The 14-Year-Old Who Placed A Babysitting Ad And Then Disappeared Forever

In 1974 in the small town of Burlington, New Jersey a 14-year-old girl, Margaret Ellen Fox, disappeared without a trace after placing an ad in the local newspaper advertising her babysitting services.

After placing the ad, Margaret Ellen received a call from a man identifying himself as “John Marshall”. The man said he needed a babysitter and the two corresponded for awhile as the man kept changing the day he needed a babysitter for. Eventually he said he would pick Mary Ellen up in a red Volkswagon. Margaret Ellen left a note telling her parents where she was going and got on a bus to the nearby town of Mount Holly, NJ, another small town 7 miles away. Her younger sister walked with her to the bus stop in Burlington and witnesses spotted Margaret Ellen in Mount Holly near the bus stop, these are the last sightings of her.

When she never returned from her babysitting job, Margaret Ellen’s family called the police. The number John Marshall gave Margaret Ellen was found to belong to a phone booth at a grocery store in Lumberton, NJ. Mount Holly is between the towns of Burlington and Lumberton.

Soon after Margaret Ellen disappeared, a man began phoning the Fox home. Police listened in on these calls as the caller demanded ransom for Margaret Ellen. The man on the phone said “$10,000 might be a lot of bread, but your daughter’s life is the buttered topping.” In 2019, the FBI cleaned up the audio recording of the man’s voice and released it to the public in the hopes of finding justice for Margaret Ellen. You can hear the man’s voice below:

Other parents in the Burlington area came forward after Margaret Ellen’s disappearance and said their children had recently received suspicious fake job offers as well.

Two years after Margaret Ellen disappeared a man came forward and claimed to be John Marshall, the man who abducted Margaret Ellen, and the voice on the phone recording. Upon further investigation, it was determined the man was lying and the confession was a hoax.

The FBI is still pursuing Margaret Ellen’s kidnapper. Of the FBI’s “long memory” in investigating cold cases and the $25,000 reward they continue to offer, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Denahan said in their 2019 press release “The community we serve has our solemn promise that we will pursue all viable options in the interest of delivering justice. We realize that in missing persons cases, especially those involving children, there is a loved one or family at the other end enduring heartache every day because there is no conclusion. We hope this renewed effort will produce results that might give Margaret Fox’s family some sense of closure.”

In 2019 the FBI also worked with experts to create a photo of what Margaret Ellen Fox would look like today, as a woman in her 50s:


Margaret Ellens’ siblings are still alive and some still live in Burlington.

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