In the past few months I have done a few radio appearances, two of which focused solely on the case of Mary Shotwell Little. I have had several emails about the case. Several people have been wondering if there have ever been any updates on the case. To my knowledge, there were lots of calls, false leads, and supposed sightings in the years after the disappearance, but nothing that led investigators to anything remotely resembling the solution to this case. If you did not read about the case, you can find my post about it on this blog in the archives section under November 2008.
There was one immediate update or piece of information that I wanted to share with you that I think makes a big difference to the case. Jim Ponder, the FBI agent who worked the case, revealed that he thought that Mary was kidnapped. Here is the information upon which he bases his theory. He reported that the Sunday after Mary Shotwell Little's disappearance, Jim Ponder was assisting with interviewing Little's former roomates, all of which were being conducted at the Atlanta police headquarters. While he was there, a woman named Carolyn Smitherman came in and reported an interesting incident. Smitherman reported that she was in Lenox Square the day Little disappeared. As a matter of fact, it was deduced that she was getting in her car just before Mary Little would have left the mall. As Smitherman was walking to her car, she realized she was being followed. She hurried to her car and locked the door. A thin man with brown hair cut in a crew cut grabbed the handle. She replied, "If you think you're going to get in my car, you're crazy." He responded by tapping the windon and telling her that her ". . . back tire is low." Becoming concerned, she left the area quickly and drove to a nearby service station. Much to her surprise, her tires were all fine.
Ponder thinks it was this man who grabbed Mary Shotwell Little, and he says that he thinks that he drove Mary to a nearby location, raped her, brought her back to Lenox Square, and traded cars. He says that he thinks the man drove her to North Carolina. He obviously thinks that the man murdered her, for his next comments were "I imagine she's buried in the woods somewhere north of Raleigh."
This is a plausible theory, but I still wonder why he would have taken her to North Carolina. The two could have picked some other man up, perhaps the attackers friend or something, and the three could have still driven to North Carolina. The three would have been the people spotted at the gas station by attendants. But I still cannot explain why they would have driven to North Carolina. Was it coincidence that that was where Mary Shotwell Little had family and had lived before moving to Atlanta? Or did she ask her attackers to honor one last wish and take her to North Carolina if they planned to kill her?
Something else that puzzles me is that when Diane Shields was murdered and the investigations hit the paper, C.J. Strickland, a detective working on the case, was quoted in the local papers as having said that the murder of Diane Shields and the disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little were most certainly connected, Mary Little's mother called Strickland and told him that she did not want the investigation in to her daughter's disappearance pursued any further. Little had only been missing for two years at that point. Strickland was mystified by this, and he wondered if perhaps the Little family had heard from Mary, and he suggested that the FBI tap their phone lines. However, the FBI declined. So, perhaps we will never know if the family did have some additional information about her disappearance that the FBI and police did not.
The disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little is one of the oddest mysteries I have ever read about here in Georgia, or anywhere for that fact. Was Diane Shield's death related to Mary's, and if so, why? Or did Mary engineer her own disappearance? We may never know.