Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Still Missing, After All These Years by Robert A. Waters


On the morning of July 16, 1952, 10-year-old Connie Smith walked away from a YMCA camp near Salisbury, Connecticut. Other than two brief sightings later that day, she has never been seen since. Sandy Bausch, a native of the area, has done extensive research on the case. This story is a compilation of her work. If you have more information, please contact her at conniesmithstory@mindspring.com.

It’s been more than fifty-five years since Connie Smith walked away from Camp Sloane near Salisbury, Connecticut. When camp officials discovered she was gone, police began a massive search. Connie wasn’t just any child—she was the granddaughter of Nels Smith, the former governor of Wyoming. With power and money, the Smith family pulled out all the stops to find their missing loved one.

Investigators learned that Connie, who had been at the camp for two weeks, had seen her mother the night before. It was her tenth birthday and Helen Smith and her parents had made the two-hour drive from Greenwich to celebrate.

After they left, it is thought that Connie was involved in a tussle with a camp-mate. She ended up with a bloody nose. The night before, she’d fallen on the tent platform and hurt her hip. She obtained an ice pack from the infirmary, then went to bed. On that morning of July 16, Connie told her tent-mates that she planned to forego eating breakfast because she wanted to return the ice pack. She almost certainly left the camp as the others went to breakfast. At some point that morning, counselors found the discarded ice pack and determined the girl was missing.

The Connecticut State Police took charge of the investigation. Almost immediately, they checked a nearby gypsy encampment. In fact, investigators hid in the forest for several days to see if Connie was being held against her will. Nothing came of that lead. As the days passed, cops drove through forests and fields in an open jeep, hoping to locate the odor of a dead body. They tested scat in the forest, thinking maybe Connie had been eaten by wild animals. After receiving a lead that she had been buried in the earth of a fresh grave, state troopers visited cemeteries and plunged rods through the dirt until they hit caskets. The area is littered with Revolutionary War-era water-filled “ore pits,” and police searched these, again to no avail.

Connie’s father flew in from Wyoming to coordinate the search. Locals still talk of the “Marlboro Man,” a real-live cowboy in New England. In fact, Peter Smith rode horses through the forests, flew in planes that circled the area, and handed out missing person flyers. He was divorced from his former wife, Helen, who lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, but they worked together in the now-desperate search for their daughter.

Investigators determined that Connie had walked down the drive leading away from the camp. She crossed an intersection and continued north before stopping at a farmhouse to ask directions to Salisbury. She then began walking down Highway 44 holding out her thumb. She was less than a half mile from town when she vanished. It is thought that she was abducted while trying to hitch a ride.

Two questions remain. Why did Connie leave camp and what happened to her?

She may have decided to leave because she was homesick. Connie was raised on a large farm in Wyoming. It is said that out west she even camped out at night alone. She rode horses and was used to farm-life. Connie was known as a tom-boy while most of the girls at camp were from New York City-there may have been a cultural divide that drove her to leave. Since camp officials discouraged the use of the phone there, she may have simply decided to go into town where she could use a telephone to call one of her parents.

Could she have been molested by a camp counselor or someone who worked at the camp? Police looked closely at a groundskeeper who stated that he had seen Connie walking down the driveway toward the road as he was driving into camp. He later complained about his health and moved to California. Investigators were suspicious of his move but they found nothing to connect him to the crime.

Over the years, several weird occurrences brought the case back into the media. A few months after Connie vanished, a mysterious “white Indian” appeared in Fort Worth, Texas. She claimed to be an albino Iroquois who had lived on an island somewhere between America and Canada. Nels Smith thought she might be his missing daughter and sent an investigator to check her out. It turned out she was a runaway from Massachusetts.

A few years later, Nels met with a “Gypsy King” in California and asked him if they still kidnapped children. The response was, “Not anymore.”

On another occasion, a convict contacted police and stated that he had murdered Connie. He was taken from his cell in the state penitentiary so that he could show cops where he buried her. He told skeptical cops to dig alongside a certain river. When police began digging, they were astounded to find a human leg bone. It later turned out that the bone was from a victim who had drowned during a hurricane. Just before his execution, the convict told police that he had not murdered the girl but did enjoy the sunshine and the sandwiches he got during his time out of his cell.

