August 31, 1952: The Disappearance of Ann Marie Burr


WHAT HAPPENED?


On August 31, 8-year-old Ann Marie Burr vanished under mysterious circumstances from her Tacoma, Washington home. The case received extensive media coverage for years after her disappearance, and it regained renewed interest after it was theorized that Ted Bundy, who had lived in the area as a teen, may have been responsible for her abduction.


In 2011, however, forensic testing from the crime scene yielded insufficient DNA sequences for comparison with Bundy's. As of 2019, what happened to Ann remains a mystery.

DISAPPEARANCE


Ann Marie Burr was born on December 14, 1952 in Del Norte County, California. Her parents, Donald and Beverly, were Roman Catholics. Ann was the first of 4 children. She had 2 younger sisters, Julie and Mary, and a younger brother named Gregory.


On the evening of August 30, 1961, the children all went to bed at around 8:00 PM. Donald and Beverly put them to bed like they always did. Ann and Mary, 3, shared the upstairs bedroom, and Gregory and July, 5 and 7 respectively, shared a basement bedroom.


At some point in the evening, various members of the family reported hearing their family dog barking. Later in the night, Ann awoke her mother to let her know that Mary was crying. She had been recovering from a broken arm, so being in pain was not out of the ordinary for the 3-year-old. Beverly comforted her youngest daughter, and put both girls back to bed.


At around 5:30 AM, Beverly heard Mary crying again in the bedroom and went to go check on her. But she found more than just a distraught toddler: she found Ann missing. The front door of the home, which had been locked, was left ajar, and a small living room window was left open. Grass from the lawn was found inside of the home, and an overturned bench was discovered against the side of the home. Ann had been taken.

THE INVESTIGATION


Police were called to investigate the scene. Law enforcement found it notable that a table of figurines beside the open living room window appeared undisturbed, even thought that was the way the abductor likely came inside. A faint shoe print was found on the bench outside, an estimated side 6 or 7 Keds sneaker. Ann had been taken wearing only her blue nightgown, and a chain necklace with Jesus and the Virgin Mary.


On the morning Ann was reported missing, over 100 soldiers from Fort Lewis and 50 National Guardsmen aided local police in the search for the child. Over 75 square blocks had been thoroughly searched, including the woods, by 11:00 PM, but no sign of Ann was found. The FBI only assisted on a stand-by basis, as they didn't feel there was enough evidence to conclusively consider the case an abduction.


A few days after Ann's disappearance, a neighbor came forward, reporting that they had heard screaming coming from a vehicle with California license plates the morning Ann went missing. However, the driver of the car was eventually located, and they explained that the noise was actually just their radio.


Rumors spread that Donald and Beverly could have been involved in the disappearance of their daughter, and so they voluntarily submitted to polygraph tests, which they passed. Ann's grandmother posted a $1,000 reward, which eventually raised to $5,000, for any information leading to the discovery of Ann.


Within the first 12 days of Ann's disappearance, over 1,500 people were interviewed.


On October 31, 1961, police interviewed 31-year-old Hugh Bion Morse, a man who had been the suspect in the 1959 murder of a 9-year-old girl in Spokane, but it didn't lead to anything. In June of 1962, an employee at a service station claimed to have seen a girl who looked like Ann accompanied by a suspicious man, but again, nothing ever came of this alleged sighting.


In the winter of 1964, police attempted to arrest one Ralph Everett Larkee of Portland, Oregon, who was accused of kidnapping another child, but he committed suicide before police were able to apprehend him.


When Ted Bundy was apprehended in 1978, he became a suspect in Ann's disappearance. When he was only 14, he resided in Tacoma, the same time Ann went missing. He was a paperboy who delivered newspapers in the family's neighborhood, and had other connections to the area where she lived. He would have crossed near their house on a daily basis. The small sized shoe print that was found outside lent itself to the theory of a teenage perpetrator.


Bundy told police that he wouldn't have hurt a little girl (which is not true because as an adult, he killed a 12 year old girl). He denied involvement. However, he had told detective Robert Keppel that there were "some murders" that he would "never talk about" because they were committed "too close to home" or "too close to family" or involved "victims who were very young". This would certainly match up to the details of the Ann Burr case.


Ann's parents believe that her body was buried in an excavation site on the University of Puget Sound campus, as construction was underway in 1961.


