Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Interesting Facts About the Mary Shotwell Little Case

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.

17 comments:

Caprice said...

Hi Prof!
HHHMMMM!!
That WAS interesting.
I started with your 2008 post and then read this most resent one.
I also think it sounds like she was kidnapped.
But her family not wanting to continue the investigation is puzzling.
It also sounds like that "You have a low tire" guy is very suspicious, but if he took Mary, then it doesn't sound like Mary was the target of the kidnapping - any woman alone would do.
Unless you are very paranoid and think, maybe the kidnapper approached that woman to make people think he was just some freak targeting any woman alone when he was really after Mary.
He could have attacked Mary, driven her car to a secluded place near the parking lot, killed Mary, ditched her body, driven her car back to it's original parking area, stolen Mary's purse, and decide to leave the state, but on his way kidnapped another woman and that's the woman in North Carolina. Did any of the eye witnesses say the woman they saw fit Mary's description?

The Professor said...

The eyewitnesses did describe a woman that could have been Mary. Also, the signed credit card receipts at each gas station were in Mary Shotwell Little's handwriting, so most of the investigators on this case thought it was definitely Mary that was there at those stations in North Carolina.

triv said...

How come there is no photo of Diane Shields or her background?

cultural_clutter said...

We may never know the full connection between MSL, Shields and the internal bank personnel investigation, but makes one wonder what the hell was going on down at C&S bank. In 1965, C&S was at the heart of all things Atlanta, still a small city then and with a police dept. tied to movers and shakers. No way even a whiff of scandal would've reached the press and public.

liz bowie said...

I believe that Mary set up her own disappearance after she discovered something seriously nefarious going on at that bank. She must have felt that the local police were unable to protect her. Seasoned crime scene processors thought the car scene had been staged. I found it interesting that her husband was in training to be a bank examiner ; she almost certainly would have discussed what she found out with him.I think he knew about her plan to leave town.This would explain why he didn't seem shocked by her vanishing.It would also explain why he would never take a polygraph.
Mary had help,I think,from the only people she could trust completely -- her family. Some male family members set up the stolen license plate in NC,and they were,in my opinion, the "unshaved middle aged men" in the car. The 12 hours between credit card use in Charlotte and Raleigh was probably explained by Mary saying her goodbyes to her parents. She could well have gone to NY. Because Mary worked in human resources,she would have had easy access to many social security numbers and identities. Not difficult for her to become someone else,and disappear in NY. Would love to know what others think....

The Professor said...

This is a very interesting theory, Liz. I think this is more than plausible, and like you, I would like to hear what other blog readers think.

Sandie Webb said...

Hi Professor,

Tbese crimes - Mary's disappearance and Diane's murder - have haunted me for over forty years. They were my friends: I roomed with both girls and worked at C&S Bank. Yes, they are connected, most definitely, although law enforcement officials have varying opinions. I am finally writing a book about both crimes, and how ives were turned upside down-not only did we lose our friends, but we faced accusations of criminal involvement. After years of living in fear that someone would know my connection I am now stepping up and doing the right thing. There needs to be justice for Mary and Diane, and someone somewhere knows something. Let's find out what that is.

lizb09 said...

Yes, this would make a great book. I wonder why there are no photos on record of Diane Shields.Her murder was reported in the NY Times, but no photos at all.Perhaps she was working for some branch of law enforcement as an undercover investigator ?

ATLANTA MARRIAGE THERAPY & PSYCHOLOGY said...

Have followed this case since the day she disappeared! Fascinating!

Barbara said...

