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Cold Case Spotlight

No leads 13 years after Bambi Madden disappeared without a trace

Bambi Fiske grew up alongside six brothers and sisters in Binghamton, New York. She was very close with everyone in her large family, especially her sister Jackie Fiske, to whom Bambi was closest in age.

“She was so outgoing and she loved us, her family,” Jackie told Dateline. “She was very free-spirited -- just fun-loving and really loved everyone.”

Another of Bambi’s sisters, Amanda Moran, told Dateline the entire family continued to live near each other as they got older.

“We were all really close growing up, and we still are close now,” Amanda told Dateline. Both Amanda and Jackie told Dateline they either spoke to Bambi in person or on the phone at least once a day.

Bambi got married to Tom Madden and together the Maddens had three children, Scott, Christal and Tom Jr, according to Bambi’s sisters.

Bambi Madden

On the evening of January 11, 2006, Jackie visited Bambi, then 31, at her home. She told Dateline that since she lived just around the corner, she would often go over for short visits. Bambi’s daughter Christal joined the two that night as well.

According to Christal Griswold, Bambi had a court hearing the following day for temporary custody of her granddaughter Haley. Christal says she had asked her mother to seek custody of Haley, “to protect my child so nobody else could get custody.” Christal told Dateline she was worried about Haley’s father trying to get custody of their child.

“She was very excited about [helping Christal and Haley],” Amanda said, noting Bambi’s love for Haley. “She wanted to take care of her granddaughter and help out Christal. She really loved her family.”

That night, Jackie left Bambi’s house at 9:30 p.m. to return home. Christal says she left at around 11:00 p.m. At around the same time, Bambi left her house to go to a nearby convenience store.

“She went on a walk. The store she was going to was about a five-minute walk from her house,” Amanda told Dateline. “She’d done this before in the past.”

Bambi never returned.

The following day, Jackie called Bambi’s house before the scheduled custody hearing. She spoke with Tom, who said his wife had never returned home. Jackie immediately started to worry and began calling other family members.

“She wouldn't have left Tom. She wouldn't have left her kids. Not with the court date to get her grandchild,” Jackie said.

According to Detective Carl Peters with the Binghamton Police Department, Tom reported Bambi missing that same morning.

“She didn’t have any credit cards or any traceable items with her,” Det. Peters told Dateline.

“[Our family] searched the riverbanks and parks, and they walked all over Binghamton looking,” Jackie said. They found no trace of Bambi.

The Binghamton Police searched footage of all the nearby convenience stores in the hope of finding Bambi, but she did not appear on any video. Detective Peters told Dateline that police do not believe Bambi ever made it to the store that night.

“Everyone is shocked, because it was not like her at all to disappear,” Amanda said. “Just trying to find out what exactly happened to her, and find out where exactly she's at -- it's been a struggle. Because we have no idea. We are dumbfounded.”

“I have spent my life worrying and hoping that one day my mom would be found,” Christal told Dateline. She says she still thinks Bambi could be alive. “A lot of people told me I should let it go , but it’s very hard to do that.”

Police confirm the case is still open, but acknowledge that leads have run dry. Detective Peters urges anyone with information about Bambi’s disappearance to come forward.

“I miss her every day. My mom and dad went to their graves not knowing what happened to her,” Jackie told Dateline. She is now looking for closure for herself and the rest of her family.

In February of 2016, the Binghamton City Council pronounced January 11 to be “Bambi Madden Day” in the city. Bambi’s family holds a candlelight vigil each year on the anniversary of Bambi’s disappearance.

Bambi Madden would be 44 years old today. At the time of her disappearance, she was described as being 5’4” and weighing 100 - 115 lbs., with blonde hair and blue/hazel eyes. If you have any information on Bambi’s case, please call Binghamton Police Department at (607) 772-7081.

This article has been edited to include an interview with Bambi Madden’s daughter, Christal Griswold. A previous version of the article incorrectly identified Christal’s daughter as Brianna. The daughter involved in the custody hearing is named Haley.