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Friend pushing for answers in decades-long disappearance of Wisconsin woman Sarah Martin

24-year-old Sarah Martin was last seen on November 22, 2001.

While Dateline was in Phoenix, Arizona working on the story of Alissa Turney, who vanished from that area in 2001, our producers got to talking with Rhiannon Baker, the director of the venue where our interviews were being conducted. 

“It was similar to what I’ve gone through over the last 20-plus years -- and the emotions that went along with it,” she told Dateline. “Sadly, there’s truly been just little to no leads ever.”

On November 22, 2001, Rhiannon’s 24-year-old best friend, Sarah Martin, vanished in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sarah Martin and Rhiannon Baker
Sarah Martin and Rhiannon BakerRhiannon Baker

Rhiannon told Dateline that she and Sarah met when they were 7 years old. “She was my next-door neighbor,” she said. “We were constantly inseparable. Her and I were literally always together.”

“We’d go on trips, we’d go to concerts, we’d do all the fun things,” Rhiannon recalled. “She always had tons of energy. She was always really pretty.”

Although the two were neighbors, they went to separate schools. “She went to public school, I went to private school,” Rhiannon said. “Public schools have a lot more kids than private schools, so it was always fun to be with her because she always had just a whole new group of friends that I could hang out with.”

According to Rhiannon, Sarah was an only child. “Her mom was a single mom, but she always had an amazing career,” she said. “Her mom, since [Sarah] was the only child, was just really able to give her the best life. So she had the fanciest clothes, the fanciest stuff.”

Shortly after Rhiannon headed off to college in Arizona, Sarah moved to California to live with her boyfriend. But their bond never wavered. “We were still completely in contact at that point,” she said.

In 2000, both Rhiannon and Sarah moved back to Wisconsin. 

Rhiannon told Dateline she last spoke to Sarah on November 21, 2001 — the day before Thanksgiving. “We were just talking about different things we were doing for the holidays and preparation for Thanksgiving dinner,” she said. “We had pretty much spent the entire day together, and then I dropped her off at somebody’s house that wasn’t far from where she lived. She just said, ‘I’ll walk home from here,’ which she did.”

Rhiannon said she got a call the day after Thanksgiving from Sarah’s mother, Linsey Martin. She was wondering if Rhiannon knew where her daughter might be. “[Sarah] had apparently left the evening before, which would have been the night of Thanksgiving,” she recalled. “Sometime late at night, she had left and was picked up by an unknown individual and nobody ever saw or heard from her again.”

The Milwaukee Police Department is investigating Sarah’s disappearance. Their Public Information Office confirmed to Dateline in an email that Sarah was last seen on November 22, 2001, in Milwaukee. They urged the public to “help us find her and reunite her with her family.” The PIO did not answer any of the specific questions asked about Sarah’s case. 

Rhiannon told Dateline that at the time, family and friends rallied to spread awareness about Sarah’s disappearance. “We had posters everywhere — I mean, we literally plastered that entire vicinity,” she recalled. “We were out and about. We were talking to people that lived in the area. There was literally nothing. Nobody saw anything, nobody heard anything.”

Rhiannon eventually moved back to Arizona, the weight of her missing best friend always with her. “It was literally like we were sisters,” she said. “So to go from having somebody like that… to go from never hearing from her again was truly traumatizing.”

Sarah’s disappearance was even harder on her mother, Linsey. According to Rhiannon, the family had suffered a loss just a few months prior to Sarah’s disappearance when her father died of a heart attack. “The addition of them losing Sarah in November just kind of really snowballed everything,” Rhiannon said.

Sarah Martin
Sarah MartinRhiannon Baker

Although Rihannon is not sure what happened to her best friend, she told Dateline that she’s done her own investigating. “I’ve done different background checks. There’s no IRS hits from her since 2001. No bank accounts, nothing of that sort at all has happened,” she said. “So sadly, in my opinion, I do believe that she is no longer with us.”

Despite that, Rhiannon said that she is still pushing for answers. “I would just like to get the word out. I’ve tried everything,” she said. “We still don’t have any answers.”

At the time of her disappearance, Sarah was 5’3,” and 110 lbs. She has a scar on her upper leg and a scar on her abdomen. 

She would be 46 years old today.

Anyone with information about Sarah’s disappearance is asked to call the Milwaukee Police Department at 414-935-7405.