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5 Roses, 2 women: Missing persons investigation heats up

The Atlanta Police investigate leads into Mary Shotwell Little's disappearance.

>>>PREVIOUS STORY IN SERIES: 5 Roses, 2 women: Witnesses come out of the woodwork

EDITOR’S NOTE: 5 Roses, 2 women is a digital series—along with the 5 Roses podcast—detailing the timeline account of events, based from the case files received from the Atlanta Police, East Point Police and the FBI via the APD, that included interviews with witnesses and those closest to Mary Shotwell Little and Diane Shields.

ATLANTA -- On Oct. 16, 1965, APD investigator, H.M. McCollister, calls all area hospitals to see if Mary Shotwell Little has been admitted.

She has not.

The following day, Det. Barnes speaks to Roy Little Jr., who relays to him that a man named Calvin Allen called him to give his sympathies for his loss and said he was praying for him. Little tells Barnes, he has never heard of him before that call. 

Barnes also interviews Judy Brownlee, Mary’s former roommate and co-worker at C&S Bank—who tells police that Mary used to stay out all night.

The night in question, Brownlee says, she was with her boyfriend in Cartersville, Ga., and returned home at 9 a.m.

As the investigation continues to move forward, the crime lab confirms blood found inside her car was type O—the same as Mary’s.

And the next day, Barnes asks the media to tell the public, anyone who owns property within a 20-mile radius to Lenox Square, to check their property for any of Mary’s personal items... or for a body.

>>>Listen and subscribe to the 5 Roses podcast

Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of 5 Roses by Jessica Noll for free.

Meanwhile, Little writes a check to the Atlanta Falcons for two season tickets for the 1966 football season. And the FBI notes that the purchase “seems unusual.”

He also calls Rich’s Department Store to tell them that he is not responsible for paying for the charges his wife made.

APD Superintendent Clinton Chaffin and Lt. W.K. “Jack” Perry observe and make note that Little has indicated “no real emotional disturbance” since his wife’s disappearance.

Further, the FBI lists him in their case file, as an “unsub”—also known as an unknown subject or suspect—with notes regarding whether or not he may have been a victim of extortion.

RELATED: 5 Roses | Chapter V: Break in the case

Little tells Barnes that prior to his wife’s disappearance, they ran into a man who also worked at C&S Bank at a motel in Chattanooga, Tenn., but that he gave them the cold shoulder. Mary told her husband it was because the man had gotten into trouble at the bank and she knew about it. But she didn’t tell Little what that trouble was.

Three days later, an unidentified male calls Atlanta Police Lt. George Christian in the robbery squad and tells him that he knows who killed Mary and where her body is. He tells Christian that her body is in a vacant lot between Jamestown Shopping Center and the Little Diner out from College Park. He says he saw her foot sticking up from the ground. 

He gives a name of a man he says is responsible for killing her—a 40-year-old man who frequents the Smoke House on Ivy Street. Police look for her body at the location he gives but find nothing.


On Oct. 27, detectives interview Mr. Hall of Hall’s Florist at 10 a.m., about a bouquet of red roses that were purchased for Mary and delivered to her office before she disappeared.

Hall tells police that there had been a dozen red roses purchased for Mary but could not find the invoice for them and that none of his delivery men remembered delivering the roses. Hall says that the woman who sold the roses could not remember if the white man who ordered them took them with him to deliver himself.

Police also interview several delivery men, but no one could remember that delivery.

On Oct. 28, Det. A.L. Elsberry goes to C&S Bank’s Buckhead branch to pick up a note found lying on a counter that states: “Suggest you look for the missing woman in Dahlonega.”

Later that evening, around 9:30 p.m., a cook for the Royal Castle Restaurant, located at Buford Highway and Carol Avenue, believes that he sees Mary come to the restaurant with a tall, chunky, medium-build white man, about 30 years old. She and the man she was arguing with stay in the restaurant for approximately 30 minutes.

But on Nov. 2, an anonymous caller tells Cartersville Police that Mary is in a rock quarry in Whites, Ga. After giving the information, he swiftly hangs up the phone.

