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What happened to Mary Shotwell Little? (Atlanta's "Black Dahlia")
Atlanta Journal Constitution ^ | 3/20/04 | JIM AUCHMUTEY, GERDEEN DYER and PAT KOESTER

Posted on 03/21/2004 7:24:30 PM PST by eddie willers

What happened to Mary Shotwell Little?
Newlywed's disappearance shocked Atlantans in 1965

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/20/04

When Jim Ponder retired from the FBI after three decades as an agent, he took home a piece of unfinished business: File No. 79-159.

On a warm October evening in 1965, newlywed Mary Shotwell Little said goodby to a friend and walked across the Lenox Square parking lot to her car. She was never seen in Atlanta after that night.
Mary's 1965 Mercury Comet was found at Lenox the next day. Blood was smeared around the interior, and later evidence indicated it had been driven elsewhere and returned.
Jean Shifrin/AJC
For almost 40 years, Jim Ponder has kept the file on the only case he never solved. Now retired, he has a theory about what happened -- but it's just a theory.
"That's the only case I worked on that we never solved," he says, laying a brown folder on a coffee table in his DeKalb County home. "I copied this because I figured something would come up and I'd be called."

The call never came. The disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little — the most famous missing persons case in Atlanta history — seems as baffling today as it did when Ponder saw her blood-smeared car on a warm autumn afternoon in 1965.

He opens the folder, and Little's face stares out from a black-and-white snapshot stapled to the inside. The bouffant hairdo and penciled eyebrows belong to another time. Leafing through the yellowed reports held by rusted paper clips, he pauses when he comes to a form the young woman filled out in a neat cursive script. It's an application to volunteer at the Red Cross. She enjoyed working with children.

"I have a personal interest in this case," Ponder says. "I got to know Mary's family. We never gave them an answer, and that bothered me. It still does."

Now 83, Ponder is one of the last law enforcement officers living who worked on the Little disappearance. For a dwindling band of detectives, it is the mystery of a lifetime, the case they couldn't crack. The clues are so fragmentary and contradictory, the investigators can't agree on what happened. Some think it was a random sex crime. Others believe she knew her abductor.

Some wonder if she's even dead.

While witnesses still could come forward and remains still could be found and identified, solving the puzzle gets more difficult with each passing year. All local police files on the case have inexplicably vanished. No physical evidence survives, making a DNA conviction highly unlikely. The only remaining record of the investigation is the FBI's, and it's incomplete.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined hundreds of pages of those files, through a freedom of information request, and interviewed nearly 200 people involved in various aspects of the case. Those documents and candid recollections do not answer the riddle, but they do reveal an exhaustive and frustrating search that was mostly hidden from public view. It is the untold story of a trauma that deeply affected Atlanta as it was on the verge of becoming a big city with big city fears.

News reports suggested police were looking for a stray predator. Behind the scenes, however, cops hounded Little's former roommates. They turned her husband's life inside out. They delved into a sex scandal at the bank where she worked. They even thought a "rose killer" might be sending women flowers as he stalked them.

In 1967, the trail took a gruesome turn as a woman who had worked in Little's office and lived with Little's friends was found beaten and strangled in East Point. Police at first thought the cases were linked — some of them still do — but what looked like a break faded into a footnote mystery of its own.

Little was 25 and had been married only six weeks when she vanished into the darkness outside Lenox Square on the evening of Oct. 14, 1965. The fate of the "missing bride" quickly became an obsession, leading Atlanta newscasts and front pages and prompting massive searches. Atlanta wouldn't see its like again until the child murders of the early 1980s.

In an era when the ghostly faces of the missing routinely appear on bulk mail and milk cartons, it might seem a bit strange that one woman's disappearance could stir such an overwhelming response. But Atlanta was a much smaller town in 1965. The metro area had less than a third of today's population. There was no major league sports team, no completed Perimeter, no international flights at an airport that boosters were proud to say was the nation's fourth-busiest.

