Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Carla Downing.jpg

Real Name: Mary (last name unknown prior to the broadcast)
Case: Lost Mother
Date: December 1948
Location: Alexandria, Virginia


Details: Carla Downing had always felt different from her relatives, especially because she had a different hair and eye color from them. These feelings were forgotten after her mother, Mildred Libby, passed away in June 1965, when she was sixteen. She and her brother, Ron, were sent to live with their grandparents in Alexandria, Virginia. A few weeks after Mildred's funeral, a woman named Mary visited their grandparents' home. Carla's grandmother said that Mary was a friend of Mildred's. She noticed that Mary seemed quite upset when meeting her, but she assumed that it was just because of Mildred's recent passing.
After Carla graduated from high school, she married and had a son. Despite this, she still felt out of place with her family. In 1990, her father, Chester, died and she traveled to Arlington, Virginia, for his funeral. A relative gave her a briefcase that belonged to him and contained several important documents.
One document from 1945 listed Chester as married. However, another one from 1948 listed him as divorced. She had no idea that he was married before meeting Mildred, and that he had divorced his first wife just a few weeks before her birth. Two days later, she talked to her Uncle Norman (Chester's brother). He finally told her that Chester was not her biological father.
Shortly after, Ron called Carla. He said that his birth certificate stated that Mildred had no children prior to his birth. This meant that she was not their biological mother. She later learned from her uncles (Mildred's brothers) that Mildred had suffered a series of miscarriages in the 1940s. In 1948, she met an single, pregnant immigrant from Belgium named Mary Maxwell; they knew that she would be unable to keep her child, so they decided to switch their identities. The birth certificate would then say that Mildred was Carla's mother.
Carla was then officially Mildred's child and was raised as such. She learned from her Uncle Norman that Mary was actually her birth mother. Since then, she has been searching for her.

Carla (center) with her mother and sister

Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 18, 1991 episode.
Results: Solved. A viewer's tip led Carla to Mary, and they were reunited on September 27, 1991, at her home in Maryland. Carla was also reunited with her two half sisters and nephew.
Sadly, Mary passed away on May 6, 2010.