Jeremy Bright was a normal teenage boy who went missing under mysterious circumstances in 1986. He has never been seen again. While there have been many rumors and theories over the years, there has still not been any concrete information on Jeremy’s whereabouts. Read on to find out more about the terrifying, unsolved case.
Jeremy Bright was born in 1972 in Myrtle Point, Oregon. He lived with his mother, stepfather and sister S’te until his parents separated. Jeremy moved with his mother and sister to the town Grant’s Pass, located 100 miles away. But Jeremy had spent the majority of his life in Myrtle Point and it was where he felt at home and where many of his friends lived. With his friends, Jeremy enjoyed playing basketball, which he was known to be quite talented at. By age fourteen, he was already six feet tall and wore a size 13 shoe, so basketball was definitely a perfect fit. In private, Jeremy was more creative and enjoyed the artistic side of things including drawing. No one could have predicted this promising young man’s future.
The Pain Of Moving Away
While their parent’s separation was certainly a sad situation for Jeremy and his little sister, they managed to have a relatively happy childhood. The kids were always excited about attending one of their favorite childhood events, which took place in Myrtle Point. The Coos County Fair was your typical fair that included lots of fun things for kids to do like carnival rides, games, and of course, delicious food. The event was held every summer and lasted for a whole week. As Jeremy entered his teen years, it was an especially important event for him as he was able to hang out with all the friends he grew up with but no longer got to see on a daily basis.
The Good ‘Ol County Fair
The Coos County Fair came to Myrtle Point in August 1986. Of course, Jeremy and S’te could not wait to get to the yearly event. Because their stepfather, Orville, had remained back in Myrtle Point, he said the kids could come and stay with him for the week so they could attend the event. Their mother, Diane, agreed to let the kids go, and soon they were on their way to a week of fun and relaxation in their hometown with their old friends. Sadly, something much darker than an innocent time at the fair awaited the kids.
Jeremy’s Best Friends
One of Jeremy’s best friends was Johnny Fish, who also grew up in Myrtle Point. Of course, Jeremy planned to meet up with him as soon as he got into town. The fair was the biggest event around and all of the kids their age were planning to attend. Jeremy planned on hanging out with Johnny and meeting up with some of their other friends. When the boys met up, everything seemed to be going great. They rode some of the rides, ate some of the delicious food, and surely talked about things that young teenage boys usually do while enjoying the last bit of time before school was back in session and Jeremy had to return to Grant’s Pass.
A Mother’s Last Contact
Jeremy’s mother, Diane, expected Jeremy to call her to talk about when he and his sister would be returning since the new school year was on the horizon. Jeremy called as expected on August 13 around 4:45 in the afternoon. He was calling from a payphone and said that he and his sister wanted to be picked up from Myrtle Point in two days. He sounded happy and told his mom about the wonderful time he and his sister were enjoying in their old stomping grounds. On the 13th, Jeremy also went to visit his stepfather who was at a tavern that was owned by his grandmother. Jeremy showed up at the tavern at 9:40 p.m. His stepfather was there, drinking with friends as he often did. Jeremy spoke to both his grandmother and his stepfather. He even asked Orville, his stepfather, to borrow some money to use at the fair the following day. Orville agreed, and happily gave his son a bit of cash to enjoy his time with friends. This would be the last time that Jeremy’s stepfather and grandmother ever saw him again.
A Date With Destiny
The following day was Thursday, August 14, 1986. Jeremy and his sister set out for the fair that afternoon. The two parted ways at approximately 2 p.m. and had a plan to meet back up at 5 p.m. They set their meeting place as the Ferris wheel, which was the easiest landmark to spot throughout the entire area. As 5 p.m. rolled around, Jeremy’s little sister was there waiting for him, but he never showed up. He was last seen wearing a black windbreaker and black Nike sneakers that had red shoelaces. Jeremy also has scars on his face including one on his forehead and one on his nose, along with a mole on his chin. At first, it seemed as though something innocent occurred, and Jeremy merely stayed out with his friends longer than he said he would. However, the reality of the situation would soon unfold.
