Hattie E. Jackson, age 7, went missing from Washington, DC on July 21, 1961.

On the afternoon of July 21, 1961, Hattie tagged along with her 10 year old brother, Herbert, and his friends to Rock Creek Park.  They went swimming in the creek, played ball, and played on the playground.   While they were swimming, a police officer approached them and warned them that the water was polluted, so they shouldn’t swim there.   An unknown white man, in his early to mid 30’s, was sitting nearby, watching the children play.  After the police officer left, the man offered to drive the children to a location 2 miles away, where the water was clean.  The children declined.

They resumed playing, and then noticed that Hattie was gone.

Several witnesses came forward with information that led investigators to believe that this man had abducted Hattie.  Two young men who were hiking on the trails saw Hattie being helped into the front seat of a dull, blue-grey older model car with dark tags in a parking area adjacent to the park.  The man who owned the car matched the description of the man who had been seen in the park.

The police officer who had warned the children about the polluted water had also noticed the man watching the children play, but said he was not behaving suspiciously.   The officer noted that he wore a white shirt, gray trousers, and a black belt.  He had brown hair, that appeared to be growing out from a crew cut style.

A massive two day search was done of the park, and dogs tracked Hattie’s scent to the parking area where she was witnessed entering a vehicle.   A sketch of the suspect was issued by police, although I do not have a copy of it (am attempting to obtain it).

Police considered a man named Thomas Welton Holland a person of interest in Hattie’s disappearance.  Holland was from Baltimore, Maryland and had a record of interstate robberies as well as vicious sex acts against children.   Although there was no evidence connecting him to the case, he bore a resemblance to the sketch.

The car was believed to look something like this:


The case quickly went cold, and the man was never identified, nor did any new clues surface as to where Hattie may have ended up.

There is an unidentified 3-7 year old black female who was found in Northhampton County, North Carolina in 1983.  She was believed to have been there for quite awhile.  Northhampton County is just south of the Virginia/North Carolina border.

Due to the poor quality of the newspaper photo of Hattie, and the fact that the reconstruction photo of the deceased girl looks older than 7, it’s hard to say, but here is a side by side comparison:

jackson_hattie_article1  uidnc

While DNA and dentals are both available for Jane Doe, neither is available for Hattie, according to NamUs.   NamUs also states that Jane Doe appeared to have a nasal fracture at some point, which is not mentioned in Hattie’s file.  I’m not too quick to dismiss the match based on that detail, however.  It appears that the only information in Hattie’s NamUs file is what was in the newspaper.  I’m guessing it was a good samaritan who entered her, and not necessarily someone who would know if she had a previous injury.

If she does turn out to be this North Carolina Jane Doe, I think it will be worth considering that she may also be connected to the disappearance of Phyllis Powell. (Phyllis is already ruled out as this Jane Doe).  Their cases both are believed to be stranger abductions in the early 1960’s, when such an occurrence was far less common.  Phyllis was from North Carolina.

I will submit this possible match and hopefully it will lead to a DNA sample being collected from her family.  I will also attempt to locate the suspect sketch through a library or law enforcement agency, and will update if I make any progress on either.

Hattie would be 59 years old today.



Washington Post (Through PQ Archiver)

Pittsburgh Courier

21 thoughts on “Hattie Jackson

  1. I can’t believe that I ran across this. In 1961 I was working for my uncle on the day and in the area where she lived. I remember a policeman coming by and showing us a photo. I also remember seeing posters on telephone poles. The name has stuck with me all of these years but I could find very little coverage in the Post or anywhere on the Internet.

  2. I was 14 when Little Hattie went missing, my cousin had been in the same 1st grade class with her. When I heard that there may have. been a break in the Lyons sisters abduction case this week I immediately thought about Hattie who had been abducted 15 years earlier than the Lyons sisters. It seemed we always heard something about the Lyons girls every so often from the News media here in the DC Area, but nothing about Hattie. I did not know my cousin’s classmate personally , but I do know how profoundly the after effects were on my own 7yr old cousin and the other little kids in the neighborhood who were afraid to go out and play for fear of being kidnapped… Thank you for your article on a another little black child who may be lost to us forever.

