What seemed to be a normal night out with friends quickly turned into a missing person’s case. Now 24 years have gone by since a man was last seen by his friends after being dropped off at his Wichita Falls apartment.
On the anniversary of his disappearance, the family is still looking for answers. This is the story of the disappearance of Keith Mann.
“Oh, there’s a lot of questions I have,” Keith Mann’s dad, Gregg Mann said in an interview in 1998. “There’s a lot of questions I want answered. I want to know some things. It’s just been very tough.”
“What is the next step,” Former KFDX Reporter Victoria Snee said in a story in 1998.
“I don’t know,” Gregg said in 1998. “I’m trying to do all I can. I’m not going to give up until I find him, one way or the other.”
“He was about two years old when we married back in 1980 and he was just a sweet little boy that you know he was just typical loved to play ball,” Keith’s stepmom Debra Mann said. “Any kind of ball, sports. When he got a little older he got into motorcycles. He liked anything to do with that. I think at one point he was even racing when he was about junior high age and when he came up here we had some little mini bikes. So Gregg and him would go riding and they’d go all over town. Go out and to any area, they could that they can just spend hours out there together and he was, he was just a good average kid, you know didn’t really cause too much trouble and he was good at school.”
“The summer before 9th grade he decided, well, I want to come live up here and try the high school and you know see how I do,” Debra said. “He got into baseball because Gregg liked baseball when he was growing up, he was pretty good. I guess they felt like that was something they could bond over, whereas actually Keith had played soccer and he was actually pretty good at soccer and maybe he should have stayed in it ’cause it’s actually a little bit easier I think than coming in kind of late in the game for baseball. He kind of struggled, you know, at first and then he just, he kept growing. Every year he just got better and better and then by senior year, he was one of their top players there on the team so he did really well and that kept him focused in high school.”
“The streets were flooded and Keith actually came by,” Debra said. “He was in a pickup truck that night and he came by just to check on us. You know make sure our house didn’t flood out or anything like that. So we kind of remember, so Thursday night this is what happened, Friday night his girlfriend, well, actually she was his fiancé, she was graduating at the junior college that they both attended, so we went there.”
“When he came to the graduation he was late first of all,” Gregg said. “He said that he left his keys in the door and had to turn around and come back so we wondered why is he late for. Then he was real quiet when we were eating and then going real slow as we’re coming home so, I don’t know. I didn’t sense it at the time, but yeah, I don’t, I don’t know.”
“Our daughter also rode with him from the college to where we went out to eat, she rode with him and she just said he kind of seemed distracted like she would ask him questions and he really wasn’t, she’d have to ask two or three times before he actually answered her question, so we think there was maybe possibly something on his mind, but it’s also it was kind of stressful,” Debra said. “Before meeting his in-laws, well we were meeting him for the first time, he had already met them before, but just being around them and it was just kind of a stressful situation and you know he might have been feeling bad too because he should have been graduating from that college at the same time. But he opted to quit going he didn’t go back for the second year.”
“When we came back it was probably about, I think we figured it was about, 1:00 in the morning and we had taken separate cars so, Keith, just kind of, flashed his lights as he went straight and then we turned on McNeil to come here and that was the last time we saw him,” Debra said.
“Keith had worked that day at the car lot, Ron Robert’s Ford when it was located on Jacksboro Highway and he worked a full shift,” WFPD Det. John Laughlin said. “He sold two cars that day. He was even scheduled to deliver one of those vehicles on Monday, so he had a commission check coming to him, but he took a demo car home that day because the salesman were allowed to. He didn’t have money for gas, so he had to get like a gas voucher from the dealership so he can put gas in this demo car. So it’s not like he had a whole bunch of money in his pocket as if he was planning on leaving or going away. But yeah, he spent the day at work and then he went out with friends that night and him and his friends kind of went out and grabbed some, I think some, burgers at a fast-food restaurant and they stopped by a gas station and one of his friends was also a coworker from the dealership and they had a vehicle and they went riding around in that vehicle until they took Keith to his apartment. He had just moved into the apartments there on Barnett Rd, Fountain Gate.”
“There was a mention of him telling his friends he needed to be dropped off because he had a meeting with someone at 12:15, is there anything you can tell us about that meeting,” Jaron Spor asked Det. Laughlin.
“I have heard that information and I know that the previous investigators on the case have talked to the people that provided that information and they didn’t know either,” Laughlin said. “Their impression of it was is that it was somebody that Keith knew and that it was a planned get-together, meeting of some kind, but nothing nefarious that’s, you know he didn’t express any concern about this get-together. He didn’t seem like he was anxious or stressed out about it was just almost a kind of, ‘hey I am, I need to be home by a certain time ’cause I gotta meet somebody.'”
“We walked out to go to church and I noticed that car over there,” Debra said. “And it really kind of startled me to see it, and I think subconsciously I knew that was Keith’s car, but I also knew it was a demo car. So it could have been anybody, so it could have been someone that was going to the church and they were test driving it and it just so happened just to be parked where he always parked. So we thought, well that’s kind of strange, you know, but there’s probably a logical explanation, so we went off to church. Came back, you know, a couple of hours later and here it is 12, 12:15. All the other cars are all gone. Well, this red Mustang is still sitting there in that same spot. So now we’re like, well that is really odd. Why’s it’s still here? Then about 1:00 o’clock, his fiancé calls and says, ‘well, I just got back into town and I can’t find Keith. He’s not here at the apartment. Is he over there with you and we’re like, no, we haven’t seen him since, you know, the graduation that was the last time you know we had had any communication with them and she said, ‘well, I can tell he hasn’t spent the night here. His work clothes are just laying on the bed. You know everything is fine, but I can tell he didn’t spend the night. She said well, OK, let me come over and we’ll wait because he’s got to come back for this car. And so she came over, and we sat here and we talked, and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on and her and I, we got kind of scared right away. We’re like, well, this isn’t right. He knew she was coming into town. They were supposed to come over to our house. It was Mother’s Day. They were going to come over and bring some gifts, and you know. So we had plans, so for him not to be around, we thought that’s kind of not right.”
