• Back Road Mysteries Staff

Abduction and death of 7-year-old Cortney Clayton in Stamford, Texas still haunts local residents

During the evening hours of Friday, September 2, 1988, 7-year old Cortney Clayton begged her father to let her go to the store in Stamford, a small town in West Texas, to buy something to drink.

She was only 7-years-old, but the store was only about a block away. It was a walk she’d made many times before, and her father watched her as she quickly made her way to the store and walked inside to purchase a soda.

Her older brother Ryan showed up several minutes later to walk her home, but she was nowhere to be found.

Only the can of soda she’d recently purchased remained sitting on the back of the store manager’s vehicle.

Cortney was a student at Oliver Elementary School in Stamford, which had a population just under 4,000.

Five days later, a Jones County sheriff identified a witness challenging the notion that the store manager was the last person to see Cortney. This witness saw Cortney standing by the manager’s truck in the parking lot, but she wasn’t alone.

The witness stated that there was a vehicle parked next to the truck with a man sitting in the driver’s seat, and that there was another man in the parking lot, leaning against the exterior of the store.

On Easter Sunday in 1989, Cortney’s skull was found by hunters outside another town a little over 50 south-east of Stamford. Texas rangers recovered more of her skeleton over the area of grassland, spanning 200 yards.

The clothes that she was wearing the day she went missing were also found nearby. Upon examination, her death was ruled a violent homicide, with the exact manner of death undetermined due to the level of decomposition. 

Texas Crime Stoppers, which is funded by the Governor's Criminal Justice Division, offers a cash reward of up to $3,000 to any person who provides information that leads to the arrest of the person/persons responsible for a cold case listed on this website.

To be eligible for the cash rewards, tipsters MUST call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477).

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