Ransom call threatening parents of New Jersey girl, 14, who disappeared 45 years ago released as authorities seek information
Margaret Ellen Fox has not been seen or heard from since June 24, 1974. Now, 45 years later, police have released previously unheard recordings in the hope to find her
Local and federal authorities have Monday, June 24 released previously unheard tapes and are offering a $25,000 reward for any information regarding the disappearance of a Burlington, New Jersey teenager who was last seen alive 45 years ago.
Margaret Ellen Fox was 14-years-old and had just finished the eighth grade when she began communicating with a man who called himself John Marshall. He told her he wanted to hire her to babysit his children in response to an ad she posted in the newspaper, according to NJ.com.
On June 24, 1975, he told her he would pick her up from a Mount Holly bus stop so she could start the job.
On the day, she was seen by one of her siblings as she boarded a bus in Burlington City and also by other witnesses who saw her in the area of the Mount Holly bus stop.
After that, she was never seen again.
She was reported missing by her parents and her father, David Fox, drove around Mount Holly with a bullhorn and photos of his daughter in the hope that someone would know of her whereabouts, but to little avail.
Her family received two handwritten ransom notes and one phone call, all demanding $10,000 for the return of their daughter. While they were planning to pay the amount, the caller stopped calling the family, and there has not been any contact with him since.
During their investigation, police found that the number the man gave Margaret to contact him was, in fact, for a payphone in Lumberton.
Another possible lead was the recording of a phone call taken via a police wiretap of the Fox family phone.
That recording was finally released during a press conference this past Monday, 45 years to the day of her disappearance after police said the technology advanced to a point where they could improve the quality to a point where the man's voice is recognizable.
"Ten thousand dollars might be a lot of bread, but your daughter’s life is the buttered topping," a man can be heard threatening Margaret's mother in the call.
Burlington City Police Chief John Fine, however, admitted that the person who sent the notes and called is not necessarily the man who called himself John Marshall.
"Could this have been the person that took Margaret? Yes," he told reporters. "Could this have been a person looking for an opportunity for financial gain? That is possible as well."
The police also presented a photo of what Margaret would have looked like at 56, though Fine acknowledged that she, as well as the person responsible for harming her, could possibly be dead.
"It is our mission that if that is the case, that Margaret receives a proper burial and the Fox family can (get) closure, receive answers to the questions they deserve, and our community can begin to heal," he said.
It was a view shared by Joseph Denahan, assistant special agent-in-charge of Newark’s FBI Field Office. "Losing a child is a parent’s worst fear. Not knowing what happened to your child is a torture beyond what any of us care to imagine," he said. "For 45 years, the Fox family has endured that torture."