It has been 40 years since Lisa Joy White disappeared from Prospect Street in Vernon.
For Aprille Falletti, it has been 40 years of wondering what happened to her blond-haired, blue-eyed older sister.
“I wanted to be just like her,” said Falletti.
Falletti said Lisa was a true talent, involved in acrobatic dancing and cheerleading. She was also no stranger to mischief and perhaps mature beyond her 13 young years.
“She had a boyfriend. I believe he was 18 at the time. My mother did not approve, obviously,” said Falletti.
On Oct. 31, 1974, Aprille’s mother, Judi Kelly, was called to state police barracks, where officers told herLisa and a group of friends had thrown a pumpkin from a car window on Interstate 84.
Lisa and her mother argued when they arrived home.
“I remember huddling in my closet in my nighty,” says Falletti. “It was just so loud and frightening for me.”
Falletti said Lisa was grounded, but the punishment didn’t stick. The following morning, Nov. 1, Lisa left for a friend’s house on Prospect Street. It was the last time she was ever seen.
At the time of her sister’s disappearance, Falletti was 10. Her life was quickly consumed by detectives at the front door, news crews outside her home and her sister’s picture plastered on telephone poles and posted at the local supermarket.
Falletti said her mother would listen to anyone and everyone who had a tip or idea. She still holds onto her mother’s scrapbooks, which contain as many news clippings on her missing daughter as she could find.
“She drove around night after night, day after day. Until the day she died, she never stopped looking for my sister,” Falletti said.
Falletti said her sister’s disappearance has shaped every aspect of her life. She now owns a dance studio because dance is something she and her sister did together.
It has also changed the way she interacts with her own son.
“I remember one time he had a different bus driver and I followed that bus to school,” Falletti said.
Mostly, she said it has left her thinking about how things should have been.
“I wonder what it would be like to have a sister to call, and on holidays to have my son spend time with her children,” Falletti said.
The work to find Lisa has never stopped. Rewards are still being offered, and just recently, authorities created a cold case task force in Tolland County. Lisa’s case will be a focus of their work.
“For me, closure would be to bring my sister home,” Falletti said.
A memorial to Lisa Joy White will be unveiled in a ceremony at Talcott Park on Saturday, just feet away from Lisa’s last known location.
Before she died, Lisa's mother hand-selected a boulder engraved with Lisa's picture. The inscription reads, “Lisa Joy White. 13 years old. Missing from here on November 1st, 1974. Gone but not forgotten.”
“I wanted it to be something permanent that couldn’t be taken,” said Falletti.
She said the boulder is meant as much for her mother as for Lisa.
“I think it is beautiful,” she said.