Frances Blanche Hayes Groves’ (April 20, 1915 – 1954) is a missing person’s case from 1954. There is nothing online that explains the entire case let alone the police investigation. The resources that I have used are below.
UPDATE: I have been in touch with Frances’ family and some alert readers and will be adding new information over the next few days.
All new details are in italics. Because these updates filled in some gaps in the story I have rewritten some paragraphs for clarity.
Posting these old cases online really helps and I cannot thank everyone enough for their help!
After Alva accidentally shot and killed their only son Donald Dee, they separated in 1950. UPDATE: the family confirmed they assumed they divorced. They have never been able to find divorce papers.
Frances left Colorado in the company of a man called James Franklin Phye.
UPDATE: Frances never returned to the house she shared with Alva after Don’s death. She moved to another house somewhere in Pueblo, Colorado. By that time her older daughters had already left the house. They were all either with boyfriends or husbands.
Frances started working at the Pueblo Ordinance Depot. That is where she met James Phye. Phye was married with three daughters. Whether he officially divorced his wife, what happened to the wife, is unclear. Frances and James moved to Missouri. The family has never been able to find a marriage certificate in either of the states of Colorado, Missouri or California. They doubt they were ever legally married. This site claims Phye was Frances’ husband.
Frances was last seen with Phye going for a picnic. They left together but only he returned. Phye committed suicide in 1996. His complete last notes were not disclosed.
Frances appears on Alva’s Find-A-Grave (FAG) page as his wife until her disappearance. If they divorced in 1950 that should have been the date listed.
On Phye’s FAG page it says that they “moved to Philipsboro (MO), Kansas City (MO), and finally to Palm Springs (CA) where he and Frances were employed as domestic help for a wealthy family. Prior to moving to Palm Springs, Phye forced Frances to abandon children Audrey and Ilene.”
UPDATE: Audrey and Ilene were the only daughters left at home after Don’s death, so they were the ones that Frances took with her.
Did Frances really abandon Audrey and Ilene or did she return them to live with their father? How did she do that? Did she escort them back to Alva’s? Where did these two daughters go? If they traveled with James and their mother how were they educated? Did they have jobs too? Was there no room for children in the Palm Springs job?
On Hazel’s FAG page (she is Frances’ daughter) the Palm Springs family is named “Brooks.” It is also noted that Frances might have been a “homicide domestic violence victim.”
I wonder whether there are any police reports in any of the places where they lived referring to domestic violence. Did that Palm Springs family ever see any evidence of domestic violence? Did they ever call the police on their employees?
UPDATE: According to the family Frances was the cook and James was both butler and chauffeur. It would be interesting to find out how they got the Palm Springs job as a couple (as opposed to each filling a job vacancy at the same residence), and from where exactly Frances went missing. I am curious what the Palm Springs family’s impression was from James & Frances as a couple and as employees.
Frances is presumed dead. There are no distinctive body markers listed in NamUs. DNA is on file.
If you have any information about this case please contact the Palm Springs Police Department at (760) 323-8116. Frances’ case number is 1210 P 2808. She has a PSPD missing person’s page.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis. Often more information can be found online or in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are cold does not mean that we can forget about them.
If you have any thoughts about this case then I encourage you to post them on your own social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) Every time that we mention Frances’ name online we enhance her digital footprint.
We must make sure that Frances maintains her web presence if we ever wish to find answers in her case. You can help by linking to or sharing this post.
Thank you for remembering Frances Blanche Hayes Groves with us.