Where Is He?
The following day, Jeremy’s mother Diane arrived as they had arranged. Diane showed up at her former husband’s home to retrieve her son and daughter. Soon, Diane noticed something strange. Jeremy’s house keys and wallet were sitting on the coffee table. Alongside them was a new watch, which Jeremy had recently bought. Another interesting detail is that the TV set was on. Soon, Diane found out that her daughter had recently been home but S’te had no idea where her older brother had been. She informed her mom that Jeremy never showed up at their meeting place the previous day.
The Fourteen Year Old Is Missing
Jeremy’s mother Diane waited one additional day, hoping that her fourteen-year-old son would turn up. The next day, she called the authorities. Soon, they began recounting the details of the last time everyone had seen him. His sister had seen him the afternoon he went missing, but he failed to show up at their meeting spot at the Ferris wheel. The evening before that, Jeremy had seen his stepfather and grandmother at the local tavern. Immediately, police began to suggest that perhaps Jeremy had simply run away, which was commonplace when teenage kids seemed to suddenly turn up as a missing person.
Did He Run Away?
Police even suggested that Jeremy could have joined the traveling carnival troupes. After all, the fair had just been in town with a string of carnival workers in tow. It certainly seemed plausible that Jeremy would have been lured to join them and travel to different areas. Sergeant Steve Dalton of the Coos County Sheriff’s Department was tasked with leading the investigation at the time. While many had suggested that Jeremy could have taken off, he said that it soon became apparent that Jeremy Bright had not left his life behind to join the carnival. Taking into account all of the stories told to him by family and friends, it became clear that Jeremy would not do such a thing. Particularly, leaving his little sister behind and never meeting her at their meeting spot, was just something that Jeremy would never do.
Rumors Begin To Swirl
As news began to filter throughout the town that Jeremy was missing, the town fair was coming to an end as well. The last day of the county fair was a Sunday. It was August 17, 1986. The upbeat and joyous mood that the fair had started with had quickly turned to a darker and heavier mood with the news of a missing teenage boy. It seemed as though all of Myrtle Point was on a high alert about what could have happened to Jeremy. Soon, it seemed as though the town was rampant with rumors of what might have happened to him.
Terrifying Theories About Disappearance
Some rumors seemed particularly heinous. One story said that Jeremy attended a party in Myrtle Point. The story alleged that he was given a beer that was laced with an unknown substance. The alleged encounter continued to say that the drug caused Jeremy to have an overdose which he died from. The rumor stated that the other people present at the party got rid of his body so no one would get in trouble. This was all hearsay and rumor of course, with no substantiated facts. It certainly seemed unlikely that teenage kids would be able to pull of the disposal of a body without anyone coming to find out the truth.
Was Jeremy Murdered?
Soon another rumor came to take hold of the town. This story said that Jeremy had the misfortune of running into three rough, older teenagers while he and his buddies were hanging out at a local swimming hole. The story alleged that the boys got into a fight and Jeremy was accidentally shot. The story continued that the rough kids attempted to take him to a nearby cabin to treat his gunshot wound, and successfully revived him but he ultimately died because of his horrible wound. Instead of getting help or telling someone what had taken place, they buried him in a shallow grave. However, when this story was later told to the authorities, they did not find his body in the place it was said to be.
Jeremy Seen Again?
As is par for the course in a small town, rumors continued to run rampant about the mysterious disappearance of Jeremy Bright. One rumor seemed as though it might actually have more credence than the others, however. Jeremy’s best friend was Johnny Fish. Johnny’s sister Cecelia said the night of Jeremy’s disappearance she was staying at her sister’s apartment. When the two girls left around midnight, they thought they saw someone walking down the street. The eerie part is that the person they saw was covered in blood. However, she was never sure if it was Jeremy or not. Another rumor that surfaced was that Jeremy was seen in the passenger seat of another young man’s car named Terry Lee Steinhoff. When Jeremy used to live in the town as a young boy, Terry had actually been his babysitter. This was one of the best leads to be received in the case.
