As beaming sunlight rays gleamed off car mirrors, as the children played on a hot summer day, as the steam rose from the concrete slab of sidewalk, Angelo Gene Puglisi nicknamed “Andy," vanished without a trace from Lawrence, Massachusetts 44 years, 2 months, and 25 days ago. Andy has not been seen since.
Beginning otherwise as a normal, hot summer day, 10 year old Andy joined his friend, Melanie Perkins at the Higgins Memorial pool, just right across the street from his apartment, a normal pastime for Andy and Melanie. Known as the place to “hang out” for the locals, Andy and Melanie usually spent the entire day at the pool, but on this August afternoon, the plan changed. Getting hungry at around 2 in the afternoon Melanie asked Andy if he would accompany her as she went to get lunch, not wanting to miss out on any fun, Andy declines. Melanie’s older brother Jeff decides to accompany her home while Andy stayed at the pool, as they set forth home Melanie looks back and sees Andy in his green swimming trunks, talking to some friends, this was the last time Melanie saw Andy. Melanie would later go on to make an award winning documentary about this case, called “Have you seen Andy?”.
Later that day at around 5 pm, as Andy still hasn’t come home, Andy’s mother, Faith Puglisi, became increasingly worried, and begins walking around the apartment complex calling out for Andy. The following day, National Guard troops, Green Berets, and volunteers scoured the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Scuba divers scoured through the rivers, dogs were brought in to sniff out any scents, and over 2,000 volunteering all rallied together to Find Andy Puglisi, all to no avail. The search was called off after just 6 days.
Just 30 miles away from Boston, Lawrence Massachusetts is considered to be one of the poorest cities in the nation. Despite this, the residents of the Stadium Housing Projects often rallied around each other, offered help to friends in need, and was described as “the best place to live” by Andy’s childhood friend, Melanie Perkins.
In a time before missing children were put on milk cartons, the thought of this tragic incident occurring was virtually nonexistent.
Just 1 year before Andy’s disappearance, a man approached 2 boys playing at the Higgins Memorial swimming pool, the man was able to lure both children into the woods, where he sodomized and raped them. 1 of the boys later told investigators that during the attack they heard the cracking sounds of a camera going off.
2 weeks after Andy’s disappearance a police officer pulled over a man named Wayne W. Chapman, in Waterloo, New York, upon searching his vehicle they uncovered duct tape, a fake police badge, camera equipment, Polaroid pictures of naked children, movies of children, a starter pistol, child pornography, and a bloody child’s sock and rope. His van strongly resembled a van known to be at the pool when Andy disappeared. Before the bloody sock could be tested, it was lost. During his interrogation, Chapman confessed to the rape of 2 boys just a year before in the town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. The 2 boys identified Chapman in a photo lineup, and Chapman would go on to be convicted for rape. Despite obvious similarities to Andy’s case, police claim they do not have enough evidence to charge Chapman in Andy’s disappearance. Chapman walks a free a man.
Another suspect in Andy’s disappearance is a man named Charles Pierce, a man who might have been associated with Chapman. Pierce confessed to authorities he committed 2 murders in the 70’s, describing the murder of Janice Pockett who disappeared from Connecticut in 1973, and the murder of a boy who wasn’t identified, from Lawrence Massachusetts. Pierce described the graphic sexual assaults and claimed he buried Janice and the unidentified boy right next to each other in graves, however, neither body has been discovered.
Suspicions the unidentified boy was that of Andy Puglisi, Pierce had been known to be familiar with the Lawrence area, and was a suspect in over a dozen child disappearances between the 1950s and 1970s. Pierce later died in prison while serving a 20 year person term for murder.
Today, Andy would 54 years old. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has released an age progressed image of what Andy would look like at 50 years old. We have not stopped, and will never stop searching for you Andy.