Chilling Tales: Mary Shotwell Little

 In Blog Posts

What happened to Mary Shotwell Little? 

By Rebecca Selem, Exhibits & Communications Coordinator

The following story includes mentions of possible abduction and murder.

What happened to Mary Shotwell Little? This question has been circulating in the minds and hearts of Atlantans since her abrupt disappearance on October 14, 1965. With so many strange pieces of the puzzle and no new leads in decades, her case has baffled the best crime investigators in the country. How can someone just disappear yet leave so many clues behind?

Mary Shotwell Little. From The Atlanta Constitution, November 8, 1965 via

On the afternoon of Thursday, October 14, Mary Shotwell Little left work and drove to Lenox Square to meet up with a coworker, Ila, for dinner and shopping. Before meeting for dinner, she stopped at Colonial Grocery at Lenox. She and her husband, Roy, were planning a dinner party with friends for the following evening and she needed to purchase groceries for the occasion. Mary and Ila grabbed dinner at S&S Cafeteria, shopped at Rich’s Department Store, and then parted ways around 8:00 pm.

 Lenox Square parking lot, 1960s. From the Guy Hayes Collection.

The next morning, when Mary failed to show up for work, her coworkers and boss reached out to authorities fearing the worst. Little was never late – she was one of the most hardworking employees in the office. Her husband, who was out of town for work, had not heard from her. She wasn’t at home either. Police searched the parking lot at Lenox for her car and around noon it was found in the yellow 32 section of the lot.

Blood specks were found on the interior and exterior of her 1965 metallic gray Mercury Comet. Strange red dust covered the exterior of the car. The groceries she purchased the previous evening were still in the backseat of the car. Women’s undergarments were found stuffed in between the two front seats, also covered in blood.

Curiously, there is a block of time in which the car was not in the yellow 32 section of the parking lot. The security agents who monitored the Lenox parking lots did not see the gray Comet while doing their morning rounds, but when officers searched the lot around noon, the car was there. Authorities also noticed about 40 miles on the odometer that were unaccounted for.

About a month after Little’s disappearance, investigators traced her credit card to a gas station in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was used again in Raleigh, North Carolina. The signatures on the receipts matched hers. Attendants at the gas stations were questioned and both remembered seeing a woman in distress accompanied by at least one man.

Aerial photo of Lenox Square, 1960s. From the Guy Hayes Collection.

In 1962, after finishing college, Mary Shotwell Little moved from her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina to Atlanta. She started a new job as a secretary at the Mitchell Street branch of Citizens and Southern Bank (C&S Bank). She lived with three roommates at 1300 University Drive NE until she married Roy H. Little, Jr., in September of 1965. The newlyweds moved to 1609 Line Circle in Decatur.

In the weeks leading up to her disappearance, her behavior became erratic. Little became paranoid and afraid of something or someone. She was wary of being in her home or car alone. Mary received unusual phone calls at work; her coworkers heard her say things like, “I’m a married woman now,” and “You can come over to my house any time you like but I can’t come over there.” Shortly before October 14, she received five red roses from a secret admirer, whose identity is still a mystery to this day.

No stone was left unturned. Anyone who may have known Mary or what happened to her was questioned by authorities. Some believed it was a random person who did this, others thought it had to be someone she knew. Possible connections to other cases were investigated but to no avail. Since Little’s body was never found and no leads ever developed, the case may never be solved, which begs the question: will we ever know what happened to Mary Shotwell Little?

From The Atlanta Constitution, October 29, 1965 via

DHC Blog: Chilling Tales DeKalb

Contact DeKalb History Center