Mary Opitz

1 2 AP
Left and Center: Mary, circa 1981;
Right: Age-progression at age 47 (circa 2010)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: January 16, 1981 from Fort Myers, Florida
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: December 13, 1963
  • Age: 17 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'4 - 5'5, 105 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, green/hazel eyes. Mary has a scar between the fingers of her left hand. She wore braces on her teeth at the time of her disappearance. Her ears are pierced.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A brown velveteen jacket, a white pullover shirt, designer blue jeans, brown pumps, two gold bracelets, and a gold necklace with a charm.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Mary was last seen leaving the Edison Mall and heading towards the parking lot in Fort Myers, Florida on the evening January 16, 1981. She and her brother and mother had gone to the mall together at 6:30 p.m. Mary bought a package of pretzels and said she was tired and going back to their car, a burgundy 1979 Chevrolet Camaro. She left carrying the pretzels and some packages. An hour later, Mary's mother went out to the parking lot and discovered her daughter was wrong. The pretzels and packages were on top of the Camaro's trunk.

    She was initially believed to be a runaway, as there was no evidence of a crime in her case. However, Mary's family never believed she ran away: she had been saving up money to buy a vehicle, she was in the middle of redecorating her room, she didn't take her purse with her, and she was looking forward to getting her orthodontic braces taken off in a few weeks.

    Mary Elizabeth Hare, an 18-year-old who physically resembled Mary Opitz, disappeared from the same parking lot on February 11, almost a month after Mary. As in Mary Opitz's case, her car was found abandoned in the parking lot and no clues were left behind. Authorities at the time were uncertain as to whether the cases were related. A photo of Hare is posted below this case summary; she physically resembled Mary Opitz. They had other things in common as well: both of them grew up in New York and spoke with a slight regional New York accent, both disappeared while on routine errands, and both were considered well-behaved teenagers with no significant problems in their lives. Mary Opitz worked at Mariner's Inn, where Hare and her friends sometimes went, but there's no evidence that the two females knew each other.

    In June 1981, Hare's fully clothed and badly decomposed body was found in Lehigh Acres, Florida. She was the victim of a homicide; she had been stabbed in the back. There has been no trace of Mary Opitz, however, and she has never been heard from again. Authorities began to suspect foul play was involved in Mary's case after Hare's body was discovered.

    Authorities theorize that Christopher Wilder, a man linked to at least a dozen disappearances, rapes, murders and/or attacks of numerous women in the early to mid-1980's, is a suspect in Mary's disappearance and Hare's homicide. A photo of Wilder is posted below this case summary. He was known to frequent the Florida region during this time; he sometimes attempted to lure young female victims by offering non-existent 'modeling sessions' or other tactics. Wilder was put on probation in 1980 after pleading guilty to attempted sexual battery towards a teenage girl. While on a visit home to Australia that same year, he was charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting two teenaged girls. His parents bailed him out of jail and he flew back to the United States, promising to return for his trial which was set for April 1984. He is a also a suspect in the Florida disappearances of Rosario Gonzales, Elizabeth Kenyon, and and Tammy Leppert. He was killed during a shootout with authorities in 1984. Mary's case remains unsolved.

    Wilder Wilder 2 Hare
    Left and Center: Christopher Wilder;
    Right: Mary Hare

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Lee County Sheriff's Office
    239-477-1200

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    Child Protection Education Of America
    Christopher Wilder Biography
    The South Florida News-Press
    The Evening Independent

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    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated July 15, 2013; distinguishing characteristics and details of disappearance updated.

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