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:
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)