Exclusive: Unprecedented effort underway to solve iconic cold ca - CBS46 News


Exclusive: Unprecedented effort underway to solve iconic cold case

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She's been missing since October 14, 1965. 

A petite 25-year-old banker, Mary Shotwell Little, would last say goodbye to a friend in a parking lot at the Lenox Square Mall that night.

"It gets fuzzy. I mean it gets fuzzy," says Ray Pate.

Pate is in his eighties now. He was a sex crimes detective with the Atlanta Police Department the night Little went missing. He says officers on the force were skeptical at first.

"Somebody went missing all the time... girls... wives... all the time," says Pate.

"They were going to allow this thing to materialize, to see if she was gonna show up [or] show up dead," he says.

She never did. But her car did show up in a lot at Lenox Square. Investigators think it was taken and returned back to its spot by her presumed abductor. On the inside were untouched groceries, along with blood stains and women's underwear folded in the console.

In the days that followed, police would rule out Little's husband, who was out of town on business.

There were claims Little was dealing with an unwanted admirer, getting unsolicited flowers and uncomfortable calls at the downtown bank in which she worked.

There were reports she was in North Carolina against her will.

But nothing panned out.

"It was a pressure cooker situation. That's why the FBI came in so quickly," says Pate.

Pate shared with CBS46 law enforcement files he obtained through a source. We're showing them for the first time. Pages and pages detail the long lists of people interviewed and interrogated.    

A summary report from the master detective -- signed August 1966 -- details the struggle police had in solving the mystery, calling it a "baffling case" and saying, "We have expended more manpower investigating this case than any other in the history of the Atlanta Police Department."

"They can't find the killer," says Pate. "There's no evidence."

Or at least evidence at the time that could conclusively link her disappearance to a suspect.

Evidence analysis changes over time. That's why for the first time in decades, a team of former investigators have come together in an all-out attempt to solve the crime.

"They are good. They are determined," says John Fedack.

Fedack, a former police officer, is one of them. He and nearly a dozen retired detectives, criminal profilers and prosecutors -- many of them remaining anonymous due to the nature of this case -- recently got the cooperation of the Atlanta Police Department and their records, and are currently reviewing 350 pages of police reports, some of which Fedack shared exclusively with the CBS46 Bulldog.

"The more you dig into this, you keep digging, nothing makes sense," says Fedack. "To this day, [investigators], they throw up their hands."

But he and the others vow to take this on until the end.

Fedack worked with the son of the lead detective on this case. Asked why solving this should matter more than 50 years later?

"Because that young girl was terrified for 10 to 20 hours," he says. "Wrong is wrong. And if you can do something about it, and right that wrong, I think you should."

Fedack and his team have the support of not only Atlanta police, but Crime Stoppers as well. He says they have vowed to put up a reward should the team produce a lead.

CBS46 has also learned a criminal justice team at Auburn University may join the case in 2018.

Mary Shotwell Little remains a listed missing person at the Atlanta Police Department.

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