49 years ago: Teen vanishes after fender-bender in front of Rialto Theater in Grayling

Car found on side of highway 15 miles south of Grayling

Perry Otto Corlew (NamUs)

GRAYLING, Mich. – The last time anyone saw Perry Otto Corlew was 49 years ago in front of the Rialto Theater in Grayling.

Corlew was 18 years old. He recently purchased a new car and at 8:30 p.m. on March 15, 1974, he got into a fender-bender in front of the theater.

It is believed that Corlew fled the crash in his vehicle instead of waiting for police. About an hour and a half after the crash, a passing trucker told police about a car that was sitting on the side of I-75.

Police found Corlew’s car on the side of the highway about 15 miles south of Grayling. The engine was still running, the headlights were on and the driver’s side door was open. Corlew was not with the car.

It is believed that Corlew may have gone to downstate Michigan, Florida or to California. In 1978, his parents thought they saw him standing in an unemployment line on the national news. They were never able to verify where the footage was taken.

According to the Doe Network, his family tried to get a copy of Corlew’s dental records and found out Grayling police had sent the originals to a sheriff’s department in Louisiana in 1975. The police department in Louisiana lost the records.

In 1992, police and the FBI reopened the case and a photo was created that showed what Corlew may look like at 40 years old. That same year Corlew’s brother received a call from someone mimicking cartoon character voices -- which was something the two of them used to do. The caller hung up without identifying himself.

Corlew would be 67 years old now. More than 20 unidentified remains have been excluded as a match in this case.

Anyone with information should contact the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office at 989-348-6341. The case number is 200435-74.

DetailsPerry Otto Corlew
Missing age18
Age now67
Height6′ 2″ - 6′ 4″
Weight155 - 165 lbs

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About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.