A Possible Suspect
Three years passed without any breaks in the case or without many leads (including Terry Lee Steinhoff) being investigated. At this point, Jeremy’s mysterious disappearance was featured on the mega popular show Unsolved Mysteries, with the intention of generating new interest in the case. One idea that the television program focused on was the connection between Jeremy and Terry Lee Steinhoff. Not long after, Terry found himself in jail. His crime? He was charged with stabbing Patricia Morris. Patricia was a 32-year-old mother. She survived the attempted murder. Many thought that his involvement in this crime signified that perhaps he also had something to do with Jeremy’s disappearance.
Unsolved Mysteries Publicity
The case being featured on Unsolved Mysteries definitely worked to renew interest in the case and soon, authorities were looking into more leads. Police also started combing the land surrounding the area of where Jeremy was thought to have been last seen. They looked deeper into the story about Jeremy being buried in a shallow grave in the woods and expanded their search deeper into the forest. Sadly, they still found no concrete evidence. Police also attempted to talk to Terry. However, Terry, who was already doing time in prison, made it clear that he didn’t want to discuss the case. It seemed as though by not talking he was attempting to cover up something he knew about Jeremy’s disappearance.
As of 2017, Jeremy Bright is still a missing person. The young man never got to graduate from high school, go to prom, go to college, get married, have children, or any of the milestones that most people are afforded in their lifetime. Jeremy’s family, his friends, and many people in the area have never forgotten the young man and the strange circumstances surrounding his disappearance. While police continued to press Terry to see if he held the key to uncovering the truth about what happened to Jeremy, nothing ever came out of it. Terry Lee Steinhoff died under mysterious circumstances in prison in 2007. His death was attributed to a heroin overdose.
An Open Case
Jeremy Bright’s case remains open today. While there seemed to be mounting evidence pointing towards Terry Steinhoff, not to mention his refusal to discuss the case, many believe that he was responsible for the death of Jeremy. Others assume that he also later disposed of Jeremy’s body. However, this still doesn’t bring back Jeremy, nor does it comfort his family. His parents, sister, other relatives, and friends have attempted to move forth with their lives. However, nothing and no one could ever take the place of Jeremy. In 2011, they attempted to get some closure by holding a memorial service for him.
Jeremy’s Family Says Goodbye
Jeremy Bright’s family now believes that he is no longer living and walking on this Earth. However, they will continue yearning to know just what happened to Jeremy and where his remains lie—undoubtedly so they can bring him home and give him a final resting place. Meanwhile, Jeremy’s family has tried to move on. His little sister S’te is now 39 years old. She and her husband live across the street from her mother Diane. She remains close to her mom and still holds the memory of their beloved Jeremy close even though it has been over 30 years since they were able to hold him in person.
Remaining In A State of Grief
Although it has been over thirty years since Jeremy went missing, his family still grieves his loss. As Jeremy’s sister S’te puts it, “It’s tough, you know, because you’re grieving and it doesn’t ever stop.” The family still feels as though the police didn’t do enough in the immediate aftermath of the report that he was missing, however the 1980s were a more innocent time and things were different then. The police later turned over the case to the Sherriff’s Office. Sheriff Craig Zanni took over the case in the mid-90s and said the case is never far from the forefront of his mind. Zanni said, “If we have time, we start working on it. It kind of sticks in your craw.”
An Eerily Similar Case
There have been similar cases over the years. James “Jimmie” Byron Haakenson went missing from his home in St. Louis back in 1976. He was 16 years old, a similar age to Jeremy. His family knew that he reached the city of Chicago after receiving a call from him all those years ago, but he was never seen again. In July of 2017, Jimmie’s body was finally identified. It had been discovered many years previously but had been otherwise unidentifiable until now when his family came forward to provide their own DNA samples. He was found in the crawlspace of the horrifying serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s house. We can only imagine what Jimmie’s final moments were like, but finally his family knows where he his and he can finally rest in peace. Hopefully, one day Jeremy Bright’s family will be able to say the same.