In 1965, Mary Shotwell Little, a 25-year-old secretary at the Citizens & Southern Bank in Atlanta, Georgia, vanished just six weeks after her wedding to husband Roy Little. The case of her disappearance has remained one of history's most unsettling and unsolved crime mysteries. Despite the clues and hints left behind, the mystery of Mary's disappearance has yet to be solved.
The Disappearance Of Mary Shotwell Little
On October 14, 1965, Mary had dinner at the Piccadilly Cafeteria in the Lenox Square Shopping Center with a co-worker while her husband Roy was out of town. Afterward, she went shopping for a few hours and said goodbye to her friend around 8:00 PM before heading to her gray 1965 Mercury Comet, which was parked at the shopping center.
Gene Rackley called the Lenox Square Shopping Center to ask if Mary's Mercury Comet was there when she didn't show up for work the next morning and couldn't be reached at home. However, the shopping center told him they couldn't locate the car.
Gene Rackley went to the shopping center and found Mary's Mercury Comet in the parking lot around noon. He then contacted the police. There were many strange details surrounding Mary's disappearance.
Strange Clues To Mary's Disappearance
Inside Mary's Comet, women's underwear, a slip, and a girdle were found neatly folded. A bra was lying on the floor next to a stocking that had been cut with a knife. Mary's car keys, purse, and the rest of her clothing were missing.
There were traces of blood on the undergarments and throughout the car, including on the windows, windshield, seats, and steering wheel (which had an unidentified fingerprint in the blood). However, the amount of blood was small, possibly indicating a minor injury such as a nosebleed. The license plate had also been switched with another stolen vehicle.
Roy Little kept detailed mileage logs for the Comet and, after comparing them with the odometer, investigators found that there were 41 miles that could not be accounted for. No one remembered seeing the vehicle parked at Lenox Square overnight, including a police officer who patrolled the parking lot at 6:00 AM the next morning.
Investigators discovered that Mary's gasoline card was used twice in North Carolina on October 15. The first usage was in Charlotte (Mary's hometown) in the early morning, and the second was 12 hours later in Raleigh. The credit slips were signed "Mrs. Roy H. Little Jr" in handwriting believed to be Mary's.
In both instances, the gas station attendant remembered seeing a woman matching Mary's description who seemed to be treating a head wound and avoided making eye contact. She was accompanied by an unidentified male in Charlotte and two unidentified males in Raleigh, who appeared to be in control of her.
It is strange that the sightings took place 12 hours apart, as the drive from Charlotte to Raleigh takes less than three hours. The investigation turned to Mary's husband, Roy Little, who didn't seem particularly concerned about his wife's disappearance and refused to take a lie detector test.
Some of Mary's friends disliked Roy and didn't attend their wedding, but Mary always seemed happy with her marriage. Roy had a strong alibi as he was outside of Atlanta on the night of Mary's disappearance and had no apparent motive, so he was ruled out as a suspect.
Anonymous On The Other Side
Soon after, Roy received an anonymous ransom call demanding $20,000 for Mary's return. The caller told Roy to go to an overpass in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina, where he would find further instructions on a sign. An FBI agent went in Roy's place and found a blank piece of paper attached to the sign. The caller was never heard from again.
According to some of Mary's friends, in the weeks before her disappearance, she was receiving phone calls at work that left her visibly shaken. On one occasion, Mary was overheard telling a caller: "I'm a married woman now. You can come over to my house any time you like, but I can't come over there." Mary also received a dozen roses at her apartment from an anonymous secret admirer, but never told her husband about it.
Was Mary's Workplace Involved In Her Disappearance In Any Way?
Additionally, the Citizens & Southern Bank had recently hired a former FBI agent to investigate possible instances of lesbian sexual harassment and prostitution occurring on the bank's property. Mary's boss, Gene Rackley, insisted that it was just a minor scandal involving low-level workers and that Mary had no knowledge of it, but others claimed that Mary had mentioned the investigation to them.
Despite these issues, Mary's co-worker claimed that she seemed to be in good spirits when they had dinner together on the night of her disappearance.
A Person Of Interest
A few days after Mary's disappearance, a woman reported that she had been confronted by a man with a brown crew cut in the Lenox Square parking lot on the evening of October 14. The man knocked on her car window and told her that her back tire was low, which was not true. This incident happened just a few minutes before Mary was last seen walking towards her car.
Claims Of An Inmate At Georgia State Prison
In 1966, the FBI interviewed an inmate at Georgia State Prison who was serving a life sentence for murder. The inmate claimed that he knew two men who had been paid $5,000 each to kidnap Mary. He said they took him to a house in Mount Holly, North Carolina where Mary was being held captive and was subsequently killed.
The inmate claimed to have no knowledge of who hired the two men or what the motive was. The FBI did not find the man's story credible and did not pursue it further, but cold case investigators have revisited the story in recent years.
Another Case Could Be Another Clue!
In a strange coincidence, the woman who took over Mary's job at the bank also became the victim of an unsolved murder. On May 19, 1967, 22-year-old Diane Shields, who had recently left the bank and was working elsewhere, left her workplace but was found dead in the trunk of her car a few hours later.
Diane was killed by suffocation when a scarf and a piece of paper were forced down her throat. There was no evidence of sexual assault and nothing was taken from her, including her diamond engagement ring. The motive for the murder is currently unknown.
Diane's best friend claimed that Diane had confided in her that she was secretly working with the police as an undercover agent to help solve the disappearance of a woman named "Mary." However, no official police records were found to support this claim.