Left and Center: Ann circa, 1983
Right: Age Progressed to age 49
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: June 1, 1983
Missing From: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: May 5, 1971
Age: 12 years old
Height and Weight: 5’1″ and 85 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Red/Auburn hair, Gray eyes, Ann has small moles on her lower back and facial freckles, both of her ears are pierced, she is a Russian Jewish immigrant and speaks fluent Russian and English with no accent, her eyebrows were light in color, she might spell her last name as “Gotliv” and some agencies list her first name as “Anna”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A red/white t-shirt, navy blue shorts with distinctive white stripes on the sides, beige colored sneakers, Ann was last known to be wearing a pair of gold earrings with purple stones on them
NCMEC Number: 601552
Details of Disappearance
Ann was last seen in Louisville, Kentucky on June 1st 1983. It was her first day of summer vacation. During the day, Ann took a bus to the Jewish Community Center on Dutchman’s Lane where she played tennis with her friend and classmate, Rachel Podgursky. Afterwards, Rachel’s mother gave Ann a ride to her residence located at 2213 Gerald Court. Ann then rode her red and white bike to a friend, Tanya Okmyansky’s house. There, the two girls watched television for some time.
Ann’s mother, Lyudmila Gotlib, called Tanya’s home and told her daughter to come home. Ann and Tanya rode part way with each other until they reached near the Bashford Manor Mall which is across the street from her home. Tanya waved goodbye to Ann and this is the last time anyone saw her. Reports indicate that Ann might’ve gone inside the mall and went to the pet store where she was seen petting a kitten. She was last seen at some point between 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm.
Ann never returned home so her mother went out looking for her. Lyudmila found Ann’s bike leaning against a pillar located outside in front of Bacon’s Department Store inside the mall. She noticed how the kickstand on the bike was down which was odd because Ann knew it was broken and didn’t work so she never used it. She became worried and she reported her daughter missing.
Authorities believe Ann was abducted by a non-family member on the day she vanished. Her disappearance resulted in a nationwide search for her and her alleged abductor. Various people participated in the initial search for her. Police and firefighters searched the area from Bardstown Road west to Newburg Road. They also searched the area from Bashford Manor Lane south to Old Shepherdsville Road.
The search of the Southern Railway line proved fruitless for any traces of Ann. They searched nearby fields and thickets as well as vacant homes, apartments, and houses in the area. Searchers also checked vacant stores in the mall Ann vanished from. A search along the south fork of Beargrass Creek which runs near the mall also showed no evidence of Ann.
A week after Ann disappeared, authorities searched exactly 35 vacant apartments in the Fountain Square complex which was near the mall. They searched closets, refrigerators, and cabinets. No clues were found in any of them. They even asked the residents of the other 295 apartments in that complex if they had seen Ann on the day of her apparent abduction but none has seen her and no clues were found.
Authorities initially suspected that Ann had been abducted by a man who committed sex crimes earlier on the day she disappeared and later on. According to reports, the man allegedly molested a ten year old girl on the jogging track at the Jewish Community Center where Ann visited earlier in the day before she disappeared. He also inappropriately exposed himself to two six year olds on a residential street a couple of miles east of the mall.
Authorities were able to get a description of the man from the three victims of the man’s attacks. The individual was described as being Caucasian who was in his 40s in 1983. He was said to be wearing a floppy white golf hat and athletic shoes. A sketch of the man was created and was distributed along with posters regarding Ann’s presumed kidnapping.
On June 3rd 1983, two teenaged girls came forward and claimed they might’ve witnessed Ann’s abduction two days earlier. The girls were crossing a field on their way to the mall around the time Ann disappeared when they saw a man holding a struggling girl who looked like Ann. They saw the man force the girl into the wet, wooded area just east of the Royal Arms Apartments on Bashford Manor Lane.
The girls claimed they initially felt the situation was between a parent and a misbehaved child. However, they contacted police with their information after seeing news accounts about Ann’s case. The two girls both described the individual as a white male wearing a light colored fishing hat. This description appeared to be a match to the description of the man who molested the ten year old girl and then committed indecent exposure.
