NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The mother of a young girl who disappeared from Jackson, Tennessee two decades ago says she will never stop trying to find out what happened to her.
Thursday marks 20 years since 11-year-old Bethany Markowski was reported missing from Old Hickory Mall in Jackson, Tennessee, during a weekend visit with her father.
Her mother, who lives in Nashville, said the last time she talked to her daughter was the morning of March 4, 2001 and said her daughter seemed upset.
“She kept saying ‘Mom, you are going to pick me up at 5 p.m. right?’ I had a restraining order against her father, and that’s why I didn’t pick Bethany up. I didn’t want to break the restraining order. That’s why my sister Lori went. So, Bethany said ‘Will you be there at 5?’ I said I will. She said ‘I love you’, and I said ‘I love you, too’,” said Jonnie Carter.
Carter said her sister and brother-law went to meet her estranged husband, Larry Markowski, in Waverly to pick up Bethany, but the daughter and father never showed up.
Markowski told her he had taken a nap in his car while Bethany went into the Jackson mall, and she never came back out. However, surveillance video showed Bethany never entered the mall that day.
“She was not seen in the parking lot, going into any of entrances, not going into any of the stores of the mall. He was—she was not,” said Carter.
Carter said her husband, who lived in Gleason, at the time was investigated by police but never charged with anything.
“I do know for a fact she was in Gleason. She called me from the home phone number. I know she was in Gleason, because she stopped on the way out to say goodbye to one of her really good friends. After that, I don’t know,” said Carter.
Carter has been searching for Bethany ever since and is now a volunteer with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. In 2017, she helped state Rep. Darren Jernigan get a measure passed making March 4 Tennessee Missing Children’s Day.
“I was very concerned about doing a children’s missing day on the day Bethany disappeared, because I kind of thought on that day I should focus totally on Bethany, but actually it’s an honor that Tennessee Missing Children’s Day is March 4th. So, I can focus on Bethany and all the children in Tennessee,” said Carter.
Carter hasn’t given up hope on finding her daughter and NCMEC’s forensic artists have created an age progression image, to show what Bethany might look like today, at 31 years old.
“I can’t sit here and say that I’ll see Bethany one day, but what I can say is I will die fighting to bring her home. We’ll get her home one day,” Carter said.
If you have any information about Bethany Markowski, you are urged to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) at 1-800-TBI-FIND or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
For more on Bethany Markowski, click here.