Mary Ann Perez
A man receives a mysterious phone call that his missing mother is still alive.
Weight: 108 lbs.
Did Mary get up after she was dumped?
On March 25, 1976, Mary Ann Perez of Chalmette, Louisiana, went out with a girlfriend and left her teen-aged daughter, Donna, to baby-sit the younger children. Shannon Miller is Mary Ann's youngest daughter:
"She told Donna that she would be calling to check on us about ten, 11 o'clock. And Donna said she got a phone call from Momma first, stating that she was okay and that she would be home shortly. And then Donna said she got a phone call from a woman by the name of Dorothy."
According to Mary Anne's brother, Wayne Thomas, Dorothy called to report that Mary Ann was having car trouble.
"When I heard about the call and heard the name Dorothy, I couldn't imagine who in the world that could've been. I knew there was something wrong somewhere, the car being practically new and no reason for car trouble."
Mary Ann never called and never came home. Her family soon discovered that she had gone to meet her friend at a country-western club on the outskirts of New Orleans.
The next morning, police found Mary Ann's car parked in front of the club, but saw no evidence of car trouble. Three days later, Mary Ann's purse was found in Lake Pontchartrain, ten miles away. It had been weighted down by a brick. But there was no trace of Mary Ann Perez.
Nine years passed. Then finally, New Orleans Police got their first solid lead. A man named David Courtney and his wife had confessed to a multi-state killing spree. According to New Orleans Police Detective Bob Lambert, one of their victims seemed to have a lot in common with Mary Ann Perez :
"When I went up to Kansas to interview David Courtney, he told me about the female he abducted in New Orleans. He stated that he was driving down the highway and pulled in the parking lot of a country western bar."
According to Det. Bob Lambert, Courtney told him that he offered a ride to a woman who was too drunk home. After she accepted, he picked up his wife, and the three of them went back to the couple's trailer:
"He stated that this female fell asleep on a chair in the trailer and there was some sexual advancements by his wife, which woke this female up and she became disturbed and irate and upset about what was going on and then they agreed to give her a ride home at that time."
David Courtney stated that as his wife drove, he sat in the back seat with Courtney and strangled her. Courtney said he had already killed once. He and his wife were afraid that this woman would go to the police if they let her live. According to David Courtney, they dumped their victim near the Louisiana/Mississippi state line and made no attempt to hide her body.
Detective Lambert had Courtney pick Mary Ann's picture out of a line up to verify that she was indeed their victim. Lambert next questioned Courtney's wife, specifically about Mary Ann's purse:
"I asked her if the female they abducted had a purse and she said yes, that she threw it over the side of a bridge that they were crossing at the time."
An extensive search was conducted, but no body was recovered, even though all of Courtney's other victims had been found where he said they would be. The Courtneys were never charged with Mary Ann's murder and her family kept their hopes alive.
Then, fifteen years after Mary Ann disappeared, the family got a phone call from a woman who claimed to be Mary Ann's best friend. Shawn Perez, Mary Ann's daughter-in-law, spoke to her:
"And she said 'Well, it's about Mary Ann.' And I said, 'What about Miss Mary Ann?' And she said, 'Well, Miss Mary Ann's still alive.'
The caller told Shawn that she was calling for Mary Ann because Mary Ann was not allowed to call herself. The caller insisted she would not be able to call again. She said, like Mary Ann, she was "not allowed."
The call gave hope to Mary Ann's brother, Wayne, and the rest of the family:
"That caused me to think, you know, more positively that she was alive. And, of course, there were statements made that it was possibly a prank call. I don't know. But I do know that if she is alive, I'd like to see her. I'd like to find her."
Shannon Miller clings to the hope that David Courtney, who admits he was drunk at the time, did not succeed in strangling her to death:
"Maybe he might have strangled her unconscious, thinking that she was dead and threw her out. Maybe she got up several hours later. Maybe there's a possibility that she is somewhere out there."
Mary Ann's brother, Wayne, wonders if his sister might have amnesia:
"Or maybe some of the brain cells were, you know, destroyed and she can't remember who she is.'
David Courtney is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of one of his other victims. His wife served ten years for being his accomplice.