SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – It is one of Shreveport’s oldest unsolved cases, the story of a teenager who left home one day and was never seen again.
The investigation into 17-year-old David Yeager’s disappearance yielded no clues and left his family wondering what happened to him for decades. Though presumed dead, the efforts of his cousin have kept his story alive.
It was 1971 in Shreveport, and Yeager was close to graduating from Byrd High School. He had his senior ring and $200 in his bank account. He lived with his mom, who was a single parent, and his older brother at a home on Lola Lane off Mansfield Road. It was the last place his family saw him.
On February 6, 1971, Yeager told his brother he was headed to Centenary College for a school event. The Archives Department of Centenary College confirmed it was Homecoming weekend with a series of events held throughout the day. However, the teen never made it there.
“It was that odd for him to go missing like that. We just all knew something terrible happened to David,” said Kelly Chance, Yeager’s cousin.
Chance was young when he went missing, but she vividly remembers how it impacted her family. Yeager’s mom had to work at the last minute because otherwise, she would have driven him to the college. Chance says her aunt was never the same after her child went missing.
“As a mother, my child is a part of me and to imagine my aunt lost her child like that and spent all those nights not knowing where he was,” said Chance.
The case files detail David’s brother hearing him say that he was leaving for Centenary College and watching him walk out the door. It’s believed he tried hitch-hiking a ride which was more common in the 1970s’. The distance between Lola Lane and Centenary College is significant.
“We thought David could have gotten on that trek and realized that it was very far. He would have stopped at someone’s house or gotten into the car with someone. That’s what we thought. He just encountered the wrong person that day,” Chance said.
She worked to find out what happened to her cousin. She called the Shreveport Police Department two years ago to access his files. She submitted her DNA to the NamUs database in case his remains are ever located. His older, surviving brother submitted his DNA as well. He lives in Texas now and could not be reached for interview. Chance also created a Facebook page about David.
“I wanted to do something that would outlive me. Technology is changing all the time,” Chance said.
She was told there was little information or clues about his disappearance. Chance was even told by a detective that because of David’s heavy weight, it’s unlikely just one person could have moved his body. Over the years, she’s developed her own theories as to what could have happened to him. In a strange possible coincidence, David lived down the street from a man who later became known as the “Gainesville Ripper,” Danny Rolling. He grew up in Shreveport on West Canal Street and later confessed to murdering a man, woman, and child on Beth Lane in the 1980s, a street near where David’s family lived. Years later, Rolling moved to Florida where his horrific crimes of murdering and raping five college students sparked national attention. Though the crimes were different and years apart, it’s always made Chance wonder because David and Danny Rolling would have been same age. She wonders if her cousin encountered the man who became a serial killer who made national headlines.
“I was hoping that Danny Rolling’s house was on the other side of town. But it wasn’t. It was between Lola Lane and that Centenary College. It does make you wonder,” Chance said.
The strange circumstances of David’s disappearance plagued her family for the rest of their lives. His family never considered him a runaway. He was excited to graduate high school and the $200 in his bank account went untouched. Though in high school at Byrd, it’s unclear why he was going to Centenary College that weekend. Since the school and college are both located in the Highland neighborhood, it’s possible he had friends attending the homecoming event at Centenary.
But even after the decades went by, David’s mom never had him declared dead in hopes he would be found one day. His brother later did after she passed away. Chance said she’s now doing what she can to bring justice for her cousin.
“They may find David one day. Even if its not in my lifetime, I want to leave some type of trail so even if its not in my lifetime that David is found and be returned to his family,” Chance said.
She hopes some information will come forward one day to find out what happened to David. If you know anything, contact her Facebook page for David and the Shreveport Police Department.