In 1992, Leigh Occhi vanished from her home. Then her parents received her glasses in the mail.

On the morning of August 27, 1992, 13-year-old Leigh Occhi was waking up.

The looming threat of Hurricane Andrew made the morning bleaker than usual in her town of Tupelo, Mississippi, but with just a few days left of the summer break, Leigh was preparing for a new school year. 

Watch: Top 5 true crime documentaries. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

The morning of.

Her mother, Vickie Felton, was awake too. 

She planned to leave her daughter for the morning while she went to work and later that afternoon, Leigh would go with her grandparents to an open day at her new school. 

That morning, on August 27, 1992, was the first time she'd ever been left home alone and the last time she would ever be seen again.

When Vickie left at 7:40am, Leigh's movements become unclear. No one can account exactly for what happened, and by the time her mother arrived to work that morning, a thick strap of rain had settled in. It worried her.

When she rang home just before 8:30am, there was only a small gap of time from when she had last seen her daughter, but Leigh did not answer.

Vickie left work quickly and drove the mile-and-a-half (1.6km) back to their house. When she pulled into the driveway, she found the garage door had been opened and the light inside was still on. 


"That was very strange because the light doesn’t turn on unless someone triggers the door," she would later tell CNN.

The moments after.

Leigh could not be found, and Vickie was panicking. 

Inside the home, her mother found small pools of blood outside her bedroom and more on the door frame. A bloodied nightgown and bra was tossed into the clothes hamper. Blood was also found smeared throughout the hallway. Later, Vickie would find more blood near the backdoor. Police would further observe a bloody stain containing strands of Leigh's hair on a door frame facing the kitchen. 

A little more than an hour after leaving Leigh alone for the first time, Vickie was forced to call 911 over the mysterious disappearance of her daughter. It was approximately 9:00am.

Police rushed to the home and curiously, did not find any signs of forced entry. A team of bloodhound dogs searched the neighbourhood for Leigh's scent but came up with no new information. Police considered the heavy rain as a sign of why the 13-year-old's scent could not be traced. It also occurred to them that perhaps there was no scent to trace in the first place. 

Police found more blood in the bathroom and later told CNN that it has been "pretty obvious to us that someone tried to clean up the scene or the countertop. But we couldn't find the rag or towel that had been used. We couldn't find it anywhere."

Leigh Occhi. Image: Tupelo Police Department.


Leigh's shoes, a pair of shorts and a new pair of underwear were missing, along with her glasses and a sleeping bag. 

If there had been no blood, police would have assumed she had simply run away. The clues found in her home were few and far between and none pointed to where she could possibly be, either. 

Investigators concluded the blood found on Leigh's nightgown came from a head or neck wound, and later tests confirmed the blood was Type O – Leigh's blood type. 


Leigh's father, Donald Occhi, went on leave at his Army post in Alexandria, Virginia, and quickly joined the search effort. He'd been married to Vickie once, but as soon as they'd had Leigh, their marriage crumbled. The pair had met while stationed together in California, but after separating, Vickie left the military to work for a manufacturing company and Donald remained in the army. 

The Army Veteran recalled his reaction upon hearing his daughter was missing, telling true crime blogger Anthony Wayne, "I said, 'What the hell do you mean? Did she run away? What happened?'"

13 days after Leigh's disappearance, on September 9, a strange package arrived addressed to Vickie's husband, Barney Yarborough, from whom she had recently separated from. 

In it were Leigh's glasses. 

There were no fingerprints or clues on the package. The seals and stamps were moistened with water and it was postmarked from Booneville – a town 30 miles (48.2km) from Tupelo.

The package left more questions than answers.

What happened to Leigh Occhi?

General town chatter turned into salacious rumours at rapid speed, and those who had known Leigh stepped forward to tell their stories. 

Classmates said they had seen the 13-year-old show up to school covered in bruises. When probed, she claimed they came from horseback riding. A school friend said they saw Leigh eating berries in the school playground and after warning her they might be poisonous, the teen responded that she didn't care and maybe she wanted to die. She later claimed to be joking, but the story stuck with her friend long after she disappeared.


Fingers quietly began to point to Leigh's mother, and Donald had suspicions of his own that his ex-wife had been involved. 

Vickie took three polygraph tests to assert her innocence. According to the Huffington Post, she "failed it three times". 

"I couldn’t tell you why," she later said. "They measure changes in your body and when your daughter has gone missing and they strap you up to things, I can’t imagine anyone’s body not reacting."

Of course, the polygraph tests couldn't really prove anything as they rarely hold up in court – not to mention that there was no solid evidence to connect Vickie to the disappearance of her daughter. 

Listen to True Crime Conversations, a Mamamia true crime podcast hosted by Gemma Bath. Post continues after audio. 

Donald admitted he had his "concerns" over his ex-wife's involvement and explained that she had been a trained investigator for the U.S. Army.

"I don’t think they had dealt with someone with Vickie’s intelligence before. She was a trained interrogator. She knew how to act regarding questioning."

The insistence that she is guilty – from the public, and those who were once close to her – didn't "bother" Vickie.

"That has never been a bother to me," she said, as reported by Huffington Post.

"It’s never been about me. It’s about finding Leigh, and I didn’t care and I [still] don’t care what anyone says about any of it ... I have never not cooperated with anybody [and] I am not fazed by what they say."


Barney (Leigh's stepfather) was also ruled out as a suspect after being questioned. 

Vickie always had her suspicions that her daughter's abductor was Oscar Kearns, a Sunday school teacher at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (of which she and Leigh both attended). 

He also rode horses at the same stable Leigh had gone to many times, and had allegedly asked her to go riding with him on two occasions.

Vickie believed that since her daughter would never open the door for a stranger that Leigh must have known the perpetrator. Her suspicions only grew when it was discovered that nine months after Leigh went missing, Oscar Kearns had abducted a 15-year-old girl he'd met through church. He sexually assaulted her before dropping her off at school. 

Oscar Kearns later pleaded guilty to rape and served four years of his eight-year-long prison sentence. However, he was behind bars again just two years later, in 1997, for another 20-year stint when it was revealed he had kidnapped a married couple and raped the wife.

Despite his long list of crimes, Oscar Kearns has denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the disappearance of Leigh. If he had any secrets left to be revealed, they died with him in 2021.

While Leigh's case has gone cold, her family still holds on to hope that she can come home to them again – whether that is alive or not. 

Feature Image: CNN.