Underground Mysteries — July 2, 2023
Veteran Russell Allen Meachum, Sr., was 60 years old when he went missing in 1984 in Yuma, Arizona.
Meachum left his residence in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona sometime in the autumn of 1984. He had begun to live transiently. On October 1, 1984, Meachum spoke with his daughter on the phone and told her that he was exhausted, indigent, and homeless in Yuma, Arizona. She asked him if he wanted to come stay with her in California. Unfortunately, Meachum never made it to his daughter’s residence. It is uncertain if he left Arizona.
I did some digging into this case in order to recreate Meachum’s timeline. Meachum’s case was not entered into the governmental database for missing people (NamUs) until 2023, and at the time that I am writing this article, there are not any public awareness posts, newspaper articles, or archives on this case. Information on this case was very scarce, and I pieced his life together through old documents, family trees, genealogical methods, and public records. Although Meachum was reported missing back in 1984, the case had gone socially stale. It is likely that even if a report were filed at that time, the case itself may have gone missing through system changeovers (going from paper to digital archival methods) or through the natural process, like many—if not most—of the older missing person cases. Let’s take advantage of modern technology to shed light on this highly underrepresented cold case to give it the media attention it deserves!
Born on May 26, 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Ralph Fred Meachum, Sr., and Ruth A. Seaman, Meachum was raised with several siblings in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he attended Lewisburg High School and was in the graduating class of 1941. In June of 1942, he lived with his parents in Lewisburg on Market Street and was employed by Glenn L. Martin in Middle River. That same year, he was drafted in the Marines, where he would become a Seargent and a cook. He was discharged in November 1945. About one month later, he married Jean Pauline Neuer, a twin, whom he met in high school. Meachum and his wife had several children together. In 1947, Meachum and his family resided in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. In 1950, they moved to South 14th Street in Linntown, Pennsylvania, as Meachum worked as a mechanic. Meachum and his wife tragically lost their newborn baby in May of 1951. Several years later, Meachum and his family moved across the country to Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to Meachum’s disappearance, he was living at the 4000th block of Tonto Street in Phoenix, Arizona.
Meachum can be described as a Caucasian male with black hair and hazel eyes who stood at 5’10” to 6’0″ and weighed about 175 pounds when he was last seen.
If alive today, Meachum would be 99 years old. His family had arranged for a headstone with his name engraved on its surface to be placed in a cemetery alongside his wife’s burial plot. On the headstone, his death is marked as 1984, as he may be presumed deceased.
If you have any information that could help lead authorities to Meachum’s whereabouts, please contact the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151.
U.S. Census for 1920, 1930, 1940, and 1950.
Newspaper: The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida, page 5; November 21, 1970.
Newspaper: Redwood City Tribune from Redwood City, California, Page 7; September 26, 1970.
Newspaper: The Daily Item From Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Page 7; December 27, 1949.
Newspaper: Lewisburg Journal From Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Page 1; February 15, 1945.
Newspaper: Lewisburg Journal From Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Page 1; August 10, 1944.
Newspaper: Lewisburg Journal From Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; Page 3; June 17, 1943.
Newspaper: The Daily Item From Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Page 5; December 12, 1945.
Newspaper: The Daily Item From Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Page 3; April 2, 1948
Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1969. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 669
Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Methodist Church Records. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Eastern Pennsylvania United Methodist Church Commission on Archives and History.
Draft Registration Cards for Pennsylvania, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947. 2,818 boxes. NAID: 5324575. Records of the Selective Service System, 1926–1975, Record Group 147. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri.
Howell Tetor Family Tree
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Marriage Index, 1885-1951.
Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court.
Maricopa County Public Records
Jean’s obituary online
Maricopa County Tax Accessor’s Office: https://maps.mcassessor.maricopa.gov/?esearch=50515023&slayer=0&exprnum=0
Maricopa County Parcel Search: https://treasurer.maricopa.gov/Parcel/ParcelSearch.aspx
Maricopa County Supreme Court: https://apps.supremecourt.az.gov/publicaccess/(X(1)S(0yig4xfe0onhnyyxwz4ogwqz))/caselookup.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
AZ Court Docs: https://azcourtdocs.gov/arizona/
True People Search
Fast People Search
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