Pictured: Jeremy Doland Bright
On August 14, 1986 Jeremy Bright, then, 14, went to the Coos County Fair in Oregon, and vanished off the face of the earth.
Jeremy grew up in Myrtle Point, OR and that’s where his family and friends lived, but when his parents separated he and his sister moved a hundred miles away to Grants Pass, where his mother worked and attended school.
Every Summer the Coos County Fair rolls into Myrtle Point, Oregon. For many, it’s a weeklong celebration. To 14-year-old Jeremy Bright and his 9-year-old sister S’te (pronounced “Ess-tee”), it was one of the highlights of each year and they rarely missed it. Because distance would have been a problem, their stepfather, Orville “Ole” Gulseth of Myrtle Point, had offered to take them in for a week that summer but he would need to get approval from his mother, Diane Beatty, now 55.
Beatty said yes. Something she will regret for the next 25 years.
“He was here for a week during the fair,” said Beatty during a 2009 interview at her Eastside home as she pored over photos of her missing son from a time when Pac-Man and Van Halen were all the rage. “He was only here for a week. If I would have said, ‘No,’ about him coming up to the fair, I would still have him.”
“Instead of them veggin’ in Grants Pass for a week, while I worked and went to school, I thought that would be a great little trip for them,” “I have regretted it ever since.” said Beatty.
It was a Thursday on August 16, 1986 and Jeremy decided to bring his best friend, Johnny, with him to the fair. The two would go off while his little sister walked around the fair with their step-father.
Around 4:45pm., Jeremy made a long distance call to his mother to check in with her and to let her know that he was having a good time at the fair. She told Jeremy she’d be back in Myrtle Point in two days to pick him and his sister up.
Five hours later at 9:40 PM, Jeremy showed up at a local tavern owned by his grandmother. There he met his stepfather and asked to borrow some money. It was the last time Jeremy was ever seen by his family.
Two days later, Diane arrived in Myrtle Point as planned. She went to pick up Jeremy at his stepfather’s house, but her son never showed up:
“I went in and on the TV set was his house keys from our Grants Pass apartment and his wallet and his new watch that he told me he’d bought. I knew when I found those things that he was around somewhere because he wouldn’t leave without them.”
On Saturday night, Diane was worried enough to contact the police. At first, Sergeant Steve Dalton of the Coos County Sheriff’s Department believed Jeremy had simply run away:
“He did like the fair. There was the thought that perhaps he was hiding out, intending to leave with the fair people and I’ve explored that possibility in every way that I can think of. However in this particular case, I’ve talked to family members and friends of him that knew him well. And he was just not, from what I can learn, the type of kid who would have struck out on his own.”
On Sunday, August 17, 1986, the fair closed down. Myrtle Point was buzzing about Jeremy’s disappearance, and gradually, conflicting stories began to emerge. According to one rumor, Jeremy attended one of Myrtle Point’s many parties, and drank a beer laced with a powerful drug. Another story claimed that three older teenagers showed up at a local swimming hole and harassed Jeremy and his friends. According to Sergeant Dalton, this information came from a jailhouse informant:
“They subsequently took him to a cabin, maybe within ten miles of the Myrtle Point area, and attempted to nurse him back to health… he died as a result of that injury, either from loss of blood or from infection or what have you. That same source… indicated that his body would found within 200 feet of this cabin in a shallow grave.”
Police searched the area surrounding the cabin but found nothing. For Diane Bright, the rumors about her missing son were difficult to handle:
“All of them are hard to think about. Every time I’d hear a new one, I have nightmares for a week or so. The one that I hope is not what happened is one where he suffered for two weeks before he died and they buried his body, because the thought of him suffering for two weeks just makes me sick.”
Jeremy Bright has scars on his forehead and nose and a mole on his chin. The prime suspect in his disappearance recently died in prison, and there are no new leads. However the case is still open.
Age progressed photo of what Jeremy Bright may look like at age 33. He would be turning 41 this year.
Case Type: Non Family Abduction
DOB: May 25, 1972 Sex: Male
Missing Date: Aug 14, 1986 Race: White
Age Now: 40 Height: 6’0″ (183 cm)
Missing City: MYRTLE POINT Weight: 140 lbs (64 kg)
Missing State : OR Hair Color: Brown
Missing Country: United States Eye Color: Green
NCMEC Case #:
Anyone with any information regarding this cold case is urged to please contact:
Coos County Sheriff’s Office Missing Persons Unit: 1-541-396-3121
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST)
You can also contact:
A Toll-Free Hotline: (1-800-282-7155) which is maintained by the Clearinghouse to receive any information on missing children. Clearinghouse business number 503-934-0188