In 1958, a young girl’s remains were found near Williams, Arizona. Police, who were never able to identify her, called her “Little Miss X.” Four years later, a letter received by the Connecticut State Police claimed that Little Miss X was Connie Smith. The remains were taken to the Smith ranch in Wyoming and then to Connie’s dentist in South Dakota. A comparison of the Arizona child’s teeth with Connie’s dental records was inconclusive. From there, the remains were taken to Denver where a team of forensics experts attempted to match them to Connie. Again, they were unable to definitively link the two. In 2004, the Connecticut State Police collected DNA from the Smith family, hoping to match the Smith DNA with that from Little Miss X. But, lo and behold, no one could locate the grave of the Arizona girl.

That’s where the case stands. Helen Smith died in 1961, some said of a broken heart. Nels continued a relentless search for Connie until his death. As of this writing, Peter is still alive. After more than half a decade, the mystery remains.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Have You Seen Dennis Melvyn Howe? by Robert A. Waters








This case has haunted me for years. If Howe isn’t dead, he could be living in your community. He’s a true bogeyman, a sexual psychopath who preys on young girls. He was sent to prison for assaulting a 13-year-old girl and again for kidnapping and raping a young woman. If he’s not caught soon, at least he’ll get his just reward in Hell.


It’s been 25 years since the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan shocked the peaceful city of Toronto, Canada. The pretty nine-year-old was playing in Jean Sibelius Park when a convicted child rapist named Dennis Melvyn Howe (sometimes spelled Dennis Melvin Howe) abducted her.

Ten days later, after one of the largest searches in Canadian history, Sharin’ was found in a cheap flat across from the park. A recent story in Sun Media, written by Thane Burnett, relates how she was found. As cops searched the apartment, an investigator opened a refrigerator and the child’s body spilled out. She'd been raped and strangled. (One of the two investigators who found her later committed suicide--he couldn't bear the thought that they had been too late to save the innocent girl.)

At the time, it was thought that Howe would be quickly captured. But while he was not a sophisticated man, he was street-smart and had a ten-day head-start. Immediately after the crime, he took a bus to Winnipeg, but there his trail ran cold. Somehow, he has managed to avoid police for a quarter of a century.

Police have followed thousands of leads, even going so far as to exhume a man they thought might be Howe. It wasn’t.

Today, the murderer would be 67-years-old. He is 5’9” tall and at the time of the murder weighed 165 pounds. He’s probably gained weight. He has brown eyes and had brown hair, although it may be gray by now. Howe has a small gap between his front teeth and a scar under his chin.

According to a police file, the murderer is left-handed. At the time of the murder, he was a chain-smoker, and liked Players unfiltered cigarettes. He was also a heavy drinker who listened to country-western music. If you've seen Dennis Melvyn Howe, call the Toronto Police Homicide Squad at 416-808-7400.


Monday, February 18, 2008

What Happened to Jennifer Kesse? by Robert A. Waters


Once when my daughter was attending college in Orlando, my wife and I drove down for a visit. A wreck on the turnpike caused traffic to be re-directed and we ended up in Crack Alley. As I negotiated our car through knots of prostitutes and pimps and addicts, my wife pulled a pistol from the glove box and held it on her lap. Just in case. We came through okay, but even in broad daylight I was frightened. Did Jennifer Kesse [pictured] go out one night and get caught in a nightmare?


Orlando: strip plazas; porn shops; grimy streets littered with crackheads and whores. Not quite the image Mickey wants you to remember. But there, juxtaposed between the yuppie condos and student apartments and convention centers is a stain that can’t be ignored.

On January 23, 2006, Jennifer Kesse disappeared from these streets without a trace. "Disappeared without a trace." Even the phrase sounds strange. How can someone in a large metropolitan area simply vanish? How can a responsible, confident young business-woman disappear in the land of Mickey Mouse?

It wouldn’t be the first time.

In 1997, another blue-eyed blonde named Carla Larson went missing after picking up a sandwich for lunch at a Publix grocery store near Disney World. Two days later, her body was found in a patch of woods. She’d been abducted, raped, and murdered. John Huggins, convicted of the crime, now sits on death row. If the Supreme Court doesn’t toss out the death penalty or if he doesn’t die of old age, someday he might actually be executed for the savage crime.

The day before she disappeared, Jennifer and her fiancé returned from a cruise. During the week she was gone, her brother and several friends had batched it in her condo. When they left, one of the friends forgot his cell phone. He called Jennifer and asked if she would mail it to him.

