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The Last Party

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Throughout the time in marriage between a husband and wife, there has been the possibility of domestic violence. Domestic violence plays a role in at least 20% of households today in 2023. One in three women and one and four men have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Everyday a spouse wants out of the cycle of abuse. On average a woman will attempt to leave their abusive partner at least 7 times before actually doing so. This is for many reasons, they believe they have nowhere to go, or they don’t have the financial means to do so, or they believe that staying in a marriage will be better off for the children. Approximately, 4,000 women die each year at the hands of their abusive partner and about 75% of these cases are when the women have believed to have left for the final time. These statistics are based on what is only reported. There are many more each year that go under-reported or law enforcement doesn’t have the evidence to support any domestic violence or worse. As in this story, a young woman, believing she found true love in a marriage and a happy life with her husband and two children. When their marriage began to crack, they would end up separating, hoping to be coparent’s so their children can have a better life. Until one day in the summer of 1992, Brenda would attend her son’s first birthday party and unfortunately, that would be her last.

I would first like to thank Christy for reaching out to me about her sister’s story. Christy is at the forefront of Brenda’s case. Although only a teenager at the time of Brenda’s disappearance she has made it known that she is here and she’s not backing down on finding her sister and getting justice where it’s due. Through our conversation I can feel the pain in her words. Recalling Brenda as a mother figure given their age difference and related her favorite memory being when Brenda’s daughter was born and how Brenda named her after Christy. Her family has fought tirelessly for some type of closure. One day things will open up and they will be able to lay their sister to rest in a place she belongs.

(All parties remain innocent until proven guilty in a court of law)

Brenda Gail Lambert was born on December 26,1969 in West Virginia. She grew up with six siblings. Brenda was fun and outgoing to everyone around. Described as some what of a tomboy, as she wasn’t afraid to get dirty and would often climb trees. Brenda was intelligent in school but would much rather not have her head in a book or doing an assignment. When Brenda was in high school, the principal begged Brenda’s parents to allow her to drop out. She had no interest in continuing and at 15 years old her parents finally allowed her to. With this new freedom came the urge for new excitement. At the age of 16, she would soon catch the eye of her brother Tim’s coworker, Raymond Lambert. Raymond and Tim worked together at a local chicken factory and would often carpool together. Raymond would pick Tim up from the family home and that is when he met Brenda. At first the family was happy for Brenda and her new boyfriend, and no one minded them together. Shortly Brenda became pregnant with their first child, a girl named Krista. Brenda and Raymond would marry in 1986. Brenda was a devoted mother and wife. She was a homemaker and would take care of everything that needed to be done around the family home while Raymond was the provider. They would go on to have another child in 1991, this time a son. You would think this is a setup for a perfect family. A young couple, starting out their lives together with two kids and a happy marriage. Things were not as they seemed in the Lambert household and soon darkness would take over leaving a family broken and fighting for answers.

In the years prior to 1992, things in the Lambert marriage seemed to crack. Brenda’s siblings started to notice small things and then before they knew they realized that Brenda was a victim of domestic violence by Raymond’s own hands. Her sisters witnessed her black and blue eyes, and she would have red rings around her neck. There were many times Brenda would go over to her sister’s house with these injuries, but they wouldn’t know what to do for her. They would comfort her and try to get her to leave Raymond, but she had kids, and she didn’t want to just pack up and leave. She wanted to leave him the right way. Through the court system. During this time physical abuse wasn’t the only thing she was suffering from with their marriage. The year before Brenda’s cousin Tammy moved into town with her mother. Tammy and Brenda were related and were cousins, because of this they would start hanging around together. However, it seems Tammy was trying to get closer to Brenda for other reasons. Tammy was chasing Raymond for herself. Tammy claimed she didn’t know that Brenda was married to Raymond but to me personally, I don’t see how. It wasn’t long before Tammy was having a full-blown affair with Raymond. Her cousin’s husband. Brenda and Raymond separated in early 1992 and Raymond lived with his parents on a remote 200-acre plot in the mountains. Brenda and the kids stayed at the family home on Windmill Hill Road in Bluefield, West Virginia. Brenda also made an appointment to see a divorce attorney on July 30, 1992. She would never make that appointment.

