Family of Barbara Cotton celebrate her life 40 years after she went missing

Local News

Today marks 40 years since a 15-year-old girl went missing just blocks away from her home in Williston.

Family and friends are still looking for answers involving the disappearance of Barbara Cotton, and in the midst of it all, they’ve decided to celebrate her life.

KX News attended the event at Recreation Park to learn more about who Cotton was before the 1981 tragedy.

“Very quiet, she was very strong-willed, extremely good person,” Barbara’s Older, Brother Kent Cotton said.

“Very kind, sweet, just an all around American girl,” Barbara’s Younger Sister, Kathy Nulph said.

Kathy Nulph and Kent Cotton are describing their sister Barbara Cotton as just the typical 15-year-old.

“I know she did a lot of Chinese jump rope, I don’t know if that’s still around anymore,” Cotton said.

“Chinese jump rope, nobody could beat her at it. I don’t know how she did it, but she always won,” Nulph said.

All laughter and tears as the two reminisce on old memories — which is just about all that they have with Barbara.

April 11, 1981, was the last time anyone has seen or heard from her.

“From what I could remember is more of the possible run away at that time and that’s kind of what I believed I guess,” Cotton said.

“That didn’t change — I don’t know how long after she had disappeared that they finally decided she wasn’t a runaway,” Nulph said.

But the question still remains, what actually happened?

Where is she said to have last been seen?”

“Here in this park…. but there’s some controversy over that now, but yeah, here in the park,” Nulph said.

Controversy detectives are slowly trying to unravel. And, while many stones are still unturned and many questions, are still unanswered, family and friends are doing their part to keep Barbara’s name alive by holding a celebration of life on the anniversary of the day she was last seen.

“It’s been 40 years since she’s been missing, on April 11th, and so we decided to get together and remember her and her life and her character and things like that and just get together with family and friends and talk and remember,” Cotton said.

Although this is the family’s first time holding an event to celebrate Barbara’s life, both pain and hope still remain.

“You just walk into a store and hope to see her, you get a phone call and you take it because you hope it’s her calling you. So, a lot of that over the last 40 years,” Nulph said.

The Williston Police Department is still looking to the community for help in solving Barbara Cotton’s case.

If you have any tips or leads, you’re encouraged to call the department directly.

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