TACOMA, Wash. — Serial killer Ted Bundy has long been suspected in the abduction of 8-year-old Ann Marie Burr, who disappeared from her North End Tacoma home in 1961.
Over the years, academics, police investigators and relatives of Bundy and Ann Marie have debated whether she was the first of his dozens of murder victims.
It's all been speculation and theorizing based on police interviews with Bundy, books and media reports about him and his intriguing connections to the Burr neighborhood.
Soon, Tacoma police detectives could have a more concrete answer.
Officials in Florida are working to have Bundy's DNA profile uploaded into the FBI's national database by mid-August. Tacoma detectives hope to compare it to evidence that was never analyzed in the Ann Marie case.
"From a historical standpoint, there is this belief that Ted Bundy could be responsible," said detective Gene Miller, who leads the Tacoma Police Department's cold case unit.
"It's a question that needs to be answered from a historical standpoint as well as an investigative standpoint." Ann Marie's family wants to know, too. Her parents have died but her siblings still don't know what happened to their big sister.
"It would help put some closure on it one way or another," Julie Burr said Friday. "If we could learn anything to understand what happened or learn what happened, that would be our desire."
Having Bundy's DNA in the national database also could shed light on other unsolved cases in states, including Washington, where he preyed on young women and girls.
Before he was executed in 1989 in Florida, the 42-year-old Bundy confessed to killing 30 victims. Law enforcement investigators were not able to identify all the victims and suspected he killed dozens more.
He confessed to killing 11 women in Washington state. Investigators were able to identify eight of them. The other three victims remain a mystery.
Bundy's killing spree and execution came before the creation of state and national databases that contain millions of DNA samples of convicted offenders. Law enforcement agencies use the databases to crack unsolved crimes, strengthen their evidence against suspects or to clear them.
The effort to get Bundy's profile into the FBI database has spanned several years. It got a jolt of energy after Lindsey Wade became the latest in a long line of Tacoma homicide detectives to look again at Ann Marie's disappearance.
As usual, Ted Bundy's name came to mind. In January, she picked up the phone and called Florida, wondering if anybody still had a sample of the killer's DNA.
For more than three decades, the name of Tacoma's most notorious son has been linked to one of the city's most baffling crimes.
Ann Marie, the oldest of the four Burr children, vanished from her home in the 3000 block of North 14th Street. In the early morning of Aug. 31, 1961, the blond-haired girl woke up when her 3-year-old sister Mary started to cry. Mary had a cast on her arm and it was bothering her.
Ann Marie took her sister to their parents, who comforted the girls and asked Ann Marie to take Mary back to bed. About 5:30 a.m. Mary started to cry again, waking her mother.
In checking Ann Marie's upstairs bedroom, Beverly Burr found the bed empty and her oldest daughter missing. Searching the house, Beverly Burr found a living room window open and the front door ajar.
The 8-year-old's room showed no signs of a struggle and the family's cocker spaniel hadn't made a peep.
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