Authorities searched the thick wooded area after the two girls have their statements to investigators. The area was marshy and flooded at the time with some areas having water that was waist deep. After searching for days, it was determined Ann was nowhere in the area indicated by the two girls. They still continued to believe the then-unidentified man had some role in Ann’s disappearance due to his criminal activity that occurred that day.
Several witnesses to the sex crimes managed to write down the license plate number of the vehicle that the suspect was driving. Three weeks afterwards, authorities finally found the man who committed these horrible crimes. His name was Ralph Barry Barbour. He was 42 years old in 1983 and resides in the Nicholasville area at the time of his arrest.
Ralph has a criminal record prior to his 1983 offenses. He was actually arrested on a charge of indecent exposure in 1965 and even had to be treated for sexual-impulse disorder in 1978. According to reports, he admitted to molesting the child at the Jewish Community Center and also for exposing himself to the two young six year old children. He even admitted to abusing a half-dozen other children in Kentucky and Indiana.
However, Barbour denied involvement in the Gotlib case and claimed he never touched or harmed her when she disappeared. He also had an airtight alibi for the time that she was reportedly abducted. He was placed in Lexington at the time and was dropping off a plaque for engraving at a trophy shop just before closing time. Three store employees confirmed his alibi.
Barbour pleaded guilty to several charges that included sex abuse, attempted sodomy, indecent exposure as well as harassment. He was originally sentenced to ten years in prison for his crimes but he was released in June of 1985. He had only served approximately two years in prison before this. In 1989, his voting rights were restored.
The two teenaged girls who reported witnessing Ann’s abduction later failed a polygraph exam and they recanted their story. Another 34 year old woman had also claimed she saw a man kidnap Ann from the mall and force her into a car but her statement also turned out to be untruthful. As of currently, investigators have no real witnesses to the actual abduction that day.
Although Barbour was their biggest lead in the case, authorities didn’t give up on searching for the person who abducted the child but they had no leads on that individual and had to go off the mere suspicion that a stranger abduction had occurred. Authorities do not believe Ann was take by force as no one witnessed or heard her abduction occur. They instead believe she was lured away by someone who might’ve been wearing a uniform or flashing a police badge.
It’s possible Ann’s disappearance is connected to the abduction and sexual abuse of a 15 year old girl which occurred only a day after she went missing. According to reports, the girl was walking to school at 7:40 am when an unidentified man forced her into a station wagon. He sexually abused her before he released her behind the Gardiner Lane Shopping Center. The man has never been identified and authorities are unsure if he’s the one who took Ann.
Three days after her disappearance, authorities utilized a bloodhound to search for evidence of where Ann might’ve gone. The dog was able to trace her scent to a ditch in the thicket area and then led authorities on a long, circuitous route until stopping beneath an open window of an apartment in the Fountain Square Apartments. This was just across the street from the mall.
The apartment belonged to Ester Okmyansky’s, the grandmother of Ann’s friend who was one of the last people to see her on the day she disappeared. Ester maintained that Ann had never visited her apartment at any point prior to June 1983. FBI agents stated the dog made a mistake and was simply derailed by the scent of cooking food. The handler, however, said it was too coincidental that the scent ended up in the apartment of Tanya’s grandmother.
The FBI confirmed that Tanya’s family was thoroughly checked in Ann’s disappearance and were cleared of involvement. They are not suspects in the case. Ann’s mother feels the FBI was a little biased when investigating the Okmyansky family as a possibility in the case. She felt that the FBI was protective of them and she and her husband were told the agents simply didn’t want to violate the family’s civil rights.
Another theory on Ann’s case was that she left on her own accord and disappeared voluntarily. A Russian Jewish immigrant found Ann crying underneath a tree at the Jewish Community Center once and Ann reportedly told her that she was upset because she couldn’t get along with her peers. A teacher also told police that Ann was sad because she recently had a birthday party which none of her classmates attended.
