Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: April 24, 1988 from West Allas, Wisconsin
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age: 20 years old
Height and Weight: 5’6, 160 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair.
Details of Disappearance
Bertolas was last seen sometime in 1988 at the Red Carpet Lanes bowling alley in the 10900 block of west Lapham Street in West Allis, Wisconsin. She was planning to confront her boyfriend; as she found out he had been unfaithful to her and also that he had given her a false last name. Bertolas has never been seen again. Her vehicle was found abandoned in the parking lot of the bowling alley.
Police believe foul play was involved in Bertolas’s case, possibly at the hands of her boyfriend. Prosecutors conducted a 21-month John Doe probe into the case in 2002 and over fifty witnesses testified, but the probe concluded without any charges being filed.
Bertolas resided with her parents in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin at the time of her disappearance. She was a marketing student at Waukesha County Technical College and worked-part time as a beautician at a Cost Cutters hair salon.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Waukesha County Police Department
The Doe Network
Village of Menomonee Falls
Wisconsin Advocates for the Families of Missing People
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Waukesha News Briefs
From the Journal Sentinel
Last Updated: April 25, 2001
Probe reopens search for missing woman
Waukesha – Thirteen years to the day after Sandra Bertolas disappeared, the first day of a John Doe probe into her suspected death began Tuesday with family members testifying.
In the closed-door hearings, prosecutors hope to gain new clues into the April 24, 1988, disappearance of the Menomonee Falls woman, whose body has never been found.
Authorities have said that Sandra Bertolas was 20 the Sunday night she left her parents’ Menomonee Falls home to confront her boyfriend, whom she had learned was involved in another serious relationship.
She never returned.
The boyfriend soon married the other woman and remains a suspect in the case. That man, a Milwaukee firefighter, is expected to be called to testify when the probe resumes next month.
In 1988, he told Menomonee Falls police he never met Bertolas the night she disappeared, according to articles published at that time. Bertolas’ car was found in a West Allis bowling alley parking lot.
District Attorney Paul Bucher said Tuesday he could not reveal the testimony given in the closed courtroom but said it was “excellent, I’m very pleased.”
John Doe probe ordered in 1988 disappearance
Secret sessions will re-examine case of missing Falls woman
By LISA SINK
Journal Sentinel staff
March 8, 2001
Waukesha — A Waukesha County circuit judge has ordered a secret John Doe probe, which a Milwaukee television station reported Wednesday night involves the 1988 disappearance of a Menomonee Falls woman.
WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) reported the investigation is to start about 13 years after the woman, Sandra Bertolas, mysteriously disapPeared at the age of 20.
The probe, to be conducted by Judge J. Mac Davis, comes about two years after police unsuccessfully searched a park for her remains.
Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said in a broadcast interview that the proceeding was likely to begin with sessions on several days in April. After a break of a few weeks, it could resume by taking testimony and conclude later this year.
Bucher did not return calls from the Journal Sentinel seeking comment on the case.
John Doe hearings are usually held behind closed doors and allow prosecutors to subpoena and question witnesses and collect evidence to determine whether charges should be filed.
Menomonee Falls police Capt. Terry Hansen said Wednesday he had no knowledge about a probe into Bertolas’ disappearance.
However, Bertolas’ mother, Dorothy Bertolas, said she knew that authorities were considering calling a John Doe probe but didn’t know whether one had been ordered.
Bertolas was excited about the prospect of learning more about what happened to her daughter.
Asked whether that news made her hopeful, she apologized as she choked back tears.
“After you’ve had your kid missing for 13 years . . . hopeful . . . I’m sorry,” she said.
“We do hope that something might come up because we don’t know what happened to her.”
Bertolas said she wasn’t aware of any new leads or breaks in the case but said she was grateful that police and prosecutors haven’t given up on it.
“It never goes away,” she said, adding it’s also hard on her other children, Sandra’s siblings.
“They’ve been my support,” she said.
Sandra Bertolas was last seen April 24, 1988. Her father said at the time that his daughter had told friends she planned to “have it out” with a man she was seeing.
The next day her locked car was found in a West Allis parking lot.
Her mother said Wednesday that the car, her first, was her prized possession. “She wouldn’t leave that car behind,” she said.
In December 1998, Menomonee Falls police, acting on a tip, searched Jackson Park, 3500 W. Forest Home Ave., Milwaukee, for Bertolas’ remains but found nothing.
Detectives said the tipster recalled walking near the railroad tracks in Jackson Park at the time Bertolas was reported missing and smelling a foul odor.
Search dogs reacted when detectives searched the park area, prompting police to search the park with “cadaver dogs.”