"Atlanta was just beginning to outgrow its britches," says writer Paul Hemphill, who covered the Little case as a Journal columnist. "When something like this happened, it was almost like a warning shot. You wondered: My God, is this the price we're going to pay for being a big city?"

A more innocent time

Only later would it seem ironic that the Journal of Oct. 14 contained an editorial decrying the rising number of sex crimes in Atlanta.

One of the many young people who flocked to the city from around the South during the early '60s was Mary Shotwell.

She came from a middle-class family in Charlotte, where she was known as an outgoing, fun-loving student — the kind of girl who volunteered to wear a papier-mâché horse head as her high school's mascot, Millie Mustang. She went on to study secretarial science at what became the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She wanted to relocate to New York after graduation, but her parents felt it might be unsafe, so she settled on Atlanta instead.

Shotwell moved into a triplex near Emory University with some college friends and found a job downtown with Citizens & Southern, the bank that was financing much of Atlanta's construction boom. Colleagues considered her reliable, hardworking, fastidious in dress and manners. Like many young women of her time, the slender secretary with the neat brown hair and hazel eyes wanted nothing so much as to get married and start a family.

In 1964, she met Roy Little, a 24-year-old Citadel graduate who recently had finished active duty as an Army lieutenant. They attended a Georgia Tech-Alabama football game and went on to date for 10 months.

Married over Labor Day weekend 1965, they moved into the Belvedere Apartments in south Decatur. During the second week of October, Roy was in LaGrange training to be an auditor with the state Banking Department. Mary was lonesome and arranged to meet a friend from the bank at Lenox Square after work that Thursday.

Compared to the mega-mall of today, Lenox then was an almost quaint open-air shopping center with stone sculptures of "Uncle Remus" characters in the plaza. Little met her friend Isla Stack at the S&S Cafeteria on the Lenox Road side and chatted happily about married life. After dinner, they shopped for an hour and a half. They parted around 8, Little striding into the parking lot with a cheery "I'll see you tomorrow."

When the punctual secretary didn't show up Friday morning, co-workers phoned her apartment. No answer. They called her landlady and learned that Little had not retrieved her morning newspaper.

The bank notified Lenox security to be on the lookout for the car, a 1965 silver Mercury Comet. A few minutes past noon, a guard spotted it in the yellow parking area. He noticed blood on the bucket seats and called police.

Things 'never made sense'

Jim Ponder, the FBI's liaison with local law enforcement, was at Atlanta police headquarters downtown when a wrecker hauled in the car.

"Jop," as his friends called him (after his initials), was a South Carolinian who had served in the Navy during World War II and been wounded in the D-Day invasion. He had been a special agent since 1947, matching wits with Klansmen, Soviet spies and mob bosses. Given the possibility of an interstate kidnapping, he unofficially joined the investigation and sent a teletype to Washington reporting what was known. He was puzzled from the start. "There were a lot of things about this case that never made sense," he says.

The car was full of them.

Two members of the Atlanta Police Department's identification unit inspected the vehicle. They found a fine coat of red dust on the exterior, as if the Comet had been on a dirt road. They also found blood in several places: on the driver's door near the handle, on the inside window of the passenger's side, smeared over the vinyl of the front seats. A few grass clippings were stuck in dried blood where the passenger's head would have rested.

Carefully rolled together and placed between the seats was a set of women's undergarments — girdle, slip, panties — speckled with tiny drops of crimson. On the floorboard lay a black brassiere and a section of stocking that had been cut neatly, as if by a knife.

Tests indicated the blood probably was Little's. The undergarments definitely were hers and had been worn recently.

There was something about the scene that didn't add up, the crime technicians thought. Bill Moore of the identification unit wondered if the smearing hadn't been a ploy to exaggerate the amount of blood. Larry Howard of the state crime lab seemed to agree, telling Moore that despite the gory display, there was no more blood than you'd get from a nosebleed.

The odd assortment of clues led some investigators to speculate that the scene had been staged to confuse police. A few cops suspected Little of doing the staging.

