Steve Cercone : I thought there was probably enough… I was not worried really, because I tho ught we are building the case here.
Then, just as the detectives’ confidence was growing, the case took an unexpected turn.
Remember, police had no record of Mary Louise Day as an adult; There were no credit cards, no driver’s license or ID recorded anywhere. There hadn’t been a trace of Mary in more than two decades – until police in Phoenix, Arizona, made a traffic stop.
Steve Cercone [In car with Maureen Maher] : I got a phone call… I was at home, I had left work. He told me, “Hey captain.” He says, “Are you sitting down?” I said, “What happened?” He said, “Just gotta let you know, Phoenix Police Department in Arizona pulled over a car and they say that they found Mary Day.” AN UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE November , in Phoenix Arizona – it was a routine traffic stop: a pickup truck with stolen plates. When police ran the IDs of the passengers, one of them hit: a woman named Mary Day.
Det. Joe Bertaina : He said, “Joe, guess what? Mary Day’s been found.” And I was stunned.
Investigators had put Mary Day into a missing persons database long ago .
Det. Joe Bertaina : She identified herself with a Phoenix identification card. Or Arizona – state identification card.
Back in California, Detective Joe Bertaina felt like a ghost had just appeared. In his mind, Mary Day had been murdered more than 29 years earlier at the home of her parents.
Maureen Maher : You talk to William and Charlotte in April of . And then, seven months later or so, a woman named Mary Louise Day just falls out of the sky.
Det. Joe Bertaina : Right, I was stunned. Is the woman pictured at right. the same person as the girl at left who disappeared in 2003? Sherrie Calgaro / Phoenix Police Dept.
His boss, Steve Cercone could not believe it.
Steve Cercone : Joe went down there, and he met her and he sent a picture of her, and we went, “What, wait a minute, no. Alright, alright.” It looked like it could be her.
[cries] Steve Cercone : I said, wait a minute, all these years, bits of circumstantial evidence.
Maureen Maher: The father almost confessing to something.
Steve Cercone : Almost confessing to the murder of a little girl . [In car with Maureen Maher] And now, here was this woman miles away with a valid Arizona state ID. Strangely, that ID had been issued only three weeks earlier, while the homicide investigation was underway.
: You must have found the timing awfully suspicious.
: Yes, it was very suspicious.
When Detective Bertaina went to Phoenix, the woman he was sure had been murdered told him she had run away from her mother Charlotte and stepfather William when she was a teenager. She basically lived under the radar and by her wits ever since. But she seemed hesitant, and her story seemed sketchy. Later in a phone call, Mary told Bertaina she had some awful memories:
DET. JOE BERTAINA [phone call]: Do you want to talk about what happened that last night? [cries] MARY: It hurts.
DET. JOE BERTAINA: I’m sure it does… but what happened that last night?
MARY: I’m so confused anymore [sic] , I don’t know what’s real or not. … I remember he kept slamming my head into the tub and it hurt [cries].
DET. JOE BERTAINA: Is that when you started bleeding?
MARY: I started bleeding and he hit my head on the coffee table … I think I blacked out … maybe that’s why I can’t put all the pieces together. But she did not remember anything about the sick dog.
Maureen Maher : Was that troublesome to you?
Det. Joe Bertaina : That was, yeah. (Detective Bertaina recalled the awful memories) Mary had, but it was the memories Mary could not remember that he found tr oublesome. CBS News
Investigators say it was hard to pin down much of anything about her past two decades. They began to wonder if the woman with the freshly-minted ID was really who she claimed to be.
[In car with Maureen Maher] Maureen Maher : You refused to call her Mary Louise Day?
Steve Cercone : (We called her Phoenix Mary. ) In phone conversations, Phoenix Mary was sounding increasingly frustrated:
MARY [phone call]: Can I throw one question at you if you if you don ‘ t mind?
DET. JOE BERTAINA: Go ahead, Mary.
MARY: If you were to find my body , how were you gonna be able to prove who the hell I was?
DET. JOE BERTAINA: DNA.
MARY: Oh, so since I’m still alive, you all can’t prove who I am?
DET. JOE BERTAINA: There’s no record of you ever being anywhere … it’s like you haven’t existed up until now.
MARY: So, I’d be better off if I’m just dead and then you all can do that detecting from there. Steve Cercone : I said, “all right, let’s get a DNA test on this woman… let her prove that she’s the daughter of Charlotte. “
(Steve Cercone) : We’re gonna disprove that she’s Mary, of course, ’cause there’s no way her DNA’s gonna match.
Except it did match.
Steve Cercone : I nearly fell on the floor. I couldn’t believe it. The DNA came back positive to being a daughter of Charlotte.
The case was closed. Sherrie Calgaro invited her long-lost sister to move in with her. In most cases, that would be the end of the story – but not in this
Maureen Maher : So now DNA matches. Case closed.
Steve Cercone : Yeah, well, if it were that simple, right? Once Phoenix Mary moved in, Sherrie started to have her own doubts.
With DNA proving Mary’s identity and the case closed, Sherrie Calgaro invited Mary to move in with her in North Carolina. From left are sisters Sherrie, Kathy, center, and Mary. Sherrie Calgaro Sherrie Calgaro : The first thing I noticed was she – it sounded like she had some weird, Midwest or southern accent. Weird to me. The detectives had noticed that too: DET. JOE BERTAINA [phone call]: That’s an interesting dialect you have Mary.
MARY: What do you mean?
DET. JOE BERTAINA: I don’t know I’ve ever heard that particular manner of speaking.
MARY: Then y’all still trying to prove who I am, huh?
DET. JOE BERTAINA: Yes, ma’am. We are.
Phoenix Mary also said she never used her real name:
MARY [phone call]: Nobody … knows me as Mary. I gave that name up years ago.
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