Maria Florence Anjiras, age 14, disappeared from Norwalk, Connecticut on February 12, 1976.
Maria, who went by the nickname Mia, was last seen at home at about 2:15pm by her father, as he was leaving for work. Maria had a vocal lesson scheduled for that afternoon, and was supposed to babysit a neighbor’s child in the evening. Maria never showed up for either.
Maria’s blue English Racer bicycle was found in front of her friend, Judy Altemose’s house near St. Mary’s Lane. Her friend stated she had not seen Maria and did not have any idea where she was.
It is believed that Maria initially left of her own accord. She had taken some cash with her, along with several sweaters, and other personal items. She had threatened to run away a few weeks prior, but her father had talked her out of it. There were reports that a loud argument took place in the Anjiras home on the day of her disappearance, although Maria’s parents denied this.
In the days and weeks following Maria’s disappearance, there were several potential sightings of her in the area. One of her teachers said she had seen Maria at a restaurant, and spoke with her. Another friend said they ran into her and told her she should go home, and that Maria had said “I know.”
Many sightings placed Maria in the company of the Charter Oaks motorcycle gang. The friend mentioned above who said she had spoken to Maria, reported that she was in the company of bikers at the time of that sighting.
Police investigation into her possible connection to the Charter Oaks club led to more sightings – she was seen laying on a lawn in front of the Charter Oaks Clubhouse with a club member named Pepe, she was seen at a bar frequented by the bikers, and was also reportedly involved in a physical altercation with a girl named Donna. She was seen in an orange, car, then a black car. She always seemed to be one step ahead of them.
Eventually, the leads and sightings stopped coming, and it was speculated that she had left the area. The case went cold.
Fast forward to 2015. Police announced that they had identified the girl who had been seen with Pepe, as another, similar looking, seventeen year old girl. The girl went on to marry Pepe and moved to South Carolina. Police indicated that they no longer considered the Charter Oaks connection relevant to Maria’s case.
However, one year later, in December 2016, a news report was aired out of Bristol, Virginia. Media there had been contacted by law enforcement, due to a new potential lead, that Maria had been living at the Evergreen Motel in Bristol, VA in 1993. She apparently worked at an auto auction across the street, using the alias “Lynn.” This woman, who’s identity has not been confirmed, came to the area with members of a motorcycle club.
The owner of the Dominion Auto Auction was questioned, and he did recall having an employee named Lynn. He said she had been responsible for driving the vehicles through the auction, and it was only occasional work. He was shown a picture of Maria but could not say if she was the same person he had hired.
So maybe the motorcycle club connection/theory shouldn’t be dismissed so quickly.
I continue to question how, and under what circumstances, Maria’s bike ended up at her friend’s house, with her friend having no knowledge of how it got there. I can certainly understand if Maria was, in fact, running away to escape problems at home, that her friend might have felt the need to cover for her. However, it’s been over 40 years now. Her parents died in the 1980’s, never knowing what happened to their daughter. Her siblings are still searching. I hope that any friends who know anything will come forward, it’s been long enough.
If Maria rode her bicycle to her friend’s house, where did she go from there? How did she carry all the belongings she took with her? Keep in mind, it was Connecticut, and it was February – which means it was COLD. Where did she sleep?
I think there is a chance that Maria is still alive and out there somewhere. I have even contemplated whether the police were sure the woman they spoke to (who married Pepe) wasn’t actually Maria, living under a new identity.
I hope she can be found soon.