The car was littered with dozens of other items, including Coke bottles, a package of Kent cigarettes (Little's brand) and four sacks of groceries she had bought the evening before at the Colonial store that anchored the southern end of Lenox.

Other items were missing: Her car keys. Her John Romain handbag. Her flats, white London Fog raincoat and olive-green sheath dress printed with white flowers.

There was no shortage of fingerprints. One would tantalize investigators for years: an unidentified partial print smudged in blood on the steering wheel.

Public pitches in

In the days ahead, thousands of people enlisted in the largest search Atlanta had ever seen.

Pilots scanned the area looking for signs of a body. Military reservists scoured the woods around Lenox. Even jail inmates were pressed into the hunt.

Reward posters offering $1,000 and then $3,000 went up around the state.

The city's top-ranked radio stations, WSB and WQXI ("Quixie in Dixie"), asked residents within a 20-mile radius of Lenox to check their property for the personal items missing from Little's car. A corner of police headquarters soon resembled a thrift shop, with piles of clothing, purses and other items of female apparel.

Ponder spent days exploring the woods and side roads along I-85, a relatively new four-lane then known as the Northeast Expressway. "We searched old abandoned wells and everything you could think of," he says.

None of the efforts paid off. In fact, publicity became something of a burden as police had to check out all leads, well-intentioned and otherwise. A tipster claimed Little's killer was trying to flee on a bus bound for Chicago, and authorities had it pulled over in Cobb County. It was a hoax. A wedding ring that resembled Little's was found beside the Chattahoochee River. It wasn't hers. A dollar bill surfaced with the scribbled words: "Help, I'm being held prisoner in a Chinese cookie factory. Mary Shotwell Little." It was a bad joke.

Little's parents, Margaret and Nathan Shotwell, came from Charlotte to keep vigil with their son-in-law at the couple's apartment in Decatur. They saw the brown lounge chair and ottoman Mary had recently picked out for Roy. While the Shotwells waited for word of their daughter's whereabouts, the phone rang repeatedly and a voice would whisper, "It's Mary, help me." Police traced the calls to a young prankster and made sure they stopped.

Detectives decided that the movements of Little's car were a key to unlocking the mystery. Based on the odometer and her husband's mileage log, they estimated the Comet had been driven 41 miles that couldn't be accounted for. They theorized that Little's abductor had taken her somewhere, assaulted her and returned to Lenox.

There was just one problem with the theory: No one remembered seeing the Comet in the parking lot overnight or before the start of business the next morning. Police interviewed scores of people who had been at Lenox in the off hours, including guards who patrolled the lot. Other cars had been noticed and even ticketed, but no one saw the Comet. Investigators concluded it must have been driven back later that morning, a daring return in broad daylight.

Another possibility received little credence. Margaret Fargason, an Atlantan who had been shopping at Lenox the night Little disappeared, told her husband she had seen a silver Comet leave the mall about 8 with a woman fitting Little's description at the wheel. She was alone. Fargason noticed the car, she explained when the Journal-Constitution contacted her recently, because she drove a Comet, too.

Her husband reported the sighting to police. They never talked to Fargason, even though her story called into question whether Little had been abducted elsewhere — or been abducted at all.

The number cruncher

The removal of Little's underwear implied rape. Detectives assembled a huge file on known sexual "perverts" and looked into numerous complaints of flashers at Lenox Square.

At the same time, in private, police trained their suspicions on a more sensitive target. Roy Little had no discernible motive to harm his wife. He stood to collect only a modest insurance settlement upon her death and had a solid alibi, having been out of town. But a spouse gets a hard look in disappearances, and this spouse rubbed cops the wrong way.

"You had to drag everything out of Roy. He didn't volunteer anything," says Ponder, who spent hours with the husband.

Investigators learned that Mary's roommates had never liked Roy. They found him surly and quarreled with her over their engagement. Some of them refused to attend the wedding.