Another teacher also revealed to authorities that two weeks before Ann’s abduction, her mother said she planned to take her daughter to psychologist. Towards the end of the school year, Ann wrote a short story about a girl named Karen who hated the fact that she was forced to move with her family. At the end of the story, the conclusion said “We’re going back home.” It goes on to say “Back to nice old school, back to nice old friends, back to home. That’s the best part of it!”
She was also reading a book titled “Still Missing” and the book talks about a mother and her anguish over the apparent abduction of her son who’s bicycle was found leaning against a wall. While the details appear to be eerily similar to how Ann disappeared, it’s unlikely any of this had a connection to her June 1983 disappearance.
Friends and family of Ann say all these things are coincidental and that her anxiety regarding her classmates, parents, and her appearance were typical in adolescence. This was also corroborated by Ruth Rosenblum, who helped the Gotlib family as a resettlement coordinator for Jewish Family and Vocational Services. She also didn’t take any of her favorite possessions with her or any money.￼
Ann was also excited for an upcoming family vacation to Michigan and Canada according to the May issue of her sixth-grade newspaper. Authorities also believe it’s unlikely that Ann had the capabilities to run away from home and cover her tracks for this long. Ann also did not have a history of running away and her parents says she didn’t even know what it meant to do this before.
There were multiple other tips and avenues explored in the case immediately following her disappearance. On July 4th, authorities received a call from an anonymous individual who claimed that Ann was being held against her will in an abandoned residence located on Blue Lick Road by a religious cult. Investigators were able to quickly dismiss the lead after finding that no such house exists.
On July 11th 1983, authorities received a call from a professor at the Jefferson County Community College after reading a suspicious essay from a student who detailed hoe he stalked and tortured a red-headed girl. Authorities were stunned to find that the individual in question lived right next door to Tanya Okmyansky. However, he stated he merely wrote something extremely dramatic to impress his teacher. He passed a polygraph exam in the case.
On July 27th 1983, a Rabbi, Robert B. Slosberg, made a televised appeal to Ann’s unidentified abductor. He said “you need help” gently and then proceeded to say “If you won’t call the police, call me or any other clergyman, and tell us specifically where Ann Gotlib is. We all want to put an end to this ordeal.” He believed his message might result in a telephone call from the abductor.
Slosberg operated at Adath Jesherun Synagogue on Woodbourne Avenue. He believes he might’ve heard from Ann’s supposed abductor on June 6th 1983, five days after she was reported missing. According to Robert’s account, he received a phone call at his residence from a “mature, sincere, and remorseful man.” He said the tone of the person was sad and familiar to him. ￼
Robert initially thought it was someone trying to arrange for a funeral due to the tone and he even picked up his pen to write down the pending funeral information. The man, however, was not calling to report a death in the congregation but instead had possible information on the whereabouts of Gotlib. In a sad and “scared” tone, the man said he had a message he wanted passed onto the police.
The man indicated that Ann’s body could be found in a wooded area along Eastern Parkway. This information caused police, FBI, and 25 others to perform the initial search of the south fork of Beargrass Creek but noting was uncovered in the search. Robert said he asked the individual on the phone if they knew each other and the man said yes. He also claimed he would call again once the search was complete.
Robert stated that even though nothing was found in the search, he still felt it truly was Ann’s abductor that he spoke with. He described the man as being middle-aged due to the way his voice sounded. It’s unclear if authorities consider the phone call as credible any longer or if anything ultimately came of it.
On August 22nd 1983, an unidentified individual made a ransom demand. He claimed he had Ann in his custody and would return her safely as long as an amount of $45,000 was paid. He wanted the money dropped in a phone booth in Sebastopol, California. The man claimed he would call back but he never did. It’s unlikely that this ransom demand was true in any way.
There were also multiple reported sightings of Ann all around the United States and in other countries following her 1983 disappearance. Several girls who lived in the state of New York were once thought to be Gotlib. They all physically resembled her but they all turned out to be someone else. In May of 1984, a resident in the Charlestown section of Boston, Massachusetts reported they might’ve seen Ann.
