Real Name: Mary Ann Viola Thomas Perez
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Chalmette, Louisiana
Date: March 25, 1976
Date of Birth: 1943
Weight: 108 lbs.
Marital Status: Divorced
Characteristics: Caucasian female. Reddish brown hair, blue eyes.
Details: On March 25, 1976, Mary Ann Perez left her home in Chalmette, Louisiana to meet with a girlfriend at a country western bar on the outskirts of New Orleans. She left her oldest daughter, Donna, in charge of the younger children. Before leaving, she told Donna that she would call around 11pm. At around that time, she did so and said that she would be home shortly. However, she was never heard from again.
At approximately 1:30am, Donna got a call from a woman named Dorothy, who claimed that she was a friend of Mary Ann's. She said that Mary Ann was having car trouble but would be home soon. Despite the claim by the apparent friend, her car was found abandoned in front of the bar and in perfect condition. Her family was even more concerned because they did not know anyone named "Dorothy". Three days later, her purse was found ten miles away in Lake Pontchartrain. It had been weighed down with a brick. No other trace of Mary Ann was ever found.
Nine years later, in 1985, New Orleans detectives were sent to Wichita, Kansas, to interview a confessed serial killer named David Courtney. He admitted murdering several women in multiple states; one appeared to match Mary Ann's description. He claimed that he and his wife had abducted and murdered her. However, her body was not found in the area that he claimed he dumped it. This led her family to believe that she may still be alive.
In 1990, Mary Ann's daughter-in-law, Shawn, received a mysterious phone call from an unidentified woman. She claimed that she was Mary Ann's best friend and that she was still alive. She claimed that they were being held captive and that they were not allowed to call again.
Although the authorities are convinced that Mary Ann is deceased, her family still hopes that she is alive. They believe that Courtney may have not been successful in strangling her, and that she may be alive and suffering from amnesia.
Suspects: In 1985, David Courtney confessed that he and his wife Donna had killed multiple women in the southern United States during the 1970s. When New Orleans detectives learned that one matched Mary Ann's description, they went to interview him.
Courtney stated that one night, he was driving along the highway when he stopped at a country western bar in New Orleans. He noticed an intoxicated woman trying to open her car. He offered to give her a ride, but she said she didn't want to make him drive her home. However, he convinced her to enter his car. During the ride, she told him that her name was Mary Ann.
A few minutes later, Courtney claimed that he picked up his wife and they drove to their trailer. When the woman fell asleep, they tried to have sex with her. However, she woke up and demanded that she be taken home. Courtney's wife then drove the car, while he and the woman sat in the backseat. He then admitted to strangling her to death. They then dumped her body near the Louisiana/Mississippi state line. They made no attempt to hide it.
When shown a picture of Mary Ann, Courtney felt certain that she was the victim. When shown a picture of her car, he also identified it as hers. When the detective questioned his wife, she told him that she had thrown the victim's purse off a bridge.
Based on the evidence, New Orleans detectives believe that Courtney and his wife were responsible for Mary Ann's disappearance and death. However, her body was not found where they claimed they dumped it.
The woman calling herself "Dorothy" is also a possible suspect in this case. Her identity is unknown, although some suspect that she could be Courtney's wife Donna.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 30, 1991 episode.
Results: Solved. David and Donna Courtney remain the prime suspects in Mary Ann's disappearance. David is serving a life sentence in Kansas for the murder of one of his other victims. However, despite his confession, he was never charged with Mary Ann's murder. Donna was also never charged in Mary Ann's case; she served ten years in prison for her involvement in the other murders and has since died. Sadly, Mary Ann's daughter, Shannon, passed away in 2009. In her obituary, Mary Ann was listed as having pre-deceased her.
In December 2017, police and Mary Ann's family announced that they believed her remains has been located. In November 1976, eight months after she vanished, skeletal remains were found in a cornfield in Alabama, just over the Mississippi state line. They matched her physical description and had jewelry and clothing similar to what she was wearing when she vanished.
In May 2018, investigators have noted that this case is practically "solved". They discovered that Mary Ann had been in a car accident shortly before her disappearance, and had a partial dental plate on her upper front teeth. This matched the one found on the Jane Doe. Also, there was evidence that she had been in a car accident.
Investigators were able to track down the remains to a warehouse in Oklahoma. They compared DNA samples from the remains to a sample from Mary Ann's daughter. In November 2018, the DNA tests positively identified the remains as belonging to Mary Ann. Alabama investigators have forwarded the information to Alabama and Louisiana prosecutors in hopes of having charges filed against Courtney for Mary Ann's murder.
- Mary Ann Perez on Unsolved.com
- Mary Ann Perez on the Charley Project
- Mary Ann Perez on the Doe Network
- Police close four-year murder case
- Shannon Perez Obituary
- Has body of New Orleans' Mary Ann Perez finally been identified? Authorities think so
- Investigators solve cold case after 41 years
- Remains of 1976 New Orleans murder victim Mary Ann Perez have been recovered, DNA test shows
- 40 years after Kansas serial killer admitted to slaying woman, a body is identified