In this ONTD original series, resident true crime junkies beaarthursdrug and patchsassy go to the way-back machine for some of our favorite segments from the 1980s classic Unsolved Mysteries. (Note: all old episode numbers correspond with episodes on Amazon Prime)
Mitchell Shigemoto/Jim Pearson (old: 6x19, new: 3x19)
In 1964, Mitchell Shigemoto signed up for the US Army Airborne troops. He was sent to Vietnam, as many soldiers were during those years. Despite being a US soldier, Mitchell was discriminated against within his own men because of his physical similarities to the Vietcong. But one soldier, James Pearson, stood up for Mitchell. Pearson and Mitchell had become close while stationed at Okinawa, and then were stationed together in Vietnam.
Eventually, Mitchell was injured and James rescued him from sniper fire, blocking him from the bullets and saving his life. He pulled Mitchell to safety. Shortly thereafter, Mitchell was invalided home to Hawaii. He never forgot James and always wanted to reconnect after the war.
Upon seeing the story on Unsolved Mysteries, a Lt. Col. was moved by the story, and found James living in Chicago. UM arranged for them to meet (and I’m crying watching this segment even though I’ve seen it many times) for the first time in 30 years.
Sharita Harding/Niki Crowder (old: 3x04, new: 6x05)
Sharita Harding was a young girl who was hospitalized in Los Angeles in 1969. She befriended a girl she shared a room with named LaHarriet “Niki” Wade-Crowder. Crowder had never been in a hospital before, and she and Sharita became close friends. They did everything together, and as Niki calls it, lived in their own little world with no parents to tell them what to do.
Niki was in the hospital to have several tumors removed from her throat. Sharita had a rare form of cancer that caused her to undergo painful injections every night. Niki’s mother explained to her that Sharita would not be able to have children. One night, a distraught Sharita was sobbing uncontrollably. Niki comforted her, telling her she would have a child, and name it Sharita after her, and they could raise it together.
Eventually the day came where the two friends had to part. Niki received contact info from Sharita, but when she went to call her one day, there was no record of Sharita living at that address, for she had moved far away.
Niki went on Unsolved Mysteries to find Sharita, now Sharita Harding Buckner; and luckily she did. They reunited, and in time to have Niki’s daughter baptized as Sharita Kennedy Crowder, fulfilling the promise that Niki had made to Sharita when they were children.
Cathy Loving/Fred Lyle (old: 4x09, new: 8x08)
Cathy Williams-Loving was a young girl who grew up in Chicago under the strict eye of her policeman stepfather. Her father molested her repeatedly when she was little, and abused her physically. Loving ran away frequently, and every time she was forcibly picked up by her stepfather.
Eventually he had enough of Cathy and she was declared “incorrigible” and taken to jail to be rehoused. On the way there in the paddy wagon, she opened up about her story to the driver, Fred Lyle.
Lyle took pity on the girl and helped her, realizing the system was making a big mistake. Cathy was eventually released to close friends and family, finally free of her abusive stepfather. Years later, thanks to Unsolved Mysteries, Cathy was able to reunite with Deputy Lyle, now retired. He went to Cathy’s house and they were together at last. While sharing a special lunch with friends and family, Cathy was able to thank him for saving her life all those years ago.
Melvin, John and Daniel Nellis (old: 4x12, new: 5x08)
Here’s a family that has been torn apart by war. Melvin was an American GI stationed in China, who fell in love while overseas, but was forced to live his son and his son’s mother behind because he and the woman were not legally married. John’s father then disappeared from his life.
During the Vietnam War 27 years later, John was one of the last to flee south Vietnam when the US withdrew their troops. In the chaos, his five-year-old son Daniel was left behind.
Thanks to Unsolved Mysteries, John was reunited with both his father, who was retired and living in Japan, AND his son, whom he saw again for the first time in 17 years.
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4
We know that our posts have been devoid of POC...sadly UM didn’t feature a lot of minorities back in the day. Which reunion story has made you sob like a baby?