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In 1985, a man was killed for his brand-new Chevy Camaro. Though cars are stolen every day, there was a time when carjackings reached an alarming rate, often turning violent. Today, most details of Donald Boardman’s disappearance remain unknown. The one person who might be able to shed light on the events hasn’t been found. In fact, 37 years passed with a man missing and a body left unidentified. 

An unlikely duo solves a cold case of a missing man and a stolen Camaro 

Stolen Chevy Camaro
A 1987 Chevy Camaro IROC-Z (not Donald Boardman’s car) | Denver Post via Getty Images

Homemaker Barbara King Ladd recently cracked a cold case that investigators had been unable to solve. It had been decades since Donald Boardman’s disappearance had made news headlines. But thanks to one woman’s curiosity, the case has been partially solved.

According to Fox News, Ladd became fascinated while reading the account of a former investigator who was “still haunted” by the discovery of skeletal remains found by a fisherman in a creek off Interstate 24 in Tennessee. No one could identify the body.

Ladd got curious and began combing the archives for missing-person reports — not just in Tennessee, though.

“I thought it would be worth the effort to cross state lines to dump a body. So I honed in on Georgia because it was close to Marion County.”

Barbara King Ladd via Fox 5 Atlanta

During her search, she came across the missing-person report for Boardman. Family and friends had reported the Georgia man missing in 1985. He had vanished shortly after purchasing a new Camaro.

After poring through reports and coming across Boardman, Ladd compared his photos with sketches of the Marion County John Doe and found them strikingly similar. Convinced she’d discovered the identity of the long-deceased John Doe, she messaged the Chamblee Police Department with her findings. Her message reached crime analyst Lori Bradburn, a civilian working for the department.

Fortunately, Bradburn decided to follow up on the tip. She found and contacted Boardman’s sister in Florida and obtained a DNA sample. It was a match to John Doe.

After decades, the mystery of Donald Boardman’s disappearance was at least partially solved. Now his family knew he was truly gone and could have some closure.

But who killed Donald Boardman, and why?

Authorities know that Boardman was murdered. But how did he meet his fate? And why?

A few weeks after he went missing, Boardman’s 1985 Chevy Camaro turned up in East Point, Tennessee. Two men and a woman were in the vehicle, but police found no answers to explain what had happened to Boardman. The two men have since died, leaving the woman potentially the only person alive who knows how Boardman died. Investigators hope to contact her to get more information.

“From what I was able to piece together, it seems to be a robbery gone bad,” Bradburn told Fox 5 Atlanta in May 2022.

Authorities speculate that after killing Boardman, his assailants dumped his body across state lines. They wanted his Camaro, and it cost him his life. 

It’s terrible to think the 36-year-old lost his life to car thieves.

The 1985 Chevrolet Camaro was a hot car

Donald Boardman’s Chevy Camaro was a cool car in the ’80s and remains a coveted model, especially souped-up IROC versions.

In 1985, a Camaro could set buyers back $8,511 to $11,134, Car Gurus reports. Today, that same car in good condition could run $30,000. The model definitely has its fans, and more and more car enthusiasts are seeking out the dwindling supply of ’80s Camaros for their collections.


What Happens if You Accidentally Buy a Stolen Car?