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Little girl’s disappearance in 1961 may have been at hands of infamous serial killer

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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.”

If you have any information that can help detectives solve the case, call an anonymous tip into:
CRIME STOPPERS: 1-800-222-TIPS

You must call the crime stoppers hotline with your tip to be eligible to receive a cash reward for information leading to a fugitive’s arrest.

Click here for information on how to text a tip to Crime Stoppers.

 

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8 comments

  • Vidor

    I don’t understand this story. The police didn’t just learn of Ted Bundy. Ann Rule wrote about Ted Bundy’s possible connection to Ann Marie Burr in “The Stranger Beside Me”, oh, 30 years ago or so.

    At the time of this crime Bundy was 14 years old and didn’t have a car to transport the victim. Not a good fit.

  • Racquel

    There was another man who lived in the neighborhood who was a known sex offender who had abducted a little girl and took her on a joy ride. The guy committed suicide when the FBI showed up to question him about Ann Marie’s disappearance. I don’t think Ted Bundy killed Ann Marie at all. I think it may have been the other guy. Bundy became a born again Christian and expressed sincere remorse before he was put to death. I think he was very sincere. I think he would have told Ann Marie’s family the truth if was involved in her disappearance. He only had a day left to live when he did his last interview. I doubt he was doing much lying back then. Jesus can change anyone’s heart and life.

  • lee77

    Bundy didn’t speak in the third person at the end, i.e., during the four days he was confessing. He spoke hypothetically during his interviews with Michaud and Aynesworth in 1980 and it was during these interviews that he mentioned raping a young woman (not a child he took “from a house”) in an orchard. Additionally, there was a major storm in Tacoma the night Ann Marie Burr was taken from her home and Ted lived three miles away. Because he lived such a distance from the Burr home, there’s no way Ann followed him around while he was getting his papers ready for delivery and contrary to many reports, the Burrs were not, and never had been, on his paper route. Tony Zatkovich, the detective who investigated the girl’s disappearance, has always dismissed the allegations that Ted may have abducted the child, saying the person who abducted her had to have known the layout of the house, in which room she slept and the family dog, which didn’t bark during the night. Additionally, the perpetrator had to be strong enough to carry the girl — who was large for her age — and at 14, Bundy was small and skinny. Ann Rule and Bob Keppel — both of whom saw serial killers behind every bush — are the ones who started this nonsense despite the fact they had no proof whatsoever to support their ridiculous allegations.