Missing Since: July 26, 1973
Missing from :Tolland, Connecticut
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: October 15, 1965
Age at disappearance: 7 years old
Height and Weight: 4’0, 65 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Pockett has a gap between her front teeth.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Navy blue shorts with an imprinted American flag design, a blue and white-striped pullover shirt and blue sneakers.
Details of Disappearance
Pockett was last seen leaving her family’s home on Anthony Road in Tolland, Connecticut on July 26, 1973. She planned to ride her metallic green Murray bicycle, which had a bell and a banana seat, through the neighborhood to search for a butterfly she’d caught and left on a rock a few days earlier. She was carrying an envelope to carry the butterfly in. It was the first time she’d been allowed to go out by herself. She never arrived home and has never been seen again. Pockett’s mother found her bike half an hour later, on Rhoades Road near a wooded area less than a mile from her residence. The butterfly and envelope were never found. Authorities believe something happened to Pockett after she had picked up the butterfly and was on her way home.
Pockett was one of five people to disappear in the general area during a ten-year time period; another was
Lisa White. All of the missing were female; they ranged in age from 7 to 20 years old. Two of them were found deceased years after their disappearances but the other three, including White, remain missing. It is not clear whether the cases are related.
The late Charles Pierce, a pedophile who was suspected in many child disappearance cases in New England throughout the 1950’s – 1970’s, confessed to Pockett’s murder. He claimed to have buried her in the Lawrence, Massachusetts area near an unidenitified boy who was another victim. The boy was thought to be Angelo Puglisi, a Massachusetts child who vanished three years after Pockett in 1976. Neither of the supposed graves has been discovered.
Another twist in the Pockett case came in 2000, when the bone fragments of a child were discovered in the garage of Nathaniel Bar-Jonah, a man charged with the 1996 abduction and presumed murder of Zachary Ramsay in Great Falls, Montana (the charges were later dismissed due to lack of evidence). Pockett’s name surfaced in connection with Bar-Jonah when his criminal past came to light; he had served a prison sentence for the abduction and attempted murder of two boys in Massachusetts in 1977.
Putting the possible scenario together, investigators learned that Bar-Jonah lived in Webster, Massachusetts in 1973 when Pockett disappeared. Webster is only 20 miles away from Tolland, Connecticut, which is Pockett’s hometown. He would have been only fourteen years old when Pockett vanished, but Bar-Jonah had already allegedly strangled a playmate by that time. There have been additional accusations that Bar-Jonah practiced cannibalism in recent years. He was found guilty of two unrelated counts of child molestation in Montana in February 2002. Bar-Jonah, whose given name was David P. Brown, claimed he was innocent of all charges against him. Authorities also investigated the possibility that he was involved in the 1997 Wyoming disappearance of Amanda Gallion. Gallion is classified as a runaway, but her Social Security number has not been used since 1997 and there is suspicion that she met with foul play.
A handwritten list of names entitled “Lake Webster” was discovered in Bar-Jonah’s possession in December 2001. Some news reports stated that Andrew Amato was among the children featured in the list, but this is untrue. Amato disappeared from Webster, Massachusetts in 1978. No one has been able to tie him to Bar-Jonah. DNA testing conducted in 2001 on a bone located in Bar-Jonah’s Montana garage proved that it was not part of Ramsay’s, Pockett’s, or Gallion’s remains. Amato’s DNA was not compared with the bone. Bar-Jonah was never charged in connection with any of the other disappearances. He died of a blood clot in a Montana prison in April 2008, at age 51.
Charges have not been filed against any person regarding Pockett’s disappearance. Her case remains unsolved.
Connecticut State Police
Girl, 7, vanished while looking for a butterfly
- Janice Pockett, 7, disappeared as she looked for a butterfly
- Police followed many leads, but came up empty
- It was the first time the child had ridden her bike up without her mother
- Know something? Call the tip-line at 860-896-3200.
New York (CNN) — On a July afternoon in 1973, a little girl set out on her bicycle in a pristine corner of Connecticut. Janice Pockett, 7, was looking for a butterfly she’d caught and left on a rock by the road a couple of days earlier.
“We were driving my mom crazy I remember,” said her younger sister, Mary Engelbrecht, who is now 43. “My sister and I had been bickering over something stupid — a toothbrush, I think.”
Janice asked if she could ride off by herself and their mother said yes. It was a big deal, Engelbrecht said, because it was the first time either girl had been allowed to go anywhere by herself.
Janice never returned and 37 years later, the mystery of what happened to her continues to trouble residents of Tolland, a quiet community in the semi-rural suburbs of eastern Connecticut.
Engelbrecht still has vivid memories of the day her sister vanished. She recalls that their mother gave Janice an envelope for the butterfly. She remembers how Janice rode off on her green, Murray banana-seat bicycle.
Half an hour went by, and there was no sign of Janice. Engelbrecht, then 6, remembers walking up the street holding her mother’s hand as they went looking for her sister.
They found her bike less than a mile away, abandoned on a dirt road close to the woods.
“We found the bike, but my sister was nowhere,” Engelbrecht told CNN. “Police later told us they never found her butterfly, or the envelope either.” Connecticut State Police continue to work the case. According to Detective Dan Cargill, a member of the investigative team, police found the bicycle between the rock and the Pocketts’ home.
–Mary Engelbrecht, sister
“It appeared Janice may have been on her way back home when she was snatched,” he said.
Police searched on foot and horseback, and used cadaver dogs to search the woods near the dirt road where the child’s bike was found.
Over the years police and volunteers have continued searching. They say they’ve gone over every inch of the woods. No evidence related to Janice Pockett was ever found.
“I know in the initial search they scoured the woods for newly dug holes, but found none,” Cargill said.
Janice’s bicycle was tested for fingerprints and, more recently, was tested with newer technologies available to investigators. Again, no forensic evidence was found.
Hundreds of potential suspects were questioned; homes in the neighborhood were searched, tips were followed up, and criminal background checks were done. Still, nothing.
“The dirt road where her bike had been found had tire tracks on it from various vehicles and our investigators followed up, searching vehicles fitting those tracks but again no clues were found,” Cargill said.
Leads on possible suspects were followed, but investigators were frustrated by the dead ends.
“There were hundreds of names of possible suspects, but many were ruled out,” Cargill said. “Some who are still on the list, we simply didn’t have corroborating evidence to substantiate them as suspects.”
–Dan Cargill, detective
One potential suspect, now deceased, lived about 20 miles from Tolland at the time Janice Pockett disappeared. His criminal record included prison terms for the abduction and attempted murder of two boys in Massachusetts. And the man later was convicted of molesting two boys in Montana.
When police searched the man’s Montana home, they found fragments of a child’s bones, but could not match them to Pockett. The man died in prison in 2008, and the identity of the child whose bones were found remains a mystery.
Janice Pockett’s disappearance remains an open investigation, police said, adding that they still receive tips from time to time.
Blond with blue eyes, Janice was 4 feet tall in 1973 and weighed 65 pounds. She was wearing blue shorts with an American flag pattern, a blue and white striped shirt and blue sneakers when she was last seen.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help. Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Janice Pockett or can lead police to the individual responsible for her disappearance is asked to call the tip line at 860-896-3200.