The 1986 cold case regarding Bambi Brantley’s unsolved murder was reopened in March by the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office (VPSO).
Bambi’s family came together Friday at the VPSO in Leesville to express their long standing grief, lack of closure and hope for answers in an official press conference.
The press conference began as Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft spoke to the media. “Bambi Brantley was last seen on Oct. 22, 1986,” he said. “She is still considered a missing person.
“There have been many rumors circulating about what happened to her. However, there have never been any remains found that could be identified as Bambi Brantley’s. Anyone that has any information is encouraged to come forward no matter how big or small we ask that you come forward as soon as possible.”
On the day Bambi went missing, she attempted to call her brother at midnight from a payphone at a local convenience store, now known as Leebo’s on Highway 8 West. From there, she began to walk home to a trailer she shared with her brother at the time.
Bambi’s family came to Leesville from Memphis on Friday to give their statement to the public, and to advocate for answers regarding their lost loved one’s tragic disappearance.
Her niece, Brooke Brantley Merrill, and nephew, Pender Brantley, talked about the bond they had with Bambi. They spoke about her spirit, loving nature and how hard it was losing their aunt at a young age.
“One of the most devastating things about our lives after Bambi's disappearance is that our Bambi, the amazing and beautiful life of the Bambi that we desperately miss, has been reduced to just another face in a sea of missing persons posters and case files,” Merrill said.
Pender, who was seven years-old when Bambi went missing, said she was his favorite aunt. “Bambi was an amazing aunt, and an awesome, real, human being,” Pender said. “She was very much alive and present in this world.
“Going through the case files has made me realize that it isn’t a question of who knew Bambi. It was a question of who didn’t know Bambi. That’s because she took the time to get to know people.”
Pender said Bambi’s memory has not faded with the passage of time. “She was real, she existed and she is still a big part of our lives,” he said.
Along with the memories of Bambi’s life, the family shared their feelings about the case being reopened. The consensus among them was a feeling of hope to finally find out what happened to Bambi and some semblance of closure.
“We are confident in this department, that we can finally get the answers we’ve been searching for,” said Randi Brantley Sarsfield. Sarsfield is Bambi’s sister and expressed her confidence in Craft and the VPSO detectives. Similar sentiments were expressed by the rest of the family.
“We will find it in our hearts to forgive whoever may have taken our sister and hurt her,” Sarsfield said. “It’ll be hard, but if that burden is on your heart, please, please come forward.”
The family is hopeful that the solving of this case could lead to similar cold cases being reopened and solved as well, Merrill said.
Craft closed the press conference saying they were close to solving this and other recently reopened cold cases.
He advised anyone with relevant information to come forward as soon as possible.