Details of Disappearance
Mary Lou was last seen on July 17, 1972, three days before her sixteenth birthday. Her father dropped her off at a friend's apartment on Broad Street in Waverly, New York; she was supposed to baby-sit there. Three days later, Mary Lou's mother went to the house with her daughter's birthday cake and gifts, and the occupants said Mary Lou had never arrived there to baby-sit. However, her belongings were there, including the change of clothes she'd carried in a grocery bag.
Mary Lou has never been heard from again. Although she had stayed overnight with relatives and friends before, she had never run away and her family thinks she would have contacted them if she could have. She attended Athens High School, but her parents had agreed to let her drop out of school after her birthday in order to take care of her younger siblings.
Another local girl, sixteen-year-old Sharron Coston, disappeared from Sayre, Pennsylvania in October 1973. Her body was found a few days later; she'd been strangled and her body mutilated. Gerard Paul McKenna was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death in 1974. Although he maintained his innocence, he asked to be executed because he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison. In 1982 his conviction was overturned on appeal, and by the time he was convicted a second time the death penalty had been outlawed in Pennsylvania. He has since died in prison.
Mary Lou's mother believes Sharron's murder and her daughter's disappearance are related. One of the witnesses who testified against McKenna in exchange for immunity from prosecution is a suspect in Mary Lou's case. One person claimed later that Mary Lou had been beaten to death during a party at a home in Sayre, but he was unable to substantiate the story.
When Mary Lou's brother died in 2004, she was listed in his obituary as having pre-deceased him. Her mother, two other brothers and her sister are still alive. Foul play is suspected in her case, which remains unsolved. Pennsylvania police are investigating.