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Missing in America

11 years later, Texas mother still missing

On the weekend of September 23, 2007, Lisa Lee Chandler, 44, was feeling sick. She called her mother, Marie Johnson, to let her know and to chat about her life.

Lisa Lee Chandler Chris Chandler

“We talked all day, practically all day long,” Marie told Dateline. She said the two were particularly close, and that Lisa, a mother of two boys, was supposed to visit her and her husband the next day at their home in Starks, Louisiana, a six-hour drive from Lisa’s home outside Wolfe City, Texas.

“She was one of the best mothers that you could ever ask for,” Marie told Dateline about her daughter Lisa. “She was a dang good person. She was always out there for the underdog.”

Lisa’s oldest son Chris Chandler said growing up, he was close with his mother. “She was really involved with me and my brother’s life,” he told Dateline. Chris was attending Chipola College in Marianna, Florida in 2007. His younger brother Tyler lived there with him.

According to Marie, her daughter Lisa was feeling particularly stressed that day because of her health issues, and because she was going through a divorce.

Over the phone, Lisa told her mother that she planned to go to the doctor the following morning before heading out for her parents’ house. Marie said she had to end their call around 3:00 p.m., because she had plans. She called Lisa back at midnight to see how she was doing, but no one picked up the phone at the house.

Worried about her daughter, Marie called her again at 6:00 a.m. the next morning. Again, no one picked up, which Marie said was out of character for her daughter.

Marie called a friend of Lisa’s and asked him to go over to her daughter’s house. According to Marie, he said he could not get into the home, because Lisa’s protective dog was loose in the fenced area surrounding the house.

Marie and her husband decided to drive from their home in Louisiana to their daughter’s home to make sure everything was OK. Marie says the couple arrived around 1:30 p.m.

When they arrived, they found Lisa’s car was outside the house. Because the dog was used to Marie, she was able to get to the front door and found it unlocked. She went in and found all of Lisa’s belongings including her purse, glasses, and cigarettes inside on a table. Lisa was nowhere to be found.

“Everything was right there on the table,” Marie told Dateline. “And she definitely wouldn't go nowhere without them cigarettes.”

Marie called a few of her daughter’s friends, but none of them had seen her that day. She then called the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office.

Sergeant Jeff Haines, lead detective on Lisa’s case, told Dateline that officers were dispatched that afternoon on a welfare check to Lisa’s home.

He confirmed Lisa’s home was unlocked, her purse was on the table and her TV was on. He also does not believe Lisa made it to her morning doctor’s appointment.

“We’re not ruling anything out on this case,” Sgt. Haines told Dateline. Lisa’s case became a missing person’s case when no one had heard from her 24 hours after she was initially reported missing to police.

Lisa Lee Chandler Chris Chandler

Ground searches were launched and Lisa’s sons Chris and Tyler immediately flew to Texas to help the search efforts on foot. Chris said it was a very overwhelming and confusing time for him and his brother. “There were suspicions, but we really focused on trying to locate her -- trying to set those initial reactions aside and trying to find her,” Chris told Dateline.

Sergeant Haines told Dateline that in the days following Lisa’s disappearance, the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office also used helicopter searches equipped with infrared heat-searching technology, but the aerial searches were unsuccessful. They also used search dogs, which tracked Lisa’s scent to about 5 miles away from her house before losing the trail.

Over the past 11 years, Sgt. Haines estimates police have searched close to 1500 acres in the area surrounding Lisa’s home. He says no one has used Lisa’s name or social security number since she went missing.

“I don’t believe she left on her own accord,” Sgt. Haines told Dateline. “It’s a very strange case. It's frustrating because we don't have any direction to go with this -- we need community members to come forward with information.”

Lisa’s disappearance has been heartbreaking for her mother. She believes Lisa may have left her home with someone she knew.

“After 11 years, I would like to hear something,” Marie told Dateline. “She’s not some dog to be left out there.”

Chris says his mother’s disappearance has been hard to deal with for both him and his brother. “It’s been a rollercoaster. We’re handling it in our own ways, but it has been rough. It affected a lot of aspects of my life,” Chris said. “I really hope [the police] continue to use all the resources they have available to solve my mom’s case.”

Lisa Lee Chandler would be 55 years old today. She is 5'6 with hazel eyes and brown hair. If you have any information about Lisa’s disappearance, please contact Sgt. Jeff Haines at 903-453-6809 or via email at jhaines@huntcounty.net.