Could letters hold key to disappearance?
By Ken Raymond
Margie and Howard Tinsley remember their daughter as a hardworking, giving young woman who still was trying to figure out what she wanted from the world.
“I think she was always a fighter for the underdog,” said Margie Tinsley, 65, of Edmond. “I think if anybody could say anything about her, that would be the thing.”
Unlike her siblings, who were gifted high school athletes, Pamela Tinsley was “a little bit of a rebel” who didn’t participate in many school activities, her mother said.
“In a way, I thought Pam was the best athlete,” said Howard Tinsley, 70. “She could do just about anything, but she wouldn’t do it.”
Neressa Radford, now 44, met Pamela Tinsley when they rode together on the bus to Francis Tuttle Technology Center.
“She was being picked on because, you know, she was blonde and busty,” Radford said, “and I just told her to ignore them ... and they’d stop.”
The two became close friends, posing for school photographs together and sharing secrets.
One secret Tinsley didn’t share, however, was her apparent involvement in drugs.
Letters reveal secrets
About a week ago, Tinsley’s parents read some of their daughter’s correspondence at The Oklahoman’s request. They’d had the letters for 22 years but never peeked inside the envelopes.
They were shocked by what they found.
Letters to their daughter from her fiance, who was serving in the military in another state, contain repeated requests for her to send him drugs and nude photographs.
In some, he asks for “hits of A,” apparently LSD. In others, he mentions Ecstasy, a club drug that was just becoming popular in the mid 1980s, and talks about being thrown in the brig for 30 days for an unspecified offense.
“We always thought he was a nice boy,” Margie Tinsley said.
One letter, which Pamela Tinsley wrote to her fiance but never had a chance to send, is dated April 11, 1986 — just two days before her disappearance. In it, she mentions that she could get some Ecstasy from her brother, adding that she had never tried it herself.
Her brother, who is now deceased, was later arrested for cultivating marijuana.
In letters, her fiance also urges her to kick out the three freeloaders staying at her one-bedroom apartment, asking if she’s managed to “get rid” of them yet.
Between the drug references and the houseguests, the Tinsleys fear they may have stumbled upon the reason their daughter vanished.
“I’d hate to think this whole thing is over her telling someone to move out,” Howard Tinsley said.
“But things like that have happened,” his wife said.