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Reward seeks information in 1965 child abduction

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Elizabeth Gill is shown here in a photograph taken before she went missing.
(Southeast Missourian archive photo)
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Nearly five decades after a small girl was kidnapped from the yard of her southeast Missouri home, the family of Elizabeth Gill is hoping new reward money will help uncover the mystery of her disappearance.

Elizabeth, known by the family as Beth, was not quite 3 when she was taken on June 13, 1965, at the family's home in Cape Girardeau, about 100 miles south of St. Louis. Cape Girardeau detective Jim Smith says it is Missouri's oldest missing child case.

Elizabeth's sister, Martha Hamilton of Cape Girardeau, said anonymous donors have contributed $25,000 in reward money. Anyone with information can contact Smith at the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

"We will never give up searching for Beth," Hamilton said. "We truly believe the generous donation will bring forth the information needed to find her."

The blonde-haired child, the youngest of a family of 10 children, was playing with a sand pail in front of the family home on a Sunday afternoon when she disappeared. Smith said her mother told police at the time that drifters staying at a motel near the home had twice tried to coax Elizabeth to a car, most recently the day before she disappeared.

Smith said those drifters had been in Cape Girardeau selling goods door-to-door. They checked out of the motel the day the child disappeared, but police have not found a record of their names.

"It was devastating," said Hamilton, who was 15 at the time. "It took every little bit of strength my mother and dad had to hold the family together. At that point you don't have a normal life."

Smith became aware of the case in 2004 while revisiting cold-case files. He began working closely with the family. Originally deemed as a missing child case, the FBI reclassified it as a kidnapping in 2010.

"Back in 1965 law enforcement looked at things differently," Smith said. "If this happened today it would be immediately classified as a kidnapping."

Hamilton and Smith haven't ruled out the possibility that Elizabeth is still alive. Smith said it is possible the drifters raised her as their own, and that over the years she adapted to her new life. If alive, she would have turned 50 on Aug. 21.

"The family understands that if she is alive she probably has her own life and may be perfectly happy who she is," Smith said.

Hamilton said even if that is the case, the family longs to see her again.

"What we feel is that if we can spread the word that we're looking, and she's searching, we have a very good chance of reuniting," Hamilton said.

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How many articles have been in the paper this year on this cold case?

-- Posted by whom on Wed, Aug 29, 2012, at 5:05 PM


WELL!!! Do you have a clue that getting this information out is the way to possibly bring some closure for the Gill family? How can you sit there and offer up one single complaint with regard to how many times a story has run? What sweat is it off your back? If you don't want to read the story, you certainy have some choices! For one, pass it over and go on to another article. That's what I do if I'm not interested. For another, stop subscribing to the paper if you're that bothered by what's printed, but don't think this family is deserving of anyhthing less than the exposure they've been given. They are not complete. One of their own is missing. You obviously have no sympathy for their situation, but some of us do!

-- Posted by wuzthinking on Wed, Aug 29, 2012, at 8:19 PM


What would you do?

-- Posted by arrestthem on Wed, Aug 29, 2012, at 9:58 PM


You have commented repeatedly on these stories protesting the news coverage. As wuz says above, just don't read the story if you don't like it.

There is a reasonably decent chance Elizabeth could be alive. It's a sad commentary that a reward might be needed to motivate someone to come forward, but hopefully this will make a difference.

-- Posted by tom on Wed, Aug 29, 2012, at 11:25 PM

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