On the morning of July 26, 1992, Brenda was preparing for her son’s first party. What a great milestone it must be to have one of your children turning one. She was happy and couldn’t wait for her family to arrive to celebrate her son with her. The party also meant, however, that Raymond and his family would also participate. That was fine with Brenda, as after all this was Raymond’s son, but a couple weeks prior Brenda had filed a domestic report with the local police department alleging abuse from Raymond. It’s not known what they were arguing about that day but at one point Brenda claimed he choked her. After so many times Brenda wanted the abuse to stop. The only thing she could think of was to file the report. However, just in the days prior to the birthday party Brenda dropped the claim and stated that her and Raymond talked it out and made peace. Therefore, Raymond was allowed at the party that night because there was no order of protection over his head. Brenda didn’t know it yet, but he wouldn’t be the only one to show up and the only one to make tension in the home that afternoon.

During the birthday party for Brenda’s one year old son there were many families and friends that attended including her estranged husband, Raymond. Many people said Brenda seemed down that night like something was on her mind, but she would tell everyone she was just fine. It wasn’t too long before Raymond’s mistress Tammy walked through the front door. Making Brenda uncomfortable, she confronted Raymond about why he invited Tammy. Tammy was her cousin but trying to keep the peace she didn’t want her there. Although Brenda’s marriage was already damaged by the abuse, she didn’t feel the need to have a friendship with her cousin. A cousin and friend that could go behind her back and sleep with her husband. Raymond claimed he didn’t invite her but that was an argument Brenda wasn’t going to believe. There wasn’t going to be an end to it though until the party was done. In the evening as everyone started to pack up and leave the party Raymond told Brenda he wanted to take the children to his parents’ house for the night. There was another disagreement over this due to Brenda wanting her children to stay home with her. Raymond insisted and Brenda would eventually give in. As Brenda started to clean up her sister invited her to stay at their home, since no one really wanted her alone all night by herself, but Brenda wanted to stay at her house. Her home gave her peace of mind. She was cleaning up and popping the balloons when the last people walked out the door at around 9 P.M. never knowing her fate was already set in stone.

At approximately 11P.M. that night Raymond showed up at her sister Kay’s home. He was frantic and said that he went to Brenda’s home, and she wasn’t there. He wanted to know where she was. The last they knew of she wanted to stay at her home and finish cleaning up after the party they just had a few hours prior. Kay was not concerned about Brenda at the moment, I mean she just seen her not that long ago and she was sure she was fine. The next morning, she and another sister drove over to Brenda’s home to see if everything was ok. When they arrived Brenda’s car was parked in the driveway and the front door was locked. They would eventually get in but there was no sign of Brenda just the remnants of the birthday party the afternoon before. Everything that Brenda might have taken with her if she stepped out was also found in the home like her purse and keys. There was nothing to point them in the right direction to where she could have gone. The only thing they could do was to call the police department. When the police showed up, they didn’t find anything unusual except for the fact Brenda was not in the home and family and friends hadn’t seen her since the night before. When the police spoke with Raymond, he failed to let them know that he went back to the home the night prior and then went to Kay’s residence to look for Brenda. Raymond said he last saw her at their home when he and the kids left for his parents for the night. He did say she was seeing someone else and maybe just maybe she had taken off with him, a guy named Mike. Maybe…

