Vehicle purchased in Lake Orion linked to Missouri kidnapping case from 57 years ago

Elizabeth Ann Gill kidnapped from front yard in June 1965

Elizabeth Ann Gill (NamUs)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Elizabeth Ann Gill was just 2 years old when she disappeared from her front yard in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on June 13, 1965.

Elizabeth was the youngest of 10 siblings and had been left in the care of her older siblings while the parents and two children took a short trip, according to the Doe Network.

It was around 4 p.m. that June afternoon when the family noticed she was missing. The family searched outside and inside the house but could not find her, according to NBC.

'When they said Bethie was missing, my mom passed out'

Her older sister, Martha Gill Hamilton, told Dateline that when people would approach her little sister she would readily follow them. Their father had grown up in the same neighborhood and trusted the people there.

“We were driving into town and we saw all the police officers and thought, ‘Wow, something is going on,’” Martha told Dateline. “We pulled into our driveway and saw a crowd around our house. When they said Bethie was missing, my mom passed out.”

Elizabeth Ann Gill (NamUs)

The search for Elizabeth

The search for the child included a canvas of the neighborhood and even a dragging of the nearby Mississippi River.

A group of travelers had been staying in a motel near Elizabeth’s home. Family members said they saw members of the group try to coax the child from her front yard before she disappeared.

“One time, someone at the motel saw [a woman] talking to Bethie. The other time, my mom and brother saw the woman talking to Bethie in our front yard near her car. My mom called her back and told her to come inside,” Martha told Dateline.

Car traced back to Lake Orion

A local car dealer told police about a couple who had been staying in a motel behind the child’s home and who had ordered and paid for a part for their 1965 Chevy truck. The part was not going to be in until June 14.

The couple said they would be staying in town for another week. On Monday, the dealer called the motel and was told the couple had left the day before -- around the time Elizabeth disappeared.

Hamilton told Dateline that police investigated the tip and discovered the couple had been using fake names and changing their license plates.

The people who had the car were reportedly selling purses while in town and police traced the purses back to a factory where they were made. Hamilton told Dateline that the police also traced the car back to a dealership in Lake Orion, Michigan. Neither of those tips led to further discoveries.

FBI classifies case as kidnapping in 2010

The case wouldn’t be classified as a kidnapping until 2010, which was 45 years after Elizabeth disappeared.

According to the Doe Network, a possible relative of the couple staying in the motel was located in 2010.

Investigators interviewed the elderly woman, and she was reluctant to talk. She mentioned that two of her family members had been involved in the investigation.

She was told by her relative and his wife that he had been held and questioned by police. No record could be found indicating the couple was ever questioned.

Elizabeth would now be 59 years old.

Elizabeth Ann Gill age progressed to 44 years (left), Elizabeth Ann Gill age progressed to 49 years (right). (NamUs)
Elizabeth Ann GillDetails
Missing Age2
Current Age59
Missing FromCape Girardeau, Missouri
Missing DateJune 13, 1965
NicknamesBeth, Betsy
ScarsChickenpox scar on right elbow

Anyone with information should contact the Cape Girardeau Police Department at 573-335-6621.

Read: More Michigan cold case coverage

Why is ClickOnDetroit covering so many cold cases?

We’re working to bring attention to as many unsolved and missing persons cases from around the state as we can. Our hope is that getting this important information out to the public will help generate tips for investigators and potentially lead to closure for the affected families. If you have a cold case you’d like us to look into, please let us know by using the form below.

About the Author:

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