Five decades on, what happened to Mitchel Weiser and Bonnie Bickwit, two teenagers on their way to a massive rock concert, remains a mystery. In the ’70s, before there was the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or the Amber Alert system, or the citizen work of internet sleuths in our digital and social media era, the loved ones of missing persons only had law enforcement to rely on. And in 1973, when Mitchel and Bonnie vanished, the Sullivan County officials who handled the case failed at every turn. Greenberg pens a gripping piece recounting the teens’ disappearance and the unsuccessful efforts over the decades to find out what happened to them.

But in 1973, Mitchel’s and Bonnie’s families had nowhere to turn. With no help from police and no private groups to support them, the families soon ran out of money and resources. Bonnie’s mother, Raye, anguished and exasperated, sought help from psychics. (One told her she “saw” the teens lying in a gravel pit.)

The hunt for Mitchel and Bonnie soon faded, as heartbroken friends and family tried to move on with their lives. Inevitably, the story faded from the public and the press.

In 1984, Mitchel’s parents moved to Arizona due to his father’s asthma. But they continued to pay $2.39 every month to New York’s telephone company to keep their name and Arizona telephone number in the Brooklyn phone directory — for when their son would return. 

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.