Missing: Paige Marie Renkoski
Disappearance of Paige Renkoski
Paige Marie Renkoski was described as a caring, fun, loving young lady. She was the type to do “just because” gestures for the ones she loved. She liked leaving people random notes to express her love for them. She was always finding a way to make someone else’s day better. Paige was a model, singer, and a cheerleader in her young life. She was a hard working lady and loved to educate others. Before going to college for early childhood development, she enjoyed babysitting. Paige was last seen on May 24,1990, at the age of 30. She was five feet and six inches tall, and weighed 125 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Paige has a long surgical scar on the inside of her right arm and a surgical scar on her right leg from knee replacement. She also has two surgical screws in her left knee. She was from Okemos, Michigan, a suburb of Lansing. She was engaged to a man named Steve Debrabander. Paige utilized her degree in Early Childhood Development, working as a substitute teacher. On the morning of May 24, 1990, Paige got dressed in a white silk blouse, baggy silk pants with a multicolored flower pattern, and a long beaded necklace. That day, she volunteered to drive her mother Ardis to Detroit Metro Airport, so that Ardis could visit two of her four daughters in Atlanta, Georgia over the holiday weekend. After dropping her mother off she went to visit a friend in Canton, then was headed to her fiance’s softball game.
Around 11:30am, Paige drove Ardis to the airport, which is about an hour and a half from her home in Lansing. Paige met a female friend in Canton to have lunch in a park. After the catch- up lunch with her friend she stopped at a party store before getting back on the road. There, she stopped for a beer, between 2:30 and 2:45pm, then she headed to her fiance's softball game. That should have been a 30-minute drive. Later, when Paige’s story was in the news, the store clerk remembered her, which was a big help to the investigators. The silver 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais that Paige had been driving was her mother’s work car, so it was actually property of General Motors. Paige was driving north on 275, headed to Steve’s softball game, then to hang out with friends afterwards. She stopped at a rest stop, where a woman witnessed her talking to a man, and later went to the police with that bit of information when Paige was reported missing.
Before Paige was reported missing, the car was tagged as abandoned by an officer, it was still running, with the headlights on, with her shoe and purse still inside. Paige never showed up to the game, nor was she at the celebratory dinner after the game. Steve had called around, but none of the loved ones had seen or heard from her. After not being able to find Paige by calling around, he went to her mother’s house and let himself in. There was no sign that Page was there, or had even been there. He noticed the voicemail light was blinking and he listened to the message expecting it to be Paige. It wasn’t Paige leaving a message and the message was not what Steve was expecting. It was a voicemail from Livingston county sheriff reporting that Ardis’s 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, had been reported abandoned on the side of the road. Steve rushed to the police station to let them know that the car was what his missing fiancé had been driving. A search party was instantly sent out to look for Paige Renkoski. Because Steve was a person in Paige’s life and was the first to notice her missing, he was questioned by police. He was checked out by investigators several times, but cleared each time. Calls began to come in after the story hit the news. People reported seeing her car that Saturday. They saw her at the party store, the rest stop, as well as driving, all places she had been leading up to where her car had been left on the side of the freeway.
During the search, nine tracking dogs were taken to the area where her car was found, as well as to a 900 acre wooded area nearby. Helicopters were also used to help to search from above. No trace of Paige was found. Twenty- five missing persons billboards were put up along the freeway in hopes that it would bring some information in. Over 60 tips came in within the first week, mostly just sightings of Paige the day she went missing. A tip that stood out the most was one about a maroon colored minivan, no one actually knew the make or model of the minivan. Paige was seen talking to a dark-skinned man standing on the shoulder of the interstate. One witness was an officer driving in the other direction, he saw the man showing Paige a badge. Another witness saw the man walking Paige by her elbow from her car. There were many witnesses who saw the same thing, but they were just driving by and thought nothing of the situation.
There was an exit near the spot the car had been left. So the theory that she had seen someone she knew and pulled over to speak to them was very unlikely because in that case, a person would get off the freeway and go to the parking lot of some sort to talk. There was another theory that page was leaving her life and starting over some place else. If that was the case, why did she drive further to the middle of the state towards home, versus leaving while she was at the airport? Canton, Michigan, where she met up with a friend, is only about two and a half hours from Ohio and about four hours from Indiana. If she was really leaving, why did she leave her shoes and her purse? All she bought from the party store was a beer, and there was no money taken from her accounts. An amount was never reported, but it was reported that Paige had deposited a large lump sum of money into her bank account shortly before her leaving. So her leaving didn’t make too much sense.
A letter was delivered to the investigators working on Paige’s case, but no one really has a real story on how the letter got there. Inside the envelope was a detailed map pointing out where Paige’s body was buried, it was an area off of Sober Road and Conway Township, about 10 mile north of where her car was. After searching, no clues or a body was found. No one outside of investigators knew about the letter, not even her family until years later.
In the span of two years, during the time that Paige went missing, eight other women in the metro Detroit area went missing as well. Four of those eight cases were solved and 40 year old Leslie Allen Williams was arrested. He was considered a suspect of Paige’s disappearance as well, but he was in prison at that time. A man who is still unidentified, was Leslie’s cellmate. He was serving three life sentences for three abductions and sexual assaults. He too, was considered a suspect, but there was no evidence. There was another inmate, who was also never publicly named, who the police looked into. He was involved in a carjacking of a woman shortly after Paige disappeared. He was questioned a few times and passed a polygraph. There were plenty of people who investigators looked into, but because most of those men were white, and witnesses claimed to have seen a darker skinned man at her car, they were ruled out quickly.
There were a few different occasions where Paige was opened back up for searching, but each search led to nothing. In 2017, Paige’s mother Ardis passed away at the age of 84. She did a lot, not just in the search for her daughter, but many others who went missing. Ardis became an advocate for other victims’ families and a liaison to law enforcement and was on the board of Missing in Michigan. She was given the group’s first Michigan State Police Missing in Michigan Advocate of the Year in 2015. It’s now renamed the Ardis Renkoski Advocate of the Year award.
Paige would be 61 today. Her family is still keeping hope alive and hopes that new technology will help them to find Paige. They refuse to stop looking and going back to places that have already been searched and doing things that have already been done, in efforts to find her.