Breaking news today: the mother of little Aliayah Paige Lunsford (whose name is pronounced ah-LEE-ah, btw), who disappeared in 2011 at the age of three, has been charged with child abuse causing death in her daughter’s disappearance. Lena Lunsford was arrested in Florida and will not fight extradition back to West Virginia.
That this has turned into a murder-without-a-body case is not surprising; Lena had been the prime suspect in Aliayah’s disappearance all along and the police had said they didn’t believe she had been abducted. Lena was pregnant with twins at the time of Aliayah’s disappearance and had four other children; she permanently lost custody of all six kids in the aftermath of Aliayah’s disappearance.
If you look at the photos of Aliayah — I’ve got six of them — she always looks unhappy. One of them, in some versions, had been Photoshopped to remove the large bruise on her cheek; I posted the original.
I can only hope that Aliayah’s siblings are leading happy lives now and that the family will get some answers out of Lena at last.
This week’s “let’s talk about it” case is the abduction of eight-year-old Ann Marie Burr from her home in Tacoma, Washington on August 31, 1961.
WHAT happened is clear enough. This is an “every parent’s nightmare” scenario: a child taken from her own home in the middle of the night, never to be seen or heard from again. The mystery here is WHO DID IT. Because there are a lot of people who believe, with very good reason, that little Ann Marie was a then-teenage Ted Bundy’s first victim.
Ted knew Ann and her family and lived just blocks from their home. He was only fourteen years old at the time of her abduction, but it’s not unheard of for a serial killer to begin at that age, and Ted was extraordinary even by serial killer standards. Independent evidence — the size of the footprint outside the Burr family’s living room window — suggests whoever took Ann was young.
Ann Rule herself, Bundy’s biographer and onetime friend, believed Ted was involved. In her book — if I recall correctly, I read it several years ago and no longer have a copy — she said someone had contacted her once claiming they had been a high school classmate of Ted’s and at one point Ted invited to take this person “to see a body.”
The whole “did he or didn’t he?” question has occupied the minds of Bundy hobbyists since his serial murder career exploded onto the national news in the 1970s and 1980s. I don’t really have a strong opinion on the subject and I don’t pretend to be an expert on Bundy.
Rebecca Morris published a book about it, Ted and Ann, in 2013. I read it and thought it was excellent, and it’s got 4 of 5 stars on Amazon with 251 reviews. I highly recommend the book; if you’ve got a Kindle it costs just $4.99.
So do you guys think Ted Bundy took Ann, or do you believe it was someone else entirely? Let’s talk about it.