The Missing Trio of Ft. Worth – Three girls disappear from a Ft. Worth mall in 1974

Rachel Arnold Trlica, 17, Lisa Renee Wilson, 14 and Julie Ann Moseley, 9,  have been missing since Dec. 23, 1974.  They were last seen at the Seminary South Shopping Center in Ft. Worth, Texas.  They were to be home by 4 p.m. but never came back.

Rachel and Lisa who had been friends for years, decided to go shopping.  Julie, a friend wanted to go with them and begged her mother to let her go.  Lisa asked her boyfriend, Terry, who was Julie’s older brother,  to go with them to the shopping mall but he said he had plans to see a friend.  So, it was Rachel, Lisa and Julie that left around noon that day to go shopping.

Investigators discovered that the three girls stopped at the Army Navy Store and then traveled on to Seminary South (what is now Fort Worth Town Center) for their planned shopping trip.  They parked the Olds 98 near Sears.

Evidently they made it back to the car because their purchases were found locked inside. The car was found at Sears still parked in the same place they left it, around 6 p.m. that day.

There were several witnesses accounts.  One woman told a store clerk that she saw some men rushing the girls into a pickup truck. Another said he had seen a man force a girl into a van, and when he questioned what was going on the man said it was a family dispute and to stay out of it.  Another said the girls had been spotted in a security patrol car.

The following morning a letter arrived at the Trlica’s home. Post marked Dec. 24, it was addressed to  Thomas and not Tommy which everyone was accustomed to calling Rachel’s husband.  There were a lot of unusual details to point out about the letter.  Like the postal service number.  The 3 seemed to be backwards or was it just an incompleted 8, or was it a 38?  Also, it looked at though the “l” in Rachel’s name had been written low and someone went over it and made it taller.

The letter read:

“I know I’m going to catch it, but we just had to get away. We’re going to Houston. See you in about a week. The car is in Sear’s upper lot. Love Rachel.”

The family believes that the writing does not belong to Rachel. Authorities have not been able to determine who wrote it.

Another witness, Bill Hutchins, who came forward shortly after the girls went missing reported to the police that he was at the mall and saw the Missing Trio.  He said about 11:30 p.m. he had a run-in on the parking lot with a young mall security guard who was driving a pickup truck.

“I saw three girls sitting in the front seat with him. A young girl next to him, a little older to her, and then the older and largest girl against the passenger door,” Hutchins said.  He felt the girls were there willingly. “When I apologized for my language, they laughed, you know, everybody was happy. We just exchanged a few comments, then he rolled up his window and drove off,” Hutchins said. Hutchins said when he saw the news about the missing girls he called the police, and reported what happened. “I talked to his secretary, gave her my name, what I had seen, everything like that, and let it go at that, and I never heard back from them.  Time went on until 2001 when Hutchins got a call from the police about his statement all those years ago.  He told KXAX news, “Nobody ever bothered to talk to me, until now!”

Authorities responded that they had located the security guard, but that the man denied the girls were in his truck on the evening of December 23, 1974.

Authorities stated that they are actively looking at five suspects and also utilizing DNA testing in their investigation. They have some DNA results but have not stated what they are to the public or media.  Their latest statement regarding this case is that they now believe the girls left the mall with an individual that they trusted and were harmed afterwards.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the homicide unit at (817) 877- 8225.

Blog Talk Radio interview with Rusty Arnold, Rachel’s brother.  Rusty mention serial killer James Mitchell DeBardeleben lived close to where the girls went missing.

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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