Mary Ann Switalski was born on September 14, 1946. She lived with her parents, Matilda and and Eugene Switalski, and her younger sister in the 6200 block of west Cornelia Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.
Mary Ann was a junior at Notre Dame High School and was described as being a good student. She had recently put down a deposit on her senior yearbook and class ring. While not at school, she held a part-time job at a neighbourhood store and earned money babysitting.
On July 15, 1963, Mary Ann attended a carnival at St. Priscilla Catholic Church with some friends. The location was just over a mile from her home. At 10:15pm, she was last seen leaving the carnival.
On July 17, 1963, Matilda and Eugene received a letter from their daughter, which was postmarked Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago where the family often went shopping. In it, she wrote that she was “experiencing a strange but educational experience”, but noted that she was fine and would be sending them money soon. However, she didn’t tell them where she was, as she didn’t want anyone to “interfere”, and added that, while she would call, she might never see them or her friends again.
Despite what she said the letter, Mary Ann never again got in touch with her family.
On August 7, 1963, the first media report about Mary Ann’s disappearance was ran in the local paper. For years, her parents ran ads in newspaper personal columns, hoping someone would come forward with information, but no one ever did.
In order to raise money for a reward fund, Mary Ann’s mother took on a part-time job. However, it went unclaimed. Her parents aren’t sure why she would have run away, as they weren’t aware of any problems in her life.
Investigators have established that, after she went missing, she joined an organization that sold magazines door-to-door. It had been en route to California at the time of her disappearance. In 1965, the couple who ran the group was questioned by the FBI and admitted to hiring Mary Ann. However, they gave conflicting statements as to what happened to her. While the wife said she’d left the group sometime after joining, the husband said she never left Chicago.
On June 17, 1967, Allen J. Silver of New York was arrested at a motel on a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery. Both the family and the police were interested in him, as he’d had a magazine sales group that was in Chicago at the time Mary Ann went missing. A retired detective who had initially been assigned to the case stated that she believed his group to have been the one the missing girl had joined.
It’s currently unknown if Silver is the husband of the couple who was interviewed by the FBI.
There have been no indications of Mary Ann’s whereabouts since 1963. Her DNA has been tested against numerous Jane Does from across the United States, but no match has ever been made.
1) One theory held by those online is that Mary Ann is alive and well. Given there’s no evidence to prove she is deceased, it’s thought that she might still be alive, with a family, and living in another part of the United States.
2) The primary theory held in the case is that the couple who ran the magazine organization were involved. Some have speculated that Mary Ann might have been sold into a sex ring, while others feel the pair abandoned her for not selling enough magazines. The latter was known to happen in similar organizations.
3) The final theory states that Mary Ann’s disappearance is the result of foul play and, as a result, she is currently deceased. Given the lack of evidence in the case, this can neither be proven or disproved at this time.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Mary Ann Switalski went missing from St. Priscilla Catholic Church in Chicago, Illinois on July 15, 1963. She was 16 years old and was last seen wearing a black sleeveless blouse, white shorts and straw sandals. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5’2″ and weighed approximately 102 pounds. She has blonde hair and hazel eyes.
Currently, her case is classified as an endangered runaway. If alive, she would be 72 years old.
Mary Ann’s dentals and DNA are on file. If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Chicago Police Department at 312-744-8261 or FBI ViCAP at 1-800-634-4097.
Image Credit: FBI