What Happened To Yolanda Bindics?

Posted by:  Aaron Saykin, Reporter  

Created: 11/4/2004 10:19:37 PM
Updated: 11/5/2004 5:43:32 AM

What happened to Yolanda Bindics? It's a question that haunts her friends and family here in Jamestown, and we just don't know.

But over the past few weeks we've been able to find out what happened in the days leading up to her disappearance -- events, conversations, some of which could be a window into solving the mystery.

Until she vanished, Yolanda was a single mom with four children from four different fathers. To some that would be a burden, but to Yolanda, it was a blessing. She was always happy, her mother says, until right before she disappeared.

Reporter: "Something was bothering her?"
Yolanda's Mother: "Yeah."

It was something important that she was planning to reveal the night she vanished.

Reporter: "She had a secret she wanted to tell you?"
Yolanda's Mother: "Yes. Yes she did."

And to this day, no one knows what it is because she never had the chance to tell anyone that night.

It was Tuesday, August 10th. Yolanda was leaving work at the Jamestown Family Dollar with Nicole Berg, the last person to ever see her.

Nicole Berg: "I was doing the alarm and I locked up. We both came out at the same time. I said, well, Yolanda, give me a call later and she said okay. And she got into her car and got on the phone."

The phone call was to her brother Frank.

Frank: "I remember hearing her say 'goodbye' to Nicole."

He was baby-sitting Yolanda's children.

Frank: "She asked me if she needed any(thing) food-wise around the house. We were giggling with each other and that's when she said I'll be there in less than an hour. About 15 minutes after that... about 8:35... I called her back. There was no answer at all."

Yolanda never came home, making Frank the last known person to talk to her.

Brother: "It's hard. Real hard. I think about it every day and every night (eyes watering)."

So does Nicole.

Nicole: "And I should have stayed five more minutes... and... (long pause)."
Reporter: "I don't think anyone blames you for that, nor could you blame yourself."
Nicole: "I do (wipes her eyes, sniffles). I'm sorry."

The next day police found Yolanda's car at the Arby's just up the road. There were no signs of a struggle or any clues.

"Something's just not right here," said Captain Lee Davies of the Jamestown Police Department. "This isn't just your run-of-the-mill missing person case."

It just didn't make sense. Yolanda agreed to cover someone's shift the next day at work. And she said nothing about leaving to anyone, not even her closest friends.

Reporter: "What do you think happened?"
Nicole: "I think someone kidnapped her or did something to her. I think somebody was waiting somewhere around here, watched me leave and came up and did something."

Leading up to that night, Yolanda's mother says all was not well. her daughter wasn't her smiling self, she says. She also believes Yolanda looked tense, tired and stressed.

Could it have had anything to do with the secret? First we wanted to find out what it was.

Mother: "She wanted to tell it to Margaret first. She was closest to Margaret."
Reporter: "Her sister from North Carolina?"
Mother: "Yes, yes."

We spoke to Margaret by phone.

Reporter: "When was she supposed to tell you about the announcement?"
Margaret: "After 8 o'clock, Tuesday, August 10th."

That's the night Yolanda vanished.

Reporter: "And you were never able to get a hold of her?"
Margaret: "No."

Margaret says Yolanda had an important doctor's appointment three days earlier.

But for what?

Margaret: "She could have very well wanted to tell me that she's pregnant because of the fact that in the past, with her last two daughters, I am the first one in the family she tells."

Her mother has two theories.

Yolanda's Mother: "She was either going to get married. She decided to marry Darien after all, or, she thought she was pregnant with her boy."

By "Darien" she means Darien Thomas. He's the father of Yolanda's second child, and her on-and-off boyfriend for the last seven years.

A week before Yolanda vanished, the two took a trip to Canada alone.

Darien: "We talked on the way out and the whole time we were there, and she never mentioned any kind of secret me."

Reporter: "You had actually, recently... again... asked her to marry you?"
Darien: "Ah-hah. Ah-hah. We were... we were looking at settling down, perhaps finding a home together."

But Yolanda never agreed, he says. Later, after she vanished, Thomas and several other men close to her became "persons of interest," say police, and took polygraph tests.

Reporter: "Do you know what happened to her? Did you have anything to do with her disappearance?"

Darien: "Uhm, absolutely not. I have no idea what happened to her. And of course, I absolutely had nothing to do with her disappearance."

There was suspicion surrounding a Jamestown Police Officer, Michael Watson. He was put on paid leave just days after Yolanda vanished because, according to investigators, he had a relationship with her.

Then, there was something that, at first, seemed like a break in the case. On October 4, the Jamestown Police Chief announced that Watson was under arrest.

As it turned out, Watson's arrest was not for Yolanda's disappearance, rather on charges of stalking several women.

Weeks earlier there was another puzzling arrest involving someone else who had a relationship with Yolanda, Clarence Carte.

Carte is the father of Yolanda's youngest child. Like Watson, Carte was arrested on unrelated charges -- a probation violation from Florida.

There were also several searches in nearby woods, gravel pits, creeks and gorges, but investigators found nothing.

Later, police caught a break, finding Yolanda's keys and pocketbook after they washed up from a Jamestown storm drain. They sent divers into the sewers and the river, but they found nothing else.

Reporter: "In your heart, do you believe she's still alive?"
Yolanda's Mother: "Well, we're wondering."

Darien: "It's unbelievable."
Reporter: "How much do you miss her?"
Darien: "I miss her more than anything (tearing up)."

But he's still hopeful the new clues about Yolanda's actions, mood and secret before her disappearance will finally lead them to her.

Captain Davies: "If we can fill in those blanks, that would hopefully lead us to be able to solve the case."

And while they wait, they keep Yolanda close by, seeing her smiling face in home video and in photographs.

A smile that vanished from their lives, and still, no one knows why.

*update - Nov.
28th '04 - Thanks to all who have emailed the Post-Journal they have recently been covering more of Yolanda.
Post Journal's Letter to the Editor
Thank 2 News
Aaron Saykin for the fantastic coverage on Yolanda

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