Details of Disappearance
Ann was last seen in Corvallis, Oregon on April 15, 1978. She participated in a March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon, her third, that day. The route was on a bike path along the Marys River. At 1:00 p.m., Ann told her friends her feet hurt and they should go on without her. She said she would go to a checkpoint at the Gill Coliseum. She was last seen near the Pioneer Park ball field, across Highway 34 from the coliseum. Ann has never been heard from again. She had an afternoon paper route delivering the Gazette-Times, but never showed up for it, which is uncharacteristic of her. Her parents reported her missing at 5:15 p.m. An extensive search of the area turned up no sign of the child. A red pickup truck with a teardrop-shaped trailer was seen in the area around the time of her disappearance.
Eleven-year-old Stephanie Ann Newsom disappeared from West Salem, Oregon on April 19, four days after Ann. The girls were similar in age and appearance and were last seen walking alone during the daylight hours. Due to the similarities, police immediately suspected the disappearances were linked. They were looking for a possible suspect in Ann's case, described as a Caucasian man with a stocky build, reddish-brown or sandy hair, a gruff voice and possibly a mustache. The suspect in Stephanie's case had a similar appearance: stocky, in his late twenties, with shaggy light brown hair. Stephanie's partially clothed body was found on April 25 in a field next to the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. She had been dead for several days. Investigators determined she'd been raped and strangled.
By May, police had identified a suspect in Ann's disappearance and Stephanie's murder: Earl F. "Woody" Chambers. A photo of him is posted below this case summary. He had a prior record for rape and assault of young women, and he owned a red pickup truck and a teardrop-shaped trailer, like the one seen in the area where Ann disappeared. Police brought him in for questioning, and he denied any involvement in Ann's disappearance. He was ordered to appear before a grand jury on June 6. The afternoon of June 6, however, Chambers's body was found in a rural area in Linn County, Oregon. He had committed suicide, without leaving a note.
The investigation went cold after Chambers's death, but since 1978 law enforcement had made periodic efforts to resolve Ann's disappearance and Stephanie's murder. Hair found in Chambers's trailer and vehicle, believed to be Ann's, was tested for DNA in 2005, but the results were inconclusive. Chambers remains the prime suspect in Ann's disappearance.
Ann was a seventh-grader at Highland View Junior High School at the time of her disappearance. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance, which remains unsolved.
Above: Earl "Woody" Chambers