PLACENTIA (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives reopened the case of a missing South Pasadena woman after 33 years because of “loose ends,” but her family claims to know what happened.
Donnella Jean Coultas, called “Jeannie” by her loved ones, disappeared from her home in South Pasadena in 1979.
She was reported missing by her husband, Leonard, who was interviewed on CBS2 with their 2-year-old son three decades ago about the incident.
“We had an argument, yes,” he said. “As a result of the argument, Jeannie ran out of the house and that’s the last I saw her.”
Leonard said, “I have no idea where she is or what she’s doing. Or if she’s all right. And that’s my real concern.”
Jeannie’s family in Placentia has long suspected Leonard of killing his wife.
“There was no way she would have gone out in South Pasadena in December…in the cold… with her son at home by himself,” said sister, Cheryl Beard.
Beard said she saw Jeannie’s keys, purse, and wallet at the home after the disappearance. And one other notable item.
“There was a big vase, that (Leonard) loved, but that was broken. I asked him, ‘How’d that get broken?’ He said, ‘I hit your sister in the head with it and she was bleeding from her ears and nose,’” said Beard.
The family claimed the couple was having problems, and accused Leonard of putting in a new kitchen floor after Jeannie went missing.
“He just lies and lies and laughs behind our back, like ‘Haha, look what I got away with,’” said Beard.
South Pasadena authorities treated Jeannie as a missing person’s case for two years until LA County Sheriff’s took over.
While Leonard was initially a suspect in the police investigation, the case went cold.
Ultimately, documents went missing and a knife found hidden at the home was lost.
“They can’t find the box, the knife,” said Jeannie’s father, Ralph Schuman.
Jeannie’s mother, Nancy, fervently pushed for the case to be reopened for decades.
“This was my mom’s life work. Her goal. She passed away in June. I would like (Leonard) to have to pay for what he did to my sister. So my mom could have some closure, too,” said Beard.
CBS2’s Serene Branson reached out to Leonard Coultas at his Escondido home, but he had no comment.