Sheriff Gunn notifies Barnes with the APD.

Gunn says he will have his deputies check out the area around the acre-sized quarry that’s filled with water. He advises, however, that people have been pushing cars into the 180-feet drop and a diver had recently drowned.

He promises to notify Barnes if anything turns up.

The APD receives an anonymous letter on Nov. 3. 

“Check out rumor that Mary Shotwell was seen in office of Attorney Danny Japour in Jacksonville, Fla., shortly after her marriage—was with three or four other girls. Was here to say she married Little to spite a trucker boyfriend whom she was in Jacksonville to see. She made remark he was going to Miami.” 

Police travel to Jacksonville to discuss the anonymous claim with the attorney. But he has no recollection of the appointment mentioned in the letter. 

On Nov. 10, Mrs. Jack Bishop, of DeKalb County, receives a phone call from a man with an accent at 7 p.m. The man on the other line tells her that he’s been watching her for two weeks. He knows how many children she has, knows where her husband works, and when she leaves home and returns.

He tells her to go to the bedroom to talk to him and if she does not, he threatens, he has killed 11 women and would not hesitate to kill one more. He continues to tell her, “the same thing will happen to you, as it did to Mrs. Little,” if she does not do as he says.

He asks her to describe the clothes she is wearing and proceeds to slather her in vulgar remarks. 

The next day, Det. M.C. Faulkner investigates a claim from a woman in Gwinnett County, who says her husband took her to the location where he alleged to her that he and some other men, took Mary to a dead-end road a few miles outside of Buford, Ga., cut her up on a picnic table and threw her body parts into Lake Lanier.

Police investigate and find a cement picnic table with wooden seats, with what appears to be large stains.

Upon further review, the state crime lab determines that the stains are not blood.

On Nov. 15, a man approaches West Fulton High School teacher, Marsha White, inside Rich’s Department Store and begins talking to her about the Mary case. 

He tells her that he just arrived back to town after being away since Mary’s disappearance. He goes on to say how “easy it was to commit a murder and get away with it.” He continues to tell her about how Atlanta has “lots of unsolved murders.”

She goes to police who identify the man, who admits that he was at Lenox Square on Oct. 14, however denies any responsibility for Mary’s disappearance.

>>>NEXT STORY IN SERIES: 5 Roses, 2 women: Rounding up ‘sexual deviants'


>>>Dig deeper into the investigation at https://www.11alive.com/5-roses.

The Diane Shields’ murder case and the Mary Shotwell Little’s missing persons case have gone cold for more than 50 years. Detectives have come and gone—investigated, retired and died, before ever getting to the truth.

Do you know what happened?

If you have any information on either of these cases, contact the Atlanta Police Department, at (404) 614-6544, East Point Police Department, at (404) 761-2177, or the FBI Atlanta office, at (770) 216-3000.

You can also reach out to Crime Stoppers, at (404) 577-TIPS.

>>>Listen and subscribe to 5 Roses, CLICK HERE<<<

11Alive Investigative Digital Journalist, Jessica Noll, spent the last year digging into Diane Shields’ and Mary Shotwell Little’s 50-year-old cold cases to find out if they're connected in a seven-chapter podcast series: 5 Roses. 

This timeline narrative detailing the last moments of their lives and the investigations that ensued thereafter are taken from the case files and police interviews from the 1960s, as well as interviews with family and investigators from present day. 

5 Roses is part of Gone Coldan ongoing digital series, where Noll investigates some of the most infamous and lesser-known cold cases in Georgia. She's digging for answers for the still-grieving families who long for them, and for the victims who have never found their justice.

Credit: 11Alive


Jessica Noll is a multimedia journalist, who focuses on in-depth, investigative crime/justice reports for 11Alive's digital platforms. 

Follow her on Twitter @JNJournalist and Facebook @JessicaNollJournalist, to keep up with her latest work. If you have a tip, story idea or cold case suggestion, email her at jnoll@11Alive.com or call, text at (404) 664-3634

5 Roses photos provided by: APD, East Point PD, John Fedack and Sheryl McCollum. 

5 Roses graphic by Joshua Coats.