Evelyn Grace Shank was 45 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found in a drainage ditch in Las Vegas, Nevada, more than 60 years ago, and the person responsible for her death has yet to be brought to justice.
On the night of Feb. 4, 1959, an employee at the Travelodge, where Shank worked as a front desk clerk, arrived to relieve her of her duties.
When he noticed the “switchboard and desk area were unoccupied,” he thought he’d look for her, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).
Moments before he went in search of his co-worker, he noticed a 1949 or 1950 Ford sedan, possibly dark blue in color, parked near the front door of the establishment with the headlights on.
The vehicle was gone when he returned from his search.
Employees at the Travelodge contacted the authorities and reported Shank missing.
Officers with LVMPD arrived on the scene and began searching for clues. Upon doing so, they discovered that Shanks’s purse, sweater, and vehicle had been left behind.
There was also cash in the amount of $174.50 that had been stolen from the cash register.
Their findings led them to believe that Shank was a victim of robbery and abduction.
As stated by LVMPD, “An all-points bulletin was broadcast, and roadblocks were then set up in Henderson, Boulder City, Las Vegas, and Clark County” in an effort to find Shank.
The Independent Press-Telegram reported in February 1959 that hundreds of volunteers joined in on the search.
On Feb. 7, 1959, Shank was found dead. Two teenage sisters riding horses in the Warner Springs area discovered her body in a drainage ditch near the Blue Diamond mine.
Her remains were transported to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
The results confirmed that Shank had been shot in the head with a 32-20 caliber revolver, which was later located at a local pawn shop.
A police investigation revealed that after Shank was abducted, she was held hostage for 24 hours before she was forced to walk to a ditch, about 25 feet from the highway, where she was shot dead.
As reported by The Sacramento Bee in February 1959, Sheriff W. E. (Butch) Leypoldt stated that “it appears the motive was robbery and an attempt to cover up the robbery by taking her hostage.”
On March 24, 1959, deputies brought a 46-year-old taxi cab driver from Chicago, Illinois, in for questioning. They learned that he had previously owned a gun similar to the one used in Shank’s shooting.
The cab driver denied having anything to do with Shank’s murder. He told investigators that he was in a Chicago courtroom at the time of the slaying.
He was never arrested.
Throughout the years, investigators have worked diligently to find Shank’s killer, but her case remains unsolved.
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Evelyn Grace Shank is encouraged to contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Section at (702) 828-3521 or send an email to homicide@LVMPD.com.
Refer to her case number: CCSO 100-294.