Investigators think she was trying to find a mail box when she was snatched. On the news show Dateline, her mother remarked that “[investigators] showed us the scene they found...There was a wet shower, damp towel, underwear on the floor, hair and makeup items on the bathroom sink. On her unmade bed, a selection of work clothes were laid.” Did Jennifer go out after dark to mail the package and cross unknowingly into the abyss of murder?

Jennifer’s fiancĂ© was ruled out. Her friends and family were ruled out. The vacationers who spent the week before in her apartment were ruled out. Workers at her apartment complex were ruled out. It was obvious to investigators that this was a random kidnapping.

It became more obvious when they began viewing videotapes of businesses in the area. Her black Chevy Malibu was found about a mile from her condo. Security cameras caught an individual parking her car and getting out. It wasn’t Jennifer. But the camera was too far away to get a clear picture of the driver.

Another security camera revealed a strange clue. An individual walked by her car within seconds after it had been dropped off. Police were never able to identify the person, but concluded that he or she was about five feet three inches tall. A woman or a short man.

So more than two years later, Jennifer is still gone. The girl with the pretty smile who loved her job just fell off the radar screen. Another shadow in the black hole of the missing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Seven Days of Terror by Robert A. Waters



FBI Special Agent Terry R. Anderson [pictured] was murdered while searching in rugged mountains for kidnap victim Peggy Ann Bradnick. Anderson was born in Washington, Iowa, in January, 1924. He went to college at Drake University and Notre Dame. He was 37 when he died.




In 1966, Shade Gap, Pennsylvania had a population of 140. A condescending United Press International report described the inhabitants: “This is dungaree country. Half the people are dirt farmers and dirt poor. They—and their people before them—have lived here for decades.” According to the article, even the fact that the Pennsylvania Turnpike ran through the area couldn’t bring civilization to its people.

On the afternoon of May 11, the six Bradnick children stepped off the school-bus to walk down the dirt road to their home. Time Magazine reported, “A masked, rifle-toting man stepped from the woods. Before dragging Peggy into the dense brush, he snapped, ‘I don’t want any sass from you kids. I’m taking this girl.’”

He dragged 17-year-old Peggy Ann Bradnick through the dense forest. He carried a haversack filled with a pistol, bullets, a chain, and a Master lock. The kidnapper and victim eventually came to a tunnel—a culvert that allowed them to pass beneath the Turnpike. After forcing the girl through the tunnel, they came to his cabin.

By that time, a county sheriff had arrived at the Bradnick home. He quickly determined that the girl had indeed been abducted and called in reinforcements. Before dark, hundreds of lawmen, game wardens, and citizen volunteers were scouring the woods. All were armed.

The next day, FBI agents from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. arrived to help search for the pretty blue-eyed high school student. The Feds had an Arkansas tracker flown in—he owned three of the best German Shepherd tracking dogs in the country. Agents also identified the suspect.

William Diller Hollenbaugh was known in the community as “Bicycle Pete,” or “Bicycle Bill.” He pedaled an antique red bike all over the area. He always carried “one of his mongrel dogs in the handlebar basket,” according to Time. He lived in the mountains, and had no friends. Most residents didn’t know that he’d spent 13 years in the Fairview State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Or that he had theft, burglary, and escape convictions. Or that in the past two years, he’d shot at five people driving down the turnpike—he hit two. Or that he was a Peeping Tom.

After six days of the largest manhunt in the Pennsylvania’s history, FBI agent Terry Anderson spotted one of Hollenbaugh’s mongrels. He followed it up a steep ridge. Suddenly, a shot rang out. Anderson was dead before he hit the ground.

Like almost everyone in the nation, the Pennsylvania governor had been following the case. After Anderson was murdered, the governor called out the National Guard. The troops brought along armored personnel carriers, but in the heavy mountains they did little good.

Eight hundred men surrounded the area where Anderson had been shot. Since it was nearly dark, they decided to wait until daylight to continue the search.

Early the next morning, Cambria County Deputy Sheriff Francis Sharpe walked into the outbuilding of a farmhouse. A gunshot felled him. As he bled from a stomach wound, Hollenbaugh ordered Sharpe at gunpoint back to his car. The kidnapper forced Deputy Sharpe into the driver’s seat, then he and Peggy Ann climbed into the backseat.

