Hitchhiker matching description of missing ND woman gave one family hope
Investigators obtained footage of the woman believed to be Brenda Murdock, but the images weren’t clear enough to provide a definitive answer.
Editor's note: This article is No. 4 in a series as The Vault reports on missing persons in North Dakota, whose cases are logged in a new database from the North Dakota Office of the Attorney General.
When two women pulled over on a cold South Dakota February evening in 2016 to give a lift to a female hitchhiker, they didn’t expect to wind up in the middle of a missing persons case.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened.
The female hitchhiker was looking for a ride back to North Dakota, but settled for a lift from one side of Rapid City to the other.
As they dropped her off, they noticed there was something not quite right about the situation. And then, they came across the missing persons poster of Brenda Murdock, who had gone missing less than a year prior from Williston, North Dakota.
The wheels started turning.
The report was called in to the Williston Police Department. Investigators obtained footage of the woman believed to be Murdock, but the images weren’t clear enough to provide a definitive answer.
“The information received of Brenda being a possible hitchhiker in South Dakota in 2016 was followed up on and the video and photos were reviewed," Williston Police Department Detective Amber Koehn told Forum News Service in a statement. "It could not be determined if the female in the photos was Brenda Murdock."
The potential sighting was a dead end — and the last credible lead received by the Williston Police Department.
Leads continue to come in, and are followed up on as the case remains open, Koehn said. She did not elaborate on the nature of the leads.
The case of Brenda Murdock
Murdock was reported missing in November of 2015, but had last been seen in July of that year. She was known to wander from time to time, but not without checking in with her mother.
When Murdock’s mother noticed her daughter had seemingly left the area without reaching out, she knew something was wrong. She called the Williston Police Department to report her disappearance.
Murdock was 48 years old when she vanished. She stood 5 feet, 5 inches tall with blonde hair and brown eyes. At the time, she weighed roughly 160 pounds, according to the Williston Police Department.
She had held various jobs throughout town, including at a local grocery store, a gas station and a hotel.
She had connections to Colorado, where her twin sister lives. Yet, there's been no sign she's attempted to contact family in the area.
Her sister, Brandi Romero, told the Williston Herald in a 2016 interview that Murdock’s disappearance was strange. She always kept in contact with family.
“My mom is worried, she would usually keep in contact with my mom,” Romero said. “I just hope we find her soon.”
Any information on the disappearance or whereabouts of Murdock can be forwarded to the Williston Police Department. Detective Koehn can be reached at 701-577-1212.