Randy Stewart Doran mysteriously vanished in or around April of 1978, when he was just twenty-three years old. At the time of his disappearance, he had been living nomadically and may have had both a physical and mental illness.
Born on May 19, 1955 in Los Angeles, California, Randy was known as being a very smart, unique, and talented man who loved to play the guitar and write music. He left his home in CA after an argument with is uncle, but he briefly stayed in contact with his aunt, Sandy. His last known whereabouts is New Orleans, Louisiana in April of 1978, which is when he sent his very last postcard to his aunt.
Randy’s physical description is as follows: He is Caucasian with brown hair and blue eyes. His hair is mostly straight with big waves and may contain some natural reddish and/or light brown/dirty blonde highlights. He is about average weight but of a strong, muscular build. His exact height is unknown, but he is on the taller side. His family believes he may be anywhere from 5’10” to 6’4″. He has a scar on his upper lip. He did not have any tattoos at the time of his disappearance.
Randy and his family remained in CA until he was about 9 years old. The family moved to Las Vegas, NV in 1964, where Randy later attended Ed W Clark High School. Randy may not have completed his last year of high school at Ed W Clark. After leaving high school, he may have briefly lived in a “boys’ home” in Texas. After leaving the boys’ home, he joined the Marines, where he eventually received an honorable discharge due to a health condition (possibly having an extra vertebrae). In the year 1976, at the approximate age of 21, he and his family had moved back to California, in the San Fernando Valley area. Randy got a job working at Mike’s Pizza in town. Randy thought that he may have had testicular cancer after discovering a lump. He waited about a week for medical results. When the results came back negative, he then became very religious and praised God for his health. (He preached heavily to his friends, wrote about religion, gave his coat to a stranger, and more.) According to his mother, Gloria, these acts were out of character for Randy at the time. The dispute between Randy and his uncle most likely took place in March of 1978. When Randy left CA, he made the comment, “I won’t come back till’ I make it.” After the dispute and leaving the family, he hitchhiked to Florida and stopped at his grandmother’s house. I estimate he made it to Florida around March 15, 1978. From there, he went to New Orleans, LA. Randy did not keep in contact with his immediate family after heading to New Orleans. He did, however, phone his aunt, Sondra “Sandy” Hobberchalk (now deceased), to inform her that he was working on a boat in New Orleans, LA. Before getting off the phone, he told her he was having dizzy spells. He later sent a postcard to Sandy from New Orleans. It is presumed that the postcard was mailed in 1978, as Randy’s mother thinks he left CA in the beginning of March of 1978.
Now, let’s talk about this postcard. You may be wondering, “Why is this postcard so significant?” Well, the receipt of this postcard was the very last time anyone in the immediate or extended family had heard from him. His mother, Gloria, who is now 87, has been desperately trying to find Randy, and she has held onto this postcard that she had obtained from her sister, Sandy.
The inked date on the postmark is worn; however, it was likely mailed in the year 1978, as the stamp read “13c” (13 cents). Stamps were only 13 cents between 1976 and May of 1978. The post-date seems to read 18 Apr 1976 or 1978. Randy’s mother stated that Randy attended his grandfather’s funeral in 1977, so that the postcard had to be from 1978. The fourth digit of the year on the stamp is semi-legible, with the bottom half being rounded. So that excludes the number 7, which means the postcard was sent in 1978. As years passed, Gloria had thought he disappeared in 1976 or 1977, but then she checked her notes and other documents and pieced together that he must have vanished in April of 1978. Also, the stamp on the postcard is a “Scott # 1625”. It was first sold in 1975, but that doesn’t mean it was not sold a few years later.
I will keep the date loose for now, just in case it is inaccurate, but more than likely it seems that Randy was last seen in April of 1978.
It was rumored that Randy was working on the same boat at which he sent the postcard, the Steamboat SS President of New Orleans. The postcard read:
“Dear Family, I’m doing fine working, eatin’, sleepin’ good. It’s alright here. Made a couple friends. Still miss you all, especially Kevin, Grandma, Scotty, James, Mom, Sandy, Steve, and Grandma Rose. Love, Randy.”Sent April 18, 1978 from New Orleans, LA
The trail went cold after that postcard was mailed. None of his family or friends ever heard from Randy again. It is unclear if Randy worked for the SS President Steamboat, or if he just visited there to get the postcard. Could it have been a random postcard at a convenience store, or was this postcard only sold exclusively on the SS President Steamboat at the time? Randy’s sister had tried calling the SS President boat company in the late 1970’s to see if he was employed there, with no luck. She went down the rabbit hole of searching for answers, but she could not find any pertaining records.
I researched the boat, and apparently it changed owners several times and was eventually disassembled then reassembled. The owners from 1978 are still involved in boating. I did reach out to the old owners, but I am awaiting a reply.
I have to wonder, who are the “friends” Randy refers to in the postcard? If Randy in fact made friends, hopefully one of them may remember him and come across this article one day.
