Details of Disappearance
Ann Marie was last seen in her home in the 3000 block of north 14th Street in Tacoma, Washington on August 31, 1961. She shared her bedroom with her three-year-old sister, who had a broken arm at the time. In the middle of the night, Ann Marie brought her sister to their parents' room because the younger girl's cast was bothering her and she was crying. Their parents told them to go back to bed. Ann Marie has never been heard from again.
Ann Marie's mother got up at 5:30 a.m. and discovered her daughter was missing. The front door had been locked and chained the evening before, but Ann Marie's mother found it unlocked from the inside and open. There was a small living room window they had kept open a few inches, and in the morning it was found opened wider, with a piece of red thread stuck in the jam. A garden bench had been taken from behind the house and put in front of the window.
A faint footprint was found outside the open window. It had been distorted by the previous night's heavy rainstorm, but authorities believe it was from a Keds sneaker, size 6 or 7. A small man or a teenager would have feet that size. A similar footprint was found in the back of the house by the basement window.
There was no sign of Ann Marie anywhere and no sign of a struggle in her bedroom. Her sister and her two brothers who slept in the basement had not been disturbed, but the family's dog had barked that night. Ann Marie's parents had heard it and assumed it was scared of the storm. Neighbors reported that in the days prior to Ann Marie's disappearance, they had seen someone in their yard, peering into their windows, but they couldn't describe the person.
Ann Marie's disappearance was treated as an abduction from the beginning. Authorities theorized that she was possibly taken by someone she knew. They investigated convicted sex offenders living in the neighborhood, but could link no one to her disappearance. One man made a ransom threat, but he turned out to be an opportunist who had nothing to do with Ann Marie's disappearance, and was charged with disorderly conduct. A teenage boy who was a neighbor of the Ann Marie family failed a polygraph about the case. He passed a second test, but the police never ruled him out as a suspect.
An extensive search of Tacoma turned up no clues as to Ann Marie's whereabouts. Various suspects surfaced over the years and several people claimed to be her abductor, but none of the stories could be verified.
The case grew cold and remained so until the serial killer Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy came into the spotlight in the 1970s. A photograph of Bundy is posted with this case summary. He was convicted of several murders and is suspected in scores more, including in the disappearances of Nancy Baird
, Lynette Culver
, Julie Cunningham
, Susan Curtis
, Georgeann Hawkins
, Vicki Hollar
, Rita Jolly
, Debra Kent
, Donna Manson
, Denise Oliverson
and many other girls and young women. He was executed in Florida in 1989.
Bundy lived only a few blocks from Ann Marie's home at the time of her disappearance, and he apparently knew her, though accounts differ as to how well they were acquainted. He was only fourteen years old when she disappeared and was not considered a suspect in his case until his killings came to light over fifteen years later. It is worth noting that Bundy confessed to many murders he had not been charged with, he always denied involvement in Ann Marie's presumed abduction. Nonetheless, many people believe she was his first victim.
Ann Marie was about to begin the third grade at Grant Elementary School when she vanished, and she had studied piano for two years. She was raised to be independent and, beginning in kindergarten, walked several blocks to school alone every day. Her parents stated she was intelligent, artistically talented and an obedient daughter who didn't cause any problems at home.
Ann Marie's parents adopted another daughter a few years after her disappearance. Her father died in 2003 and her mother in 2008, but all four of her siblings are still alive. Her case remains unsolved.