Viola Martin: Cook County woman's 2009 disappearance baffles investigators

It was a Christmastime tragedy for a suburban family when a Glenwood woman went missing on the way to visit her daughter.

The Cook County Sheriff’s missing persons unit is investigating the case and needs the public’s help to figure out what happened to Viola Martin.  

Investigators said the 56-year-old was last seen alive in the early morning hours at her Glenwood home on the day after Christmas in 2009.

"So her family reported her missing on Dec. 29, 2009 after she hadn’t been seen. Her car was found one day later – Dec. 30," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.

Cook County Sheriff's investigators located her tan 1999 Chrysler Cirrus in Dixmoor. They found it on the side of the road by a forest preserve near Thornton Road and Ashland Avenue.

Additional searches of that area did not provide any more clues to where or what happened to Viola.

"Spent a great deal of time all around that general area just to see if we could find any indication of anything. We were not able to find anything, but that was the last real connection of anything. That was just a short time after she went missing. There was nothing. The car did not give us any evidentiary value at all," Dart said.

At the time, her family believed Viola was on her way to visit one of her daughters who lived in Crete. However, when police found her car, it was headed in the opposite direction.

Another puzzling piece of information - Viola worked as an administrator at a local medical facility and never picked up her last paycheck.

"Which was obviously strange. Over the course of the years there have been different tips we’ve got as far as sightings and the like, but none of them have panned out to anything," Dart said.

The Cook County Sheriff’s missing persons unit is in charge of the case and is hoping someone will come forward with some new information.

"This is one of the many active cases that we have out there. We’re actively pursuing more leads that we’re desperate to get more. So anyone with any information would be a great help," Dart said.

Viola’s case was highlighted when the unit was launched in 2021, with her family speaking out about their search for answers.

"Everyone always says that they see her, but no one ever gives us the direct location or follows her or taps her and said ‘do you know your daughter’s looking for you’," said Angela Martin Field, daughter of Viola Martin.

Investigators said there were no reports of any trouble at home at the time of her disappearance, so they’re still working to figure out what happened.

"Nothing makes any sense, and so we’re just looking for as much help as we can get," Dart said.

Viola Martin would now be 70 years old. She's also described as about 5-foot-1, 160 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She also has pierced ears and one upper ear cartilage piercing.

Anyone who has information can contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Office at 773-674-9490 or email at