TACOMA -- It was August 31, 1961, when 8-year-old Ann Marie Burr and her family hunkered down for the night.
“It was kind of the last hurrah for the children in the family. Ann was the oldest of four. She was eight and a half and a couple of the kids slept in the basement in their fort, but Ann and her little sister stayed in their bedrooms upstairs,” wrote author Rebecca Morris in her book, "Ted and Ann."
Ann’s mother, Beverly, chained and locked the front door before going to bed, but when she woke up the next morning, her little girl was gone.
“The front door of the house which was locked with the chain from the inside was standing wide open and there was a window in the living room that had been opened from the outside. There was a bench pulled up to the window outside where somebody had stood on the bench and opened the window," Morris wrote.
Detective Gene Miller with the Tacoma Police Department is now the lead on this investigation and says, “The bench that was leaned up against the side of the building subsequently was determined to have a partial palm print on it. There was a shoe print evidence near the point of entry. There was also a small quantity of biological evidence left at the point of entry as well, believed to be, at least potentially from the suspect.”
Morris says, “The best suspects in 1961 was a high school neighbor boy who was two houses away from Ann’s house. Police questioned him a couple of times, and a couple of bean pickers who had come up from Oregon to look for work.”
There wasn’t enough evidence to charge them.
Ann’s disappearance faded into memory until years later when police learned of Ted Bundy. He was just 14 years old when Ann disappeared and lived two miles away.
Bundy also had an uncle who lived in her neighborhood and, according to a family friend, Ted knew Ann.
“She says that Ann used to be in the group of kids that sometimes played together, and that Ted was around and that Ann liked to follow Ted around when he got his newspapers ready for delivery in the afternoon,” Morris explains.
Ann's mother wrote to Bundy when he was in prison asking if he kidnapped her daughter. Time and time again, he denied it, writing, “I do not know what happened to your daughter and had nothing to do with her disappearance.”
But, an interview he gave shortly before his execution cast grave doubts on his claim.
“Speaking in the third person hypothetically, he basically told the story about a very early crime where he took a young girl out of a house, sexually assaulted her in the orchard next door."
There was an orchard next to the Burr house, and he said he left her in a deep ditch and watched as the parents and police searched, Morris says.
Ted Bundy wasn’t known for telling the truth and enjoyed playing games. It’s been a half-century since Ann vanished and some believe she may have been dumped in a ditch near her home while construction for the University of Puget Sound was under way.
“There was a day when I realized that it was in the police report that Ann’s father had come back from searching the college campus and gone to the police and said, 'You should look at those ditches up there where they’re building buildings because some are 30 feet deep and covered with water,' and three days later it’s in the police report they’ve gone up to look at them and they’ve already been filled in and paved over.”
Ann's parents passed away several years ago. Before she died in 2008, Beverly struggled with never knowing for sure what happened to her little girl.
Morris spent countless hours with Mrs. Burr before she passed away and says, “I would say she didn’t know what to think. There were times when she felt it was likely that Ted had abducted Ann and there were times where she thought it must have been somebody else.”
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