During the mid-1970s, two of the most infamous missing persons cases in US history took place within a three-month period. On December 23, 1974, 17-year-old Mary Rachel Trlica, 14-year-old Lisa Renee Wilson, and nine-year-old Julie Ann Moseley (aka the “Fort Worth Three”) all vanished without explanation during a shopping trip to a mall in Fort Worth, Texas.
Only three months later, 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and her 10-year-old sister, Katherine, both went missing during a trip to a shopping mall in Wheaton, Maryland. These cases were particularly shocking because it seemed impossible that multiple girls could simultaneously disappear from a crowded shopping mall without anybody seeing anything. Sadly, even though malls are busy public places, unexplained disappearances and unsolved murders do occur there without anybody getting caught.
10. The Edison Mall Disappearances
On the evening of January 16, 1981, 17-year-old Mary Opitz went to the Edison Mall in Fort Myers, Florida, with her mother and brother. During their shopping trip, Opitz told her family that she was tired and wanted to go back to their car, which was parked outside the mall’s Woolworth’s store. She was last seen exiting the mall into the parking lot.
Approximately 20 minutes later, Opitz’s mother went to their vehicle. Even though some parcels and a bag of pretzels were on top of the trunk, Opitz had vanished without explanation. Believe it or not, another young woman would vanish from that same parking lot less than one month later.
On February 11, 18-year-old Mary Hare drove to the Edison Mall to pick up her mother, who happened to work at Woolworth’s. When Hare’s mother exited the store after her shift, she found her daughter’s unlocked vehicle parked outside, but Hare was nowhere to be found. Four months later, Hare’s decomposed body was found in Lehigh Acres. She had been stabbed to death.
There were some striking similarities between the two victims, who resembled each other. Opitz and Hare both originally hailed from New York and attended the same high school. However, there was no indication that they actually knew each other. One possible suspect is Christopher Wilder, a serial killer who sexually assaulted and murdered over a dozen young women in Florida during the 1980s. However, Wilder was killed during a shoot-out with police in 1984, so both of these cases continue to remain unsolved.