Ruth Sharon Hoffman
My mother, Ruth Sharon Hoffman, 44, disappeared from River Rouge, Michigan, on June 30, 1986, after having been brutally raped. Today Mom would be 64. (See age enhanced image
Back then, Mom and I, both divorced from abusive husbands, shared an apartment. I was eight months pregnant, and Mom was even more excited than I was as we worked together on a nursery for the new baby. We were both feeling happier than we had in a long time as we helped each other rebuild our shattered lives.
On July 29, Mom had a 9 p.m. appointment for a job interview with the owner of the Poorhouse Saloon, which was known as the local “cops bar.” Despite the fact that she was beautiful and a gifted musician and singer, it was not easy for Mom to find work. In 1983, she had been diagnosed with a chemical imbalance in the brain and placed on Librium to control schizophrenia. As long as she took her medication and lived a structured life, she did quite well, but potential employers didn’t always understand that. So she was very excited about this promising new job interview.
At 11 p.m., when she wasn’t home yet, I called the bar to see if she was still there. They said she had left an hour ago. I asked if there was anyone with her when she left, and they said they didn’t know. When it got to be 2 a.m. and she still wasn’t home, I started calling hospitals and the local police station. I stayed up all night pacing the floor.
The next morning a yellow cab pulled up in front of our apartment. When I saw my Mom was in it, I gave a huge sigh of relief. However, when she got out of the cab, I saw she was wearing hospital scrubs and was so bruised and battered that it looked like she’d been in a car wreck. She was shaking and crying hysterically and told me that she had been raped and beaten. I got her into a hot bath, and she calmed down enough to describe what had happened. She said the owner of the bar had promised her the job, but told she had to fill out a formal application. He said he needed to drop off his buddy from out of town at his motel room and suggested that Mom come with them to pick up the application form, because he’d left his briefcase in his friend’s room. When they arrived at the motel, the bar owner told her to come in with them and fill out the application right then and there so she could start work the very next day.
They went into the motel room, and the owner immediately said, “Let’s have fun, the three of us!” Mom told him to take his hands off her, and he yelled, “All you bitches are the same! You think you’re better than everyone else!” The two men began hitting and kicking Mom and knocked her to the floor. They, then, took turns raping Mom for hours.
After her bath, Mom got dressed and announced she was going for a walk to get some air. I tried to convince her to let me call the River Rouge Police, but that idea seemed to terrify her and she begged me not to do it. I got the distinct impression that a cop was involved in one way or another with what happened to her.
As Mom left the apartment she told me, “Those bastards won’t get away with this!” I never saw her again.
When it got to be 10 p.m. and Mom still wasn’t back, I went to the River Rogue Police Department and told them everything. They took notes and told me to come back in a week to sign papers and to give them a picture of my Mom.
One week later I returned, signed the missing person’s report, and told police that a rape swab had been performed at Wyandotte Hospital. After that I called every day, until an officer told me to stop doing that, because they needed time to work on her case. So, then, I began calling only once a week. I knew my Mom was alive and out there somewhere, as I had received a statement
from the Allegan Medical Clinic in Allegan, Michigan, showing that “Ruth S. Hall”, (“Hall” was the name of Mom’s first husband), had come in on July 3, 1986, to get a diphtheria and tetanus shot. I could only assume that the shock of the rape and the fact that she did not have her medication had caused her to lose touch with reality.
For two years I continued to call the police once a week. They finally became very rude and told me to “stop bugging” them. So, I cut back to calling only once a month to see if they had any leads. Again, an officer told me that I had to stop “bugging” them. When I asked to speak with the officer in charge of Mom’s case, I was told they weren’t sure who that was.
Since police were obviously doing nothing, I hired private investigators. However, the cost became prohibitive, because I was also dealing with mounting medical expenses. I had been diagnosed with spedo tumor ceberi, (fluid on the brain), and had to have over 300 spinal taps. During the span of 12 years, I had 34 operations. By then, I had remarried, and my husband carried on for me when I was unable to.
In October 2004, my husband and I went down to the police department and asked to see Mom’s file. When the officer came back from looking for it, he said to his partner, “That’s strange, I found only the jacket. The case file is missing.” He, then, told me, “I think your Mom came in here and removed the report,” as if people could walk in off the street, get into the police files, and remove whatever they wanted. He went on to say, “Look, lady, just accept the fact that your mother doesn’t want anything to do with you.”
We later discovered that the police never did file a missing person’s report.
A new ray of hope -- I sent for Mom’s driving record and learned that on Oct 5, 1941, she’d received a traffic ticket
in Belleville, Michigan, for making an improper turn and driving with an expired license. She was using the name “Ruth Sharon Russie,” (the name of another ex-husband). The address on the ticket was 20749 Martinsville Lot 82, but by the time we could follow up on that, Mom was gone.
In February 2005, I filed a new missing person’s report
, this time with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Larry Crider said he would gladly take my Mom’s case and even went so far as to come to my home to have me fill out the paperwork. That wonderful man was able to get Mom’s case into the National Crime Information Center computer system within a week. He gave me both his work and cell numbers and told me to call anytime. The bottom fell out of my world when Sgt. Crider was not permitted to work the case. I’m now told that I have to find a Cold Case detective.
Mom was dealt a raw deal in life in a number of ways. Raised in foster care, with ten siblings, she was the first of them to get out of the System and find a job. One by one, she, then, took her brothers and sisters out of foster care and raised them herself.
I’m sure that, wherever Mom is now, she remembers only fragments of her past. But I haven’t forgotten a thing! I am Mom’s only child, and her loss leaves a big black hole in my life. I will never stop looking for her, and, when I find her, will make sure that somebody pays for this terrible injustice.
Debbie Hall Smeaton (Ruth’s daughter) Missing Since: July 7, 1986 from River Rouge, Michigan
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: October 5, 1941
Height: 5'6"-5'7"; weight at the time of disappearance, 135 lbs.
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Blue
Distinguishing Characteristics: Birthmark below left knee, hysterectomy scar. Deep facial dimples. Full dentures on top.
Medical Conditions: Chemical imbalance. Paranoid schizophrenic. May require medical attention.
AKA: Last names of Hall, Lindon, or Russie. "Peaches"
NCIC Number: M-174881881
Case Number: 5367-05