Most police recall Little as merely cold and aloof. All agree he was strangely unperturbed by his bride's disappearance. When he was shown the bloody car, detectives say, he merely shrugged. Their skepticism was heightened when he insisted on getting back the Comet, the couple's only car, as soon as possible and continued to drive it.

No one was more hostile to Roy Little than W.K. "Jack" Perry, the lead Atlanta detective on the case. While he didn't necessarily believe the husband was responsible — he figured his perp was a stranger — he would have been delighted to hang something on Little. "That boy wasn't right for some reason," Perry told two Journal-Constitution reporters a few days before he died in 1995.

Perry and Little skirmished whenever they met. According to Perry, the young man wouldn't mention his wife's disappearance unless the detective brought it up. He'd ask about other cases instead. Once, Perry said, Little taunted him about the possibility of a perfect crime.

Relatives and close friends insisted Little was not cold, merely reserved. His mother told police he was privately devastated at losing Mary. People at the bank joked in his defense that you wouldn't expect an auditor to have a warm personality.

But police still couldn't understand why he refused several invitations to take a lie detector test.

Nothing ever implicated Roy Little, but suspicion was enough for his bosses in the Banking Department. As they later admitted to detectives, they made his work life so unpleasant that he finally quit. In a moment of frankness with investigators, Little said he felt that some friends had cut him off.

Within three years, he had obtained a Mexican divorce and remarried. He divorced again and remained in the Atlanta area through the late '90s. Now 63 and living in Florida, Little consistently has declined interview requests.

Odd behavior, strange calls

Another line of inquiry focused on Mary Little herself.

Some people told police she had been acting oddly in the days before disappearing. She had phoned an old friend, expressing fear of something she couldn't explain. Sometimes she was afraid to go out at night.

Witnesses at the office said she had begun receiving some upsetting calls. A job applicant at the bank overheard Little tell a caller, "Please leave me alone. I'm a married woman now." She finally hung up.

Then there were the dozen roses Little received at her apartment that week. She hadn't mentioned them to her husband. No card was ever found, and the florist had no record or memory of the sender. Police wondered if a stalker was afoot. Or whether she had heard from an earlier boyfriend or secret admirer. After all, she had just been married.

In her final days at the office, Little hinted to various co-workers that she had something important to tell them. She never said what it was. What could she have meant?

One possibility emerged, weeks into the investigation, when the FBI discovered a sex scandal at the bank. Little's boss, personnel chief Gene Rackley, told agents he had been sent to the department to look into reports of prostitution on the premises and lesbian harassment of female employees. The situation had been deemed serious enough for the bank to bring in a former FBI agent to snoop around. The atmosphere around the office had been tense, and several employees had felt their jobs were threatened.

Rackley, retired and living on the Georgia coast, downplays the scandal today. He says it involved only a few low-level workers who blatantly misbehaved, and that no one was punished for her private life. He insists Little did not know about the matter, even though she was his secretary.

But, according to the FBI files, she had told her mother and a friend in North Carolina about the scandal. Did she want to confide in some of her colleagues at the office as well?

The sex inquiry was never disclosed publicly, but word of it was whispered around town nonetheless. The tongue-wagging led to an enduring rumor that Mary Little had run away with a woman — a laughable suggestion to her roommates, who found themselves stared down when they dared to criticize her fiancé.

The roommates, mostly C&S employees, were torn apart by fear after the disappearance. The police treated each as a potential suspect, and each silently wondered if one of the others was part of a deadly plot.

One roommate recalls that DeKalb police, who entered the case because Little's residence was just inside the county line, practically accused her of murder one night. They handed her a gun for protection the next day. She didn't know how to use it, and neither did the others. "It's amazing that we didn't kill each other, we were so scared," one of the roommates says.

The women persuaded their landlord to let them out of their lease, and they moved from the Emory area to a duplex near Lenox Square.

If they had known about the experience of a previous roommate of Little's, they might have moved farther away. This woman, an old friend from Charlotte, had been married for years and living in Georgia. She had been questioned briefly by police, but her name had not been made public.

Not long after the disappearance, her husband answered the phone at home and heard an unknown male voice threaten, "Your wife is next."

