MAHONING VALLEY MYSTERIES: Youngstown, Liberty probe disappearance of woman in 2006

Staff photo / Ed Runyan Youngstown police officer Anthony Congemi is seen recently on North Jackson Street near Oak Street on Youngstown’s East Side, where the abandoned car of Lori A. Boffman was found early Aug. 6, 2006. Boffman has never been found. Congemi is part of a team investigating her disappearance.

Lori A. Boffman, a 45-year-old Liberty Township woman who had won $1,000 in the Ohio Lottery on Aug. 4, 2006, was looking forward to seeing her daughter — who was home from college — the next day.

After a party at a local park Aug. 5, 2006, Boffman disappeared, though her car was found early the next morning on North Jackson Street near Oak Street on Youngstown’s East Side. Boffman was not in it and has not been seen since.

Though Boffman’s case has been mentioned on various websites and has been profiled on television shows and in the newspaper over the years, it remains unsolved.

But a Youngstown police officer who was given permission to try to solve a cold case and a per-chance mention of Boffman’s disappearance by a woman who remembered her late last year have led to a joint investigation by the Youngstown and Liberty police departments.

Youngstown police officer Anthony Congemi expressed an interest in working a cold case to veteran Youngstown Police Detective Sgt. Dave Sweeney, and Sweeney cleared it with Capt. Jason Simon, head of the detective division.

Sweeney has worked with many fellow officers over the years to investigate cold-case murders or missing-persons cases with great success, such as the 2023 determination that a body found along the Mahoning River bank in downtown Youngstown in 1980 was that of West Side man Ralph Coffman.

Recently, while working on another missing-person cold case, a woman mentioned to Sweeney the name of a woman she knew from school — Lori A. Boffman.

The woman asked Sweeney, “What do you know about Lori Boffman?” Sweeney recalled. It started Sweeney wondering whether that might make a good cold case for him to investigate.

When Congemi approached Sweeney with an interest in working a cold case, Sweeney made it happen. After getting the go-ahead, Sweeney contacted Liberty Police Detective Sgt. Mike Shuster and said “Hey, Congemi is interested in working this. We’re going to start from ground zero. We started compiling stuff,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney and Shuster agreed that they would work on it as a team, and other agencies also have assisted. Sweeney, Congemi and Shuster have worked on it among their other duties for the past few months.

“We told Mike (Shuster) we’re willing to run from ground zero, searching the newspapers,” Sweeney said. Congemi has been searching through documents to look for something that might help further the investigation, and the team is hoping for help from the public.

Boffman lived on Holly Drive in Liberty when she disappeared. She lived in Youngstown during earlier years. She was 45 years old when she went missing Aug. 5, 2006. She is listed as 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds. She would be 63 years old now and has three children. She has brown eyes and black hair. She wore glasses and had a partial denture plate. She also had the last name Stubbs.

She wore her hair in dreadlocks at the time of her disappearance, according to the Charley Project, which calls itself a “clearinghouse of information for missing persons” that relies on information from news media accounts, law enforcement and information supplied by friends and family members of missing people.


According to the Charley Project, Boffman was last seen 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5, 2006. She left her purse, medicine and identification at home. She was driving so erratically that the friend who was with her asked to be let out of the car, and Boffman dropped him off and continued alone. Her loved ones stated she appeared to be in a bad mood about that time and was exhibiting “unstable behavior.”

She had started taking a new diabetes medication before her disappearance and was still adjusting to it. She wore glasses and had a scar on her abdomen.

At 3:12 a.m. Aug. 6, 2006, Boffman’s light blue 1992 Mercury Sable station wagon was found in a driveway between two homes on North Jackson Street near Oak Street on Youngstown’s East Side, according to an Aug. 6, 2006, Youngstown police report.

It had been driven through a couple of rear yards before it ended up in the driveway between two houses on North Jackson Street, the report states.

The keys were found in the ignition, and two pairs of glasses were inside the car. The vehicle had apparently left the road off Himrod Avenue before traveling through the rear yards. There was damage to the passenger side mirror and to the lawns and a swing set in the back yards where the vehicle had traveled, “most likely purposely,” according to the report.

A neighbor on Jackson reported hearing a “disturbance” and that “there were vehicles driving crazy on North Jackson at that time.” The keys were in the ignition, but there was no sign of Boffman.

