Marcus Maxine Stalnaker and Mary Friend

On Wednesday night, December 1, 1999, Mary Geneva Friend and Marcus Maxine Stalnaker disappeared from their residence near Jane Lew, Lewis County, West Virginia. Friend’s vehicle was recovered abandoned in Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia, on Monday, December 6, 1999.

Friday August 03, 2007

Lewis County Sheriff Michael Gissy is eager to resume a search of Stonewall Jackson Lake for clues to the 1999 disappearance of two women for a reason never before revealed: A fisherman found a purse in the lake several years ago that contained articles belonging to both women.

Jane Lew residents Mary Geneva Friend and her mother, Marcus Maxine Stalnaker, went missing on Dec. 1, 1999, when they went on a shopping trip.

Divers spent 10 days searching Stonewall Jackson Lake in September 2002. Afterward Robert Rinehart, who was sheriff at the time, said fishermen found a piece of evidence linked to the women. But he would not reveal what that evidence was, saying it could hamper the investigation. Rinehart also would not give any details about other evidence he said the divers found using an underwater camera. Rinehart did say he was convinced the women were dead and that their bodies could be at the bottom of the lake.

Gissy, who is now the sheriff, was asked Thursday about an October 2002 rumor circulating at Stonewall Resort that the drivers’ license of one of the missing women had been found in the lake.

“In a roundabout way, yes,” Gissy said. “There was a purse found in the lake by a fisherman, and all of the information for both women was found in the purse. But there was no recovery of any bodies.”

A diving team was scheduled to search the lake last month, but the dive was tentatively postponed to Aug. 21. Gissy said Thursday he has received word that the dive may again be “delayed a little bit” because members of the dive team have some scheduling conflicts.

Regarding the area of the lake to be searched this time, Gissy told The Associated Press last month, “Our existing team has not attempted to look at this spot.”

Friend was 45 when she disappeared. Stalnaker was 69.

Both lived in a small house on Jesses Fork hollow near Jane Lew with Friend’s husband, Kevin, who was working in Maryland during the week they vanished. He said he came home from work on Friday, Dec. 3, 1999, and found an empty house. He said he didn’t realize his wife and mother-in-law hadn’t been seen for two days. Police said they found no signs of violence or intruders at the house.
Five days after the women vanished, their gray 1987 Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon was found in a parking lot next to an abandoned building in Clarksburg. There was no sign of foul play and no helpful evidence was recovered.

Anonymous tips gradually tapered off. Just before Christmas 1999, investigators from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation met for two and a half hours and “brought everybody up to speed,” Rinehart said at the time.

The case’s lead investigator had assembled a three-inch notebook with interview transcripts and notes on evidence. But Rinehart said afterward, “We’re just not getting anywhere.”

After Christmas 1999, police posted signs with pictures of the missing women in Lewis, Harrison and Upshur counties.
The case dropped out of the news until 2002, when the media reported the search of the 2,650-acre lake and Rinehart’s comments.

Monday April 13, 2009
Reward offered in 1999 W.Va. missing persons case
by The Associated Press

ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) — Family members are offering a $5,000 reward for information in the 1999 disappearance of a Lewis County mother and daughter.

Karl Hildebrand of Morgantown says relatives hope the reward will turn up new information in the case.

Sixty-nine-year-old-year-old Marcus Maxine Stalnaker and her daughter, 46-year-old Mary Friend, disappeared Dec. 1, 1999, after leaving their Jane Lew home to go on a shopping trip. The car they were traveling in was found five days later near the Harrison County community of Gore.

Hildebrand says family members had lost contact with the women after his mother died in 1989. He says Stalnaker is his mother’s sister.

Hildebrand says family members learned of the women’s disappearance while researching their genealogy.

“Eight Years Later…”

Story Created: Dec 1, 2007

This week marks eight years since two Lewis County women were reported missing.

Saturday, friends and family of Mary Friend, 46, and her mother, Maxine Stalnaker, 69, came together at Jackson’s Mill Baptist Church for a memorial service. The night acted as a support service for many as family comforted each other.

Mary’s sister and Maxine’s daughter, Pamela Smith said support from the community has helped in what was the most traumatic experience of her life.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Department has been following the case for years. Members of the force also came out for the Saturday service.

