Itâs been 50 years, but Therese Rocco is still haunted by the missing person case of Mary Ann Verdecchia.
Verdecchia was 10 years old when she was last seen in Bloomfield in 1962. Aug. 15 would have been her 61st birthday.
âI used to look at her picture on my desk and say âMary Ann, help me out.â Oh yeah, I never forgot her,â said Rocco.
Rocco headed Pittsburghâs missing persons division when the call came in about Verdecchia.
Foul play is suspected, but the case remains unsolved.
âIt was a typical report on a missing child. The report came in late at night, and we immediately got on it,â Rocco said.
Verdecchia had attended half-day classes at Immaculate Conception School. She went home to change and then ran an errand for a woman living in the old Martinique Apartments on Baum Boulevard.
Witnesses said they saw her entering the building around 3 p.m. but not leaving.
âMartinique had a lot of unusual things in that building that we questioned,â Rocco said. âThere was a woman that disappeared six months before.â
Police never found any connection in the two cases
The apartments are now gone, and any trace of evidence is gone with them.
The search for Verdecchia was one of the largest in Pittsburgh police history.
âI would say that every police officer in the entire city of Pittsburgh worked on the Mary Ann Verdecchia case. Every one of them,â said Rocco.
Police questioned people, but no one was ever charged.
Rocco believes someone killed the young girl.
âOh, she's not living, that's for sure because she was a smart child. She knew her phone numbers. She would have known how to contact her family if somebody had her or took her. Whoever took her that day did her in,â Rocco said.
Rocco retired from the force but still keeps an active interest in the case. She has books, folders and newspaper clippings saved, hoping for a break in the case.
âSomebody knows something,â she said. âI became so close to her. And she's always in my prayers. Always.â
Pittsburgh police said Verdecchiaâs half-brother and a cousin recently submitted DNA samples to a large database so that if her remains are found, they can be identified.