Joanne Ringer simply wouldn’t just disappear, family and friends say.
She was about to start a new job, was a newlywed and was excited for the upcoming warm weather so she could ride her motorcycle again. She was working on a scrapbook, one of her many hobbies, and was extremely devoted to her two massive English mastiffs, Fuko and Blu.
And yet, Joanne did disappear.
It’s now been one month since her unexplained absence. Her family and friends are just as perplexed by it today, as they were on the first day.
“I just still don’t understand,” Savanah Marie Ringer, Joanne’s daughter, told Dateline. “My mom just wouldn’t leave. She’s never done this and never would. Something had to have happened.”
What Happened to Jo?
Joanne, whom friends and family called Jo, disappeared on March 2, 2017. The 39-year-old was set to start a new job at as a driver for Aaron’s Paradise Transportation, based in Easthampton. She would be working the overnight shift from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Despite the long, unfavorable hours, Jo was thrilled, according to her daughter. “She hadn’t been working since last summer, so she was really excited to be working again,” said Savanah. Jo had even suggested to Savanah that she also apply there.
The mother and daughter are obviously close.
“Growing up, she was my best friend. She was so involved with my life,” Savanah said.
Although, at 19, Savanah is now an adult, the two have remained an active part of one another’s lives. Savanah remembers last summer when her mother introduced her to Chad Reidy, the man who would soon become Jo’s husband.
The couple wed last year after several months of dating and purchased a home together.
“They got together really fast,” Savanah remembers. “But they were obviously very much in love.”
It was Chad who reported Joanne missing. The day she disappeared, Jo reportedly went to visit a friend during the day. When Chad got home that afternoon, she wasn’t there. Jo was set to have her first night on the job that evening, but she didn’t show.
And she never returned home the next morning.
Savanah remembers getting a call from Chad, then one from the Massachusetts State Police asking if she could come in to talk to them. “I didn’t understand what was going on,” she recalled. “It was, like, how is she missing?”
Savanah had last talked to her mom earlier that week, and said she was telling her how well things were going. Jo sounded so happy. That’s why the call that she had disappeared was such a shock.
Things grew more concerning after Joanne’s dark green Volkswagen Jetta sedan with Connecticut plates was found abandoned in Easthampton on March 6. It’s unclear what, if anything, was collected from the vehicle after police took custody of it.
Pieces to the Puzzle
Jo has made a wide network of friends across the northeast over the years. None of them has heard from her. She didn’t tell anyone she was planning any type of vacation.
Ginger English Plantier has been friends with Jo since elementary school. They’ve hit nearly every life milestone together. Their daughters were born two months apart, and they, themselves, celebrate their birthdays together. They were born one year and two days apart.
Ginger had recently gone to Jo’s home to get help with a scrapbooking project. The two spent the Monday before Jo disappeared together. In recent months, Jo had settled down a bit, Ginger told Dateline. It wasn’t in a bad way, she said, but the vibrant and outgoing Jo seemed to have mellowed.
“She had just gotten married, so that may have been it,” Ginger told Dateline.
The friends had been planning on a girls’ trip to Connecticut together. Ginger asked Jo about a possible date for the trip to make reservations, but didn’t hear back. Jo mainly communicated through Facebook messenger at the time. So Ginger sent her a message on that Thursday, the day she disappeared. She asked about a date for the trip in a message sent around 11:46 a.m. It was delivered, but not opened.
A few hours later, at 2:49 p.m., Ginger said she sent another message. That one was sent, but never delivered.
The timing is significant, Ginger believes.
“Sometime between 11:46 and 2:49, her phone either died, was turned off or she was logged out of messenger,” Ginger told Dateline. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Everyone, from Jo’s other close friends and family to simple acquaintances, is equally puzzled by the ongoing situation.
“From everyone we’ve talked to, it just isn’t Jo to go missing,” Rebecca Wozniak, a case manager for Halos Investigations, told Dateline. The nonprofit organization has taken on Jo’s case.
After getting a message about Jo’s disappearance, the group reached out to Savanah. Usually, Halos Investigations only aids in cases of children or teenagers who have vanished. But several circumstances about this one qualified for the assistance, Rebecca said.
Halo provides assistance to the families of missing persons in managing social media, the press and working with law enforcement. They also have several private investigators who dig in on cases like Jo’s.
Krystle Lespier, Vice President of Halo Investigations, is working on Jo’s case. The group has interviewed more than a dozen people, and continues to pass any findings along to the authorities.
“We specifically are asking for anyone who saw her vehicle that day to come forward. They can do it anonymously if they’d like,” Krystle told Dateline. “Where it was found is a pretty busy area, so someone has to have seen something. Anything is helpful.”
Rebecca echoed Krystle's message.
“People don’t just go missing. They don’t,” Rebecca said. “She’s somebody’s someone. She’s missed. And someone knows what happened.”
Keeping Hope Alive
Officials with the Massachusetts State Police are investigating, but little information has been released. A spokesperson for the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office told Dateline there was no new information to be released at this time, and declined to offer any more details in the case.
Jo’s daughter, Savanah, said she’s usually in daily contact with the investigators looking into her mother’s case. “They do a good job of keeping me informed if things come up,” she said. “I just wish there were more things out there to find.”
Savanah added that she’s grateful for the support Halo Investigations has provided her and Jo’s other loved ones. The guidance and support, she said, has been overwhelming.
That initial shock at the news of her mother’s disappearance hasn’t faded.
“It’s been a long time, and I’m really worried,” she said. “Does someone have her? That’s the scary thing.”
The passing time only seems to have further motivated Jo’s loved ones. Flyers have now been distributed in multiple states, and postings are made daily across social media. They are doing whatever they can to keep Jo’s face in the public’s mind.
“We just want people to keep sharing her photo, keep posting about her story. Just keep doing everything,” Jo’s friend Ginger said.
Family and friends held a vigil earlier this month. They lit candles and spoke about their favorite memories of Jo. The hope is there will be many more memories to come.
“I have to stay positive through this,” Savanah told Dateline. “That’s what will get us through this and get her home.”
Joanne Ringer is described as 5’7” tall, weighing 130 lbs. with brown hair streaked with blonde and purple. She has a number of tattoos and piercings.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Massachusetts State Police at (413) 743-4700. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can also call a tip line set up by Halo Investigations at (803) 559-4256.
You can also visit the Facebook page ‘Bring Jo Ringer Home’ for more information.