Growing up in a quiet Williamsburg, Virginia neighborhood, Jenny Lynn Pandos was friendly, responsible and outgoing, according to her parents Margie and Ronald Pandos.
In 1987, 15-year-old Jenny lived at home. Her older brother, Steven, was away at college. Every morning, Jenny, a high school sophomore, would wake up at 6:00 a.m. to take a shower and get ready for school.
But on the morning of February 10, 1987, according to investigators, Margie didn’t hear her daughter’s shower running.
Margie later told investigators she assumed her daughter had simply overslept. But when she found Jenny’s bedroom door locked, Margie grew concerned: Jenny always left her bedroom door open. Margie got her husband Ron, and they unlocked their daughter’s door. Jenny was missing, as was her purse.
On Jenny’s pillow, authorities say her parents found an unsettling note.
According to James City County Deputy Chief Steve Rubino, the letter began in the third person.
“Your daughter’s with me. She’s fine,” the note read. “She’s having some problems and needs time away.”
The note continued in the same handwriting, but switching to first person: ”I’m fine, I just need time to think. Both of you please go to work tomorrow ‘cause I will try to call you. I won’t call you at home, only at one of y’all’s work.”
”Do not call the police,” the note concluded. “I can easily find out if you do. I may never come back home. Don’t tell my friends about this. Just tell them that I’m sick.”
Despite their concern, the parents agreed to follow the written instructions. They waited for Jenny to call. But three days after they received the note, the Pandos family decided to call the James City Police Department.
“She was reported as a runaway,” Deputy Chief Steve Rubino told Dateline. After Jenny’s parents showed them the note, investigators theorized that Jenny, who is left-handed, wrote the note with her right hand. The penmanship appeared awkward and unpracticed, according to Deputy Chief Rubino.
“There was no reason to believe any foul play had occurred,” Deputy Chief Rubino also told Dateline.
The note indicated that Jenny needed some time away. Jenny was going through a rough patch with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Tony Tobler, according to neighbors and friends. Dateline could not reach Tony Tobler for comment, but authorities say he completed several police interviews following Jenny’s disappearance and is not considered a person of interest in connection with the case.
Other than the note, police told Dateline they have found no other evidence in relation to Jenny’s whereabouts. After her disappearance, Jenny’s case went cold almost immediately, but the community clung together.
“Everyone was just trying to figure out what happened and how she went missing,” childhood friend Woods Woolwine told Dateline. “The adults were nervous in the neighborhood, because there was a lot of uncertainty over what happened. There wasn’t really much information out there, to be honest.”
Jenny’s family has since moved away from Williamsburg, but they’ve never lost hope of finding their daughter. Jenny’s mother Margie Pandos spoke briefly with Dateline about her daughter’s disappearance, but declined an extended interview.
“It’s a very painful subject,” Margie said.
“[The family is] disheartened that there’s been no resolution to the case,” Deputy Chief Rubino told Dateline. He confirmed that Jenny’s case is still an open and active missing persons case.
Investigators continue to pursue new evidence in the town’s longest unsolved disappearance. Since 1987, Deputy Chief Rubino has supervised numerous interviews, cadaver dog searches, and polygraph examinations. Unfortunately, “there’s never been any evidence to explain her disappearance” and “her body has not been recovered.”
Jenny Lynn Pandos is described as being 5’2” and weighing 100 lbs. with brown hair and hazel eyes. She would be 47 years old today. Jenny has a mole on her left shoulder. If you have any information on her case, please call James City County Police Department at (757) 253-1800.