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UNSOLVED | Behind the Scenes of Lost Between the Lines

Parents gone missing leaving behind three small children in 1971. The UNSOLVED team took a trip to Corbin to find out what happened to Claude and Sue Shelton.

CORBIN, Ky. — These Kentucky parents tucked their three kids into bed, left their house and haven't been seen since. Claude and Sue Shelton's children overheard them talking about going to a truck stop, but no one ever saw them after leaving the house.

A jar with $600 inside was gone, but a paycheck and Sue Shelton's purse were left behind. Did they leave their life behind or did someone take their lives? What happened to the couple lost between the lines?

Chapter One | Finding the Story

We first found the Sheltons' story on a Kentucky State Police cold case website. A captivating and convoluted story from the '70s, their disappearance stuck out from the start of our research.

The Corbin couple left behind three children. We sought out the kids, who would have been in their 50s today, but we weren't able to connect. Police said they moved in with relative in Knoxville after the disappearance.

So where do we go from here? The UNSOLVED team traveled to Corbin, but could not find many people who remembered the story. The Gerry's Truck Stop they supposedly went to is no longer. Few knew.

Chapter Two | Newspaper Perspective

In search of some records or memories of the young couple, we called the local newspaper. The Times Tribune is a treasure trove time capsule, keeping Corbin's chronicles.

No one at the newspaper worked there in the '70s, nor did they remember the disappearance. 

They did have copies of their coverage but they were on microfilm, and the paper did not have a reader. We loaned the film, and went to the local library to find a reader.

Finally able to look through everything, we found two small articles. Both articles had minimal information, and never featured interviews with family or friends. We asked librarians who the perfect person was, and they point us towards Anne Hoskins, a local historian.

Hoskins and her husband owned the newspaper at the time the parents disappeared. She characterized the town as a quiet community, wondering why parents would just leave their children. 

"I'm very surprised! I mean, for parents to disappear, and leave three children- just leave them in the bed. I don't know anybody that would even consider such a thing," Hoskins said.

She also had few details, so we went to where the most information would lie: at KSP Post 11.

Chapter Three | Little Details

In London, we interviewed Detective Jesse Armstrong about the case.

We explored all of the possible scenarios, but none of them fit the facts of the case and investigators notes. Did they run away? Were they killed? There's not enough to prove either.

The case file had a photo we had never seen: the couple posed with what police said was Claude Shelton's sister.

Armstrong said investigators searched all nearby areas for the Shelton's car, but it was never found. They interviewed people at the truck stop, but no one remembered seeing them. There were so little clues, police had nowhere to go.

"That's where the investigation began, and really, according to the paperwork that I've looked at, [it] didn't progress a whole lot due to just lack of information," Armstrong said.

Police took DNA from the Sheltons' children, and grabbed dental records and other information from Claude Shelton's time in the Navy, but still no bodies or information has come back. We're all left wondering what happened to the parents lost between the lines.

Chapter Four | Help Solve My Case

Police believe someone had to have seen the couple, or now something happened to the Sheltons.

"The way we solve crimes is from information from other people and I'm sure there's someone out there alive that has some kind of information on Claude and Sue Shelton," Armstrong said.

If you have any information on this case please contact Kentucky State Police (606) 878-6622.

Read the Sheltons' story here. 

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