Fort Worth Missing Trio
The Fort Worth Missing Trio refers to an unsolved missing persons case that began on December 23, 1974, when Mary Rachel Trlica, Lisa Renee Wilson, and Julie Ann Moseley, went missing from the Seminary South Shopping Center at 4200 South Freeway in Fort Worth, Texas, while Christmas shopping. The car the girls were driving, a 1972 Oldsmobile 98, was left behind in the Sears parking lot at the mall, but the girls have not been seen since.
|Date||December 23, 1974|
|Duration||Missing for 45 years and 26 days|
|Location||Seminary South Shopping Center,|
4200 South Freeway
Fort Worth, Texas, United States
The oldest of the girls, Mary Rachel Trlica (née Arnold), was 17 years old at the time of her disappearance. She is known to go by her middle name of Rachel. She is a Caucasian female, 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) in height, 108 pounds (49 kg), with long brown hair, green eyes and has a chipped upper front tooth and a small scar on her chin. She was a married high school student at Southwest High School in Fort Worth and drove a 1972 Oldsmobile 98, the car the girls took to the mall that day. At the time of her disappearance, Rachel had been married to her husband, Tommy Trlica, for about six months and she wore a wedding ring.
Lisa Renee Wilson was 14 years old at the time of her disappearance. She is known to go by her middle name of Renee. She is a fair-skinned Caucasian female, 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m) in height, 110 pounds (50 kg), with light wavy brown hair, brown eyes and has a scar on the inside of one of her thighs. Clothing she was known to be wearing when she disappeared includes bluish-purple hip hugger pants, a white pullover sweatshirt with "Sweet Honesty" in green letters (some have reported it as a pale yellow T-shirt with green letters), red and white oxford shoes, and a promise ring with a single clear stone.
The youngest of the girls, Julie Ann Moseley, was 9 years old at the time of her disappearance. She is a Caucasian female, 4 feet 3 inches (1.30 m) in height, 85 pounds (39 kg), with shoulder-length sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a small scar under her left eye, a scar in the middle of her forehead and a scar on the back of her calf. Clothing she was known to be wearing when she disappeared included a red shirt with dark pants (jeans) and red tennis shoes.
The case shocked Fort Worth and left the families to painfully adjust to life without their children. Thousands of leads have been followed, dozens of searches completed and hundreds of people interviewed. All have proven fruitless.
On the morning of December 23, 1974, a little before noon, Rachel Trlica, Renee Wilson, and Julie Ann Moseley set out to go Christmas shopping. Julie Ann asked to tag along at the last minute because she “didn’t want to spend the day alone”. The older girls told her she would need to get permission to go. Julie Ann ran inside and called her mother, Rayanne Moseley. She would later recall, "I was working for an electrical contractor, and my husband and I were separated. It was a bitter, bitter time. I remember that Julie called and wanted to go to Seminary South. I said, 'No. You don't have any money. You just stay home.' I knew Renee and her mother, but I really didn't know Rachel. But she [Julie] kept whining about how she wouldn't have anybody to play with. . . . I finally gave in, but I told her to be home by 6”. The older girls, specifically Renee, wanted to be back by 4 p.m. because she had a Christmas party she wanted to attend with her new boyfriend who had given her a promise ring that morning. She wanted plenty of time to get ready.
The girls first headed to the Army Navy store in Fort Worth to pick up some layaway items that Renee had waiting. From there, they headed to the Seminary South Shopping Center at 4200 South Freeway in south Fort Worth. Several witnesses had reported seeing the girls in the mall that day. When the girls did not return home, the families became concerned and traveled to the shopping center to search for them. They arrived around 6 p.m. that evening to find the car was parked in the Sears upper-level parking lot. It appeared the girls had made it back to the car that afternoon because the gifts they had purchased were found in the car. The family stayed at the mall all night waiting for the girls to return.
Search and investigationEdit
When the girls did not return, the Fort Worth Police Department was called and the case was quickly handed over to the Youth Division of the Missing Persons Bureau. The girls were presumed to be runaways by the police. As if to prove this point, the next day Tommy Trlica, Rachel's husband, received a letter in the mailbox at their home that appeared to be written by Rachel. It read:
Strangely, the letter was written in ink but the addressed envelope was written in pencil, and the letter was written on a sheet of paper that was wider than the envelope. It was addressed to Thomas A. Trlica, instead of the less formal Tommy, as Rachel called him. ”Rachel” was written in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. It appeared to be initially misspelled, as the “l” in her name was written as a lower-case “e”, but then it had been gone over again to form the correct “l”. The postmark did not contain a city, only a blurred zip code that appeared to be “76083”, however the number “3” appears to either be backward, as though maybe it was applied by a hand-loaded stamp, or a partial “8”. It is assumed that the zip code was meant to be either 76038, which comes from Eliasville near Throckmorton, Texas, or 76088, which comes from Weatherford, Texas. During the 1970s and '80s, handwriting experts across the nation examined the letter including the FBI, who examined it three times, but each time the results came back inconclusive.