The couple left Georgia as fast as they could.

New twist develops

Shortly before Thanksgiving, startling new evidence from Little's home state shifted the focus of the investigation. Her signature turned up on two gasoline credit card receipts from Oct. 15, the Friday she was reported missing. Such information would be instantly available today by computer, but it took weeks to process in 1965.

The receipts suggested Little had bought a full tank of gas at an Esso station in Charlotte after midnight Oct. 14 and another at an Esso in Raleigh that afternoon. When police questioned the attendants, they recalled an unshaven middle-aged man at the wheel with a female passenger who seemed to be nursing a head wound. He had passed her the charge slips, and she had endorsed them "Mrs. Roy H. Little Jr." Mary's parents recognized the handwriting as hers. The attendants weren't able to describe the car precisely, but they did write down the license plate number. The tag had been stolen in Charlotte in mid-October.

The new information was confusing. Someone had filched a tag in Little's hometown, put it on another car, driven to Atlanta, returned with Little to Charlotte, and then taken 12 hours to get to Raleigh, normally only three hours away. By using the victim's charge card, he almost seemed to be trying to lead police away from Atlanta.

The sightings threw a wrench into theories about the case. If the kidnapper was in Raleigh on Friday afternoon, Little's Comet couldn't have been moved back into the Lenox parking lot that morning unless another person was involved. Against all eyewitness accounts, investigators decided the car must have been there through the night and gone unnoticed.

Nor was there an easy explanation of Little's seemingly compliant behavior. Brent Turvey, a respected criminal profiler and author, suggests she could have been involved in a rough relationship and left Atlanta more or less willingly. A quarrel en route might have escalated into unplanned violence.

But that isn't the only possible interpretation of Little's failure to seek help at the gas stations. Barbara Rothbaum of the Emory Clinic, an expert in victim psychology, says it isn't unusual for kidnapped people to stay silent. Little could have simply been too afraid to speak up.

By the time police discovered the charge card trail, it was cold. Still, the evidence gave hope to Little's family. Believing she might still be alive, her husband and mother made a televised plea to her presumed abductor, promising anything for her return.

They got a prompt answer: an anonymous call demanding $20,000 in ransom. Ponder was monitoring the phone in Little's apartment when the extortionist called back. The husband was directed to go alone, at midnight, to an overpass in the Pisgah National Forest of western North Carolina, where he would find a piece of paper with further instructions posted on a sign.

Ponder suspected the call was a hoax or the work of an opportunist, but the FBI couldn't take a chance. An agent who vaguely resembled Roy Little was dispatched to the mountains. At the rendezvous, he found a piece of paper on the sign. It was blank.

The caller was never heard from again.

Eerie similarities

Over the months, the leads dried up. On the first anniversary of Little's disappearance in 1966, police admitted they were no closer to finding her than they had been a year before. They'd even resorted to consulting a psychic.

Then, in the spring of 1967, the killing of another young woman brought the missing bride back into the news, if only because of eerie similarities: The 22-year-old victim had worked in Little's office in downtown Atlanta and had lived with some of her roommates.

Diane Shields was a pretty blond secretary from Guntersville, Ala. Transferred into personnel after Little vanished, she occupied Mary's old desk and befriended her former colleagues. For a time, she roomed with some of them in their Buckhead duplex. She eventually moved out to live with her sister in College Park and took a job as a receptionist with another company downtown.

On May 19, 1967, Shields left work in her blue and white Chevy Impala. She never made it home.

East Point police spotted the car at 2:30 a.m. near the drive-in window of a laundry on Sylvan Road. Blood was dripping from the rear end. Finding the keys in the ignition, they opened the trunk to discover Shields' body crammed upside down between a spare tire and a cardboard box. Among other things, the box contained a copy of "Betty Crocker's New Dinner for Two"; the receptionist had planned to marry in July.

Shields was fully clothed and had not been sexually assaulted. Nor had she been robbed: She was still wearing a diamond engagement ring. A scarf and a piece of paper had been stuffed down her throat, as if to silence her.

