Born in Seattle, Wash., to Martin and Florence Spangler on September 2, 1923, Jean Elizabeth Spangler was the youngest of her siblings: Richard, Betsy Ann, and Edward. By 1930, the family had moved to Los Angeles, where Jean graduated from Franklin High School in 1941.

In June 1942, she married Dexter Benner, a USC graduate three years her senior. Their marriage was troubled, and Jean filed for divorce only six months later, accusing Dexter of cruelty.
They got back together, and in April 1944 their daughter Christine Louise Benner was born.
But when Dexter went to serve in the war, Jean began a relationship with another man, an Army Air Corps lieutenant called "Scotty". They briefly shared an apartment and talked about marriage, but like her husband, Scotty had a mean side. He beat her, and when she left him in 1945, he threatened to kill her. Dexter and Jean divorced in 1946, and the father got temporary custody of Christine, due partly to Jean's infidelity.

To help support herself and her family (her brother Edward had died in WW2 in 1945, and her father was in hospital) Jean had begun dancing at Florentine Gardens and Earl Carroll's theatre, performing regularly as a showgirl. She had also signed up to be an extra in movies and on television, and joined the Screen Extras Guild.

In 1948, Jean went to court to regain custody of her 4-year old daughter. Dexter Benner, who had remarried, claimed his ex-wife was "nothing but a partying glamour girl", "unfit to bring up a child".
Jean responded, revealing that during the two years he had custody, Benner had denied Jean the right to see Christine on more than twenty different occasions, that he had pushed her off his porch and used vile language in front of their daughter, and that he had threatened her repeatedly:
"He told me to stay away or he'd fix it so I'd never see my child again."
On August 13, 1948, Judge Albert F. Rose awarded custody to Jean, stating: "Many actresses, models and dancers - professional glamour girls - are known to be excellent mothers." The judge did find both parents fit, and gave Benner permission to have the child on weekends.

After winning custody of Christine, Jean, her mother and daughter, shared a 2 bedroom apartment on Colgate Avenue in Park La Brea. "She worked hard and used the money to help me keep the home together, so that she could bring her father home," her mother later wrote. Martin Spangler was due to return from hospital in October 1949.
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Friendly, cheerful and pretty, Jean was well-liked, and when she wasn't working or looking after Christine, she could be seen with various handsome dates at various Hollywood night clubs -- in the summer of 1949, she was spotted at Ciro's with Ronald Reagan. "There was never a dull moment with that girl," fellow Earl Carroll showgirl Betty Bedoin said later. "I don't think she ever had an argument with anyone. She was happy all the time."

"She was trying to get into motion pictures and she danced at Earl Carroll's, the Florentine Gardens, Ciro's, Mocambo and even at El Rancho Vegas in Nevada," Jean's former attorney, Albert Pearson said after her disappearance. "She must have dated 50 men in three months."

In the Fall of 1949, Florence Spangler went to visit relatives in Kentucky. Jean's sister-in-law Sophie, widow of Edward, came from St. Louis with her daughter to help out at the Colgate house.

Friday October 7, was like any other day. Around 5 p.m., Jean, in her usual mood and dressed in a western shirt, slacks and a white coat, told Sophie she was going to see her ex-husband about unpaid child support. After that, she said, she was going to work late at a movie.
At about 7 p. m., Jean called home to check on her daughter, and to tell Sophie she was at work and would be late. Jean was never heard from again.

On Sunday October 9, a worker at Griffith Park found Jean's broken purse at the Fern Dell entrance. He called the police, and within days, a large scale search of the park was underway for the missing young woman or any clues leading to her whereabouts.

While hundreds of volunteers, and police on horseback and with dogs, were searching the vast Griffith Park for any clues about Jean Spangler's disappearance, her ex-husband went to the courts to regain custody of his daughter. He won the case two months later, with the understanding that Jean's mother would be allowed to visit the girl. But when Florence came to see Christine, Dexter would not allow her to talk about Jean, and eventually, he did not allow Florence to come over at all. Florence took Dexter to court, and the custody hearing went on for four years.
Although Dexter missed fourteen court appearances regarding Florence's rights to see her grandchild, he had no problem showing up when he asked the courts for his new wife, Lynn, to adopt Christine, claiming she had been "abandoned" by her birth mother. A judge blocked the request in 1951, saying there was no proof the birth mother, Jean, had abandoned her child, as no one knew whether she was alive or dead. Dexter, as he had done with Jean, continued to ignore Florence's requests to see her granddaughter, and when eventually he was sentenced to jail for contempt of court in 1953, Dexter took his daughter and wife and moved to Florida, never to return to California.
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Florence waited for a call about Jean, and looked for her beloved granddaughter Christine, until she died in 1991. By then, Christine was in her forties, but she never made any attempt to contact her maternal family. Dexter Benner had two more children with Lynn: Kimberly Ann and Julia Lynn. Dexter passed away in 2007.
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Jean Spangler was never declared dead. Her remains have never been found. No one has ever confessed to know anything about her disappearance, or how her purse ended up torn and discarded near Griffith Park. The identities of "Kirk" and "Dr Scott" are still unknown.
After 62 years, Jean's missing person case file is still active.