Fourteen-year-old Dean was last seen on February 5, 1981 at Forrest Hills Central Middle School in the 5800 block of Ada Drive southeast in Grand Rapids, Michigan at 5:00 p.m.
Dean was at her 6-year-old brother's wrestling practice with her mom when she said that she was going to the women's restroom & would be back shortly; however, she never returned and has not been heard from since.
Dean apparently never arrived at the restroom and nobody saw her anywhere near there. She was last seen walking out the door of the gymnasium.
Accounts differ as to whether Dean was going to a friend's home or she merely wanted to smoke a cigarette. She left her wallet, purse, makeup, jewelry, clothing and several hundred dollars behind at home.
The school's custodian, Arthur Diaz was considered a possible suspect in Dean's disappearance for many years. Diaz stated that he was cleaning a school office the night of Dean's disappearance and never saw her.
Authorities checked the school incinerator on the theory that someone might have attempted to burn Dean's body, but found no evidence. Diaz is no longer a suspect in Dean's disappearance.
Another suspect in Dean's disappearance is a local man named Bruce Bunch, who was 17 years old and a high school junior in 1981.
Over 20 years after Dean disappeared, a female acquaintance of Bunch told police that he told her a story about running over a girl at a school. Bunch allegedly said that he either ran or backed over the girl, took her body to Snow Avenue and buried it under a pile of rocks. However, this story has not been confirmed.
Bunch's first wife stated he was violent and abusive towards her and, after drinking heavily, would sometimes black out and have no memory of what he did. She stated that Bunch once pushed her out of a moving vehicle and broke her ankle, and on another occasion, he threatened to run her off the road.
Bunch died of a heart attack in 2008. He was never charged or questioned in Dean's case. In 2011, authorities announced they believe Bunch was responsible for Dean's death.
Two days before Dean went missing, she had a physical altercation at school with two other girls. They were fighting over a boy, and the two girls allegedly threatened Dean and told her to stay away from the boy. It's unclear whether or not the incident had anything to do with her later disappearance.
Dean was not having any serious problems with her family when she disappeared. At the time, she was a good student and does not have a prior history of running away from home.
Several possible suspects were questioned after Dean's disappearance, but no one has ever been charged.
At the time of her disappearance, Dean was in the 8th grade and aspired towards a career as a model. She is originally from California, and her biological father lived there in 1981. Her nickname is Deanie & she smokes cigarettes.
Dean's mother and stepfather (with whom she lived with) moved to Arizona after her disappearance. Her stepfather has been ruled out as a suspect in her case.
Dean was declared legally dead in 1991. In 2008, authorities reopened the investigation into her disappearance and appealed for anyone who was at the school that day to contact them.
As of 2019, Dean's case remains unsolved.
Dean is described as a Caucasian female with brown hair, brown eyes, is between 5'2 and 5'3 and weighs 110 pounds. She has pierced ears and has a birthmark on her lower back.
She was last seen wearing a brown ski jacket, a pink sweater, 27 to 32-inch Levi's blue jeans, white bikini panties, a size 34C Bali bra, a cream-colored scarf with the word "ski" written on it in dark brown letters & white knee socks.