“Drive,” the kidnapper said, pointing his rifle at Sharpe. The car traveled only a few hundred yards before it came to a cattle gap. It could go no further, so Hollenabugh jumped out, dragging Peggy Ann. They raced toward a farmhouse.

Fifteen-year-old Larry Rubeck was in the hay barn when he saw a car coming up the road. “I ran to the house and got the gun and yelled to my mother, ‘Hit the floor, Mom. That crazy mountain man is on the porch.’”

By this time, a group of state troopers had arrived and were taking positions around the house. Hollenbaugh pulled Peggy Ann up onto the porch. Larry’s shotgun was loaded with a “pumpkin ball,” a slug used for hunting deer. He aimed through a window and fired. The ball blew out Hollenbaugh’s carotid artery. He fell, but was able to squeeze off two errant shots. The troopers then unloaded on him.

Through the chaos, Peggy Ann broke free and fled into the arms of the only reporter on the scene. “Thank God, I’m safe,” she cried. The reporter, Scott Rombach of the Pittsburgh News, had the biggest scoop of his career.

Bicycle Pete suffered several gunshot wounds, but Larry Rubeck was credited with bringing down the kidnapper. “I’m a hunter,” he said. “I’ve killed animals, but I just don’t know how I feel about this...I’m glad the girl is all right and I’m glad it’s over.”

According to Dr. G. T. Lorentz, who examined Peggy Ann, the victim was not sexually assaulted. She spent a week in the hospital recovering from her ordeal. She told a harrowing tale of having been chained to trees at night while her abductor slept and hiding in caves during the day. She was led around with a dog-leash when they traveled. Later, a book was written about the case and a movie was made. A year later, Peggy Ann married and dropped into welcome anonymity.

Hollenbaugh “was a model inmate,” said Dr. John P. Shovelin, superintendent of the state mental hospital. “Shy, [he had] a strong sense of inadequacy, and [was] withdrawn. A troublemaker he was not...Hollenbaugh had what we call simple schizophrenia . This primarily is the type of person who withdraws from social contacts...”

After “the symptoms of his disease had been removed,” Hollenbaugh was sent back to prison where he was quickly released and began his reign of terror on the small community of Shade Gap.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dr. Krist, Psychopath by Robert A. Waters




Gary Steven Krist is most infamous for kidnapping Barbara Jane Mackle [pictured] and burying her in a plywood box. With minimal air from a battery-powered fan, she survived four days and three nights before being rescued. The only decent thing Krist ever did was to call the FBI and tell a secretary where Mackle could be found.

I recently re-read Mackle's book, 83 Hours Till Dawn, written with Miami Herald reporter Gene Miller. I’m still amazed at her strength, resiliency, and generous spirit. She went on with her life, married her college sweetheart, had two children and put her ordeal behind her.

Krist is an entirely different matter.

A career criminal from at least age 14, he was an escapee from a California prison when he and Ruth Eisenmann-Schier abducted Mackle. He collected the $ 500,000 ransom and left his girlfriend behind to fend for herself. (Great guy.) Eisenmann-Schier was later captured working as a waitress in Oklahoma. She got seven years while Krist, who was caught shortly after obtaining the money, was sentenced to life imprisonment. In spite of two escape attempts and constant whining about how his cell was too confining (duh!) he was able to attract supporters. Like other celebrity prisoners (Mumia comes to mind), he seemed able to snow people. He even wrote a book about his life and the kidnapping of Mackle. A reviewer wrote: “Krist seems an amiable, likeable young man…When you finish, you almost feel sorry that he must spend the rest of his life in prison.”

He didn’t.

In 1976, the Georgia Pardons and Parole Board denied his parole bid and issued a statement: “[Krist] has been a menace to society all his adult life.” But just a few years later the board reversed itself. Stating that he was rehabilitated, Krist was released after serving just ten years. A self-proclaimed genius, he went to Alaska to work on a fishing boat. Later, he attended a medical school in the Carribean and began practicing medicine in a small town in Indiana. But there were problems. Because of his criminal past, Dr. Gary Steven Krist was required to have a supervising physician. But his supervisor didn’t show up at hearings to determine whether to allow him keep his probationary medical license. Krist didn’t show up either, so his license was revoked.

