Missing from Joplin now 30 years; Police continue seeking leads in Tracy Pickett case

Tracy would be 44 years old now. Family have gone 30 years without answers as to what happened to her

JOPLIN, Mo. – Tracy A. Pickett was last seen August 12, 1992. She left her residence in Joplin to spend the night with a friend. Her family has gone 30 years without answers as to what happened to her. Police continue to seek in the missing persons case.

There have been two suspects in Tracy’s disappearance. One was her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, Ernest Hensley, who is now deceased. The second has been identified as Lowell Andrew Billy, who admitted to giving her a ride in his van in the early morning of the day she disappeared.

Joplin Police continue working this case. Even today stating in a media release, “As another anniversary of the disappearance approaches, we strongly encourage anyone in the community who has any information to come forward. If you, or anyone you know, has any information or tips related to this case, we encourage you to please contact Captain Nick Jimenez at 417-623-3131 x1676.”


Missing person poster from Missing Person Support Center.

From NCMEC: “On August 11, 1992, Tracy left her Joplin, Missouri home to spend the night with a female friend in the 800 block of Daugherty Avenue in Webb City, Missouri. Tracy’s mother allowed her to go, thinking her friend lived with her parents and they would be there to supervise; in fact, the girl lived on her own.

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There was a party at the residence that night. According to witnesses, one of the guests, a man named Al, kept staring at Tracy all night and even asked her if she was wearing panties.

Eventually he offered to give her a ride home to Joplin so she could change her clothes. He was supposed to return her to her friend’s apartment afterwards. He drove a black van with two sunroofs, louvered side windows and Oklahoma license plates, and witnesses stated there was a gun inside it.

Tracy has never been heard from again. A week after her disappearance, authorities located and interviewed the individual who gave her the ride. By then he had left the state. “Al” was actually named Lowell Andrew Billy, and he had a prison record. Billy claimed he dropped Tracy off outside a pawnshop in downtown Joplin.

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A year after Tracy’s disappearance, Billy was charged with kidnapping, rape and forcible sodomy in Oklahoma. He eventually pleaded no contest and sentenced to seven years in prison.  During the summer of 1993, he had picked up a Tulsa, Oklahoma woman who was hitchhiking, held her captive for about four hours, and beat and sexually assaulted her. He was released from prison but later jailed for failing to register as a sex offender according to The Charley Project.

Authorities attempted to drain an old mining pit in the area in 2005 to no avail. Then in 2018 and 2019 police searched ponds in an area north and south of West Zora Ave on the north edge of Joplin.

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