A mother of two disappeared with her boyfriend 40 years ago. Finally, there are answers

Mary Alice Pultz was 25 years old in 1968 when she left with her boyfriend John Thomas Fugitt

Andrea Cavallier
Monday 13 May 2024 19:50
Skeletal remains identified as mother-of-two who disappeared with her boyfriend 40 years ago
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Skeletal remains that were discovered on a beach in St Augustine, Florida nearly 40 years ago, have been identified as a mother-of-two who vanished in the late 1960s.

Mary Alice Pultz, who was raised in Rockville, Maryland, was 25 years old in 1968 when she left with a man, John Thomas Fugitt, and became estranged from her family, according to the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office. It was the last time they ever saw her.

Last week, the sheriff’s office announced that the remains found in a shallow grave by construction workers on Crescent Beach, Florida in 1985 had been positively identified as Pultz.

The details of how Pultz died remains unclear but her death is being investigated as a homicide and detectives named Fugitt as a person of interest in the case.

Fugitt, who also went by an alias Billy Joe Wallace, was convicted in the 1981 murder of his male roommate in Georgia. He was sentenced to death in that case but died in prison before he could be executed, according to the sheriff’s office.

Skeletal remains found in a shallow grave by construction workers on Crescent Beach, Florida in 1985 were positively identified as Mary Pultz (St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office)

“This investigation is a powerful example that we will never give up,” St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said in a press release. “The combination of highly skilled detectives and advanced DNA technology has given Mary Alice’s family some answers about her disappearance close to 40 years ago.”

After the remains were found, the initial investigation revealed the victim was a white female, possibly between the ages of 30 and 50, at the time of her death. The manner of death was determined to be homicide.

But over the years, the case grew cold and the victim remained unidentified.

In 2011, the victim’s skull and jaw were sent to the Florida Institute for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science at the University of South Florida, where experts created a facial reconstruction graphic of what she may have looked like.

Mary Pultz’s boyfriend John Thomas Fugitt in 1968. He has been named a person of interest in her death but died in prison (St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office)

While the image generated a few leads, there were no clear answers.

In 2023, the sheriff’s office said detectives partnered with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the remains were sent to a private lab in Texas, which extracted DNA and created a DNA profile.

This led to Pultz’s living relatives - her son Norman Jenkins of Yuma, Arizona, and her sister Patricia Allamong of Winchester, Virginia - agreeing to provide DNA samples to match against the profile.

40-year-old cold case of disappearance of Mary Alice Pultz, solved

In January 2024, detectives received confirmation of a match and the victim was positively identified as Pultz.

Further examination of the remains by medical examiner Dr Wendolyn Sneed revealed that she had suffered multiple injuries including fractures of the nasal bones, multiple ribs, and on the lower legs, some of which were healed.

There were also three surgical burr holes drilled into Pultz’s skull, according to the sheriff’s office.

Detectives discovered, through interviews with the family, that the burr holes were likely done after she disappeared from their lives in 1968.

Mary Pultz’s remains were examined by medical examiner Dr. Wendolyn Sneed who found she had suffered multiple injuries. There were also three surgical burr holes drilled into her skull (St. Johns County Sheriff's Office)

“Dr. Sneed advised these injuries, in addition to the surgical burr holes, are indicative of severe trauma that would have required hospitalization such as being involved in a vehicle crash or being struck by a vehicle,” the release said.

It’s unclear if Pultz had moved to Florida with Fugitt as there were no addresses or records of jobs she might have held between 1968 when she left Maryland, and 1985 when her remains were found.

While Fugitt is a person of interest in the death, detectives say other possibilities cannot be ruled out.

“Although a significant amount of time has passed, detectives are hopeful that the information developed so far will result in a lead(s) that brings final closure to the family,” the detectives said.

Pultz’s son, Norman Jenkins, who was young when she left, said: “I would just like to know if anyone ever saw her or knew her.”

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