The person stated they had recognized Ann after seeing her photograph featured on a televised movie about another missing child. The girl was described as being dirty and scared. She had freckles like Ann and when she was called by Gotlib’s name, the girl fled. Following this tip, approximately 200 detectives swept the area but found no child like the one described by the witness.
As mentioned previously, there were various reports and speculation that Ann was living in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Over 100,000 Russian immigrants resides in this area at the time. Multiple people in that area swore they had seen Ann in the area and a policeman there also said he was positive Ann was there as well.
According to reports, authorities stated that over 300 people claimed to have seen Ann after her 1983 abduction. However, most of these sightings turned out to not be Ann. One sighting in particular occurred in October 1983, just four months after her disappearance. An employee at A & B Photo Service located at 2153 Buechel Bank Road in Louisville, Kentucky told police he might’ve seen Ann in the company of two unidentified women.
The employee stated the sighting took place just after Ann disappeared. He claimed that two Russian women came to the studio with a little Russian girl for a passport photo. The women said they were in a hurry at the time. The employee told the women he was out of film and directed the trio to Morgans’ Photography at 2964 Richland Avenue. Employee’s there confirmed that two women and a child matching Ann’s description came into the studio around the time.
The employee there also stated that just after the women and the girl left, a police detective came to the business to see a photo of the girl and he determined it wasn’t Ann. However, authorities cannot confirm this is true as they weren’t able to locate the detective who visited Morgans’ and a photo of the unknown girl was not available for other detectives to look at. They also had no success in finding a receipt for the sale. It’s unclear if this sighting was indeed of Ann but authorities haven’t been able to rule it out.
In 1985, a trucker from Tampa, Florida claimed he picked Ann up in the St. Louis area of Kentucky and gave her a ride till they were as far as Oklahoma where his truck ended up breaking down. His story has not been confirmed.
Ann’s parents both said that they moved to the United States in order to give Ann a better chance at life and a good education. They previously resided in Soviet Russia during the time of the Soviet Union. They immigrated to the United States in 1980. Before moving, Ann’s father, Anatoly Gotlib, worked as a mining engineer and worked in Ukraine from 1972-1977 for Economics Research and Consulting Institute.
According to his resume, Anatoly worked with exploration teams to find and exploit new energy sources and investigated energy needs for economic-development forecasts. Following the family’s immigration to the United States, Anatoly began working for Bechtel Petroleum Inc. which was a subsidiary of the Bechtel Group. It was a giant construction and engineering company that has been previously linked to the CIA.
The factors of Ann’s fathers employment history and the immediate involvement of the FBI in her presumed abduction fueled speculation that the Soviet Union might’ve been involved in her disappearance. The theory names the Soviet secret police, KGB, as Ann’s supposed abductor(s) and that she was taken in order to force her family to return to Russia again.
According to reports, The FBI and United States Intelligence agents looked into the possibility that Ann was taken by the Union but found no evidence to support this and it’s ultimately considered a less likely scenario in the case. Both of her parents also said it’s unlikely that the Soviet Union would target them in this manner. They said they were not important enough to fuel Soviet interest.
Anatoly also stated that he never dealt with classified information and that the government wouldn’t have let him emigrate if he knew any deal of sensitive information. The only information that Anatoly really knew was available in a number of textbooks. Just in case though, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children asked the newer Russian and Ukrainian governments if they found any information on Ann’s whereabouts in 1992. It’s unclear if anything came of this.
Despite the publicity and the large amount of hope that Ann was alive and being kept safe by her abductor, authorities and her family have come to suspect she is deceased and likely the victim of a child killer or predator. It’s believed Ann was killed on the same day she disappeared.
In September of 1984, investigators were pointed towards a killer after receiving a brief teletype from the Douglas County Sheriffs Office in Georgia which said that “Any agency with an unsolved homicide of a young female, please contact this agency.” The letter led detectives to a serial killer who had traveled throughout the United States and is believed to be responsible for various deaths.
