Missing Person Monday: The Fort Worth Missing Trio

Rachel Trlica, Renee Wilson, and Julie Ann vanished from a shopping mall just 2 days before Christmas in 1974. They have not been seen since.

In a world before online shopping and cell phones, 3 beautiful girls, with the desire to buy Christmas gifts for their families, ventured off to the Seminary South Shopping Center(now known as the Fort Worth Town Center). The home of many popular department stores like Burlington, Sears, and J.C Penney. Rachel Trlica, Renee Wilson, and Julie Ann Moseley vanished from that shopping center just 2 days shy of Christmas, and have not been seen since.

Their unsolved disappearances have left their families filled with anguish and tragedy, hoping every day for their return. That tragic day of December 23rd, 1974 began as normal as any other. Rachel Trlica, 17, in a 1972 Oldsmobile 98, drove to the home of Renee Wilson,14, with the idea of shopping at the mall for Christmas Presents. Julie Ann Mosley, 9, who lived across the street and wanted someone to hang out with, asked to tag along. After getting permission from Julie Ann’s mother, the girls headed to the Seminary South Shopping Center to begin their shopping excursion, promising to be home by 4 pm, Renee was to attend a Christmas party that night, wanting plenty of time to get ready.

Once 4 pm rolled by…then 5 pm …then 6 pm the families of the girls became increasingly worried and made the families of the girls became increasingly worried and made their way to the shopping mall, clinging to the hope of a rational explanation as to why the girls hadn’t come home. In the world before cell phones, if something happened to the girls, they would have no way of calling for help. Upon their arrival at the shopping mall, they discovered Rachels 1972 Oldsmobile 98 vehicle in the Sears upper-level parking lot, with the purchases the girls made inside the vehicle. Renee’s father waited in the parking lot that whole night, anticipating their return.

With this discovery, the Fort Worth Police Department was notified and immediately presumed the girls were runaways. If they did run away, why would they leave those purchases in the car? Why not leave in Rachel’s vehicle? What really happened to these girls? No child would run away just 2 days before Santa was to arrive. If you have been following my past Missing Person Monday Posts, you can note a uncanny trend of police assuming most children are runaways from the get go. Arguably, the cases I have covered so far have occurred in a time when our world was ignorant of the idea of children being taken.

A few witnesses claim to have seen all 3 girls that day. A store clerk accounted a woman told her she had seen some men push the girls into a yellow pickup truck. However, the police were unable to locate that woman, leading them with little to go on. The woman’s identity in this encounter is still unknown. One witness claims to have seen all 3 girls in the back of a security patrol vehicle. Years after the disappearance, a man came forward claiming to have seen the girls that day in the parking lot being hurled into a van by a strange man. He confronted the man who yelled out to him it was a family dispute and to stay out of it. All these witnesses yielded no results. Speculations arose that at least one of the girls may have known the identity of their abductor, thinking they may have gone with someone they thought they could trust, leading to something sinister.