SOUTH MISSISSIPPI -- Rose Marie Levandoski met her abductor Feb. 1, 1973, some time after she got permission to go to the restroom at St. Martin Junior High School in Jackson County.
The 13-year-old vanished shortly after noon, her parents Ed and Jo Levandoski said, leaving behind her purse and a brown reversible cape her mother had made her. No one, they said, other than their daughter’s best friend, Diane Jones Guiterrez, seemed to think something was wrong when Rose, a quiet and reserved young lady with a love of horses, failed to return to class.
Guiterrez repeatedly asked the teacher if she could go check on Rose, but the requests were denied. At the time, the school district was using temporary buildings and to get to the restroom, Rose had to go outside and into another building. Guiterrez said she knew something was wrong.
Rose’s teachers marked her present for the rest of the day, though she wasn’t there. One of the teachers, Jo Levandoski said, later told her she listed Rose as present so she wouldn’t get into any trouble. Rose, after all, was a good student who didn’t cause problems.
It wasn’t until school let out for the day that Rose’s parents would learn their daughter wasn’t coming home.
Three weeks later, an off-duty Biloxi police officer fishing in the Tchoutacabouffa River just east of Corso’s Bridge in Biloxi found the eighth-grader’s body lying near some brush. She’d been stabbed in the back and had lacerations to her face. Her clothes -- a brown skirt, a bulky white sweater and a pair of white boots -- have never been found.
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