moved to Orlando in 1989, and worked two jobs; the other one was in the retail sales department at the Orlando Sentinel.
Debbie purchased a brand new red Toyota, and planned to buy a home and open a catering business in the future. She was sharing a duplex with a female roommate. Debbie’s father and older brother have died in the years since her disappearance; her mother is still alive, however. Her case remains unsolved.