Heartache, questions haunt family of Mona Lindemann
Although Mona Lindemann has been missing more than 22 years, the heartache for the family remains very real and her memory is still a part of their lives.
In December 1989, Lindemann, 46, of Mauriceville, worked at a Beaumont hospital as a janitor. She had plans to go out for the evening following her shift. She was still in her light blue hospital uniform when she stopped by the residence of her boyfriend, Claude Fitts, where she caught him with another woman.
An argument ensued and Lindemann angrily slashed the tires of his vehicle, according to family members of Lindemann.
It is now known what exactly happened next, but she would never be seen alive again. Lindemann had borrowed money from her parents to get to work that day and was supposed to collect a paycheck the next day, but never arrived to collect her pay.
A few days later when Lindemann did not return to her parent’s house where she was living, her younger sister, Betty Rush Rogers, and mother reported her missing.
After all these years, the phone number to her parents house has stayed the same in hopes Lindemann would call and say she was okay, according to Rogers. But, the call never came.
“Me personally, I’ve never given up,” Rogers said.
The family had wanted some answers before Lindemann’s parents passed away. But, her father died in 2005 and their mother died in 2011. They never knew what happened to their oldest child of 14 children. There was always an unspoken emptiness during family gatherings. The one thing the siblings had hoped for their parents was to tell them, “Mona has been found.”
According to investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, they followed many tips. One tip lead investigators to believe Lindemann’s body was in the trunk of her 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix. The white vehicle with a red top had dealer tags on it when it disappeared too.
Family members feared the worst and when the vehicle could not be found, they knew their sister would not be found either.
In 2007, the case received a new tip which lead investigators to the murky waters off of Moss Bluff Road in Orange County. Texas Equusearch and the Port Arthur dive team were called in to search swift moving treacherous waters. Using a side scan sonar, they searched in water about 14 feet deep and about a mile wide.
Family members stood on the roadway near the banks and stared off into the dark water while watching every move with a small glimmer of hope. They paced back and forth in the sweltering August heat as if every step would make the process faster.
Divers surfaced and announced they had found a vehicle and hoped it was the Grand Prix. After a few tense moments, they pulled a side mirror from the vehicle and brought it to the surface. They struggled to identify the type of vehicle the mirror came from but were convinced they had found what they were looking for in the “black water.”
The foul smelling and mud covered vehicle was pulled to the surface by a tow truck and then to the bank beside the water. Everyone was elated at first, but quickly discovered the vehicle was a 90s model Dodge Dakota pickup. When the door was opened the thick brown mud oozed out. The family members could only gaze at the mess while despair filled the air.
A short time later all hope faded when divers announced their equipment had broken and they would have to come back another time.
According to investigators, the water is filled with dangers such as abandoned trotlines and downed trees. But, the biggest problem is the “unknown.” Several factors contribute to the difficulty of a recovery such as deterioration and the possibility the swift currents have relocated the vehicle. Other factors such as age, the water and floating debris add to the problems.
“I am over trying to find her,” said Michelle Lindemann, Mona’s daughter. “Wherever she is, she needs to rest in peace. But, I do want to see justice served.”
For Michelle Lindemann time has healed some of the heartache. She believes she can’t live for the past and must move forward.
Michelle has a few regrets and thinks about how the mother-daughter parted the last time they saw each other. The young mother of a toddler had gotten into an argument with her mother about a month before she disappeared. As the first Christmas neared she knew she never would get the chance to make amends while Mona would miss out on watching her only grandson grow to be a man and have a family of his own.
Anyone with any information on this case is encouraged to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 409-883-2612.