Authorities noted that Ann matched the victim description of the killer. The unnamed suspect abducted and murdered a red-headed girl on June 1st 1984 in Georgia. This crime caught the eyes of investigators assigned to Ann’s abduction because the crime occurred exactly on the one year anniversary of her disappearance and the victim had red hair like Ann’s.
Investigators also learned that the killer had abducted and raped a young red-headed girl in Florida. He left her for dead but she survived. The suspect was found to have traveled through Louisville previously but he was confirmed to be in Georgia at the time of Ann’s abduction. He worked at Georgia Steel Supply Co. and his time card confirmed his alibi. He was cleared as a suspect in Ann’s disappearance.
By the third anniversary of Ann’s abduction, investigators revealed that they had interviewed over 210 possible witnesses in the case and named 75 potential suspects as well. However, despite the extensive investigation that continued for years, detectives came no closer to finding Ann but were still determined to find the individual responsible for Ann’s abduction and presumed death.
A man named Kenneth Gene Hensley became a suspect in the Gotlib case in 1987 after he was arrested for child abduction. In June 1987, a ten year old girl rode her bicycle to a convenience store in Prospect, Kentucky and vanished without a trace. When the girl didn’t return home, her mother went out and found her abandoned bicycle near the store. The case was so eerily similar to Ann’s then four year old disappearance that they were publicly compared in the newspapers.
The girl was found alive sometime after her apparent abduction. She was located in a remote barn in eastern Jefferson County with Hensley, a 51 year old drifter at the time of his arrest. He was questioned about Ann’s disappearance after his arrest and he denied having any role in the case. Authorities believed him and stated he was too “dimwitted” to have made his way to the area Ann vanished from. He is not considered a serious suspect in the case.
In March of 1990, suspected serial killer, Michael Lee Lockhart, confessed that he abducted and murdered Ann in 1983. Lockhart was imprisoned in Texas at the time and was suspected of killing at least three other people prior to this. Investigators believe he might’ve been responsible for various murders and rapes that occurred during his years of being active.
On March 20th 1988, Michael was being investigated for having a vehicle with stolen license plates. He was staying in a hotel off 11th Street in Beaumont, Texas at the time. A police officer, Paul Douglas Hulsey Jr., found the vehicle had stolen plates after finding it in the parking lot of the hotel and running the plate number. He requested backup after learning which room Michael was staying in.
However, Paul’s backup officer was sent out on another call involving a pedestrian fatality nearby so he was alone. Paul approached Michale as he left his room and they got into a violent struggle. Michael managed to retrieve a gun from his room and fatally shot Paul, killing him. He fled and was eventually arrested afterwards. Michael was charged with capital murder in Paul’s slaying.
At the time of Paul’s murder, Michael was wanted by authorities from two different states for two other killings. It would soon emerge that Michael had committed the horrific murders of two young teenaged girls in Indiana and Florida.
On October 13th 1987, Windy Patricia Gallagher, aged 16, went to school with her younger sister, Christine in Griffith, Indiana. Their mother, April, was called to her factory job in Chicago Heights and wouldn’t be back home until 11:00 pm. Both Christine and Windy had keys to the apartment. The two girls took a bus to Calumet High School and Windy returned home at 2:00 pm. She couldn’t unlock the door completely because Christine had the key to the second lock.
Windy walked back to the school to get the key from Christine, the manager of the school’s swim team. A friend saw Windy walking towards her apartment shortly after 3:30 pm that day. This was the last time Windy was seen alive that day. Christine arrived back home at 6:30 pm and fixed up some Pizza before watching television. She assumed Windy was asleep in their shared bedroom at the time.
At 7:00 pm, Christine entered the bedroom and discovered Windy’s body. Windy was nude from the waist down, bound and gagged, and was found to have been stabbed 21 times. Her body was covered in blood. Authorities found that several items were missing from the apartment at the time which included a photograph of Windy, her gray clutch purse, and a pocket calendar with her name written on it.
