Case #: 94-00205
County: Cape May
Renee Martine Lamanna was 35 years old when she went missing on January 8, 1994. She is a caucasian woman with brown eyes and dark brown hair, 5’2 in height, 100 pounds. Renee has a widow’s peak, and a keloid scar on one of her inner elbows. She converted to Muslim faith prior to her disappearance and she does not drink alcohol or do drugs as per her religious beliefs. Renee is considered the “bright light” of the family, being intelligent and caring for others. She also unfortunately has anorexia, depression and an anxiety disorder due to unspecified psychological trauma. This disorder causes her to have panic attacks and sometimes it makes her agitated and paranoid.
At age 20, Renee held three college degrees, including a Master’s in History. She graduated from the University of Scranton. She also speaks five languages, traveled with the Peace Corps in Morocco and helped dozens of immigrants gain their footing in the United States. In 1994, she was studying nuclear medicine technology, which left her with a great amount of stress. Her relationship was also apparently strained. After an argument with her taxi driver boyfriend of ten years on January 8, she stormed out of their apartment in Fresh Meadows, Queens, New York. (One article says the boyfriend asked her to leave.) The weather was freezing and Renee was not wearing proper attire, only wearing at the time a sweatshirt, red silk pajama bottoms, and white socks with no shoes. One article linked below claimed she was last seen in a red silk traditional Afghan wedding outfit. ( Can’t confirm which is accurate. )
According to her sister Margaret, Renee had been in love with an “immigrant taxi driver from Afghanistan for nearly a decade and devoted her life to the culture from which he came.” (which is probably why she converted her religion.) Something happened on January 8 that caused Renee and her boyfriend to have some type of disagreement. ( I am sorry but I can’t find his name. )
She was later found wandering in the bitter cold, barefoot and only in night clothes. She was in an incoherent and confused state and was taken to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, and was cleared. (Some articles say Jamaica Hospital, others say she was at Queens Center Psychiatric Hospital.) After that, Renee was taken to her sister Margaret’s house in the 2500 block of Wesley Avenue in Ocean City NJ, where they had dinner at approximately 7:00PM. Once at her sister’s residence, Margaret stated that her sister was in a “catatonic state.”
An hour after she arrived, Renee once again suddenly ran outside for no apparent reason in freezing temperatures. At this point she was only wearing a sweatshirt, pajama bottoms and hospital slippers. She was carrying her navy blue bathrobe at the time. One of the slippers and the bathrobe were found later on. Margaret is quoted saying, “She bolted out the door into the darkness of the beach, the police found her robe, but that was it. She was gone.”
She was last seen inside a Waterfront Bar in Somers Point acting “strangely” later the same night at 9PM. Her bathrobe was found approximately two blocks from the bar shortly after someone reported the sighting. Of note: Renee was now a Muslim and did not drink alcohol.
A bloodhound traced her scent to two Ocean City homes on Central Avenue, but no evidence of what happened to her was ever found. Police can’t determine if she met with foul play or left on her own accord. She may have hitchhiked out of the area. There have been several reported sightings of Renee.
In May of 1995, she was reportedly seen in New Jersey but the sighting is unconfirmed.
This case was aired on television for the first time on November 3, 1995 as a Special Bulletin episode, and shortly after the broadcast Renee was sighted in a subway station in Manhattan, looking at a missing persons flyer of herself, however she was not located. This lead made officers believe she is not in her right mind and could be unaware of her identity. It is suspected she is suffering from Dissociative Fugue Disorder.
Since then, various sightings of her have been reported throughout the Eastern United States from Virginia through Tennessee, and Renee’s family has followed each lead with no avail.
A woman believed to be Renee was seen at a store in Asheville, North Carolina, in October of 2014, and the witness took a few photos of her. I have attached one below.
The woman told witnesses she was headed to Florida and that she was looking for her family. She gave police officers several aliases, including “Renee LaMan” and “Josephine Pagano.” Unfortunately, in January of 2016, the mystery woman was located in Florida and it has been confirmed through fingerprints that she is not Renee and did match another woman from upstate New York.
The last confirmed sightings were in the Chamber Street Subway in Lower Manhattan in December of 1994, and then once more in Northfield trying to get a bus ticket back to New York City in May of 1995.
Renee’s parents passed away without knowing what happened to their daughter. Her older sister Margaret still hopes to locate her one day and she believes Renee is still somewhere in New York.
Any further information, please contact the Ocean County Police Department at 609-399-9111.