‘Where is Barbara Cotton?’ Family and friends still searching for that answer 40 years later

Barbara Cotton
Barbara Cotton(KFYR)
Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 7:01 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. - Her name is Barbara Cotton. She was 15 years old when she disappeared. She’s a white female with brown hair and brown eyes, stood 5 feet and 2 inches tall and weighed about 100 pounds. Her friends say she was a great student and had a heart of gold.

“She was a great person, very loyal and caring,” said Sandee Evanson, Barbara’s childhood friend.

On April 11, 1981, Barbara went roller skating with some friends, then grabbed a bite to eat at a place located inside the Plainsman Hotel. She then proceeded to walk home from that restaurant to her house.

What happened afterward is still unknown, but regardless, that was the last night anyone would see Barbara Cotton.

“I thought it was really odd she didn’t come home. My mom told me she didn’t know where she was,” says Kathy Nulph, Barbara’s sister

The police at first believed it to be a runaway case, but too many details made the family believe that wasn’t likely.

“I knew she didn’t run away; she didn’t take anything personal with her, nothing,” said Nulph.

There haven’t been many solid leads as to what happened following that night, but the case remains an active investigation by Williston police. There have been renewed efforts thanks to James Wolner and his Podcast “Dakota Spotlight.”

“I can’t thank him enough. He’s done so much,” said Evanson.

A celebration of life is planned for next Sunday, April 11 at Recreation Park, the spot where it all began. The community is invited to attend.

“We want you to know Barb that we never forgot you, and we are going to honor you the best way we can,” said Evanson.

“Barb, if you’re out there, I love you, miss you, and we really want you to come home,” said Nulph.

While they hope this vigil will help bring some closure, the hope for finding out what may have happened the night of April 11, 1981, has never been higher.

If you lived in the Williston Area in the early 80s and may have some information on Barbara Cotton, please contact the Williston Police Department at 701-577-1212. Any little bit of information could be the key in solving this case.

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