Just a day prior to Windy’s murder, Michael attacked a woman, Tammy Lair, at knife-point in her north-side neighborhood in Chicago where she was walking and was assaulted before he fled with her purse. Two days after Windy’s murder, Tammy found out a man in the south side of Chicago had her purse and when she retrieved it, she found Windy’s purse inside of it and the missing calendar as well.
Lair later identified Michael as her assailant and recognized a photograph of the blue Toyota he was driving during his murder trial. Investigators discovered fingerprints on a water glass in the apartment and a palm print on the wall of the bedroom that Windy was found slain in. They were matched to Lockhart which tied him directly to the murder. Investigators also believe Lockhart bound and raped his ex-wife in Toledo, Ohio on November 7th 1987. Toledo was actually his hometown.
On January 20th 1988, Michael was driving a red Corvette through a neighborhood in Land O’ Lakes, Florida when he came upon the home of Jennifer Colhouer who was 14 years old at the time. He noticed that the home was for sale so he parked in front of it and posed as a real estate agent. He introduced himself to Jennifer through the locked door and said he was interested in the house and asked to use their phone.
Jennifer let him into the house through the garage and he sat down to use the phone while she went into the kitchen. Michael then approached Jennifer from behind and put his hand over her mouth. He carried her upstairs and took her into her younger brothers room where he raped and brutally stabbed her to death. He claimed he had blacked out after Jennifer begged him not to hurt or rape her.
Michael was later connected to Jennifer’s murder after his DNA matched semen samples taken from her remains. Eyewitnesses also placed him and his red Corvette in the neighborhood at the time of the slaying which would fit with his confession that came later on. He faced a charge of capital murder in connection to her death.
Lockhart was eventually convicted of murdering Paul Hulsey Jr. and was sentenced to death for that crime. He was also convicted of murdering Windy Gallagher and pleaded guilty to Jennifer Colhouer’s murder. He was also sentenced to death for the Gallagher and Colhouer slayings. It was later discovered that he had committed another murder long before these murders, however.
On July 23rd 1987, 16 year old Katherine “Kathy” Marie Hobbs vanished without a trace from Las Vegas, Nevada. She was reading a book that evening and at 11:00 pm, she told her mother, Vivian, that she was going to the nearby supermarket to purchase another book. The store was just a couple of blocks away from her home. Vivian naturally assumed her daughter would walk with other friends from their apartment complex to the store but none were around that night so she went alone.
Katherine never returned home and her mother reported her as missing when she discovered her bed empty after waking up at 3:00 am. An extensive search began and authorities feared early on that Kathy had been the victim of a stranger abduction. A supermarket employee later told authorities he had sold Kathy a book and she left the store afterwards. Store receipts showed someone purchased a paperback novel at approximately 11:17 pm that night.
The evidence showed that Kathy made it to the store that night which lead authorities to believe she was taken while walking back home. Nine days after her disappearance, a geologist looking for rock crystals found Kathy’s remains in a remote field near Lake Meade. The location of her body was an hour long drive away from where she disappeared from. Two rocks covered in blood were found near her body and the blood matched her blood type.
Investigators determined that Kathy had been repeatedly beaten with the two rocks until she died. Cause of death was determined to be multiple blows to the head. They also found tire tracks at the crime scene and the tracks indicated a vehicle pulled in, turned around, and subsequently left. Analysis also showed that Kathy had been sexually assaulted.
The blue Toyota that Michael had was stolen in May of 1987 and he kept it until November of that same year. It’s believed he abducted and murdered Kathy during the time he owned the vehicle. Blue fibers found on Kathy’s body were found to be a match to the ones from the car and credit card records placed him in Las Vegas at the time of her death.
When investigators finally questioned him about Kathy’s death, he admitted to kidnapping and killing her. Since he was on death row for three murders already, Nevada didn’t pursue charges or prosecution against him for the Hobbs murder.
Michael claimed he had murdered between 20-30 people and even compared himself to infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. He admitted that he was responsible for Ann Gotlib’s abduction and death in Kentucky in 1983 and led authorities to a remote wooded area in Fort Knox, Kentucky where he was stationed at the time of her disappearance as a soldier. He claimed that he buried Ann’s body in the area.