Hearing about the killing the next day, Clint Chafin, superintendent of Atlanta detectives, told East Point police, "That sounds like our Mary Shotwell Little case."

His hunch intensified when it came out that Shields had received roses at the bank and pretended they were anonymous, just like Little's. (They weren't; they came from a baby-sitting client.) The news touched off several days of jittery speculation that a "rose killer" was loose in Atlanta.

The parallels were enough to scare some of the women who had roomed with Shields and Little. On the weekend after the murder, two of them phoned Ponder in terror and asked if they could come to the agent's house.

"My wife and I sat up with them in the living room," he remembers. "They were scared to death." They were especially leery of one of their co-workers, although they couldn't tell Ponder why she would want to harm them. As it turned out, she was as frightened as they were.

Ponder thought the similarities in the Little and Shields cases were mere coincidence. On his recommendation, the FBI stayed out of the second investigation.

Most of the police who worked the homicide disagreed with his assessment. To this day, Melvin Banks, East Point's chief detective on the case, believes that someone implicated in the internal investigation at C&S was responsible for Shields' death. "They're connected, no question," he says.

But East Point was never able to make an arrest. As with Little's, the case file is nowhere to be found.

There was one other potential connection between Shields and Little that was never reported. Shields told her closest friend back home in Guntersville that she was working undercover with police trying to solve the disappearance of a woman named Mary. "They want me to work with them so we can close this case," Gail Husbands recalls her saying.

Others recall that Shields was uncharacteristically secretive in the months before she died, not showing up for appointments and vanishing for hours without explanation.

None of the surviving detectives knows of any involvement by Shields in the Little investigation. Perhaps Jack Perry, Atlanta's lead on the case, gave her his card and asked her to keep her eyes open, since she was working in Little's office and living with Little's intimates. Perhaps he asked her to do more. He never said.

Far from solving the Little mystery, the Shields slaying actually confused matters for another Atlanta detective working the case. When C.J. Strickland was quoted in the newspaper as saying the crimes seemed related, he got a phone call from Little's mother.

"She told me she didn't want the investigation into her daughter's disappearance pursued any further," says Strickland, now in his 80s and living near Jackson.

That struck him as odd. Little had been missing less than two years. The detective wondered if the family had heard from her, and suggested the FBI tap their phone. The bureau declined.

Strickland wasn't the only cop who suspected the victim. John Cameron, another homicide detective involved in the case, has always wondered if Mary Little pulled a fast one.

"I've thought about this many, many times over the years," says Cameron, now 66 and retired in McDonough. "Based on my experience in these cases, I simply don't believe she's dead. Can I explain why she did it? No. But there must be an explanation."

More hoaxes, dead ends

Every few years, an informant comes forward and the ashes are stirred.

In the late '60s, authorities almost tore up a runway at the Atlanta airport when a prisoner claimed Little was buried there. In the '80s, the Fulton County district attorney's office conducted two digs based on a tip from a woman who said she had watched Little's murder as a child and suppressed the memory.

The most notorious episode occurred 10 years ago when police, acting on information from a woman who said she had witnessed Little's killing, ripped up the floor of an auto repair garage in Forsyth County. Ponder, who had long since retired, knew they wouldn't find anything. When he heard a TV reporter say that the woman recalled the victim's red dress, he phoned the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "I talked to Mary's mother," he said. "She didn't have a red dress."

Ponder is sitting in the den of his home near Northlake Mall. The walls are hung with plaques and framed testimonials from his long career as a G-man. The table is cluttered with vials of pills and medical references that attest to the diabetes and heart ailments that are overtaking his retirement. His face, once as sharp as a hawk's, has softened. But his eyes glint with life as he reaches toward the coffee table and picks up the brown folder he couldn't leave at the office, the Little file.

"This," he begins, "is what I think happened."