“Gregg Mann had contacted the front desk and they took a missing person’s report and at that time when you look at the number of reports that are made when somebody is a missing person, especially a college-age kid that had been out with friends and there was no signs of exigency,” Det. Laughlin said. “I mean there was nothing that any red flags that were going up that would make somebody think something bad’s happened, more like he just went over to a friends house and slept in or maybe he went on a spontaneous trip somewhere with some friends out of town and he ain’t back yet, he didn’t have cell phones then, so it’s not like you could just ring him up. So we took the report and we sent a patrol officer over to the church where the vehicle was at. Again, it’s a brand new car and it’s locked up. From what they could see inside the vehicle, there wasn’t any signs of struggle or foul play. You know there was no blood or damaged property or broken windows or anything that would make someone believe that something bad happened there. It just looked like someone left a brand new car parked in the lot. That’s kind of where the initial report took it too.”
“Gregg had still not heard from his son,” Det. Laughlin said. “He became very concerned and came to the front desk and then that’s when the crimes against person’s detectives got involved and that this was more than just a college kid that didn’t come home.”
“The original investigators went to Keith’s apartment and they looked around and didn’t find anything unusual or out of the ordinary,” Det. Laughlin said. “They found the apartment as they would have expected to after interviewing the people that were last with Keith and dropped him off there. They found nothing out of the ordinary and it was broadcast using the media and you know, hey, we’re trying to look for this young man. If anybody has seen him or knows about him, and so some tips came in and they followed up on those leads, possible sightings if you will. We think we saw him here, we think we saw him there but none of those ever panned out. Some of them, they were actually able to find the person the tipster thought was Keith and determined it was not Keith, and some of them were just, you know, chasing the wind there really wasn’t anything there to even find out whether it was or was not credible.”
“I think what struck me the most about the Keith Mann disappearance, I covered it about a year after he had gone missing, was just how strange of a disappearance it was,” Snee said. “In terms of, there was just no evidence, there was really nothing to go on. The police had very little to go on. We knew that he had been last seen at the Fountaingate Apartments, he had been dropped off by friends, he was supposedly meeting someone later on that evening, it was late at night. But that was it, there was no activity on his checking account. There was no run on any kind of credit cards, he just literally vanished.”
“One of the resources that law enforcement has at our disposal is a database of unidentified human remains, and so any time, anywhere across the country, some unidentified remains, whether it be from decomposition or they just nobody knows who they are, and they show up somewhere deceased,” Det. Laughlin said. “Then that DNA profile is entered into a database and so there has been lots of notices that come in hey, this might meet your profile. Who were thinking, you know, Keith Mann, when he went missing, was 5 foot 160 pounds. We know he’s a white male, brown hair, blue eyes, and so his descriptors at any time those matched up to unidentified human remains, then it would be funneled back to us and then we would then in turn either do fingerprint comparison or DNA comparison. So there has been lots of tips that have come in like that notices dozen or more, but none of them have turned out to be, and they’ve been compared and discovered, not to be Keith. So those have not resulted in an answer yet.”
“There’s been a lot of those times where somethings been found and well, we think it’s a good possibility it might be him, so we’ll go out there and try to see what’s going on or they’ll come over or call us to tell us, OK, hey, we found something, but it’s not Keith, you know we can’t say more, but we can tell you that, that it’s definitely not Keith,” Debra said. “Yeah, it’s just been kind of like a roller coaster.”
“We just we need people to say, you know if they remember seeing him that night. If, you know, if he was doing anything other than the, you know, the story that, you know, we have as far as the places he was at, maybe he went to, you know, a party that night or something,” Debra said. “But we’ve never heard anything. No one’s ever said, ‘OK, I’m the person the was meeting me, you know, at midnight, 12:15. No one’s ever said that. No one’s ever said that they saw him.”
“I feel like in a case like this, it’s going to be a situation where there’s somebody that knows or has heard a story and that’s going to be, you know, the first domino to tip over if you will,” Det. Laughlin said. “And when it does then I do believe the trail will lead right to where we’re going to find Keith. I think we’re getting closer to that all the time.”
“I would of never have thought sitting here in 2021 that we would still be talking about the Keith Mann disappearance,” Snee said. “It’s unfathomable to me that nothing has ever come about of what happened to him. You know, I remember covering the story, he had been missing for a year at that time and just the grief and the sadness that his family felt. The unknown after just even a year of him being gone so to think about what this has been like for them decades later, not knowing, having so many unanswered questions, having no closure on what happened to him, I can’t even fathom what that must be like for them.”
“I’m pessimistic already, so about, just about everything but I’ve got more into Bible, believing, reading the Bible and all that,” Gregg said. “I think we’ll get our question answered. I think we are going to find him some way or another. Something’s got to give and I think we will find him. We’ve played hill for 24 years. We’re stuck. We’re stuck 24 years back. Even though we’ve gotten older. I mean, we’re still every day it’s trying to figure out what happened to him and where he’s at and try to move on in life and it’s hard to move on when one of your kids are missing.”
If you have any information about this crime or any other felony crime, call Crime Stoppers 24 hours a day at 322-9888. You never have to give your name, and if your information leads to the arrest and board approval, you could earn in this case up to $10,000.