Another postcard was sent to Randy’s aunt in 1982, but it was not from Randy. It was from someone whose name is only semi-legible on the postcard. It looked to read “Candie Lewis” or “Caudill Lewis” or “Candie + Lewis” or “Candie Louis” or “Candie Levi”, or something along that name spectrum. I’ve looked up many variations of the spelling and have not been able to tie a potential name of whoever sent the postcard to Randy or his aunt. Although, there is a Caudill Lewis who resided in Vacherie, LA whom I have made contact. Sandy also shows up in people finders as being associated with people of the last name Lewis. However, Lewis is a popular surname. This postcard, too, was sent from the same county as New Orleans, in a town called Vacherie, which is just outside of New Orleans. At the time, Randy’s mother called the Vacherie Sheriff Department and spoke to a lady named Joanne, to see about getting more information. This, too, was another dead end.
Through researching Randy’s paper trail, I found that he had lived at 348 S Jones Blvd, Las Vegas, NV at some point, likely in the 1970’s. Randy’s sister believes that address may have belonged to his old roommate, who may have been a Marine Sargent. I did get a list of past residents of the house, and one past owner’s name sounded familiar to Randy’s sister; however, he may not have had good intentions at heart for Randy while they were living together. His name is (or was) Richard Chambers. If alive today, he would be 92 years old. I’m in the process of trying to reach his family. When I Googled the home address and looked at the street view, 348 does not seem to exist. I believe that 348 was likely the other half of the house that may have been rented out, from house # 350. There is no “missing physical gap” between neighboring homes to suggest that 348 was demolished. The parcel number to house # 350 is 138–36-210-012. I was able to get a list of past owners to this property at maps.clarkcounty.nv.gov.
I also checked obituaries, death certificates, public records, phone listings, property and tax records, voting records, Google and other search engines, many people-finder websites, social media/networking accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Ebay, Linkedin, and so forth, but no trace of Randy has been found since the late 1970’s. I searched newspaper articles and have not found any mention of him since 1977.
I also circulated Randy’s story to his old classmates from Ed W Clark High School of Las Vegas, NV, who I found from this Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/147101332041927. I’m also receiving help from a very nice lady who is an Ed W Clark alumni who agreed to share his post into the alumni group(s) and to circulate his story to people who may know him.
Randy’s family and I tried to trace his social security number, but we did not obtain any clues.
Every Randy Doran that is searchable on Facebook has been checked many times; they are not the Randy Stewart Doran that we are looking for.
Randy was a rather social person who was also hard-working. He was also a transient / nomad who would engage in hitchhiking and extensive traveling. It would be unlikely that after all these years his name would not show up in any records if he were alive and living on the grid. The last paper trail known is from 1978 (the postcard, that is). If Randy is alive or was alive after 1978, he may have moved to Mexico or Canada. Or, he could even be a deceased unidentified or unclaimed person. He may even be a transient or homeless. He may have amnesia, a mental issue, or general memory loss. (Randy’s mother alluded to Randy possibly showing clear signs of schizophrenia before he vanished.) Also, there is a chance that he may have even changed his name, especially if he wanted to start anew. There are many other Randy Doran’s in the USA, some of which are of a similar age; however, none share his exact date of birth or use his middle name (Stewart).
Recently, I contacted the detective handling a unidentified person case known as “Gulpfort John Doe”. His body is buried in a potter’s field, but DNA cannot be taken from his body because the body cannot be located within the cemetery. However, there were fingerprints on Gulpfort John Doe. They were compared against Randy’s fingerprints, and there was no match.
I have a list of over 100 other John Doe’s that could be Randy. You may be wondering why there are so many. Many of these unidentified remains were so decomposed when found that height, weight, and hair/eye color could not be established.
Randy was a troubled teen who was often involved in fights. He was said to be a math whiz and all-around creative.
Randy’s best friends are now all deceased. Four of their names include Dudes Young, Donnie Shahan, Ron Shahan, and Mike Matthews.
Randy did not have contact with his father or any family members from his father’s side. His biological father passed away recently, in August of 2020. I spoke to Randy’s biological father’s friend who stated he never heard Randy’s father mention him.
Randy’s case is insufficiently publicized on the web. This is changing as of this week. I’ve made many Facebook posts to groups and have been doing a lot of social networking about his case. I created his Facebook page and posted about his case to Twitter, Reddit, and more. Please help share this story to create awareness. I added Randy’s case on NAMUS, at https://www.namus.gov/MissingPersons/Case#/76852. His case # is MP76852. It was approved and revised by a detective. The case owner is listed as Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, and the case contact person is Paige Kneeland. She can be reached at 916-684-7318 if you have any tips. The agency case # is 21-010093.
