FORT MYERS, Fla. — Crime Stoppers needs your help to solve the case of a missing teenager that went missing while at Edison Mall 40 years ago.
January 16 will mark 40 years since a Lee County Teenager went missing after a trip to the Edison Mall with her family.
Mary Opitz was last seen on January 16, 1981, heading towards the mall parking lot. She was there with her mother and brother and said she was tired and would wait in the car for them. An hour later, her family returned to find Mary's pretzels and packages left on top of the car's trunk, but Mary was nowhere in sight.
The 17-year-old was initially believed to be a runaway, as there was no evidence of a crime in her case. However, her family never thought that to be the case. Oddly enough, roughly a month after Mary went missing, an 18 year old named Mary Elizabeth Hare, who physically resembled Mary Optiz, disappeared from the same parking lot.
Mary Hare's body was found in a field near Alabama Road in Lehigh Acres four months later.
To date, there is no concrete evidence to link the two cases together, but there are close similarities between the two incidents.
The most significant difference is that 40 years later, Mary Opitz has never been found. Investigators and family members hope for clues four decades after that can lead to answers in Mary's case.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have compiled an age progression photo of what they believe Mary might look like today. Anyone with information on Mary Opitz's disappearance is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477) or submit a tip online at www.southwestfloridacrimestoppers.com or on the P3Tips mobile app.
All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000.