He moved back to Georgia and began working construction. But Dr. Krist still had a “get-rich-quick” temperament. Enlisting his new wife’s son, he made several trips to Colombia. On each occasion, the two brought back cocaine and sold it to Atlanta drug dealers. His scheme ended on March 6, 2006 when he was caught in Mobile, Alabama with a boat full of illegal aliens and drugs. Cops found 38 pounds of cocaine paste, worth two million dollars.

In his home he had a workshop set up to turn the cocaine paste to powder. There was also an escape tunnel leading from his house to a nearby road.

Krist has yet to be sentenced. Maybe this time, he’ll die in prison.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Review of Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town by Ron Franscell




The undying cry of the void falling living beginning to be something
That no one has ever been and lived through screaming without enough air
James Dickey, “Falling”


The first pages of Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town reminded me of the James Dickey poem about a stewardess who was sucked out of an airliner at 30,000 feet.

In 1973, in Casper, Wyoming, two local thugs kidnapped 18-year-old Becky Thompson and her sister, 11-year-old Amy Burridge. They were driven to the Fremont Canyon Bridge, 110 feet above the North Platte River. The men threw Amy off the bridge, then proceeded to rape Becky. When it was over, Becky was forced to the bridge and also thrown overboard. The book begins with Becky plummeting down.

The author was a neighbor and friend of the two girls. After writing two highly-acclaimed novels, Ron Franscell wrote this book as part-memoir, part-exorcism, part-true crime story. Amy died in the fall. Becky somehow survived. The two thugs were convicted and sentenced to death. But, of course, we all know that a death sentence rarely means death. Eventually, the sentences were reversed and the murderers were re-sentenced to life in prison. But, of course, everyone also knows that life doesn’t mean life.

Maybe this book affected me so much because for many years I had a recurring nightmare. I would be running across a rickety, wood-plank bridge, chased by monsters. At some point, I would have to make a decision: do I stand and fight a fight I know I can’t win, or do I jump into the unknown darkness? I would always jump and wake up in a chilling sweat just before I hit the water.

Maybe Fall appealed to me because it is true to the traditions of true crime. Unlike many modern books, the victims are innocent. The assailants are useless. The investigators are competent. The case is open and shut, but confronts important issues such as the effects that violent crime has on victims and indeed, a whole community.
Unfortunately, Becky’s life after the rape and murder was a disaster. Her family and community didn’t know how to help her and she didn’t know how to ask. Even though she tried to live a normal life, the events of that one horrible night festered in her soul. Exactly twenty years later, she drove out to the same bridge and jumped. An illustrator for a local newspaper sketched the perfect obituary. On a tombstone, he wrote: “Becky Thompson: Born – 1956; Murdered – 1973; Died – 1992.”

Having interviewed dozens of victims of violent crimes for my own books, I know how hard it is to recover from the trauma of brutality. The virus of fear infects, haunts, suffocates feeling. The past is always lurking, always pursuing, like the monsters on my bridge. The very fact that Becky Thompson survived for two decades after what she endured is amazing.

I highly recommend this book. In correspondence with the author, he stated that he probably will not write another true crime book. That’s a shame. Ron Franscell and true crime are a perfect fit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Another Unsolved Nashville Kidnapping by Robert A. Waters


For more than thirty years, the infamous kidnapping and murder of Marsha Trimble went unsolved. Finally, in 2007, a suspect was identified through DNA. It has been five years since the disappearance and probable abduction of Tabitha Tuders [pictured]. But long before these crimes, a six-year-old Nashville girl disappeared as she walked home from kindergarten.

On September 19, 1934, newspapers were trumpeting the indictment of Bruno Hauptman for the abduction and murder of Colonel Lindbergh’s son. Kidnapping was quickly becoming a stain on the psyche of America.

In the early afternoon, Dorothy Ann Distelhurst left kindergarten to walk the three blocks to her home in a sparsely populated section of east Nashville, Tennessee. She wore a blue and white checkered dress and carried school-books and a pink lunchbox. When she didn’t arrive at her usual time, her mother called police.

Dorothy Ann’s father, Alfred E. Distelhurst was, in the jargon of the day, “a moderately salaried printing house employee.” If his daughter had been kidnapped for ransom, he could afford to pay only a modest amount.

A massive search ensued. For days, police and volunteers combed the area. Investigators interrogated “perverts” and known “sex fiends.”