Prior to Randy being in Namus, I publicized this case because he was [in theory] an “unreported missing person” at the time. Now detectives have taken on his case. Randy’s mother did in fact report him missing in the late 1970’s, but his case may have “slipped through the cracks,” as I like to call it, as many adult missing people cases do. (Sometimes that is due to the switching of governmental databases, data entry error in NAMUS or other systems, data entry error on police report, lost report, among other reasons.) If he was filed missing in 1978, he is a highly underrepresented case as of today,
and has no “active” report. (July, 2021 update: Randy’s family filed a new report.) Also, some missing person reports just are not treated with the same fairness as others or taken seriously, especially when an adult leaves on his own accord. What makes this case unique, though, is that while Randy did in fact leave on his own accord, there has been no paper trail of him since the late 1970’s. After we share this story to more Facebook groups, Instagram, blogs, news stations, more social media groups, and so forth, his case will no longer be underrepresented (at least that is the goal). That way, if he has amnesia or is an unclaimed deceased person, the police may be able to find this news article or any post on him on missing person pages and draw links. As of today, he is not listed on the Charley Project either. They are very good at picking up and sharing cases. (July, 2021 update: Randy’s case was picked up by the Charley Project and LA Faces after publishing this article!)
Randy’s mother published a story about Randy’s disappearance to the magazine, Women’s World in the 1970’s. She also wrote to the passport office in New Orleans to see if Randy had filed for a passport. There were still little-to-no clues in his disappearance. However, with the rise in social technology, easier and faster means of networking, the Internet, and having multiple pairs of eyes, I’m hoping more clues will come forth.
Randy’s mother also called around hospitals after his disappearance, but she could not find him there.
Randy’s family is in the process of submitting a DNA sample to CODIS and possibly Gedmatch.
Randy has a profile on the Faces lab of Louisiana at http://faces-share.lsu.edu/profile.php?id=1016&p=1. However, the site has marked his eye color as hazel, when the family states it is blue. They also have his middle initial wrong as “A”. His middle initial is “S”.
I created a Facebook page for Randy’s disappearance, at http://www.facebook.com/FindRandyDoran. The hashtag #FindRandyDoran has been used in his search on social media.
Message to Randy: Randy, if you are reading this, your mother is 87 years old and is desperate to find you. Your sister is also looking for you and would love to reunite. I’ve been in in contact with your sister, and this is how I’ve obtained this info.
Updated paragraph: After circulating this article, I was contacted by The Unfound podcast, as the host, Edward talked about Randy’s case, in effort to spread the word and search for clues from the public. I was a guest on his podcast, and I am hoping it will bring forth more publicity and clues.
Updated segment below written 10/31/21: (I also posted this to the page I made for Randy Stewart Doran, a missing person.) So, I was thinking what anyone thinks, especially the family of Randy Stewart Doran, about a possible search team for the New Orleans area. Most of his family resides far away. I also do not live local and can’t travel that far, but I would love to try to organize something from afar. I have a few thoughts on this, and I’m looking for input from others. If you see this post, please comment and chime in!
1- Where exactly could be searched? The grounds of New Orleans is vast. There are also 3 large bodies of water. I put a photo of a map below to show these bodies of water. Notice how they are mostly closed in. I will contact #AdventuresWithPurpose. They are a great organization that physically goes out looking for people in bodies of water, woods, and so forth. I don’t know if they would take this case. They probably have a huge backlog of cases right now. It can’t hurt to ask. There’s no evidence Randy fell in the water, BUT he was employed in the area and sent a postcard that had a photo of a steamboat. For more info on that boat, please visit his article at http://www.undergroundmysteries.com/randystewartdoran.
2- Another thought is that even if Randy is not found in the water, what happens during these searches is that other missing people are usually found in the process. I’ve often wondered, should all the lands be searched for missing people?! I know, the USA doesn’t have the budget for that. We rely on volunteers to do physical searching.
3- If you live in the New Orleans or Vacherie area and are willing to help search, please send a private message to this page. It’s just preliminary right now. Obviously safety comes first. So the volunteer search would not be in the water; that would be for people willing to search the lands or to even ask around town and hang out flyers. The water search would have to be done by those with boating experience and to go in a group for safety measures.
Also, please do not ever go in the woods alone. So many people vanish from getting lost or injured in the woods, to be discovered years later. By now if he was in the woods he would be covered with debris. There are ways around this. There is a technology called ground penetrating technology that can scan the dirt.
As for searching the bodies of water, there is also sonar technology for that.
4- Hanging flyers. If there’s anyone willing to do this in the N.O. area, that would help tremendously! It’s a safe way to help.
#missing #missingperson #disappeared #withoutatrace #HaveYouSeenMe #FindRandyStewartDoran #FindRandyDoran
If you have any info on his disappearance, please contact:
Paige Kneeland, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept: 916-694-7318.
Thank you for checking out the article.
As for the tagging I used below, some may not seem to “fit” with the details. That is because when Law Enforcement searches tags, they may not have the details to the missing person precisely. For instance, they may search for close-but-not-exact terms. My tagging system is ambiguous but also contains not only exact facts and details but also synonyms, and other ways of searching. It is done like like that on purpose, to give detectives a broader search field. For instance, if an unidentified person is found in 1979 but was expected to be a year or two old, detectives may search “missing since 1978” or “missing since 1977” or other years (+/-). So I make sure to include surrounding years. I also include other words that may be searched– not only the exact word but related words. If an unidentified John Doe is found and is suspected to have worked on a boat, I will tag various boat labels, such as steamboat (like the one he may have worked on), yacht, boat, etc.
-Reddit ID: FindRandyDoran
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