On a summer day in July of 1973, 7-year-old Janice Pockett rode her bike down a secluded dirt road to look for a butterfly.
She vanished and was never seen again.
The following year 13-year-old Lisa White would disappear walking home from school. Several girls went missing in the 70’s in the area.
Growing up there, as a kid then, I remember it. The whole town remembers it 45 years later. Today at a vigil in Tolland, I caught up with two of the victim’s sisters.
Walking with Mary Engelbrect (Janice’s younger sister) near Rhodes Road in Tolland, I asked her if we were close to the area where her sister disappeared.
“Yes, actually it’s right around the corner, take a left out of here and right around the corner, that’s where we found her bike. It was a regular afternoon in the summer, my sister had asked my mom if she could quickly ride up the road and retrieve the butterfly she had hidden there a couple of days before, it was dead, and she hid it behind a rock."
Engelbrect added, "so, my mother said go ahead but please be right back, and she never returned. So, I vividly remember holding my mom’s hand and walking up the road, it was a dirt road at the time, and going around the curve and just stopping because there was my sisters bike lying on its side, right on the side of the road. And I just remember the fear in my mother’s voice as she was calling her. I don’t remember a lot after that day, but that is very clear in my mind."
Today’s vigil wasn’t just about Janice Pocket, it was about cold case victims across Connecticut.
“Today is obviously the 45th anniversary of Janice’s disappearance, so I’m commemorating that, but also what we are trying to do is draw attention to all the missing persons and homicides here in Connecticut, and there are so many. I want to bring attention to these cold cases and hope that somebody out there is going to know something and have information that can help crack one of these cases.” Pocket said.
Aprille Falletti, sister of Lisa White, remembered the day her sister disappeared.
“My sister was Lisa Joy White, and she was walking home from a girlfriend’s house on Friday November 1st, 1974 and she was trying to beat my mother home, before my mother got home from work so she wouldn’t get in trouble and she never made it home,” said Falletti.
After a third girl, Susan LaRose disappeared, the headline on the front page of Journal Inquire in 1976 read “Then there were 3”, referring to the three missing girls.
Can you imagine a headline like that today?
It was a different time, a different era. There was no social media, no cable. We had four channels on TV, two newspapers and radio.
It was the scariest of times for children in town in our quiet corner of the state. Parents wouldn’t let their kids outside.
The entire region was scared. Everyone knew about Janice Pocket.
There is still a $150,000 reward in those cases. If anyone knows anything, you're asked to contact police.