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5 Roses, 2 women: Rounding up ‘sexual deviants'

As the investigation into Mary Shotwell Little's disappearance intensifies, police look at potential suspects of the sexual nature.

>>>PREVIOUS STORY IN SERIES: 5 Roses, 2 women: Missing persons investigation heats up

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 -- As Mary Shotwell Little's disappearance continues to pierce the city's perceived innocence, throughout the fall of 1965, the FBI investigates nearly 1,000 “sex deviants” who were arrested between 1958-1965 and looking at their whereabouts for Oct. 14-15, 1965.

Meanwhile, APD Superintendent Clinton Chafin sends out a bulletin on Nov. 19 at 6:15 p.m., to all State Patrol stations to be on the lookout for stolen 1965 North Carolina tags: AD-1955a car with those tags was reported stolen on Oct. 15, 1965 from Charlotte, N.C. This license plate was on a car that purchased gas that day with a credit card issued to Roy Little Jr.

On Nov. 22, the FBI crime lab receives handwriting samples from North Carolina gas stations with Mary’s signatures, as well as some handwriting from the bank.

Two days later, FBI special agent in charge, James Ponder, gets the lab results back from the gas station receipt handwriting samples.

The lab concluded that the samples could have been Mary’s signature, however, they were inconsistent—possibly due to “physical condition or nervous disorder.” Another writer, however, “could not be eliminated.”

A portion of a deposit envelope from C&S Bank with a handwritten note: “Help! Mary Little Lic tag-67-D-49…” was also submitted. But, “due to distortion of the signatures,” the overall analysis for the two receipts and the envelope note, could not determine if they were all Mary’s handwriting.

>>>Listen and subscribe to the 5 Roses podcast

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

A piece of paper was also analyzed by the FBI Charlotte field office with the words: “HELP! Call the police, I’m being held by…” It was undetermined whether it was Mary’s handwriting.

Further, the state crime lab’s Dr. Larry Howard, while testing blood found inside Mary’s car, notes that her clothes appeared to be rolled up and “placed” between the bucket seats, not forcibly stuffed.

There is no indication, he says, that the bra that was found near the floorboard was forcibly removed. There is no blood on the bra present. And the blood on the folded clothing appears to have “gotten on clothing after it was folded.”

He also tests the blood found on the car seats and records that it appears to be “deliberately smeared” over the passenger and driver’s seats.

RELATED: 5 Roses | Chapter VI: The killers

In mid-November, a 19-year-old Chattanooga, Tenn., man is brought to the APD’s attention as a potential suspect by Tennessee authorities.

The teenager tells police that on Oct. 14, 1965, he took his girlfriend, “Pee Wee,” to the drive-in movie theater. However, she says that is not true.

Eventually, he discloses that he was not in Tennessee, rather he was in Rome, Ga., nearly an hour and a half away—returning to Chattanooga around 3 p.m.

He denies having been to Atlanta since 1964.

He does, however, confess to police that when he had an urge for a woman, he would get into his car and drive around until he found one. He admits that he would attack the woman, and further stakes claim to nearly a half-dozen assaults and attempted rapes within a 30-mile radius of Chattanooga.

When police show him a photo of Mary, he says he has never seen her before but thinks she’s pretty and would have liked her.

Further, he tells police that it is possible he was in Atlanta on the day of question, however, says if he killed anyone he would remember.

But when detectives ask him if he would admit to killing the woman, he answers, “No.”

Police conclude in their report:

"It is our opinion that this subject is sick and from his pattern of picking up and molesting young girls and readily admitting them, he was not involved in the disappearance of Mary Little.” 

>>>NEXT STORY IN SERIES: 5 Roses, 2 women: Mysterious calls, a special delivery and vanishing


>>>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.