The report said “the driver with no description fled the area.”

The website Uncovered states that Boffman attended the party at the local park Aug. 5 then left it with an unidentified friend at 6:30 p.m. It stated that was the last time she was seen.


After winning the $1,000, Boffman ordered $500 worth of food for a party. The Liberty Police Department provided an August 2006 police report written after a Liberty officer spoke with an employee of the Belmont Avenue Giant Eagle who waited on Boffman about 4 a.m. Aug. 5 regarding the order.

The report is not clear on whether Boffman picked up any food at that time or not. Among the things she ordered were a $50 cake and $72 worth of cookies, and she paid $300 for the order that morning, the report states.

“The female only had $300 and said she would come back later with the rest (of the money),” the police report states. Boffman told the employee “her daughter was home from college. She was having a picnic at Wick Park. There was a light-skin black male, grayish mustache, wearing a brown leisure suit who stood behind her,” the report states.

“This was around 4 a.m. in the morning. She looked like she just got out of bed, wearing jogging pants with a head scarf around her head,” the report stated. Boffman “never came back with the rest of the money,” the report adds.

Sweeney, Shuster and Congemi said they believe the party actually took place in Mill Creek Park.

Shuster said a distraught member of Boffman’s family came to the Liberty Police Department Aug. 7 and said, “I need to file a missing persons report.”

An officer told the family member, “Give us what you have and we’re gladly going to follow up on it.”

The officer took that report, then ran Boffman’s license plate through a law enforcement database. “And that’s how we learned (Boffman’s car) got towed in Youngstown,” Shuster said during a recent meeting of the three investigators and this newspaper.


In 2011, the Nancy Grace show did a segment on Boffman’s case, and Cleveland kidnapping survivor Amanda Berry did a story on Boffman’s disappearance late last year. The Vindicator published a story in 2011 after the Grace episode aired.

“The story hasn’t died at all,” Shuster said of Boffman’s disappearance. “People are still interested. Different web pages are still posting about it.”

The FBI collected DNA from close relatives of Boffman, which can be useful in a variety of ways, Shuster said. One way is to determine whether unidentified people found in various places are Boffman.

One such case arose in 2019, when police officers in Tennessee contacted the Liberty and Youngstown police departments to alert them that the remains of a woman had been found in Tennessee. The Tennessee officer wanted to determine whether they could be Boffman’s remains.

Dental records and DNA collected from relatives of Boffman determined that the body found in Tennessee was not Boffman’s.

The FBI also checked into items at the Liberty Goodwill store, but that lead did not produce any link to Boffman, Shuster said.

“A lot of excellent eyes have looked at this. But we just need some help to see if someone can put us back on the map and get it moving,” Sweeney said. Congemi checked into a reference he found on a website about a person getting a call recently from a phone that indicated it was Boffman’s phone.

The investigators now believe it was a case of someone using Boffman’s name to create a phone account. “Maybe someone put a phone in her name,” Congemi said.

Shuster said the Liberty Police Department had an investigator assigned to the Boffman case after she went missing. “He did extensive notes all of 2006 going into 2007. He had tracked down some leads. He had spoken to the family,” Shuster said.

People “would tell us maybe they had a clue. Maybe they had a sighting. Our detective at that time would chase down that lead and follow up in some fashion,” Shuster said.

One example was when someone saw a vehicle behind a Hubbard restaurant. “A woman said she saw Boffman’s car pull out. We followed up on this immediately. But just based on the timeline, it couldn’t be the right (vehicle),” Shuster said.”

The Liberty Police Department also checked on a tip of someone seeing Boffman at a Tops grocery store in Warren, Shuster said. It is an example of various tips that the department checked out over the years, he said.

“We’re still waiting for that call and hopefully some day” it will come, Shuster said of getting information that helps solve Boffman’s disappearance.

Stories about Boffman’s disappearance always include a phone number for the Liberty Police Department so that tips can be provided to the police department, Shuster said.

The phone numbers to call with information are 330-759-1511 for the Liberty Police Department and 330-742-8911 for the Youngstown Police Department’s Detective Division.

Have an interesting story? Email Ed Runyan at erunyan@vindy.com


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