Dec. 22, 1965: Search resumes for girl today

Posted Dec 22, 1965 @ 07:26 AM
Last update Aug 18, 2009 @ 07:26 AM
Eleven-year-old Susan Brady was still missing early today despite a massive search involving more than 1,000 lawmen and private citizens aided by four airplanes and a dog.

The search was called off at dusk Tuesday, but authorities planned to renew it on an even wider scale today.

Police had one solid clue Tuesday night, the discovery of the scarf the pretty St. Patrick's Catholic School 6th grader had been wearing. It was found Tuesday morning by a postman in a yard at 2413 Mulberry St. about seven blocks from where she was last seen and five blocks from her home.

Susan, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Brady, 703 N. Day Ave., was last seen at 5:45 p.m. Monday at the corner of School Street and Albert Avenue on Rockford's west side, where she left a playmate, Cecelia Burns, 11, 430 Irving Ave., presumably to go home for supper.

The Bradys began a neighborhood search shortly after 6 p.m. when the girl had not arrived home for supper. Police were notified later in the evening and by midnight the massive search was under way. It continued through the night and throughout the daylight hours Tuesday.

Rewards totaling $500 for information on the whereabouts of the girl had been offered by late Tuesday night, authorities said.

They came from Edward Jankowski, Dixon, a former neighbor of the Brady family when they lived in Dixon. $50: the Rockford Police Relief Assn. $250: the Greater Rockford News Photographer's Association, of which Brady is secretary. $100: and William K. Durstock, 920 Woodridge Drive $100.

Most of the reward offers specified the money would be awarded at the discretion of Rockford Police Chief Delbert Peterson, Winnebago County Sheriff Kirk King and State's Atty. William R. Nash.

Peterson Tuesday night appealed to all Rockford area residents to check their property for any trace of the missing girl and to report any information that might relate to the case in any way.

Tuesday night authorities checked out several leads, but reported no major break in the case at midnight. They included:

-- A report from a resident in the School Street - Albert Avenue area who said she heard a scream about the time Susan may have passed her home. Chief Peterson said a check of other residents of the area failed to find anyone else who heard screams.

-- A report from a South Beloit man who claimed he saw a young girl answering Susan's description in the Century Supermarket in South Beloit Tuesday afternoon. He said he recognized the girl from a news photo as he met her face to face in the checkout line.

Rockford police questioned him and employes of the supermarket and returned to Rockford early today satisfied that the girl is a South Beloit girl of similar appearance to Susan.

Police said Tuesday that they were operating on the theory that Susan had met with foul play.

The search was being coordinated by city, county and state authorities with aid from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An FBI agent said that agency's role is presently limited to liaison, the checking of out-of-state clues and offering the use of its laboratory.

FBI LIMITED

The FBI cannot enter the case on an active basis unless there is evidence the girl was kidnaped, the agent said.

Authorities sought more volunteers to resume the search today. Particularly needed, said Chief Peterson, are four-wheel drive vehicles.

Police said the state police will send in extra units today and that 10 planes are expected to join the hunt.

The army reserve here was reported to be seeking permission to volunteer three vehicles to aid in the search.

Through Monday night and all Tuesday a growing army of searchers tramped snowy fields and knocked on doors throughout Rockford and Winnebago County.

Search headquarters was established at Fire Station 6, 1634 Elm St, in the general neighborhood from which the girl disappeared.

Susan's father, a news photographer for the Rockford Labor News, spent much of the day at the headquarters.

"She'd never been more than an hour late for supper before," he told newsmen.

Students from Harlem and Auburn High Schools searched areas near their schools during physical education classes Tuesday and nuns at St. Patrick's School said they combed the area surrounding the school after hearing the girl was missing.

A special service to offer prayers for Susan's safe return was held in St. Patrick's Church Tuesday night and other prayer services were scheduled by other congregations throughout the city.

A trained dog owned by Rockford Policeman Jasper Cannon sought to follow the girl's trail Tuesday.

The Doberman pinscher, "JoJo," was given a scent from some of Susan's clothing and picked up the trail at School Street and Albert Avenue.

The dog led authorities west along the south side of School Street to Day Avenue, authorities said. It then seemed to follow a less definite scent across School Street and along the north side of the street to Greenview Avenue, a block west of Day Avenue, where her home is located.

Cecelia Burns, Susan's playmate and the last person known to have seen her, were described as "almost like sister" Tuesday night by Cecelia's mother, Mrs. Robert M. Burns.

"They were very close friends and frequently played together after school," Mrs. Burns said.

The girls were in the same class at school, Mrs. Burns said, and Monday afternoon they stayed late to help a teacher.

They arrived at the Burns home about 4 p.m. and played there for about an hour, Mrs. Burns said.

The girls left the Burns home about 5 p.m., Mrs. Burns said Cecilia walked with Susan as far as School Street and Albert Avenue, then returned to her own home. She is the last known person to have seen Susan Monday afternoon.

"The girls would usually stop at the Brady home after school because it was more convenient, so Susan was only here two or three times," Mrs. Burns said. "But she seemed like a quiet, very polite girl. I know my daughter liked her very much."

Mrs. Burns said Cecilia was "upset, but coming along well"

The search began shortly after 6 p.m. Monday when Brady and his wife returned home to find Susan had not returned for supper.

Brady and his wife, Norma immediately called friends and neighbors to check on Susan's whereabouts.

They found she had been at the home of Cecilia Burns who told them she had walked with Susan to the corner of School Street and Albert Avenue and then returned to her own home.

The Bradys went to their car and began circling their neighborhood, then returned home and set out on foot to check the possibility that Susan might have fallen somewhere and was unable to continue home.

By this time, neighbors pitched in to help in the search.

About 8 p.m. Brady called police and a description of the missing girl was broadcast to all law enforcement officers in the Rockford area as Rockford police set out to help the Brady family.

About 11 p.m. the search was intensified and a fire department truck started driving slowly through the area around St. Patrick's School, with it's floodlights illuminating streets and yards. Police and volunteers walked along with the lights, searching yards and fields.

The search gradually spread out during the night as country roads, lovers' lanes, parks and golf courses were checked.

When off-duty policemen and firemen and citizen volunteers started streaming into the fire station, police officials began organizing them into groups and assigning them to search specifics areas.

A large map of Rockford and surrounding areas was laid out over a table and was divided into sections. Police sergeants assigned individual groups to make foot-by-foot and house-by-house searches of areas assigned to them.

Editor's note: News story contains original spelling and grammar.

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