Nearly 50 years ago an Ann Arbor mother put her 3 children to bed and disappeared by morning

Did a suspected serial killer murder Sandra Horwath?

Sandra June Horwath (NamUs)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Nearly 50 years ago the children of an Ann Arbor woman woke up and could not find their mother

Sandra “Sandy” Horwath has been missing since Oct. 1, 1973. That day she took her children to a Sears store at the Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor. The family returned home at 8:30 p.m. She took a phone call from a male friend at 9:30 p.m. and put the kids to bed at 10 p.m.

When they woke up at 6 a.m they could not find her and she had not reported to her job at the University of Michigan hospital.

The flowerbeds outside of the house had been trampled. Her watch and vehicle were found at the home, but her purse was not.

She may have been wearing a dress or blue tank top pullover, blue stretch dress pants, a white blazer, wooden-based sandals with a beige strap, and carrying a purse.

This case is discussed in a book written by retired Ann Arbor police Sergeant Michael Logghe. The book is called “True Crimes and the History of the Ann Arbor Police Department.”

According to Logghe, Horwath was divorced from her husband and dated occasionally. Logghe said when police questioned her ex-husband, friends and coworkers they did not find anything suspicious.

The case was going nowhere until three years after her disappearance police received a call from authorities in Texas. Detectives in Houston arrested Gary Taylor for sexual assault. According to Logghe, Taylor’s wife told police that Taylor had killed and buried three women and a man outside a rented house in Onstead, Michigan. They believed Horwath’s body was buried there.

Logghe said police were able to locate two bodies, both had been shot. Horwath’s body was not one of those two, but Logghe believes her body was buried somewhere nearby. According to the book, Horwath had dated Taylor when she worked at the university.

According to Logghe, Taylor spent 13 years in a mental institution for shooting women in Royal Oak. He was given the nickname, “the phantom sniper of Royal Oak.” He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

According to the New York Times, Taylor told police that he had a “compulsion to hurt women.” He was later arrested in Houston on sex charges. He has been questioned in the killings of at least 20 people in California, Michigan, Texas and Washington.

Taylor is now 86 years old and is serving a life sentence in the Washington State Penitentiary.

DetailsSandra June Horwath
Date MissingOct. 1, 1973
Age Missing33
Age Now82
Last Known LocationAnn Arbor
Weight135 lbs

Anyone with information should contact the Ann Arbor Police Department at 734-794-6920 or the FBI at 313-965-2323.

Read: Michigan cold case coverage

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Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.