Catherine Ruth Malcolmson

Catherine, circa 1985; Age-progression to age 50 (circa 2019)

  • Missing Since 08/13/1985
  • Missing From Stow, Massachusetts
  • Classification Non-Family Abduction
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 04/17/1969 (54)
  • Age 16 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'4 - 5'5, 110 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A short-sleeved striped shirt, blue jeans, two bracelets and a silver ring. Carrying a gray pocketbook.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Murray bicycle (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Catherine's hair had been bleached blonde prior to her 1985 disappearance. She has a chicken pox scar on her forehead, a mole on her left cheek and a dimple on her right cheek. Her ears are pierced. Catherine's nickname is Cathy.

Details of Disappearance

Catherine was last seen riding her Murray bicycle in her hometown of Stow, Massachusetts. She headed to her part-time job as a supermarket cashier at the IGA store two miles away, on Route 62 in Hudson, Massachusetts. She was reportedly in good spirits; her brother had just graduated high school and there was going to be a celebration later. She has never been heard from again.

Catherine's case was first classified as a runaway, but authorities later admitted that she had probably not left of her own accord. She left her first paycheck behind at her workplace. Her family never believed she ran away.

Her bicycle was located in 1987, nearly two years after her disappearance. A motorist located the bicycle in a wooded area along Gleasondale Road off of Route 62, about 500 yards past the Stow town line. This is about one mile from Catherine's house. The man did not know whose bicycle it was and gave it to a friend, who suspected it belonged to Catherine and contacted police.

Searches of the location were delayed several times due to inclement weather, and no evidence related to Catherine's whereabouts was discovered.

Authorities believe Catherine's case may be connected to the 1985 abduction and murder of Sarah Pryor, who vanished from the same Massachusetts area two months after Catherine's disappearance. John Robert Whirty has been considered the prime suspect in both girls' cases. He served seventeen months in a Texas prison for the 1967 murder of a fifteen-year-old girl. After being released from prison he moved to Massachusetts.

Records from Whirty's job place him in the area at the time Catherine disappeared, but there has never been any evidence to link him to her or Pryor's case. Whirty is currently incarcerated in Texas for parole violation, which stems from the kidnapping and assault of a Newton, Massachusetts woman which occurred three months after Catherine's disappearance and one month after Pryor's murder.

Authorities stated they questioned one suspect in Catherine's case while the man was dying in prison, and he denied any involvement. Her adoptive parents are still alive, but elderly, and her mother believes Catherine is dead.

Foul play is suspected in Catherine's case due to the circumstances involved. Seven years after her disappearance, her family held a memorial service for her and erected a tombstone at the family burial plot in Dover, New Hampshire.

Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated February 7, 2024; details of disappearance updated.