Anna Marie Arguello

1
Above: Anna Marie, at approximately 15 months of age
(approximately one and a half years prior to her disappearance; no other photographs are available)

Bar

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: 1969 - 1970 from Frankfort, Indiana
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Age: 2 - 3 years old
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Hispanic female. Anna Marie is of Mexican descent.
  • Bar

    Details of Disappearance

    Anna Marie lived with her mother, Anita Maria Vega, her stepfather, Luis Vega Sr., and nine siblings, including her nine-year-old half-sister, Margarita, at the time of her disappearance. She disappeared sometime in the winter of 1969 - 1970, at the age of two or three years, and has not been seen again.

    Police were unaware of Anna Marie's disappearance until Margarita went to them in the autumn of 1992. By then she was 33 years old. Margarita stated her mother had severely beaten Anna Marie, deprived her of food, forced her to take a bath in cold water and held her head under the water until she drowned. Several hours later, Anita wrapped Anna Marie's naked body in an Army blanket and put it in a wooded crate. Luis took the crate away after he came home from work. Margarita overheard him telling Anita he buried Anna Marie's bodynear the railroad trestles in Frankfort, which are known as "the viaducts." In 1985, Anita showed Margarita a sack of dirt and bones and said they were Anna Marie's remains. Several months later, Margarita asked her mother what she'd done with the sack and Anita said she'd buried it at a fresh grave in the Bunnell Cemetery.

    Margarita told police she hadn't come forward before because her mother had threatened to kill her. She went to law enforcement with her story after spending a month in a California mental health facility getting treatment for anxiety. Margarita had talked about her sister's death during therapy sessions at the facility, and the staff told her that if she didn't report what had happened, they would. She took a polygraph about her statement, but the results were inconclusive. Police went to the Bunnell Cemetery and sifted through the dirt at the grave Margarita indicated, but found only animal bones.

    When police investigated Margarita's claims, they could find very little evidence for Anna Marie's existence, only her birth certificate and a single photograph of her. Anita's other children denied Margarita's story, and one of them, Guadalupe Thomas, was ultimately indicted for lying to authorities; she had told a grand jury she didn't remember her mother forcing the children to take cold baths as punishment. Thomas pleaded guilty to perjury and agreed to testify against Vega at her trial. A photograph of Anita is posted below this case summary. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter in October 1993. Luis died in the mid-1980s, before police realized his role in covering up his stepdaughter's death.

    When questioned by police, Anita at first denied Anna Marie's existence. After police confronted her with the child's birth certificate, she changed her story and said Anna Marie had died of natural causes and she had kept the death a secret because Luis, whom she claimed was abusive, had threatened her. Luis, she said, was afraid he would be deported to Mexico if they reported Anna Marie's death.

    At Anita's trial, Margarita testified about witnessing her sister's murder and Thomas partially corroborated the story, saying she had seen Anna Marie's body. Anita's attorney suggested Margarita had made up the murder story to get revenge on her mother for not supporting her when she told her Luis had sexually abused her. Anita was convicted; the jury deliberated only 45 minutes before bringing in the guilty verdict. She was sentenced to one to ten years in prison. Her other eight children supported her and are now estranged from Margarita.

    Vega
    Above: Anita Vega, circa 1994

    Bar

    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Clinton County Sheriff's Office

    Bar

    Source Information
    The Lafayette Journal and Courier
    The Franklin Daily Journal
    The Indianapolis Star
    The Albuquerque Journal

    Bar

    Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated July 2, 2017; casefile added.

    Charley Project Home