I worked for the C&S bank during that same time, 60's, and there were rumors,and some know truths that C&S bank was "teaming" with homosexuals, both men and women. Didn't she meet a woman the night of the murder, and according to this woman, went cheerfully into the night into a dark parking lot. Since she was said to be afraid to be alone in her car, and had some overheard conversations, which could have been a woman, rather than a man. I wouldn't think she would invite a man to her home!! What would her husband of 6 weeks think??? I also read that her Husband did not like her girl friends. Maybe he thought something not quite normal. I have read that lesbians are very possesive, and do not want to let go, sometimes more than a man. Maybe someone was very angry that she married, and didn't stay in their web, or fall completely in their web, as was hoped. There was discussion about all of this at the bank, and out side the bank at the time. It was also remarked, that for so many homosexuals to be hired at one place, there must be a power in the bank that was in agreement. Why no one has spoke of these things, is, in itself a mystery to me!!! THere is more, but enough for now.....September 23, 1967

Barbara said...

Additional comments from Barbara. I have read in at least two newspaper articles that Mary Little and her husband were separated. Also the signature on the credit cards could have been forged. Other employees at the bank possibly had seen her signature, took a document she had signed, and practiced. Her boss, maybe. He was behaving in a strange way on the day after she went missing. Also the woman she had dinner with on that night was also the same woman who went to Mary's boss and told him she had not reported for work. This woman had been in the foreground early on. Enough for now.
THank you
Barbara LoCicero

coldcaselady said...

I have been working on these cases for twelve years. The internet has made it so much easier for us to interact. I look forward to reading everyone's input and comparing with what I have. I have the police case file and FBI file.

auggie said...

Is there any recent information on the Mary Shotwell Little case?

angie said...

What happened yo Mary's husband?

The Professor said...

I haven't heard anything as of late. However, a young lady studying at Presbyterian College emailed me a time or two about some research on this case she has been doing for one of her classes. She has some interesting theories, but nothing concrete or new yet. This case is really interesting. I hope the student will email me her paper once she is done and it has been graded. I would love to read it.

wcape said...

I was 8 years old when this happened. I have never been able to get this disapperance out of my mind. I remember this being the first event in my life that made me feel that maybe I was not as safe as I thought I was. It took away my belief that nothing bad could happen to me.

John Green said...

When confronted with limited information, some of which is strange or contradictory, I say start with the the most inexplicable aspects and apply occam's razor (i.e., the simplest theory is the best.) That leads me to this guess.

She wanted to leave. She arranged a way to leave. She arranged to meet two people who were going to take her to New York (or somewhere, but I read somewhere that she wanted to go to NYC at one point and her parents said no.) That rendezvous happens somewhere about 20 miles away from the parking lot where she'd left her car. They go to Charlotte first because she wants to see her hometown again and maybe the house she grew up in for good. At some point in Charlotte her and the people helping her hatch a plan. They should use her credit card to buy gas and make a conspicuous showing of her in the car, "nursing a head wound." Then they decide that nobody back home may ever hear about this sighting (it was 1965, after all, and it took months for the police to get the records of the transaction.) So they go back to her car and stage a violent crime. They smear around the "minor amount of blood" that the one detective observed in the car, which had led him and others to believe she was staging her disappearance. Under this scenario, the car is back in the garage by 3-5 am, potentially explaining why the security at the garage did not see it over night, and more importantly explaining why it was brought back, which is otherwise inexplicable. Then they depart. They might have been tired by this point and slept somewhere. I-85 was complete in 1965 and thus they could have gotten back on their path north in time for the second staged incident at the gas station in Raleigh. This theory, while complicated, simplifies the most bizarre facts of this case. First, who in kidnapping someone would make a conspicuous show of their abductee at two gas stations? They stole license plates, so I am sure stealing a few dollars for gas would not have been a problem. Second, the minor amount of blood having been smeared around is not otherwise explicable; nor is the return of the car at some point after having been gone for most of the night. Third, it explains 14 hours with the bloody girl in the car between gas stops. Finally, few rapists fold up their victim's clothes nice. But suppose she changed upon the initial rendezvous, - out of clothes that she might have been recognized in - and then folded the clothes. Then, upon inventing the idea to stage the abduction and returning to the car they might have cut her panties quickly to match the staged scene, while leaving the other