Real Name: Mary Ann Viola Thomas Perez
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Chalmette, Louisiana
Date: March 25, 1976
Date of Birth: 1943
Weight: 108 lbs.
Marital Status: Divorced
Characteristics: Caucasian female. Reddish brown hair, blue eyes.
Details: On March 25, 1976, Mary Ann Perez left her home in Chalmette, Louisiana to meet with a girlfriend at a country western bar on the outskirts of New Orleans. She left her oldest daughter, Donna, in charge of the younger children. Before leaving, she told Donna that she would call around 11 pm. At around that time, she called and said that she would be home shortly. However, she was never heard from again.
At approximately 1:30 am, Donna got a call from a woman named Dorothy, who claimed that she was a friend of Mary Ann's. She said that Mary Ann was having car troubles but would be home soon. Despite the claim by the apparent friend, her car was found abandoned in front of the bar and in perfect condition. Her family was even more concerned because they did not know anyone named "Dorothy". Three days later, her purse was found ten miles away in Lake Pontchartrain. It had been weighed down with a brick. There has been no sign of her since.
Nine years later, in 1985, New Orleans detectives were sent to Witchita, Kansas, to interview a confessed serial killer named David Courtney. He admitted murdering several women in multiple states; one of the victims appeared to match Mary Ann's description. Courtney claimed that he and his wife had abducted Mary Ann and murdered her. However, her body was not found in the area that Courtney claimed he dumped her. This led her family to believe that she may still be alive.
In 1990, Mary Ann's daughter-in-law Shawn received a mysterious phone call from an unidentified woman. She claimed that she was Mary Ann's best friend and that she was still alive. She claimed that she and Mary Ann were being held captive and that they were not allowed to call again.
Although the authorities are convinced that Mary Ann is deceased, her family still hopes that she is alive. They believe that Courtney may have not been successful in strangling her, and that she may be alive and suffering from amnesia.
Suspects: In 1985, a serial killer named David Courtney confessed that he and his wife had killed multiple women in the southern United States during the 1970s. When New Orleans detectives learned that one of the victims matched Mary Ann's description, they went to interview him.
He stated that one night, he was driving along the highway when he stopped at a country western bar in New Orleans. He noticed an intoxicated woman trying to open her car. He offered to give her a ride, but she said she didn't want to make him drive to her home in Chalmette. However, he convinced her to enter his car. During the ride, she told him that her name was Mary Ann.
A few minutes later, Courtney claimed that he picked up his wife and they drove to their trailer. When the woman fell asleep, they tried to have sex with her. However, she woke up and demanded that she be taken home. Courtney's wife then drove in their car, while Courtney and the woman sat in the backseat. He then admitted to strangling the woman to death. The two then dumped the woman's body near the Louisiana/Mississippi state line. They made no attempt to hide the body.
When shown a picture of Mary Ann, Courtney felt certain that she was the New Orleans victim. When shown a picture of her car, he also identified it as the victim's car. When the detective questioned Courtney's wife, she told him that she had thrown the victim's purse off a bridge.
Based on the evidence, New Orleans detectives believe that David Courtney and his wife were responsible for Mary Ann's disappearance and death. However, her body was not found where the Courtneys claimed that she was dumped.
The woman calling herself "Dorothy" is also a possible suspect in this case. Her identity is unknown, although some suspect that she could be Courtney's wife.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 30, 1991 episode.
Results: Unresolved. Courtney remains the prime suspect in Mary Ann's disappearance. He is serving a life sentence for the murder of one of his other victims. However, despite his confession, he was never charged with Mary Ann's murder. His wife was also never charged in Mary Ann's case; she served ten years in prison for her involvement in the other murders. She has since died. Sadly, her daughter, Shannon, passed away in 2009. In her obituary, her mother was listed as having pre-deceased her.
In December of 2017, police and Mary's family announced that they believed Mary's remains had been located. In November of 1976, eight months after Mary vanished, skeletal remains were found in a cornfield in Alabama. The remains matched the physical description of Mary and had jewelry and clothing similar to what she was wearing when she vanished.
In May of 2018, investigators have noted that the case is practically "solved". They discovered that Mary had been in a car accident shortly before her disappearance, and had a partial dental plate on her upper front teeth. This matched the dental plate found on the Jane Doe. Also, there was evidence that the victim had been in a car accident.
Investigators were able to track down the remains to a warehouse in Oklahoma. DNA testing is currently being done to make a final confirmation on the identity of the remains. The tests should take a few weeks.
- Mary Ann Perez on Unsolved.com
- Mary Ann Perez on the Charley Project
- Mary Ann Perez on the Doe Network
- Jane Doe 1976 on NamUs
- Police close four-year murder case
- Shannon Perez Obituary
- Has body of New Orleans' Mary Ann Perez finally been identified? Authorities think so
- Investigators solve cold case after 41 years