The Doe Network:
Case File 2557DFOK
Joan Gay Croft
Missing since April 9, 1947 from Woodward, Oklahoma
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age at Time of Disappearance: 4 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Blonde hair; blue eyes.
Circumstances of Disappearance
On April 9, 1947 a giant tornado ripped through the town of Woodward. It traveled on the ground for 221 miles at a speed of 46 miles per hour, smashing, without warning, everything in its path. It has been described as one of the 10 most destructive tornadoes of all time, killing 185 people and injuring 720.
Joan Gay's mother was killed by the giant storm, and her father, H.O. Croft, was critically injured. He was transferred to an Oklahoma City hospital. Joan Gay, with a splinter through her leg, and her sister, were found to have less life-threatening injuries than others seeking care, and were ushered to the hospital basement to wait as more critical injuries were treated.
Her sister, four years older, reported that two men dressed in khaki work clothes came into the basement and carried Joan Gay away.
Apparently due to the turmoil of the night, no one paid any attention to the little girl's protests. For a time it was thought perhaps the child was taken elsewhere for medical treatment. But as days passed following the disaster and damage was assessed and residents accounted for, Joan Gay did not surface on hospital lists or with any family members.
The incident received nationwide attention, but Joan Gay never was found.
The Daily Oklahoman