May 26th, 1982 was the last time 34 year old Sally J. Rawlings was seen.

On the morning of May 26th, the divorced mother of one daughter, Kimberly, had breakfast in the hotel she was staying in since her divorce, the Kirkpatrick Hotel. She then drop Kimberly off at daycare, as was her normal routine. Sally had a secretarially job at Kerr- McGee Corporation, that she never showed up to that morning. She never picked up Kimberly from daycare and never returned to the hotel.

Her ex-husband, Gary Lee Rawlings, who lived in Colorado, has stayed in an Oklahoma City hotel on May 24th and May 25th. He rented a Plymouth Fury. He was known to have purchased a .44 Magnum handgun and nine rounds of ammo the week of May 24th. Gary who was a commercial airline pilot, made arrangements to rent a plane from Charter Air in Oklahoma City. At 10 am on May 26th, he took off in a Cessna 150 plane, and he did not return the plane until early the next morning. Upon return of the plane the gas cap and some carpet was missing from the plane.

Gary’s flight itinerary was able to be obtained. The afternoon of May 26th he stopped for fuel in Dallas, Tx. During this stop, he purchased velour cleaner, and called Kimberly’s daycare saying Sally would not be able to pick up Kimberly that evening. The same afternoon, he stopped for fuel again this time in Houston, Tx. The attendant here noticed large cloth bundled in the baggage compartment of the plane. That evening he stopped for fuel again in Houston.

On the morning of May 27th, he returned the Plymouth Fury complaining he had trouble starting the car and requested another car. He then was given a Ford LTD. Employees at the rental car agencies drove the Plymouth did not notice anything wrong but noted mat in trunk missing.

He got a moving company to move all of Sally’s belongings to Denver, Colorado, saying she moved there. He went to the daycare, gave them a letter supposedly from Sally, stating she moved to Florida and Kimberly was to go with Gary to live. The daycare gave Kimberly to Gary.

They flew from Oklahoma City to Denver, Gary called his mother, Loretta, wanting her to meet him at the airport, needing her to bring him a uniform because he had to return to work that same day.

Loretta met him at the airport, he was carrying a blue suitcase and a plastic bag full of Kimberly’s stuff. He didn’t have the sleeping bag he had taken when he left days earlier. He told his mother, Sally moved to Florida with a new boyfriend and gave him permission to keep Kimberly for one month.

Loretta eventually opened the suitcase finding a, .44 Magnum handgun, typewritten letters to the movers and to Kerr McGee with Sally’s signature on them, can of velour cleaner, a set of Sally’s work keys, car rental receipt, Sally’s saving deposit book, Kimberly’s birth certificate, and phots of Sally and Kimberly. Loretta said the signature was not Sally’s but was thought it was her sons. Scared with all this that she found, she took it to her daughters and they called the police , telling them she thought Gary had killed Sally.

During the investigation, investigators found blood inside the driver’s side and trunk of the Plymouth Fury and in the cargo area of the rented airplane. There was blood on the gun, even though DNA test was not available at this time, they were able to conclude that is was not Gary’s and that it could be Sally’s. The genetic markers of the blood showed it came from just .46% of the population, Sally being on of these individuals.

Gary’s fingerprints were found on the envelope addressed to the moving company, and his palm print was on the money order inside.

Gary was charged with First Degree Murder. At his trial, his defense team tried saying Sally, who had been diagnosed with PTSD in the past, disappeared on purpose. They said this was a result of her having a nervous breakdown. However, her loved ones denied this, they didn’t believe she would willing give Gary their daughter. The prosecution argued that Gary had killed Sally, put her body in the sleeping bag he didn’t return with, and while flying over the Gulf of Mexico he threw her body out of the plane, dumping it into the ocean.

Gary was convicted of First Degree Murder and received a life sentence.

Sally J. Rawlings body has never been found. If you have any information on the possible location of Sally’s body please contact the Oklahoma City Police Department at (405)297-1129 or the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office at (405)713-1600.

Information Resource(s):

NamUs #MP26600

Sally Jean Rawlings – The Charley Project

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