In July of 2007, Joey Lynn Offutt was the mother of three children and lived in Sykesville, Pennsylvania. She had two daughters that were nine and two and she had a six-week-old son named Alexis Brolin III, but they called him Lex. Her boyfriend, Alexis fathered her two youngest children, the baby and the two year old daughter. Although the two of them had talked about getting married, they had a rocky relationship and it was always off and on where they would break up and then get back together.
Because of their relationship problems, the two of them did not live together and Alexis lived about 30 minutes away in the town of Clearfield. Joey wasn’t able to keep a job or really keep long relationships because she had some developmental delays that gave her the mind of a 14 year old. After her son, Lex was born, Joey was wanting to spend some one-on-one time with him and her two year old daughter was with Alexis in Clearfield so she asked her mother, Sherry, to keep her oldest daughter, the nine year old at her home in Virginia.
I’m going to get to the explosion, but I think in this case I’ll give the details in chronological order because I think that the days leading up to the fire contain the clues about what happened to Joey. On July 3rd, Alexis the boyfriend and father of the children, was at Joey’s house and the two of them got into some sort of argument because Joey was giving Lex a bath in the sink and it was dirty. According to Alexis, he left the house after that argument and claims that is the last time that he saw Joey and Lex. He says that he tried to call her multiple times the next day, but Joey wouldn’t answer and he thought she was giving him the silent treatment. When they would have arguments, Alexis said that Joey would just shut down and not talk to him for awhile, so he didn’t think this was out of the ordinary for her. After not hearing from her for the rest of that day, Alexis got up on July 5th and went back over to Joey’s house to check on her and the baby, but no one answered the door. He noticed that her red Saturn coupe was still in the driveway, so he assumed she was still avoiding him and wanted to be left alone. The next day, July 6th, Alexis got a call from a nurse with the health agency that was supposed to have an appointment with Joey that day. The nurse said that no one had answered the door at Joey’s house and mail was piled up at the door. Joey’s car was still in the driveway and the nurse could see a diaper bag inside the house through one of the windows. Over the next two days, July 7th and 8th, Alexis visited the house again with no response from Joey and now he claims that her car was missing and that he left a note for her. At this point, Joey’s mother had also been trying to contact her and was getting no answer. After Joey missed another scheduled appointment with the nurse on July 11th, Alexis left another note for Joey and said that he would report her missing the next day if he didn’t hear from her. This nurse stated that the mail was still piled up and the diaper bag was still in the same spot that could be seen through the window.
The explosion occurred on July 12, 2007, at 4 in the morning. After the fire was under control, the firemen searched the house and found baby Lex deceased in the bathtub. They weren’t able to determine his cause of death, but they were able to determine that he was deceased before the fire occurred. Joey was no where inside the house and it was determined that the fire was an arson after they had found an empty gas can inside the house. They noticed that Joey’s car was missing, but her purse and ID cards were still inside the house. They also discovered raw meat sitting on the kitchen counter that was covered in maggots and determined that it had been sitting there since sometime between July 3rd and July 5th. After speaking with neighbors, a few told the police that they saw Joey’s car at her house around 3 in the morning, one hour before the explosion occurred. A neighbor also told police that they had seen Joey walking down the road pushing a stroller on July 5th and that she didn’t speak to them. They weren’t able to confirm whether Lex was in that stroller as they never laid eyes on the baby and couldn’t say for sure – only that they saw the stroller. Alexis was cooperative with police, except for refusing a polygraph when asked to take one. When the police looked back through Joey’s past, they learned that she had temporarily lost custody of her older children in 2006 after she had been in communication online with a man from California. This man told Joey that he was a photographer and that he wanted her to model and do pornography for him. Her mind being that of a 14 year old, she was a susceptible target for online predators and her family feared that the children were in danger. Joey was outraged when her mother was given custody of them, but she was able to regain custody after them after completing her required counseling. At the time of the explosion, it was discovered that Joey didn’t even have internet in her house, as it had been disconnected for nonpayment.
A few days after the explosion, on July 15th, Joey’s car was found parked at the Nittany Gardens Apartments, which was over 60 miles away. This apartment complex was significant to Joey because she and Alexis had shared an apartment together there in 2003. The Saturn was backed into a parking spot, and Joey’s family didn’t believe that she would have parked that way because they stated she was a terrible driver. I can relate to Joey in that way because my family knows that I do not back into parking spaces and they would probably call the police right away if they saw my car that way. The driver’s seat was also pushed back far enough that her family knew Joey couldn’t have drove that way and someone much larger had to have been behind the wheel. Can I just mention that I’ve noticed this in a lot of cases that when a suspect drives a victims car, they always leave the car without fixing the seat back. Has anybody else noticed that or is it just me?
