A retired Burlington County police officer is working to solve the cold case of a teen girl who went missing 43 years ago.
Margaret Ellen Fox of Burlington, New Jersey was 14-years-old when she advertised for a baby-sitting job in June of 1974. She received a response to the ad from a man who called himself John Marshall. The man told Fox he needed a babysitter for the following weekend but their meeting was delayed several times. Investigators say he finally told the teen he would meet her in a red Volkswagen Beetle and gave her a telephone number to reach him. That number was ultimately traced to a public phone booth at a supermarket in Lumberton, New Jersey.
On June 24, 1974, Fox planned to go to High and west Broad streets in Mount Holly, New Jersey to have an interview with Marshall. She left a note at her home letting her parents know where she was going and then went to the bus stop with her sibling before going on the bus by herself. Witnesses also told investigators they saw her near Mill and High streets after she got off the bus in Mount Holly. She was never seen or heard from again.
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After Fox’s disappearance, several parents in the area reported someone had tried to lure their daughters to fake job offers. In 1976, a person confessed to being involved in Fox’s disappearance. Investigators later determined it was a hoax however.
More than four decades later her case remains unsolved. Retired Willingboro officer Michael D’Alesio has launched a new investigation he’s conducting for free.
“If this woman is alive, somewhere somehow this newscast will get to her, someone is going to see it,” D’Alesio said.
D’Alesio spoke with Jack McBride and Leonard Burr, two retired Burlington City detectives who worked on the initial case.
“I interviewed all the people that were on the bus and showed them pictures of her,” Burr said.
Fox’s dental record went missing and the agencies involved in the initial investigation, including state and federal prosecutors, didn’t share information.
“Back then you had, the FBI was a separate entity,” Burr said. “They didn’t cooperate with nobody.”
Police are also working with no DNA and little physical evidence. Things that are common during modern investigations such as surveillance video, the Internet or social media, weren’t around in 1974.
Fox’s parents are both deceased though her siblings are still alive. D’Alesio is hoping he can bring closure to her family.
“Could it be solved?” D’Alesio asked. “Sure.”
Fox is described as a white female with brown hair, blue eyes and freckles. At the time of her disappearance two of her top front right teeth were missing and she wore eyeglasses with hexagonal lenses, gold wire frames and broken-off temple and nose pierces. She also stood between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-3 and weighed 105 pounds at the time of her disappearance.
She was last seen wearing a light blue floral-patterned blouse squared at the top and flared at the waist, a black and white checkered waist-length jacket, a size 34B brassiere, maroon flared jeans with a yellow patch on one knee, brown sandals with a heel strap, a gold necklace with flowers and a blue stone on it and a gold charm bracelet with a round blue stone. She was also carrying an eyeglass case with a Huckleberry Hound design.
If you have any information on the case, please call Burlington City Police at 609-386-3300.