Local News

Police Mystified by Student's Disappearance

Posted June 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Police and residents of Pembroke are working hard at trying to solve a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a 24-year-old UNC-Pembroke student.

Last week Cindy Wheeler failed to come home from visiting friends on campus, and the unfolding tale of her disappearance has gotten stranger by the day.

Police say they are no closer to finding her than they were this past weekend. Saturday, deputies were told of a car that had been found in a remote section of the county. The car turned out to be Wheeler's, but investigators got few clues from the car. They had no better luck with an air search Monday, so they're hoping the last people who saw her will inspire someone to come forward.

Patricia Hammonds was the last person to see Wheeler on campus. She said Wheeler left and told her she was coming right back.

Wheeler's roommate and longtime friend Stephanie Steel says she knew something was wrong from the start.

Wheeler is a criminal justice major at UNC Pembroke. Friends say the junior is a very happy and content person who makes friends with everyone. That in itself has brought fear to the people on campus.

That fear became greater Saturday when deputies discovered what was left of Wheeler's car. When it was found off of a small dirt road, it was riddled with bullet holes and badly burned.

Hammonds says many of Wheeler's friends are just hoping it's not too late.

Friends say Wheeler didn't have any recent arguments with friends or family. In fact, they say, she was very excited about a newborn niece. The Robeson County Sheriff's Department searched the area where the car was found Tuesday, but at this point all they'll say is that they suspect foul play.