Marjorie Ring Moore, age 32, disappeared from Tampa, Florida in December 1953.
Marjorie Adele Ring married James Moore in Geneva, NY at the young age of 18. They had a son and a daughter before James was shipped off to WWII. They divorced shortly after he returned.
As a result, Marjorie took a job waiting tables, and paid families to look after the children. Marjorie’s son recalls he and his sister being shuffled through various homes of strangers.
This continued until 1951, when Marjorie sent for them. She now lived in Tampa, Florida, and she sent plane tickets for the children to join her.
The children spent a wonderful two years in Tampa with their mother, living a normal childhood, for the most part. Most evenings, however, Marjorie would take the children to the ritzy Tampa Terrace Hotel, where her son recalled her having ‘lots of boyfriends’. While most of these boyfriends were short-lived relationships, one man who went by ‘Doc Ferris’ stood out.
His real name was Lawrence Grant Ferris, and he owned acres of citrus groves. Marjorie’s son recalls that it was this Doc Ferris that bought him his first bicycle.
Just before Christmas of 1953, Marjorie asked a neighbor if she would watch the kids for a few days, promising to return before Christmas. The neighbor was happy to help. Marjorie packed a suitcase, and left without saying where she was going.
By Christmas Eve, the children were beginning to grow concerned that their mother hadn’t returned yet, but still had hope that she would walk through the door at any moment. By New Years, however, they knew something was wrong.
Again, the children were shuffled through people’s homes, and eventually ended up in an orphanage, unsure if something had happened to their mother, or if she’d simply left the confines of parenthood behind.
At age 17, Marjorie’s son mustered up the courage to contact Doc Ferris – who, after hearing Marjorie’s son identify himself, said “I don’t know anything about that. Don’t ever call here again.” Ferris died in 1975.
A couple years later, Marjorie’s daughter traveled to Tampa, and checked into the Tampa Terrace Hotel. She talked to waitresses and other hotel staff, hoping to find someone who knew Marjorie. The following night, a man knocked on her hotel room door, and told her “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll quit looking for your mother.”
It is unknown if this man was Doc Ferris.
The newspaper article that featured Marjorie’s story refers to a curious quote found on genealogy site in reference to Ferris: “There was also a girl that died at his house. I don’t know who she was, I think they said it was a suicide.”
I’ve been unable to find this quote, although I did find a family tree type page which includes Ferris. According to the article, the quote was written anonymously.
This is the oldest female UID listed in Florida – I do see some resemblance, although the chin is not quite right… but I’m not sure the timeline adds up anyway. This UID was found in Pinellas County (which is not far from Tampa) in 1961, and was assumed to be deceased for 2 days – which means that if this were Marjorie, she was still alive when her son contacted Doc Ferris (ca. 1958).
Now that I’ve put them side by side, I don’t think the chin is as far off as I thought, if Marjorie’s photo wasn’t at an angle, I can see how they may look more similar. I am still uncomfortable with the timeline, though.
Marjorie would be 92 now.
UPDATE: In doing a bit more research, it turns out that ‘Doc’ Ferris was a very prominent member of the community, and by all accounts I’ve found, a good guy. He was, however, married… and not to Marjorie. More info about him can be found here.