'I saw Barb' -- Sighting of missing girl fell on deaf ears

In the latest update from the Dakota Spotlight podcast's Season 5: A Better Search for Barbara Cotton, host James Wolner interviews a someone who may have seen the 15-year-old girl, gone missing from Williston, North Dakota, in 1981.

Jeri Martinez-Kueffler stands near the vending machine at CHI St. Alexius Hospital in Williston, ND, the spot she believes she saw missing Barbara Louise Cotton in 1981.
James Wolner / Forum News Service
We are part of The Trust Project.

'But, I saw Barb Cotton!' Listen to Dakota Spotlight Season 5 update — Episode 21

Get Dakota Spotlight on your favorite podcast app Apple | Spotify | Google

In the spring of 1981, Jeri Martinez-Kueffler was about to finish the 7th grade when she had an unforgettable experience.

It's something she's been talking about for 41 years. While volunteering at the hospital in Williston, North Dakota, she caught site of Barbara Louise Cotton, the 15-year-old girl who had been reported missing.

"And she turned and looked at me and I kind of did that double take like, 'That's Barb Cotton — that's that missing girl,'" Martinez-Kueffler told Dakota Spotlight, an investigative true crime podcast from Forum Communications.


The sighting is the subject of the latest update of Dakota Spotlight's fifth season: A Better Search for Barbara Cotton. Cotton vanished from Williston in 1981 and has been missing ever since.

Watch a video version of the podcast update below.

In this episode of season 5 of Dakota Spotlight, Martinez-Kueffler shares the gripping story of her sighting and the subsequent frustration and anger she experienced when she attempted to share the information with local law enforcement.

"I was dismissed and told to basically go home and not tell anybody," Martinez-Kueffler says.

To listen to the latest update on the Barbara Cotton case, subscribe to Dakota Spotlight podcast on any podcast app. Dakota Spotlight recently completed Season 6: Vanishing Act — The Untold Story of Kristin Diede and Bob Anderson

    James Wolner is a Digital Content Producer at Forum Communications Company, Fargo North Dakota and the creator, producer and host of Dakota Spotlight, a true crime podcast. He has lived the Upper Midwest since 2013 and studied photojournalism at California State University at Fresno. He is fluent in English and Swedish.
    What to read next
    A look back at the Minnesotan who inspired more than one of his songs and how the state's cold spring inspired another.
    Two juveniles were charges with arson related to the fire, which caused $75 million in damage, or $232 million in 2022 dollars. However, charges were later dropped. Why?
    In the 1920s, Engolf Snortland started running with a bad crowd, later kidnapped the wrong man, and went to prison. He moved home to North Dakota for a fresh start, only to be shot dead. In the years to come, the fallout from his unusual case would reach the state Supreme Court and inspire groundbreaking legislation in North Dakota.