May 26, 2008

WESTON — New developments in the search for two Lewis County women that have been missing for nearly ten years.

Lewis County Sheriff Mike Gissy says teams have been searching an area near Georgetown Road for the bodies of Maxine Stalnaker and Mary Friend.

Gissy says several of the womens’ family members used to live in that area.

He says investigators have also used an underwater camera to search an abandoned well on the property.

Gissy says deputies plan to continue to search the area with cadaver dogs.

Stalnaker and Friend vanished in December 1999.

Five days later, Friend’s abandoned car turned up in Harrison County.

In October 2002, fishermen found evidence that led Lewis County sheriff’s deputies to search Stonewall Jackson Lake.

Last August, divers again search the lake near Skin Creek Bridge. Gissy says the department has received several tips and is continuing to follow up on them.


WESTON, W.Va. (AP) – It’s been more than seven years since Mary Friend and her mother, Marcus Maxine Stalnaker, vanished after setting out on a shopping trip. But police are not giving up the search for them.

A diving team will search Stonewall Jackson Lake later this month for clues to the women’s disappearance, Lewis County Sheriff Michael Gissy said.

Divers spent more than a week searching the 2,650-acre lake in 2002.

“Our existing team has not attempted to look at this spot,” Gissy said.

Friend, 46, and her mother, 69, vanished Dec. 1, 1999. Friend’s 1987 silver-gray Chevrolet Celebrity was found five days later along U.S. 19 in Gore, but there was no sign of foul play, and no helpful evidence was recovered.

“We are still exploring every possibility. It will remain active and it is a priority for my office,” Gissy said.

The women lived in Jane Lew with Friend’s husband, Kevin, who was out of town at the time they vanished. Police said there were no signs of violence or intruders at the couple’s home.

The women’s belongings also remained at the house, so there was nothing to indicate they packed and left voluntarily


4 responses to “Marcus Maxine Stalnaker and Mary Friend

  1. Maxine Stalnaker was my Aunt and Mary my Cousin. The Lewis county Sheriff’s Office has a Bond Server as investigator on this case. I was allowed to read the witness statements after 9 years of them being missing and I found many answers to questions that the police have had for nine years just by carefully reading the evidence they already have. I do not feel that the Sheriff’s Department nor some members of the family want to solve this case or at least they do not care enough to give the women justice. From the time the women went missing until their residence was checked for DNA or other evidence was two weeks. One suspect fail a polygraph twice and the other person to last see them alive was not given a test at the time and now ten years later they have still not given this person a polygraph test even though it is obvious to most family members that Mary’s son and sister had something to do with their disappearance. I have tried everything in my power to get the police to get serious with this case, it is the only murder case that Lewis county has on the books and yet their is no official police officer assigned to it. West Virginia has the Habius Corpus law, so unless the murderers bring the remains of the women in and sigh a confession, I doubt justice will ever be done in this case. That is just unacceptable to me.

  2. Hi Karl,

    I’ve been doing a little cyber-sleuthing in my spare time. I think there is a possible resemblance in the facial structure, and correspondence in timelines, height, age, etc. between Mary Geneva Friend (missing, WV, NamUs # 413) and the remains information posted on the WV State Police webpage:

    In the above webpage, it is noted that the person whose remains were found has had at least one child. I see by your post that she has a son, so that is yet another connection. The artists clay sculpture bears resemblance to her jaw line; the artist has made her look younger, but I still think that it might be a possible lead. Please feel free to contact me on my email. I don’t check it everyday, but at least twice a week.

    Further info, not found on either above reference, can be found on the:

    I was going to send this information to the NamUs case contact, but since you’re her nephew and also have had contact with the Sheriff’s Office, I feel it would be more expeditious to contact you directly. Glad that I found your info. I’m pretty shocked that the police aren’t actively working this case.

    Please keep me updated of any new information. Thanks.

  3. I have been following this because my niece’s ex husband is one of the sons. It is almost like a family member. I have thought for years that the were disposed of in the lake. It is hard to keep up on things from Ohio, but i try. Thanks for the informatin.

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