On the Sunday after Little disappeared, Ponder was helping interview her roommates at Atlanta police headquarters when a woman named Carolyn Smitherman came in to report an incident. She said she had been walking to her car at Lenox shortly before Little would have left the mall when she realized she was being followed. She jumped into her vehicle and locked the door as the pursuer, a thin man with a brown crew cut, grabbed the handle.

"If you think you're going to get in my car, you're crazy," she told him.

He tapped the window and said, "Your back tire is low."

She drove to a nearby service station. Her tires were fine.

Ponder closes the file. "I think that was probably the man who grabbed Mary," he says. "I think he drove her somewhere, raped her and then brought her back to Lenox and switched cars. Then he drove her to North Carolina. I imagine she's buried in the woods somewhere north of Raleigh."

Ponder has said as much to Little's family. He has stayed in touch with them over the years, attending the wedding of Mary's little sister in Charlotte, exchanging Christmas cards, extending sympathy when her father died of a heart attack in 1979.

He still hears from Mary's mother, Margaret Shotwell. Despite what she told police, Ponder says she never stopped following the investigation. Now in her late 80s and in failing health, she declines to discuss her missing daughter.

"She calls from time to time," Ponder says. "She gets pretty upset. She's never gotten over it."

A few years ago, in a handwritten letter addressed "Dearest Jim," Mrs. Shotwell sent Ponder some newspaper clippings about a man who had abducted and killed a jogger in Charlotte. His record and background made her wonder whether he was the one who had taken her Mary. It had been so long, she didn't know whom to contact with the bureau anymore. "You are the FBI to me," she wrote.

Ponder dutifully relayed the information.

Like all the other leads, it went nowhere.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: atlanta; crime; lenox; mary; shotwell; unsolved
This is a crime no Atlantan from that time will ever forget.

Many new insights and previously unknown (to me, at least) facts surrounding the unsolved case in this, surprisingly, well written article from the AJC.

1 posted on 03/21/2004 7:24:31 PM PST by eddie willers
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To: Leroy S. Mort
2 posted on 03/21/2004 7:45:39 PM PST by eddie willers
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To: AnAmericanMother
3 posted on 03/21/2004 7:48:54 PM PST by eddie willers
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To: eddie willers
I remember when that happened. There are so many TV shows, like Cold Case Files on A&E and another one hosted by Robt. Stack (Eliot Ness) about unsolved crimes. Why can't they use those? I just saw the other night that an old crime from the 60's or 70's was solved recently from a bloody fingerprint. Someone rummaging thru the files thought to put the print thru the "fancy" computer programs we have now at FBI, and killer was found this many yrs. later. The article says there was a finger print found on Mary's car that was not hers.
4 posted on 03/21/2004 7:53:36 PM PST by whadizit
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To: eddie willers
Here's a website about MSL.
5 posted on 03/21/2004 7:57:45 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: eddie willers
I heard about it vaguely and saw the stories in the paper, but I was only 10 at the time. My parents never let me go anywhere by myself, I can tell you that.
6 posted on 03/21/2004 7:58:17 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of Venery (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: Bonaparte
7 posted on 03/21/2004 8:00:49 PM PST by eddie willers
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To: eddie willers
How Lenox looked around that time.

8 posted on 03/21/2004 8:22:41 PM PST by eddie willers
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To: eddie willers
At the same time, in private, police trained their suspicions on a more sensitive target. Roy Little had no discernible motive to harm his wife. He stood to collect only a modest insurance settlement upon her death and had a solid alibi, having been out of town. But a spouse gets a hard look in disappearances, and this spouse rubbed cops the wrong way.

I think the husband did it. He was only 70+ miles out of town -- that's not so far that he couldn't have killed her and gone back to LaGrange, with no one the wiser. So what if the insurance he would have gotten was small -- people don't need monetary reasons to kill, after all.

9 posted on 03/22/2004 2:59:51 AM PST by NYCVirago
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To: NYCVirago; eddie willers
I would tend to agree with you in suspecting the husband - the police obviously found him suspicious - and common sense would suggest that a marriage partner must a prime suspect.

