California's Oldest Unsolved Missing Person Case

The following is a description of the oldest active California missing person case in the NamUs database.
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Frances Blanche Hayes Groves moved to California in the company of her boyfriend, James Franklin Phye, better known as "Jim Phye."

The two worked as domestic help for a wealthy family there.

In 1955, Jim stated that he last saw his girlfriend after they went on a picnic.

Evidently, he was the last person to acknowledge talking with her.

Frances has not been seen since.

Sadly, the missing woman left behind six children from a previous marriage to a man named Alva Groves.

That marriage ended in 1950 in divorce--Mr. Groves had accidentally shot and killed their only son.

Authorities could never gather enough evidence to charge Jim Phye with Frances' disappearance, but she is presumed to have been the victim of a homicide.

Phye lived for some time in Nevada under an alias.

He took his own life in 1996.

Despite being unsolved for more than 55 years, investigators with the Palm Springs Police Department (CA) are still interested in new details pertaining to Frances' case.

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Note: A relative of the missing woman included information on the site Find a Grave that was useful in writing this post. 

Using the background information on Jim Phye provided by the relative, there are several unidentified skeletal remains of females that have been found in Clark County, Nevada--where Las Vegas is located.  

20 comments:

Mary Kirkland said...

Ya know, it's scary to think about the amount, the sheer numbers of people who go missing and are never found.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Reading between the lines it doesn't sound like she had the happiest life, does it?

Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like the Jim guy was behind it, especially since he went and lived under another name

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This does make you wonder why he took his own life. Was the guilt too much?

messymimi said...

Lisa is right, it's a sad story all around.

Bob G. said...

Slamdunk:
I never knew about this case...adn you'd think that since it was in Cali, some crime show would have featured it (unless I missed it).

Nice find.

Stay safe out there.

lisa said...

Because skipping town and living under an alias makes one look sooooooo innocent. Unless her surviving children are interested in finding the truth, I'm not sure to what end continuing the investigation is after more than 55 years. Perhaps they don't think Phil is guilty?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oldest cold case in California. Interesting reading. There are so many unsolved murders. 55 years is a long time and for sure, evidence to solve it one way or another would be hard. I wonder how many of her children have searched for her?

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Brian Miller said...

i find it rather amazing that there might be new evidence after 58 years...i guess new tech helps as well...

ladyfi said...

A sad case!

Diane Estrella said...

I guess it's good to know that even after so long, people still care to know what happened. It seems unlikely that any new info will be found, but hey, ya never know....

Stephanie Faris said...

It's a shame that he took his own life--that takes away the possibility police will ever get an answer to exactly what happened. Often that's the only way. I'm surprised they can't identify the skeletal remains, though.

Carma Sez said...

heartbreaking that she had 6 kids - seems neither man was much of a "prize" :-(

Lady Lilith said...

I hope they find new leads. I am am sure the family could use some closure.

rhas23 said...

This is creepy... and SAD :-( I hope that wherever Frances is, she had found peace.

Blond Duck said...

I wonder if the employer killed her.

Anonymous said...

Frances is my grandmother, and I am the one who developed so much information on this case. There are only two of her children alive today, both in their 70's, and this disappearance has left it's horrid trauma on most of the family. I found out a couple of years ago that NOBODY had filed a missing person's case on her before, so I posted the original information on NAMUS. I found the lead for Jim Phye in Vegas, but their last known association together was in Palm Springs, Ca around 1954-55. Our family has always felt this was a homicide, but none of that generation was sophisticated enough to network with law enforcement. We have even gone so far this time as to have taken the last two remining sister's DNA, and hopefully it will match up with something, somewhere. Missing people are a heartache for many generations.

Slamdunk said...

@ Anonymous who posted on 7/5: Thank you for the valuable work that you have done on your grandmothers' case. It is a shame that law enforcement seemed to allowed this one to fall through the cracks.

If you have any other information about the case or have any suggestions about a related post that might be helpful to your family, I'd be happy to publish it.

Thanks again for taking time to comment, and my email address is theslamdunktrove@gmail.com .

Anonymous said...

To the granddaughter: Bless your heart for sticking with the case. I have been interested in these kind of cases for a long time. I found this link because I share the same name as your grandmother. Kind of eerie, however, fate is fate. What I'm wondering if is ANYONE spoke to the wealthy family they worker for as domestics. I'm sensing that perhaps "something" occurred with THAT relationship because Jim did something that your grandmother could have divulged. Hmmm. Jim died with the "mystery" of events. Try searching for heirs of the "wealthy family" and ask if anyone "heard" any family folklores about "the help" in the 50s. Best wishes toward ultimate truth. Stay on it.

TheWhistler77 said...

Two go on a picnic only one returns...and they couldn't solve that?