Search for missing woman's remains turn up empty in Illinois

Pamela Ray disappeared from a Panama City Beach hotel in 1992. (WJHG/WECP)
Pamela Ray disappeared from a Panama City Beach hotel in 1992. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Jul. 17, 2019 at 3:51 PM CDT
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Investigators in Illinois are searching for any remains of a woman who went missing from Panama City Beach in 1992.

According to the Associated Press, officers searched land in central Illinois for the remains of Pamela Ray.

Ray, 36, was from Georgia and traveled to Panama City Beach in August 1992. Police say the last time Ray was seen was when she stopped at the Wilhite Motel on Front Beach Road to check in. Motel staff found her children in the car.

Investigators with the Macon County Sheriff's Office say no remains were found Tuesday in the Warrensburg, Illinois, land. Sergeant Roger Pope with the sheriff's office did not tell the Associated Press what brought the investigators to the county.

"the search may not have turned up any bones at this time because i feel like probably stuff had been moved," said Pamela Ray's Sister Rhonda Bishop.

The cold case has remained open for 27 years. The department conducted the search after a request from Bishop, who's still trying to find out what happened to Pamela.

"the search is far from over. Believe me when I tell you I don't intend on stopping," said Bishop.

Ray went missing in 1992 while she was on vacation with her family in Panama City Beach. She was last seen at the Wilhite Motel on Front Beach Road.

Motel staff found her children in the car but Ray was gone without a trace. Bishop believes she knows what happened. She believes Ray was a victim of Mark Riebe, whose serving life in prison for another murder.

"Him and his wife were partying at Club La Vela. They ran out of money. They went down to front beach road to rob somebody. That victim happened to be my sister," said Bishop.

Authorities believe Riebe abducted and murdered several young women along the gulf coast during the 90s. Bishop believes Riebe moved her sister's body to his sister-in-law's farm in Illinois after law enforcement began looking for him.

"I have reason to believe my sister was there at one time. When things got so hot and he was going to Illinois, he got here up and took here to Illinois."

According to multiple news outlets, Riebe confessed to the murder of Pamela Ray but later retracted his statements.

"Everything we uncovered fits together like a puzzle. We're just missing that last little piece so we can bring Pam home," said Bishop.

Panama city beach police say they're still investigating the 27-year-old cold case.If you have any information, you're asked to contact them.

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