Mary Agnes Moroney
|Mary Agnes Moroney|
May 9, 1928|
|Disappeared||May 15, 1930 (aged 2)
|Other names||Mary Moroney|
|Known for||Kidnap victim|
|Home town||Chicago, Illinois|
Mary Agnes Moroney (May 9, 1928 – disappeared May 15, 1930) is a kidnapped American child. She had just turned two when she was kidnapped from her Chicago, Illinois home on May 15, 1930. Her kidnapping was heavily covered by both local and national media, but her whereabouts were never discovered. Her kidnapping is the oldest unsolved case of this nature in the files of the Chicago Missing Persons Bureau.
Catherine Moroney had married Michael Moroney very young, at the age of thirteen and, by the age of seventeen, had two daughters, Mary Agnes, 2, and Anastasia, 11 months. They lived at 5200 Wentworth Avenue. They were very poor, as Michael only made US$15 per week, passing out handbills. A relative of Catherine's wrote to the needy-family service and a paragraph on the family's plight was printed. The service did not normally disclose addresses, but, through a slip, the Moroneys' address was learned by a woman.
On May 14, 1930, while Catherine was scrubbing the floor, there was a knock at the door. When Catherine opened the door, she was greeted by a woman who stated she had been sent by a social worker to deal with the Moroneys' case. She was described as well-dressed, about 22 years of age, with protruding teeth and a "cultured" voice and she identified herself as "Julia Otis". After listening to the Moroneys' problems, she asked Catherine if she could take Mary Agnes to California with her, just for a little while, adding that she would be unrecognisable and "fat as a butterball". Catherine refused. After promising to return, the stranger handed Catherine $2 and left.
The next day, May 15, she came back, this time not with money, but baby clothes, as Catherine was pregnant. She stated that she had arranged for her husband to get a better job and then she offered to take Mary Agnes to a nearby store and buy her some clothes and shoes. Eventually, Catherine gave her consent. Later, Catherine commented that Mary Agnes sobbed and refused to go with the woman, but she was taken anyway. She was never returned.
The Moroney family received a letter from "Otis" the day after she took Mary Agnes. It read:
|“||Please don't be alarmed, I have taken your little girl to California with me. I have hired a special nurse to care for her. We'll be back in two months. By that time you will be on your feet again and will be able to care for her. She didn't even cry a bit. She is outfitted like a princess. In the meantime, I'll help all I can to get you on your feet. Don't worry about her or anything else. When you get this letter we'll be on our way already. As ever, Julia Otis||”|
This was the last the Moroneys ever heard from Julia Otis.
Two weeks after the kidnapping, a woman who identified herself as "Alice Henderson" sent the Moroneys a letter in which she stated that "Otis" was her cousin and that she was "love hungry" because her own husband and baby had died the year before. Henderson never wrote again and authorities state that the letter from "Otis" is written in the same handwriting as the one written by "Henderson".
In July 1931, an elder Indian woman named Martha Thompson was found pushing a cart to join a circus. The cart contained a blond-haired, blue-eyed three-year-old girl that matched Mary Agnes's description. Thompson maintained that the girl was abandoned by her mother, Florence Fuller, and begged to be allowed to keep her. The Moroneys did not identify the girl as Mary Agnes and the girl was not identified.
A 24-year-old housewife called Mary McClelland (née Beck) came forward in 1952, claiming that, by looking at photos of Mary Agnes's siblings (six more were born after her kidnapping), she suspected she was Mary Agnes. She had been adopted within a year of Mary Agnes's disappearance by Charles and Nora Beck. Dr. Kraus, after studying and comparing her dental casts, named her as one of the family. Her skull and blood showed she was a Moroney and her mother claimed to recognize her. However, an ageing physician named Dr. E. W. Merrithew stated that he delivered McClelland to an unknown mother on November 17, 1927 and McClelland's mother provided a baby picture of her daughter dating from 1928, which proved she had been adopted two years before the Moroney abduction. What is more, Mary Agnes underwent an operation for a ruptured navel, but McClelland did not have the scar Mary Agnes had at the time of her disappearance. Further DNA testing proved she was not Mary Agnes and she died in 2005. The Moroney kidnapping remains unsolved.
- Good, Meaghan (October 12, 2004). "Mary Agnes Moroney". The Charley Project. charleyproject.org. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "Woman identified as kidnap victim in 1930 case". The News and Courier. Charleston. Evening Post Publishing. September 4, 1952. p. 32. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- Sokol, Edward (July 18, 1948). "Where are you, Mary Moroney?". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Milwaukee. Journal Communications. p. 26. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "Indian woman with white baby held at Rockford". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Milwaukee. Journal Communications. July 25, 1931. p. 3. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "Mystery of the kidnapped baby". LIFE. 33 (12): 164. September 1952. ISSN 0024-3019.