Shirley Jane Rose was 9 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found buried in a shallow grave near a lake in Springfield, Missouri, more than four decades ago, and the person responsible for her death has yet to be brought to justice.
On Oct. 17, 1975, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Shirley left her grandmother’s home on South West Avenue and began walking to her house on South Scenic Avenue.
When she never arrived, her mother contacted the police department and reported Shirley missing.
Several witnesses reported seeing Shirley, who was clad in white slacks and an embellished blouse, talking to an unknown man in a blue vehicle—believed to be a Chevy.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, relatives have stated that Shirley was shy and would have never gotten into a vehicle with a stranger.
She would have had to be forced.
Police officers with bloodhounds and helicopters, along with volunteers, searched the surrounding areas, but when there was no sign of Shirley within the first 24 hours, the search was called off.
However, the investigation continued.
During the investigation, detectives questioned 100 people and hoped that the information they received would lead them closer to finding out what happened to Shirley, but ultimately, the case turned cold.
Nearly two months later, on Dec. 13, 1975, Shirley was found dead.
Authorities said two men searching for beaver dams near McDaniel Lake had encountered human remains protruding from the ground.
Experts excavated the badly decomposed body of a little girl who was arrayed in the same clothing as Shirley when she was last seen.
Through dental records, the human remains were identified as those of Shirley.
Officials with the Springfield Police Department revealed that the body had initially been buried. And it was more than likely exposed after the area had been clawed at by animals.
After Dr. Erwin Busick performed an autopsy, he conjectured that Shirley died from strangulation, as he discovered a knotted blouse wrapped around her neck.
The cause of death could not be confirmed due to the body’s state of decomposition. And because the body had deteriorated, there was no way to tell if Shirley had been sexually assaulted.
It was reported that Bill Lloyd, an investigator with the Springfield Police Department, believed that Shirley’s murder “was motivated by either drug sales or drug use.”
Lloyd went on to say that “the son of a former Springfield business owner with possible mob ties was responsible.”
Investigators have yet to receive any leads in the case, but they aren’t giving up on finding out who killed Shirley, and neither is her family.
Relatives have since established a website, Justice for Shirley Jane Rose, to keep her memory alive.
Officer Rachel Kleemann, the coordinator of Greater Springfield Area Crime Stoppers, said: “We haven’t given up on trying to get justice for her. We hope that by putting it back out there, it jogs someone’s memory.”
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Shirley Jane Rose is encouraged to contact the Springfield Police Department at (417) 864-1810 or leave a tip online at www.p3tips.com.