The national media, stirred by the Lindbergh case, descended on Nashville. Once news of the abduction was published, ransom letters began arriving in the mail. A postcard from Augusta, Georgia threatened that the abductor would burn out the child’s eyes with acid if a ransom of $ 175,000 was not paid. While police were skeptical of the ransom demands, calling the writers “cranks,” Alfred took them seriously. In fact, he flew to New York City to meet with one man who demanded that he pay $ 5,000 for the return of Dorothy Ann. The man, Alfred Otto Wagner, had never been to Nashville and was later arrested for attempted extortion.

Almost a month later, on November 13, two employees of the Davidson County Tuberculosis Hospital were digging flower beds. An Associated Press report stated: “Under scarcely two inches of earth, [the body] had been buried in a remote corner of the hospital grounds where trees and bushes shielded the grave from sight.” About twenty feet away, Dorothy Ann’s clothing, books, and lunchbox were discovered.

Dr. Herman Spitz, the Medical Examiner, stated that Dorothy Ann’s face had indeed been burned away with acid. He theorized that this was probably done to destroy identification. The child had been killed by one or more blows to the head, possibly with a hammer. Spitz theorized that the body “had been stored in a corrugated cardboard box for several weeks before burial.”

There was no indication that the child had been sexually molested.

Police released the following statement: “The nude body found on the Davidson county tuberculosis hospital grounds late Tuesday afternoon is that of Dorothy Ann Distelhurst. While the corpse is in such a state of decomposition as to render identification by those who knew the child impossible, every other fact in connection with the matter points to the conclusion that the body is that of the Distelhurst child.

“Doctors Herman Spitz, pathologist, and Leonard F. Pogue, the child’s dentist and orthodontist, specialists in their respective professions, after a careful examination of the teeth report that the identification is certain and positive. The child was murdered. Her skull at the left side was crushed by a hammer or other blunt instrument. A rag was found in her mouth, possibly used as a gag to prevent her outcry...”

Both parents, devastated by the news, collapsed as funeral services were being held at the Belmont Methodist Church.

Federal agents and state investigators joined Davidson County and Nashville detectives to begin what newspapers called a “relentless” search for the killer.

A week later, an eighteen-year-old boy found an iron spike 25 feet from where the body had been located. According to a news report, the spike had strands of hair adhering to it and was thought to be the murder weapon.

From the beginning, there were no real clues. The Feds quickly faded away and state investigators went on to more solvable cases. Detectives theorized that the kidnapper was local since an outsider would not have known of the hidden location. But no viable suspect ever surfaced.

The search lasted for decades. One private investigator maintained that an automobile accidentally struck the girl as she was walking home and the driver buried her to cover up the crime. Most investigators ridiculed that theory. In the 1950s, another private detective claimed he would be able to solve the case if only the wife of the perpetrator, whom he had identified, would speak with him.

What was the motive for Dorothy Ann’s murder?

The accident theory is far-fetched. Having worked for several years at funeral homes, I’ve seen numerous bodies that were hit by automobiles. The injuries are massive. Any cop would have been able to tell if the death was from a car accident.

The ransom theory is more plausible. Contrary to popular belief, many ransom kidnappings in the 1930s were successful. In one case, a businessman’s family paid one million dollars to ransom him. Even working-class citizens weren’t immune to the “snatch racket.” But these usually occurred in ethnic neighborhoods in large cities. In the Distelhurst case, investigators discounted as hoaxes all the ransom demands that were made.

A more likely scenario is that there was a sexual component to the abduction. It’s possible that an inexperienced teenager kidnapped Dorothy Ann and was unable to consummate the sex act. Maybe the reality didn’t match the fantasy and the teen killed her in order to keep from being identified. (Four years later, Marian Ellis, a twelve-year-old girl, was kidnapped and murdered less than a half-mile from the Distelhurst home. Three local teenagers were convicted of Marian’s murder.)

The most likely theory is that an experienced sexual predator snatched the child. Even though she was not “ravished,” as the newspapers of the day were fond of saying, she may have been molested without penetration. Sexual offenders are notorious for their impotence and for blaming the victim for their inability to get an erection. (Arthur Shawcross is a prime example.) In his rage, the abductor may have murdered the child, then stored her for several weeks before burying her where he thought she would never be found.

In the end, the murderer got away with his crime. No one was ever arrested for the abduction and murder of Dorothy Ann Distelhurst.