  3. I was 15 when this happened and living in Maryland. I remember how shocked we all were that a child would be snatched away like that. I have thought of her from time to time over the years (53 at that!) when I have heard of a young child of any color being taken from their loved ones. I Googled her name just on the chance that maybe there was news of her being found.

  4. I lived down the street from Hattie, on Longfellow St. in DC. I was a few years older, so I didn’t really play with her. I ran up the street with my sisters when we saw the police cars in front of Hattie’s house. When we found out she had been taken, we were scared to leave the front porch for months. My mother use to send us to a store called Ida’s that was up the street on Georgia Ave. After Hattie’s disappearance, we were scared to walk past her street alone. I just happened to be talking to a friend about missing persons, and happened to think about Hattie Jackson.

  5. I will never forget Hattie Jackson. She changed the lives of everyone in our “safe” neighborhood (Longfellow St). We played a Rock Creek Park all day until Hattie went missing. I never went back to the park again until I was an adult!

  6. I remembered this from my childhood. Often thinking thinking about her when I heard of other children that were missing.I am 62 years old and grew up in the DC area.

  7. In 1961 I was 15 and I living on Evart Street when Hattie disappeared. I’ve always wondered what happened to her and sad that no one seemed to look for her or remember her. It was a really scary time in our neighborhood. Today I decided to look on Internet to see if anyone else remembered her. I’m so glad there are others.

  8. I was 11 when Hattie Jackson disappeared, (1961) I have never forgotten her because the day before she disappeared my parents took us to the park to play, and even after the incident they would still take us to Rock Creek park to play but we would be very close in their eye site. I never played with joy after that, I would keep looking into the woods to see if I would see her. I will never forget her and the justice that was not done for her. As an adult, more aggressive search and car stops should have been done especially with the description of the car that was given.

  9. My name is Nicole . Hattie would have been my aunt. I am the daughter of her brother. Do you still need a DNA sample? I ran across this article doing research on her disappearance.

    • Hi Nicole,

      I have placed a call to NamUs to ask them if they still need a DNA sample, and who the contact is for her case. This was after business hours so I probably won’t hear back until tomorrow. I will let you know as soon as I do.

      • Hello,
        Please let me know if you find any way I could help with the case. I will look forward to hearing from you.

      • Ms. Fisher, I am the lieutenant in charge of the Missing Persons Unit for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC. Please email me at brad.wagner@dc.gov so I may discuss this matter with you. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Nicole. I see that we both posted a comment here on the same day. Please read my post below about our documentary research on Hattie. I would love to talk to you about the case if possible and if you’d be interested. I know that this is a sensitive matter, and I completed understand if you may not want to share anything for a documentary film, but if you would be interested, please reach out to me via email at sareenbegum1990@gmail.com. All my love to you and your family.

    • Hi Nicole, I am your 4th Cousin, your grandfather Herbie and my mother were first cousins. We grew up talking about Hattie. She is my age. Her name always comes up this time of the year. We heard last year that the FBI had opened her case back up.

  10. Hi everyone. It is so moving to hear all your stories and to learn how Hattie’s disappearance had such a ripple effect. I wanted to reach out to all of you to let you know that my documentary filmmaking team (based in the School of the Arts at Columbia University) are currently in development for a documentary about Hattie, as well as two other African-American missing children cases between 1957-1965. We have been scouring the web to find first-hand accounts from people who knew her/her family and were affected by her abduction. If any of you would be interested in sharing your stories with us in more detail as part of our research, we would truly appreciate it.

  11. I strongly believe Hattie’s disappearance is linked to Phyllis, as well as another young African American girl named Adele Wells. All were young black girls who went missing in the late 50’s/ early 60’s in neighbouring states.

  12. You should check Charlie Project; Meaghan has released a better image of Hattie and also the sketch of the suspect. You can also find a photograph of Thomas Holland in FBI Web. It is also curious to mention that he was on the FBI list of most wanted criminals in May, 1962.

  13. My family relives this nightmare year after year. We still have hope she will be found and given a proper burial.

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