The following is an excerpt from my book Tales of Coles County, a collection of history, folklore, and true crime from one of the most interesting counties in Illinois. Order it in paperback or Kindle today.
At around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23, 1977, 29-year-old Andy Lee Lanman was last seen leaving the house of Dr. Andrew Griffiths, a local dentist, on 18th Street in Charleston and getting into a car with several unidentified people, saying he was going to a party. He was wearing a green, military-style coat. Lanman, a senior theater major at Eastern Illinois University and student art teacher at Mattoon High School, belonged to a local family and served as a parachute rigger in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam. He lived in an apartment building at 1624 University Drive in Charleston, was 5-feet 5-inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with brown eyes and curly brown hair.
Harold Lanman reported his son missing on March 2, over one week after Andy allegedly got into an unidentified car and disappeared into the night. On March 5, Les Easter and Mike Lanman, Andy’s cousin, and their fraternity brothers from Sigma Pi led a wide-ranging search coordinated with local law enforcement involving two airplanes and a boat. After several days, the volunteers came up empty handed.
Then, at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, 1977, two hunters stumbled upon Andy’s body 150 to 200 feet from the road in tall grass near a wooded party spot known as “The Cellar” five miles south of Charleston between the Embarras River and 18th Street (S. Fourth Street Road). His green jacket was missing, and the only things in his pocket were a set of keys and a nickel. The Cellar was an old concrete storm cellar north of the intersection of 18th Street and E. County Road 420 N. Today it is on private property, but in the 1970s it played host to numerous keggers and wild parties.