In the days and weeks that followed Brenda’s disappearance there was little to no movement. Police seemed to believe Raymond’s story and that she most likely did take off with another man. Because of this and because everyone seemed to “know” Brenda was not coming back, Tammy moved into the family home with Raymond and his two children. They would eventually marry but marital bliss was nonexistent in this marriage also. Raymond would frequently beat on Tammy just like he had done to Brenda. Tammy would eventually leave Raymond and seek safety far away from him. There are so many questions I have here. Like why did you think he would be any better to you? And just why? But I am not writing this to ask Tammy questions and the choices she made. She did reveal in the show Cold Justice she has never known what happened to Brenda that night, but she assumed at first like everyone else that she did take off because she couldn’t handle the life anymore. She also has admitted she never once asked Raymond what happened to Brenda or if he had anything to do with it. Tammy said she was too scared to do so.

Five months after Brenda disappeared, another local seemed to have vanished into thin air. In January of 1993 Mark Cook was at a local bar called Pedro’s enjoying time with familiar faces. Witnesses last saw him leaving Pedro’s at around 3 A.M. walking towards US 52 when he vanished. To this day no one has seen or heard from Mark. It wasn’t long after his disappearance that rumors began to swirl. No one knows exactly how it started but the police received a tip connecting both Brenda and Mark’s disappearance. Since 1993 the rumor has stuck. This tip was that Brenda and Mark were dating and that they had run off to live a life together. Talking with Christy, she has no solid proof of the romance but did admit they knew each other. They attended school together and even hung around the same bar, Pedro’s. However, they were more like acquaintances than anything else. Sure, Mark might have tried to flirt with her and sweep young Brenda off her feet, but their relationship never got to that point. Some still tell this story, Brenda and Mark running away together and Brenda’s family can’t stop the rumor mill from spinning. I fail to believe she was dating Mark and no one, especially her sister’s, failed to know about it. But are they connected, in my opinion yes, and they suffered the same fate, but we can only speculate.

Since Brenda’s disappearance her case has hit a brick wall, nothing has been uncovered to prove anything. Even though the local sheriff’s department has tried to seek answers for her family, they’ve never come close enough. Her case file has been passed down from detective to detective hoping someone with fresh eyes can spot what they need to move forward and make an arrest, to no avail. Brenda’s family has not given up hope that one day they will get justice for her, it is all just a matter of time. Soon after Brenda vanished her parents died not even knowing what happened to their baby girl, but they did have a strong belief she was somewhere on the mountain near or on the property of her husband’s parent’s home. Because of this they requested to be buried in the cemetery that is only a mile from their home. They did this so they could be close to Brenda. Many years after the night of her disappearance Brenda’s daughter came forward with a story, she remembered that was on her mind. She claimed the night of the party Raymond had dropped her and her brother off with their grandparents but that wasn’t all. She said, “Dad and Grandpa were gone all night and they were traveling up and down the mountain”. What does that mean? And could have the disappearance of Brenda Lambert been solved decades ago? And would that also mean that Mark Cook wouldn’t have vanished on that January night? Many questions go unanswered, but what is done in the dark will always come to light.

What happened to Brenda Lambert on the evening of July 26, 1992? The 22-year-old woke up in excitement, her youngest child was turning one and she couldn’t wait to put everything together for her only son. Her family noticed she seemed down during the party but that could have been explained away by Tammy showing up with no invite. Could there have been something else on her mind that night and Tammy walking through the front door was just another thing she had to deal with. Although Raymond was allowed to attend, it doesn’t mean Brenda felt comfortable in his presence either. There could have been several things that were weighing on her mind. But did any of those things lead to her disappearance later that evening? She did want to stay home and clean up after the fun that day but what fateful decision did she make for that party to be the last?

Please give a like & a follow to the Facebook page that is set up for her disappearance. There is also a recent show called Cold Justice on the Oxygen network that covers Brenda's case.

A photo below included for aged progression of Brenda if she was alive today.


If you have any information into the disappearance of Brenda Lambert, you are urged to contact the Mercer County Sheriff's Office, Chief Deputy A.P. Christian at 304-487-8364.

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