She was a blondie with hazel eyes. Ann Marie Burr at 8 years old was lively and good-natured. Her smile was legendary.
She was big sister to Julie, who was 7, Greg, 5, and 3 year old Mary.
The large Catholic family called the North End of Tacoma home. Their tidy, brick, English style bungalow was the kind of house the big, bad wolf couldn’t blow down. At least that’s what they thought on that hot August day in 1961…
It was a Wednesday in the last week of summer vacation. The sunshine had been muted by dark, foreboding clouds. The air had turned muggy when Ann Marie came bounding through the door, begging her mother Bev for a sleep over at her friends.
With summer was winding down, the harried mother of four young children felt it was high time to tame her wily brood from the ad-hoc summer routine in preparation for an early morning school schedule.
So, she nixed the sleepover.
Oh, how that split-second decision would come to haunt her.
The storm kicked into high gear, heavy rain hit the rooftop, wind howled. It was a “batten down the hatches” kind of night.
In the middle of the night, Ann Marie, sharing a room with her baby sister, awoke to her Mary crying. She was still nursing a broken arm and it was bothering her.
Ann Marie dutifully brought Mary to her parents room. Their mother soothed her cries and sent the girls back to bed.
All was quiet, except the family dog, Barney barking. Bev and Don thought the storm was to blame for spooking the pooch. They had no idea that evil had entered the family home as they lay sleeping.
At 5 a.m. Bev awoke with a start. Was it mother’s intuition?
She went to check on the children. Ann Marie’s bed was empty.
Bev flew down the stairs and as she descended to the living room she was blasted with cool air. The front door was ajar and the dining room window was wide open.
Outside she noticed a garden bench had been moved from the backyard and placed beneath the open front window.
Her heart thumped into high gear. Blood rushed in her ears.
Where was Ann Marie?
Several neighbors recalled seeing a peeping Tom lurking around their yard, peering into the Burr’s windows.
Ann Marie’s father scoured the neighborhood. A construction site at nearby University of Puget Sound caught his attention, especially when he saw mounds of fresh dirt in piles around deep ditches. Near one of those sites he observed a teenage boy kicking dirt into a ditch with his foot.
Did that kid have a smirk on his face?
Don begged the police to search the site, which they did four days later. But, by then everything had been filled in.
Ann Marie was never seen again.
What they didn’t know back then was that surly teen just could have been Ted Bundy.