It was a sweltering July afternoon in 1978 when Mary Shinn, whom everyone in the small town of Magnolia, Arkansas called ‘Bobo’, went to show a home to an unknown man.
The raven-haired beauty taught art classes locally, but her father was heavily involved with real estate leading to her interest in it as well. Shinn reportedly owned an investment property in town she was looking to possibly sell or trade.
She didn’t tell her friends the name of the person who contacted her asking to take a look at the place that July afternoon.
Shinn’s blue Buick was found parked, unlocked and abandoned in the parking lot of town’s grocery store the next day. Most of her belongings were still tucked inside, including her purse, wallet and a pair of tennis shoes. Only her address book was missing. The condition of the car hinted that Shinn was not the person who left it in the parking lot.
“I was just 10 months into the department when I got this case file, and I realized I knew her,” Columbia County Sheriff Mike Lowe told Dateline NBC. “Not well, but she sat in front of me in history. That’s just one of many reasons this case stays with me so much.”
Sheriff Lowe continues to track down leads and re-interview witnesses. He says the cases was officially reopened this past January and information is being sent to the FBI for analysis.
“The hard thing about this case is that it’s easy to get dragged into a lead that takes you out of state, but the answer is local. I’ve always thought the answer lies locally. That’s our focus now.”
Both of Shinn’s parents have since died, but the mystery of what became of Shinn still is a prominent question that tugs at the southwest Arkansas town.
Sheriff Lowe hopes that, although decades have passed, something will lead detectives to the person responsible for all this.
“Like I always tell my investigators, there is always an answer to every case. The key is out there. And eventually we will put the right key in the right lock."
If you have any information that can help solve this case, please contact the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at (870) 234-5331.