It’s been nearly 40 years since 40-year-old Janice Potts went missing without a trace, and her son is still searching for answers.
“I need some closure on this,” 56-year-old Scott Moss told the Daily Times. “Somebody out there knows something.”
It was Aug. 28, 1981. Janice had divorced Moss’ father and had taken a night job at what was then Mass Merchandisers.
Moss had left a pair of football pants at home for his mother to sew knee pads in.
“It was Blue Gold game,” Moss said. “The school year had just started.”
He went home at noon, found his pants ready, and saw his mother was asleep in bed. He took the pants and headed back to school.
It was the last time he ever saw his mother.
The game was that night, but he had a little time after school, so he went back home. Janice wasn’t there, but there was a pot of beans simmering in a slow cooker.
The clothes iron was out and in the on position and there was a note on the ironing board she had left for his younger brother, Robbie.
The note said she had gone to ALCO (a department store that was in what is now Ozark Crossing), that the beans were ready and she should be home before he got off the school bus.
He thought nothing of it and went on to the game. When he was driving through town after the game, his older brother flagged him down.
“He said mom didn’t show up for work and he was concerned, obviously, because nothing like that had ever happened,” Moss said.
They started looking for her, literally walking the ditches in front of her workplace thinking she might have been hit by a car while walking to work. They didn’t find her, of course, but they did find her car on the parking lot outside the mall. Her pocketbook and keys were missing, but her purse and the sweater she always wore were in the vehicle.
“We searched and we waited all night,” Moss said. “It was terrible because we knew something bad had happened.”
He said police didn’t want to take immediate action because she hadn’t been gone for more than 24 hours. A caller to the Harrison Police Department reported hearing a scream at the time, but it wasn’t pursued. By the time he was able to talk to an investigator, he was told the scream was noted, but the circumstances were unclear.
“That to me was my mother’s call for help,” he said.
He was 18 at the time and had no idea what to do without his mother. Luckily, people in town gave him and his brothers a place to stay.
Janice was Pentecostal and went to church near Sulfur Mountain. Church members helped the boys as well. They put the family’s personal belongings in storage, but eventually those items were sold in a garage sale.
“So, there’s no family pictures; there’s none of that,” he said.
Over the years, people have offered bits of information that might help solve the mystery. He has followed up those clues, always hoping there might be a chance.
“You never want to give up hope,” he said.
About a year ago, authorities in the Springfield, Missouri, area located remains of a woman they thought would have died in the early 1980s. He supplied DNA for a possible match, but that was a dead end as well.
The years have weighed heavy on Moss, but he still has some hope someone will come forward with some kind of information about Janice’s disappearance.
“The sadness and the depression have been extremely difficult, but now it’s time to do what my mother was worth and try to find her, not just for me but for her,” Moss said.
“My mother was worth me looking for her, period,” he said. “To me, she was worth everything that I could do to help find her.”