Beverly corresponded with Bundy while he was in prison and claimed that he "avoided the real questions, talking instead about the Green River murders and world events". He did, however, claim when he was 14, he was just a normal kid. He didn't commit crimes or desire to hurt anyone at that time in his life. Donald Burr, however, would go on to tell crime writer Ann Rule that he believed he saw Bundy in a ditch near the university the morning of Ann's disappearance.


Though police close to the case do not believe that Bundy was involved, Keppel believes that he certainly could have killed her. She was close to home and very young, and thus she fits into the categories of victims he refused to talk about.

THEORIES


The most popular theory is that Ann was one of Ted Bundy's first victims, at the ripe age of 14. I certainly see why people subscribe to this theory. Though it would be years before Bundy would commit his first known murder, what are the chances a young girl disappears from the same town a serial killer lived in and it wasn't him? Especially when he claims that he would never speak of crimes against people who were really young, and close to home. Additionally, the shoe prints found were that of a teen. So another teen abducted her while one of the most notorious serial killers in history was delivering newspapers to their door?


He also maintained his innocence in the killing of another young girl wherein the circumstantial evidence agains stacked against him. Some Reddit users believe that he didn't want to admit to child rape and murder because those crimes incite violence from other prisoners more commonly. Which, sure, but he did kill a 12 year old and a 15 year old that he admitted to, so it doesn't seem like he was too concerned with his prison image?


Even though he was only 14 years old, for a completely and total psychopath which such a propensity for evil, this may have been the perfect age for him to start experimenting with such crimes.


People who aren't as convinced on the Bundy connection find the lack of physical evidence a bit too sophisticated for a teenaged psychopath. He left behind only a shoe print, didn't break anything coming inside, and abducted a child from her room that she shared with another child while everybody was home. It certainly does seem like the work of a more sophisticated criminal, not a 14-year-old monster trying his hand at murder for the first time. (However, others counter that, given it was 1961, evidence collection wasn't as good as it is now, meaning there could have been more physical evidence left behind that just wasn't caught.)


"I always hate this case because there is zero evidence pointing to Ted Bundy but people love to implicate him because it makes a better Ted Bundy story," one user said. Their reasoning against the theory is that Bundy's murderous tendencies were primarily sparked by a breakup with a girlfriend, and most of the women he killed had a similar look. At age 14, he hadn't even met that woman yet and didn't seem to have exhibited killer tendencies yet.


Additionally, they lived about 2.5 miles apart, not right around the corner. For a 14-year-old to leave in the middle of the night, walk 2.5 miles, kidnap a child out of her home without being caught, and not be spotted around town doing it? It does seem a bit unlikely. Additionally, he was only 14 and she was 8. It isn't like she was a toddler he could pick up and carry out. She would have been difficult to control being not that far off from his size.


I do think it is more likely that she fell victim to another predator, someone who was in his prime at the time and not someone who was still years away from his first crime. It is certainly coincidental that Ted Bundy would be on the paper route of a girl who went missing, and the chances are probably very slim, AND Ted Bundy's refusal to talk about murders that align to the circumstances of Ann's is super suspicious. However, I just can't imagine that such a young kid could travel on foot to abduct a child, break in without leaving any evidence or being heard by anyone, subdue and remove a child who was only 6 years younger than him to get her out of the house, and then relocate her without being seen. He didn't have a car and he probably couldn't carry an 8-year-old. Why would she go with him? To me, that means that an older person almost certainly committed this crime.


It has been 59 years since Ann Marie Burr was taken from her home, and her abductor will likely remain a mystery forever. If Ted Bundy did do it, it is nice to know he is dead. Because the crime took place in 1961, it is reasonable to believe the person who snatched her is dead. However, it is really infuriating to think that he may have lived the rest of his life as a free man, never being held accountable for Ann's abduction and possible murder.


59 years later, it is also reasonable to believe Ann is no longer alive. Even if she was abducted and not killed at the time, pedophiles typically don't keep their victims past a certain age. She would be in her 60s today.


Whoever did this, I hope they were arrested and convicted of some other crime and lived their life behind bars. They stripped a young, innocent child's life away from her... I hope that, in some way, his life was stripped from him as well.


Rest in peace, Ann Marie Burr.

REFERENCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Ann_Marie_Burr

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy#Victims

https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/2935le/anne_marie_burr_abducted_by_a_serial_killer/?sort=top

https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/7zti7l/unresolved_disappearance_ann_marie_burr_missing/


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