POCATELLO — It’s been more than three decades since Pocatello Police Capt. Terry Felsman helped to recover the body of Cindy Louise Bringhurst, the 14-year old Alameda Junior High student who vanished from a Pocatello apartment where she was babysitting. Her body was discovered in the Mink Creek area by a fisherman a month later.
Felsman declined to release the cause of death, or whether or not Bringhurst was sexually assaulted.
“In cold cases we never release that information,” Felsman said. “If someone was to confess to the killing we don’t want them to have been able to have read details about the case in the newspaper.”
Bringhurst’s parents, Larry and Nancy Bringhurst, are now deceased. The victim has one surviving older sister, Cheri.
Cindy disappeared sometime between 11:45 p.m. on June 4, and 1:45 a.m. June 5, 1983 while she was babysitting at an apartment in the 100 block of Highland Drive.
The woman, whose 2-year old daughter Cindy was caring for, worked at the Oasis Bar . The woman’s purse and keys were stolen the same night that Cindy disappeared. Her name was not released, but the woman reported to investigators that she spoke to Cindy at 11:45 p.m., but returned home two hours later to find the door unlocked, the television on and Cindy missing.
The toddler, sleeping in a crib in an adjacent room, was unharmed. The woman also called Cindy’s parents after finding her gone.
Felsman said he still believes the stolen pocketbook is somehow connected to Cindy’s disappearance.
“I don’t think it was a coincidence that the purse was stolen the same night that she disappeared,” Felsman said.
Just one week after her disappearance, an Idaho State Journal story reported that a suspect had been identified in the theft of the purse. The male suspect’s vehicle was searched and several items were collected including a shirt, but the purse was never recovered and no one was charged with the theft, Felsman said.
A FBI profiler also believed that the theft of the bag was substantial. The profiler determined that the killer most likely knew Cindy, or the woman she was babysitting for, and that he knew Cindy was alone in the apartment.
There was no sign of a struggle at the apartment and Cindy’s employer reported that nothing in the residence appeared out of place or missing — also leading police to believe that the teen knew her killer.
Cindy’s family also enlisted the help of California psychic Judy Belle, who left Felsman unimpressed.
“I thought the amount of money that she charged the family was outrageous and she didn’t really provide any information that was helpful in the investigation,” Felsman said.
Belle billed the family $100 per hour, according to a 1983 Journal story, and she spent about 35 hours in Pocatello working on the case.
The psychic envisioned Cindy leaving the apartment voluntarily with a man and feeling like she was in control. But Belle said she lost the trail when Cindy got to the bottom of the stairs.
However, when a Blackfoot woman called claiming to have a psychic connection to the case, Felsman didn’t discount her.
“I went to Blackfoot and met with her,” Felsman said. “She was an elderly woman and was on oxygen. She said she didn’t want any money, she just wanted to help if she could. She took us within 25 yards of where Cindy’s body was found.”
A summer party was also reported to have been going on in the Mink Creek area the night that Cindy went missing and while the party did not take place in the vicinity where Cindy was found, some attendees were interviewed. Felsman does not believe the party and Cindy’s disappearance were connected.
Police scoured the Mink Creek area after Cindy’s body was discovered, but found nothing.
Felsman said it is unknown whether Cindy was killed at or near the location where she was found or if her body had been transported to the Mink Creek area. Her body was partially submerged and much of the evidence had been washed away.
The woman who she was babysitting for moved out the apartment shortly after Cindy’s disappearance. Felsman said the scene had already been processed and the move did not hamper the investigation.
Felsman said the woman is not a suspect in the disappearance and murder of Cindy.
Police also interviewed a man about to be released from prison who was a suspect in the abduction of 14-year-old Linda Diane Smith two years earlier. Smith was abducted from her home on Eighth Avenue on June 4, 1981 and her skeletal remains were found 11 months later.
Felsman said the circumstances surrounding the abduction of Smith was not similar to Cindy’s case and he does not believe the two murders are connected.
Cindy was the fourth young girl to be abducted and killed between 1978 and 1983. Prior to Smith’s kidnapping and murder, Patricia Campbell, 15, disappeared from Alameda Park along with another Pocatello girl, Tina Anderson, during a 1978 Pioneer Day celebration. Anderson was positively identified through dental records in 1981.
According to the East Idaho Cold Cases Facebook page, a $10,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest in the disappearance and murder of the four young women and for information in the 2004 murder of Nori Jones, who was killed in her home on Poleline Road.
The more time that elapses, the less likely it becomes that cold cases will be solved, but Felsman said Cindy’s murder investigation is ongoing and was reviewed just two weeks ago. He added that new technology can often provide the smoking gun investigators need to solve cold cases.
“Every detective we have is working a cold case,” Felsman said. “Basically, we start all over again with new eyes to see if anything has been over looked.”
There are currently 12 detectives on the Pocatello police force.
Felsman said several people have been interviewed and no one has been eliminated as a suspect in Cindy’s case, but at this time, police do not have the evidence they need to make an arrest.
Cindy’s older sister, Cheri, asked that her last name not be published, but she said in a statement provided by East Idaho Cold Cases, that she hopes by reviewing the case someone might remember some small detail that will aid the investigation.
“Thirty-one years ago, the community gathered together to search for Cindy,” Cheri wrote. “We hope the community will gather together again to solve Cindy’s case and many other cold cases.”
Anyone with information about Cindy’s disappearance and murder is urged to contact the Pocatello Police at (208) 234-6100, or Capt. Terry Felsman at (208) 234- 6127.