Despite receiving the letter, the families did not believe that it was written by Rachel nor that the girls had run away. Rayanne Moseley, Julie Ann's mother, stated, "I know my daughter, and I know those other girls and they are not runaways". Judy Wilson, Renee's mother, is noted to have said: "I could have told you that night that they didn't run away. [Renee] wanted to go to that party. And no nine-year-old is going to run off two days before Christmas. Everybody knows that!". Francis Langston, Rachel's mother, believed the girls had been abducted saying: "A lot of people may think they left with someone they knew, but I'll always think—until the day I die—that the girls were taken".
Not willing to give in, the families continued their search by distributing handbills and missing person fliers throughout the state and contacting newspapers across the country. Eventually, tips began to come in and witnesses began to come forward.
In early 1975, one young man claiming to be an acquaintance of Rachel's stepped forward and said that he saw them in the record department of a store inside the mall just before they disappeared. Apparently he and Rachel saw each other and spoke briefly. The man claimed that another person appeared to be with the girls. During this same time, some women's clothes were found in the Justin, Texas, area and were investigated, but it was determined that they did not belong to the girls.
By spring of 1975, the families grew frustrated with the Police investigation and decided to hire a private detective named Jon Swaim. In August 1975, Swaim discovered that a 28-year-old man was making a string of obscene phone calls in the area. This man had worked for a store in south Fort Worth where Rachel had applied for a job just before Christmas. It was discovered that he was using his position to obtain information from young women who had either applied for a job at his store or who were listed as references. Six women who had applied at this store had been receiving obscene phone calls. He also once lived in the neighborhood of Rachel's parents but moved away shortly before she married and moved away. In the end, nothing ever came of this suspect.
In April 1975, Swaim went to Port Lavaca with 100 volunteers to search under bridges in the area after receiving a tip that the girls had been killed and taken there. However, no trace of the girls was found.
A year later, it was reported that three skeletons were found in a field outside of Alvord, Texas, by an oil drilling crew. Mr. Swaim had the bones checked against x-rays and dental records of the girls, but it turned out that the bones belonged to a teenage boy about 15–17 years of age and two other females who were not identified as being any of the girls.
In March 1976, a psychic called one of the families and told them that the girls could be found near an oil well. For some reason, the searchers focused on the small community of Rising Star outside of Abilene, but nothing was ever found.
In 1979, Jon Swaim died following a drug overdose; his death was subsequently ruled to be suicide. Upon his death, he ordered that all of his files on the case be destroyed.
In the spring of 1981, police investigators were called to a location in Brazoria County after human remains had been found in a swampy area. After a month of investigation, they discovered that the bones did not belong to the three girls.
In January 2001, the case was reopened and assigned to a homicide detective, Tom Boetcher. He believes the girls left the mall with someone they trusted. He stated, "We can say that they were at one point seen with one individual, but we believe there was more than one involved".
Over the years, searchers have continued to comb through Texas brush and have explored hundreds of back roads. The families have walked creek beds and country roads only to come up with nothing. Decades after the girls disappeared, there have been no reports of new developments in the case.
Other possible witnessesEdit
A store clerk came forward around the time of the girls' disappearance and said that a woman told her that she had seen the girls at the mall that day. The woman reported that she saw three girls being forced into a yellow pickup truck near Buddies grocery store at the mall. The truck was described to have lights on top of it. This witness, however, could never be located by police and the story never verified.
In 1981, years after the disappearance, a man said he had been in the parking lot that day and had seen a man forcing a girl into a van. The man in the van told him it was a family dispute and to stay out of it.
- National Institute of Justice (n.d.). "Missing Person Case 6744". NamUs. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
- "Vanished". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. January 9, 2000. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- National Institute of Justice (n.d.). "Missing Person Case 6817". NamUs. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
- National Institute of Justice (n.d.). "Missing Person Case 6429". NamUs. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
- Blietz, Lena (December 20, 2017). "In 1974, Three Fort Worth Girls Vanished. Forty Years Later, This Is All We Know". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
- Ramirez Jr., Domingo (December 23, 2009). "35 years later, a new plea for help to solve mystery". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
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- Fisher, Binnie (December 16, 1984). "Fate of missing girls remains a mystery". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Nolan, Joe (February 24, 1975). "Trio still missing after two months". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- "Mother hopes for return". Victoria Advocate. December 23, 1982.
- "Missing trio seen at mall, friend says". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. January 2, 1975.
- "Search for 3 Missing Girls Is Scheduled". The Odessa American. April 10, 1975.
- "Human bones found near Alvin are checked against 3 missing Fort Worth girls". The Brazosport Facts. July 8, 1976.
- Cochran, Mike (May 21, 2006). "No trace of girls missing since '74". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Barr, Alice (July 6, 2018). "Volunteer Diver to Drag Cars from Benbrook Lake Possibly Tied to Fort Worth Missing Trio". Fort Worth, TX: KXAS-TV. Retrieved October 26, 2018.