For today, I'll focus on Wonyetye as a named suspect in the case of a missing third grader.
On November 13, 1984 at around 8 am, then eight-year-old Tammy Belanger was seen walking through town to Lincoln Street School in Exeter, NH.
She never arrived.
Unfortunately, no one realized she was missing until the end of the school day.
More than 200 volunteers then helped authorities search extensively for the missing girl, but she was not located.
Tammy Belanger has never been found.
Last week, I posted about the death of Victor Wonyetye Jr., who was formerly employed in Exeter and had served prison sentences in New Hampshire (for aggravated sexual assault involving a child) as well as Florida (for multiple counts of peeping into the bedroom windows of children and burglary-related offenses).
Police still consider Wontyetye Jr. a suspect in Tammy Belanger's disappearance, despite that he was never charged.
Obviously, not everything known by police will ever be released to the public, but here are a few details that attracted law enforcement attention:
- Convicted Sex Offender: Wonyetye was on parole in New Hampshire after serving 5 years for the aggravated sexual assault involving a child.
- Just Relocated to Area: A couple of months after being arrested and serving 30 days for a prowling charge in Florida (he had been living with his parents there but had not notified the New Hampshire Department of Corrections), he moved back to New Hampshire and reestablished contact with his parole officer.
- Employed near the Scene: Eleven days prior to Tammy's disappearance, he began working at Brad's Custom Auto Body in Exeter, NH. The business was located within blocks from where the young girl went missing.
- Took a Sick Day: On the day of Tammy's disappearance, Wonyetye called in sick to work. His shift started that day at 7 am, but he did not speak to his boss, Brad Bissell, until around noon. Bissell told authorities that he assumed Wonyetye had overslept after a wild night on the town and told his employee, "Well I hope she was worth it." He remembers Wonyetye not saying a word and responding only with silence.
- Vehicle Search: Six days after Tammy's disappearance, authorities searched Wonyetye's car and found a sex toy, a chainsaw, a patch of carpet, stolen stereo equipment, and other items that were collected.
- Room Search: A search of Wonyetye's motel room uncovered a scrapbook of magazine advertisements and photos of children around the age of 10 wearing underwear.
- Manager Statement: The manager of Wonyetye's motel, Marge Leathe, said that he wanted her to tell others that she saw his car in the parking lot for the entire morning when Tammy had disappeared. Leathe evidently refused saying that she didn't have a view of his space and that she thought he might have left the motel that morning, but she was not sure.
- Coworker Statements: Some of his coworkers (from a previous job in New Hampshire) had started calling him "Chester the Molester" due to the number of underage girls that he was seen with.
- Another Statement: A coworker said that Wonyetye previously talked about knowing how to dispose a body.
Strangely, this will not be the last time that investigators recorded a witness statement involving Wonyetye and boasts that he could discreetly dispose of a corpse without being detected.
I'll continue next week with why Victor Wonyetye Jr. was considered a suspect in another unsolved case involving a missing 8-year-old: Christy Luna of Florida.
You can read my first post in this series by going here.
NOTE: Police had previously reported to the media that they believed they had recovered a photo of Tammy Belanger in the possessions of Wonyetye (during a search later in Florida). This was widely reported as fact by several Internet sites, but authorities later clarified that the photo in question was not of Tammy, but someone who looked similar.
Also, since this is a blog and to save space, I don't list references, but would be happy to share those with anyone via email.