Unsolved: 1964 Murder of 12-Year-Old Mary Theresa Simpson Mar 18, 2014 13:00:52 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 18, 2014 13:00:52 GMT -5
Police probe unsolved 1964 Elmira murder
ELMIRA, N.Y. — Police are continuing their investigation of a murder involving a 12-year-old girl who disappeared 50 years ago — on March 15, 1964 — and whose body was found four days later. Work on the case has been ongoing through the years, Police Chief Michael Robertson said. The case has drawn renewed attention because of the half-century mark this year, he said. “As a law enforcement agency, we strive to solve every crime, and that certainly is magnified when it’s a homicide. It’s even more magnified when it’s a 12-year-old kid that never had a chance,” he said. “We would certainly love to solve it.”
About 3 p.m. on the Sunday that she vanished, Mary Theresa Simpson had left the apartment on North Main Street where she lived with her father, Ellsworth Simpson. She told him she was going to visit a cousin, but she instead went to see her mother, Rose Simpson, who was separated from her father and lived on Dewitt Avenue. After about an hour, she left and went to her grandfather’s house on Cieri Street and played with her cousins. She was last seen heading home at about 6:30 p.m. at the corner of East Market and Harriet streets. Her father reported her missing at 10:30 p.m.
Police had not ruled out foul play as they searched for Mary in vacant buildings, abandoned homes, junkyards, excavations and used car lots.
On March 19, 1964, her frozen, fully clothed body was discovered in a wooded section of Southport under twigs, branches, leaves, dirt and four heavy stones — the largest weighing more than 100 pounds — by a man who was hiking with his two sons a quarter-mile east of Combs Hill Road. Only part of her hand and a sneaker were visible. Her mouth had been stuffed with dirt and twigs. Eugene Golden, the police chief at the time, said he was thoroughly convinced she was murdered in the vicinity of where her body was found but did not elaborate further. According to the Chemung County medical examiner, she had been either choked and/or strangled. Officials later revealed there was evidence of sexual molestation.
Family members, teachers, neighbors and others interviewed by the Star-Gazette in 1964 described Mary as a sweet, quiet, polite girl who was shy with strangers. She had moved a lot — five times in six years — and didn’t make friends easily, but when she did, the friendships lasted. She was a Girl Scout, belonged to the YWCA and had won a trophy for cooking. She made her first communion at St. Patrick’s Church in Elmira in May 1959. She attended St. Patrick’s School in Elmira until June 1963, when she completed the fifth grade. She entered the sixth grade at Curtiss Elementary after moving with her father to Hammondsport. The family subsequently returned to Elmira and Mary was enrolled in sixth grade at Booth School. She disappeared a week later.
As the investigation of her murder continued over the years, hundreds of people have been interviewed, including more than a dozen Chemung County residents who were given lie-detector tests. At one time, the Star-Gazette offered a reward that had grown to $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of her killer. Various tips had come in through the years, and Mary’s case was reactivated several times, then-District Attorney John Trice said in 2007.
At that time, Trice had sought help from a team of Project Alert investigators from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The team gathered evidence and prepared it for DNA testing at a laboratory in Texas. Nothing very useful came from the Texas lab, Robertson said, noting that a DNA sample was developed by the New York State Police lab. “We will be using them for anything from here on out,” he said.
To this day, the police department continues to search for any new lead in the case, Robertson said. “I think, to a man, we can almost all say that we’d like to solve that.”
Source: Ray Finger, The Star-Gazette, March 17, 2014.