Decades after a 14-year-old girl boarded a New Jersey bus to head to a babysitting job and vanished, the FBI is releasing a clip of a chilling ransom call in the case, hoping it may lead to answers.
Margaret Ellen Fox was last seen about 8:40 a.m. on June 24, 1974, getting on a bus in Burlington City to go to Mount Holly, according to the FBI.
On Monday — the 45th anniversary of her disappearance — the FBI released a chilling audio clip from a phone call made in the hours after Margaret was reported missing by a man who claimed he had the teen and demanded money.
“$10,000 might be a lot of bread, but your daughter’s life is the buttered topping,” the mysterious caller said.
Margaret was heading to an interview with a man who went by “John Marshall” for a babysitting job for his young son, the FBI said. The two connected through a newspaper add, the FBI said.
The prospective employer had called the 14-year-old from a phone booth at a Lumberton, New Jersey, supermarket and told her he’d pick her up at a corner in Mount Holly, the FBI said. Witnesses reported seeing a girl matching her description getting off a bus there that day, the FBI said.
The FBI also Monday announced a reward up to $25,000 for information leading to an arrest.
“The disappearance of Margaret Fox has haunted this community for decades,” Burlington City Police Chief John Fine said in a statement. “I want to bring closure to this case and bring home an answer to the Fox family and community.”
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina added in a statement: “If someone out there possesses information that could assist the investigators working to solve this mystery, I urge you to come forward.”
An FBI spokeswoman said the audio is being released after all these years because advancements in technology made it possible to enhance the quality and make it clearer.
Margaret is described as having brown hair and blue eyes. She was a wearing a light blue, long-sleeved, floral shirt, maroon, flared jeans with a yellow patch on one knee, brown sandals with a heel strap, a gold necklace with flowers and a blue stone and a gold charm bracelet with a round blue stone.
She was carrying a brown bag and and a glasses case with the Huckleberry Hound design.
Anyone with information is urged to call the FBI Newark Field Office at (973) 792-3000 or Burlington City Police Department at (609) 386-0262.