35-year missing child mystery solved in Utah

Friday , August 01, 2014 - 1:21 PM

By CIMARON NEUGEBAUER Standard-Examiner staff

CLEARFIELD — A Michigan mother will soon be reunited with her lost son within the next month after 35 years of mystery, and she has a number of Utahns to thank for the reunion.

“I’m so grateful to the ladies in Utah,” Mary Hagadus told the Standard-Examiner Thursday evening. “I’m glad that they came forward and let us know where our son was to help us get that closure.”

The reunion isn’t what she originally envisioned — she hoped she would find her son alive. However, now that she knows where her son is, she just wants him home.

In August, Clearfield city plans to exhume the remains of a man buried as Lee Michael Beeler, but that’s not his real name.

Great detective work uncovered the person buried was actually Clyde Lee Jourdan, a Michigan runaway, who had been taken in by a Clearfield sex offender who had the teen’s name changed. Jourdan died in the fall of 1982 in an automobile mechanic accident.

Hagadus faces breast cancer for the second time and hopes to be reunited with her son’s cremated remains in a tentative memorial Aug. 30. Currently she is undergoing chemotherapy and soon will begin a six-week radiation treatment.

Uncovering the bizarre mystery all started in 2003, when Kathy Jones of Ogden discovered something. Jones was the stepsister to Jourdan. She said after her mother died she found some old letters in the home she was cleaning out that indicated Lee Michael Beeler was actually Clyde Lee Jourdan.

They took the case to Ogden police in 2003 but had no luck finding his real family. Hagadus said Jourdan was not listed as a missing person by police in Michigan because officers told her he was a frequent runaway and soon he would be 18 and could go where he pleased. So when police leads dried up, social media helped jump-start the case again in 2013. Through Facebook and other online tools, Jones located Jourdan’s family in Michigan. After the connection was made, a Clearfield police detective fit all the missing pieces together.

Hagadus said she is ever grateful for Jones and Jourdan’s other stepsister Amanda Cluff of Washington Terrace.

“Without them I would never have known what happened to my son,” Hagadus said. “I will always be very very, grateful to them.”

Since her son ran away in 1979, she never knew where her son was.

As a single mother of five who lived in poverty all her life, Hagadus has had a number of battles in her life including cancer, but not knowing where her runaway son had been was the hardest she told the Standard-Examiner.

“It is a horrible thing to outlive your child,” she said in a phone interview encouraging other parents of missing children to never give up hope. “Always keep hoping and trying and praying you get your child back.”

Now the final steps are in motion to have Jourdan’s remains exhumed.

Clearfield city attorney Brian Brower confirmed a probate court judge has given the verbal OK to exhume the remains of Jourdan, who has been buried in the Clearfield cemetery since the early ‘80s.

“After a hearing on the matter, in front of Judge David Connors, the court indicated its willingness to authorize its exhumation of the remains and their return to the mother in Michigan,” said Brower.

Typically there is a fee associated with exhuming a body, but city staff will be recommending those fees be waived.

Brower said they are doing this “due to the unique circumstances surrounding the case” and to help this mother the best they can.

There is still a permitting process required by the state and the county in order to dig up the remains, but all those things or in the works. A final order will soon be signed by the judge, Brower said.

“We are optimistic we should be able to get it done in the month of August.”

Hagadus said she won’t truly feel closure until her son’s remains are in her hands.

“I’m praying that this is going to happen because I do want my son’s remains brought home. He needs to be around family.”

Contact reporter Cimaron Neugebauer 801-625-4231 or cimaron@standard.net Follow him on Twitter at @CimaronNews.

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