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Case of missing Harmony teenager still being investigated 42 years later

Michele Reidenbach of Harmony was age 16 at the time of her disappearance in 1981. Submitted Photo

On Sept. 22, 1981, a teenage girl took a break from her after-school job in Zelienople to pick up cold medicine, and was never seen again.

Exactly 42 years later, state police are still investigating what became of 16-year-old Michele Reidenbach that night, despite tips being shared inconsistently.

According to Trooper Bertha Cazy, public information officer with Troop D, Butler, the Harmony teenager had a typical day before she disappeared.

“(Reidenbach) attended school, and after school went to work at Mel-Den Appliance store in Zelienople,” Cazy said.

According to previous reports, Reidenbach attended Seneca Valley High School, and received a ride to her job in Zelienople from a friend.

While on her break from work, Reidenbach went to the nearby Rite Aid to pick up cold medicine, Cazy said. Previous reports indicate that it was around 4 p.m., and that the pharmacy was only half a block from her work on South Main Street.

Cazy said Reidenbach made it to the Rite Aid, but her later whereabouts are unknown.

“She was believed to have been seen in the parking lot of the Super Duper (Market), which is adjacent to Mel-Den’s,” Cazy said. “This was reported to police by an employee of a nearby business. She was believed to have been seen on her return trip from Rite Aid.”

Reidenbach was officially reported missing to borough police at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1981, by her mother. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a wine colored V-neck sweater and gold necklace with a knot pendant.

Cazy said there’s no indication that Reidenbach ran away.

“It did not appear she planned on leaving, as many of her personal items were not disturbed or missing,” she said.

Previous reports indicate that her schoolbooks and purse were left behind in Mel-Den’s.

Today, Reidenbach would be 58 years old. Since her disappearance, her parents and her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance have died.

The case has not generated many new leads over the years, according to Cazy.

“We receive a tip every couple of years,” she said. “We have followed up on a few leads in the past year, and are still pursuing a few leads … until the case is solved, all leads are being pursued.”

As the investigation is still open, Cazy said she could not provide information on persons of interest connected to the case.

Tips regarding Reidenbach’s disappearance can still be submitted to state police by calling 724-284-8100, or by using the Pennsylvania Crime Stopper’s website, crimewatchpa.com.

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