There are so many different theories you could ponder about this case, and I’ve went down a few of the rabbit holes only to come out with more questions. Every theory you can come up with just has holes, so it’s hard to settle on one theory. Alexis has never been named a person of interest in Joey’s disappearance, but the police do suspect foul play. Joey’s family had her declared legally dead in June of 2016 but they still search for answers about what happened to her and what caused Lex’s death. The first theory is that, of course, Alexis had something to do with Joey’s disappearance. Some believe that Alexis killed Lex, set the house on fire, and took Joey somewhere else to kill her. But why would he leave Lex there and take Joey somewhere else? Why would he leave Joey’s car at a location that would only connect back to him? He had their older two year old child and another child from a previous relationship under his care at the time, so Alexis would have had to either had a babysitter watch them or bring them with him to commit the crime. Plus, to believe that Alexis did everything would mean that he was capable of killing his own baby. It’s strange that it took him so long to report her disappearance to the police, but he was also coming by her house almost every day to check on her. Was that an act? Another theory involving Alexis is that he came by the house, saw that Joey had killed Lex, and then decided to kill Joey out of anger. If you don’t believe that Alexis is the prime suspect, then there are two other main theories to think about. One is that Joey was completely responsible and may have suffered from postpartum depression. This theory is that Joey killed Lex, set the house on fire herself, and then disappeared to either commit suicide or seek help from someone else who may have caused her own demise. I’ll get into my own opinion later, but I’m not sure that Joey would have been capable of orchestrating an elaborate cover up, in which she set her house on fire and went off the radar on her own. The last main theory is that a completely separate third party was involved and caused the whole situation. Joey had been known to meet men online in the past, so the thought is that she had done so again and this person caused Lex’s death and her own disappearance. If someone unknown did this, why would they kill Lex? And why would they choose to dump her car at an apartment she had previously lived in with her boyfriend?
None of these theories can be closer to answers than another, so I formed my opinion just based on the little amount that we can clarify. Honestly, I don’t think Alexis did this. I think it’s strange that he waited so long to report her missing or contact her family about it, but it sounds like Joey had done this in the past and he was just giving her that space she needed. If Alexis did do this, I think it was likely because something had already happened to the baby and he lost control. I’m also not sure that I believe an unknown third person was part of this. She didn’t have internet access for at least a month before her disappearance and the police couldn’t find anything recent in her online activity that would suggest she was meeting someone new. I’m also curious about the father of her oldest child and their relationship, but I couldn’t find any mention of him, so I’m guessing the police cleared him. Honestly, the best thing that I can come up with is that Joey had a fight with Alexis about bathing the baby in a dirty sink. So she put him the bath tub the next time and, perhaps by accident, he drowned. Joey would have panicked about this, feeling like she couldn’t tell her mom or Alexis what had happened. This would explain why her car was seen at the house and not at the house on different days. Maybe Joey stayed in the house, trying to figure out what to do, until Alexis left the note saying that he was going to call the police. Now, I’m not sure what happened next even in my own theory. I don’t know if she started the fire herself. I don’t know why she would have backed her car into the parking spot of her old apartment complex when she never parked that way. According to the reports, the driver’s seat was pushed back all the way and the seat was also reclined, so I really wonder if she had parked there and laid down or even went to sleep. I don’t know what happened to her after that. I wish I had a more definite outlined theory, but every path I went down ended up with more forks in the road.
Robin Warder covered this case on his podcast, The Trail Went Cold, and he did an amazing write up of the timeline on a reddit article. It’s very easy to find if you want to look it up and I have to thank him for that because it was the only detailed timeline I could find of the events leading up to Joey’s disappearance. At the time of her disappearance, Joey Lynn Offut was 33 and she would be 46 today. She was a white female that stood at 5’3” and weighed 110 pounds. She had brown hair, brown eyes, and wore wire-framed glasses. She also had a very noticeable lisp when she spoke. Joey has been declared legally deceased by her family, but they still have so many questions about what happened to her. If you have any information, you can contact the Pennsylvania State Police at 814-371-4652. There is also a Facebook page set up for her that you can find by searching Help Find Joey Lynn Offut. You can also contact the Joey Tip Line at 1-877-440-5639. The Joey tip line is offering a $25,000 reward for information. I will have the link to the Facebook page and the contact information for the police department in the case show notes.
So what do you think happened to Joey Lynn Offut? There are so many theories you can come up with out of this case, and I would love to hear yours. The most important thing that we can do for Joey and her family, is to keep speaking her name and sharing her story.