35 years after disappearance, search for Tammy Belanger continues 8-year-old last seen walking to school in Exeter, NH
This case is local to me. I have done a few deeps dives for any information over the years to follow any leads. I am a true crime junkie. While I have resisted joining to rash on You Tube Chanel’s. I thought my little blog might try to bring awareness to cases which need attention. (My blog is not paid in anyway for my entries, nor the clicks received.)
Tammy Belanger was last seen by a neighbor crossing Court Street on the morning of Nov. 13, 1984, on her way to school. She never made it to her third-grade classroom on Lincoln Street.
The investigation did not begin searching for the child for several hours after Tammy disappeared. She was only reported missing when she didn’t arrive home from school. Unlike current policy where schools contact parents when a child does not arrive for class, there wasn’t any policy to inquire why a child was not in school.
It was this case which prompted school officials to set up a system where absent students parents were contacted.
Tammy Belanger left her home in Exeter, NH to walk to school on a November morning. She was last seen crossing Court Street. She never arrived at her third grade class on Lincoln St. It was only later that afternoon after school was dismissed when she did not arrive home, were police notified.
A massive search and investigation ensued, but Tammy was never found.
Police consider the case cold-
“It’s tough anytime an agency has a cold case like this, especially when you want to do everything you can help the family,” said Police Chief Stefan Poulin. “So, having this still linger on for the family is tough on all of us.” (Said to WMUR television news.)
Victor Wonyetye (pronounced wuh-NET-ee), then 41 years old, as a suspect in Belanger’s disappearance. Wonyetye had been living during November in a motel in nearby Rye, NH, and was jailed on a parole violation earlier in December. Wonyetye had been convicted in 1979 of felonious SA of a female minor, his thirteen-year-old stepdaughter. He served four years in prison before being paroled in July 1983. Wonyetye’s parole was revoked by the New Hampshire Parole Board on December 28, 1984, as he had left the state without informing his parole office. He had been convicted of a crime in Florida earlier in the year.
At the time Wonyetye was first named in connection with Belanger’s disappearance, he was also a person of interest in the disappearance of Marjorie “Christy” Luna, who had vanished from Greenacres, Florida, in May 1984. The disappearances have similarities, as both Luna and Belanger were eight years old when they vanished, Luna had also been walking alone on a street near her home when she disappeared, and Wonyetye had also been living nearby at the time.
In 2013, police involved in the initial investigation of Belanger’s disappearance said that Wonyetye was the prime suspect within three days. His car, blue with Florida license plates and a broken tail light, had been seen in the area when Belanger disappeared. Also, Wonyetye called in sick to work that morning; he had been employed at an auto body shop in Exeter. While police believe he killed both Belanger and Luna, there was no supporting physical evidence and Wonyetye was never charged in connection with either disappearance. Eventually he moved down to Florida where he served time for other convictions. Police went down hoping to find someone to talk without success.
I found 2 different sources on Wonyetye’s death;
Wonyetye was released from prison in Florida in April 2012, and died in December 2012 in Florida at age 69. Source
“Victor Wonyetye, a local auto body repairman, was long a suspect, but there was not enough physical evidence to charge him. After his death in late 2013 while serving time in Florida for other convictions, there was hope that someone might talk.” Source
Belanger’s parents divorced, and her father, Nelson, died in September 2017.
Police statement several years ago-
“A little over five years ago, we worked alongside the FBI and we reinterviewed some of the major players in the case, some of the witnesses,” Poulin said. (Found on WMUR television.)
“We continuously get tips,” he said. “Oftentimes, people remember things from their childhood, when they were younger, about a strange vehicle being there or something that just seemed out of place, and they’ve hung onto it for a while.” (WMUR television news)
Poulin said the case is still open and investigators welcome any leads. (WMUR television news)
Age-progressed photos courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children show what Tammy might have looked like at age 30 in 2006 and age 36 in 2012.