However, the death of the second woman makes it look like organised crime was involved:

Ponder [investigating officer] thought the similarities in the Little and Shields cases were mere coincidence. On his recommendation, the FBI stayed out of the second investigation.

Most of the police who worked the homicide disagreed with his assessment. To this day, Melvin Banks, East Point's chief detective on the case, believes that someone implicated in the internal investigation at C&S was responsible for Shields' death. "They're connected, no question," he says.

But East Point was never able to make an arrest. As with Little's, the case file is nowhere to be found.

Is there a hint there of police corruption? I found the statement by the second victim that she was acting undercover to help in the investigation significant. The scarf shoved down her throat, and the lack of robbery of her car and jewellery, makes it look like a calculated gesture of "silencing" someone.

10 posted on 04/17/2004 9:24:57 PM PDT by BlackVeil
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To: eddie willers

The solution to the disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little has been posted on the Internet.

Key to the solution is that two women disappeared not one. Both used the same desk in that bank office.

Most people are unaware that design engineers discovered a conflict of physiology in the 1950's when workers using newly designed close-spaced workstations began having bizarre or psychotic episodes. The problem was peripheral vision reflexes and the solution in the business office by the 1960's was the Cubicle.

The problem is one of physiology related to subliminal sight not desks and chairs. (Vision Startle Reflex) Although you can ignore Peripheral Vision Reflexes that break your concentration, you cannot stop subliminally seeing movement that triggers them. You cannot tell your brain to stop trying to create and force the reflexes. The phenomenon can happen anytime and anywhere the conditions to create it exist.

Psychology texts and lectures briefly mention this problem. The historical reference is, "Subliminal Sight caused a problem in the early days of modern office design." Note the past tense. The explanation given is that a conflict arises in the mind as the victim continues to ignore the reflexes and it builds until there is a mental break.

Little and Shields were exposed and had similar episodes. Both began to say and do strange things before each disappeared two years apart.

These episodes and disappearances have not stopped happening. Today with Cubicles in use in business offices College Students are one at-risk group. They don't know that if a workstation where they will study or use a computer is located in a room with repeating detectable movement, Cubicle Level Protection must be designed into that workstation.

When I contacted the Cold Case Officer, Atlanta PD, about this solution he remembered that the Atlanta Police Department had problems with the old open-room unprotected-desk system before they installed Cubicles.

You can see the old office system any night on episodes of "Law and Order," "NYPD Blue," or "Barney Miller."

Neither the Bank or Authorities were aware of this phenomenon at the time.

Little may still be alive. Victims of Dissociative Fugue sometimes have amnesia of the previous identity and life.

College Student disappearances:

Ahmad Arain computer science major UCLA found in Mexico in an altered mental state.

Maura Murray disappeared after having a mental event in front of witnesses. The witnesses did not detect that. She damaged two cars in about two days, disappeared and has not been seen since.

Amy Bradley graduated college, went on a cruise and disappeared as the ship was preparing to dock. There have been two sightings of her but she is still missing.

Suzanne Lyall disappeared within 200 yards of her dorm room at the University at Albany. Her ATM card was used to withdraw $20 but there have been no sightings since.

Joseph Morse disappeared from Georgia Tech the morning of finals and was photographed at an ATM withdrawing his last cash. This summer his body was located. He had died in Miami the next day after he disappeared from Atlanta.
(All are on the Missing Students page.)


The Everquest Connection page explains the psychology and relates it to MMORPG players. Shawn Woolley's mother sued Sony believing that Everquest addiction cause his suicide.

Other pages on site explore the crash of Czar 52 at Fairchild AFB, 1994, the Alien Abduction of Barney and Betty Hill, 1961, psychotic episodes associated with Qi Gong and Kundalini Yoga, and the Day Trader Shootings, Mark Barton Atlanta 1999 (draft outline).

11 posted on 10/20/2004 10:52:39 PM PDT by kc4iai
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To: eddie willers


12 posted on 06/17/2016 8:49:54 PM PDT by littlehouse36
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