Lockhart was flown from Texas to Fort Knox where 20 investigators and 100 volunteers spent three days digging for Ann’s remains. However, no evidence tying him to her case was found and he was sent back to Texas. He later failed a polygraph exam about his alleged role in her disappearance and he gave generic answers to specific questions about her case.
Still, Ann’s parents felt that he might be telling the truth and even tried to have another excavation of the military post done in March 1994 with the use of a special dog but were unsuccessful in convincing law enforcement to do so. Lockhart sent the Gotlib’s a map of Fort Knox which did not match any area of the area. Michael was executed in Texas on December 7th 1997.
Despite all the dead-end leads and unclear conclusions in Ann’s unsolved abduction, investigators and her parents kept hope that one day, her abductor would be identified and that Ann’s remains could be recovered.
In December of 2008, investigators announced that they believed they had finally found the person responsible for abducting Ann in 1983 and then subsequently killing her afterwards. They have identified Ann’s presumed abductor as convicted felon, Gregory Lewis Oakley Jr. who is believed to have committed crimes similar to Ann’s abduction before and after she vanished.
On July 19th 1979 at approximately 6:00 am, twelve year old Sheree Aneese McCain went to swimming practice at the Huffman-Roebuck YMCA in Birmingham, Alabama. At some point afterwards, Sheree went into the dressing room to look at an insect bite and was putting her pants back on when Oakley entered the room. He stuck a hypodermic syringe in her posterior area and injected an unspecified amount of the drug, Ketamine into her.
She did not notice the syringe until after she was injected and shortly afterwards, she became dizzy and left the dressing room to get help from someone. She noticed her assailant leaving as well after her and he didn’t bother to try and get her. Sheree found a YMCA employee and explained what had happened to her before she fainted. She was hospitalized and discharged shortly after the attack. The syringe was found in a garbage can nearby.
At some point after the attack on Sheree, Oakley struck again and attempted to inject the Ketamine into another girl who was thirteen at the time of her attack. Oakley fled on foot and was not apprehended for two years. In November of 1981, Oakley was arrested after he attempted to rape his thirteen year old stepdaughter with Demerol. Oakley was later convicted and pleaded guilty to two out of three of the attacks.
It’s not clear how the case for Sheree McCain ended because there were apparent errors when it came to Sheree’s identification of her assailant. This attacks all occurred prior to Ann’s abduction in 1983 and it’s believed she was his fourth victim between all of his other confirmed and suspected victims.
Oakley moved from Alabama to Louisville in 1982 and was previously a licensed veterinarian which is how he had access to the powerful narcotic drugs that he used in the 1979 attacks and one that occurred in 1981. His license was suspended but when he moved to Kentucky, the United States Department of Agriculture was unaware of his criminal history so they hired him to inspect meat and poultry.
In September of 1983, Oakley is believed to have tried to abduct two young girls who were both walking to school along Goldsmith Lane, this was just several blocks away from the Bashford Manor Mall where Ann disappeared from three months earlier. He would attack one more time after this and it would ultimately lead to his attacks on young girls to stop.
On September 9th 1983, thirteen year old Leigh Mooney was in the kitchen of her residence on Masemure Court as she baked a cake for her friend when Oakley entered her residence through a door. He held her at knifepoint and told her to take her clothing off. When she refused and asked what he was going to to, Oakley said he was going to rape her.
Leigh tried to get Oakley upstairs where her father had a gun since he was a police officer at the time. She ran towards him and they struggled before Oakley pushed Leigh into the countertop and he reached around and stabbed her in the back. She threatened him by telling him that her father was a police officer and that he would be home any minute. Oakley let her hide in the bathroom while he fled.
Leigh ran outside and saw as Oakley drove away in his black pickup truck. She went to her next-door neighbor’s residence for help and although Oakley wasn’t caught initially, Leigh’s father kept an eye out for him. He was eventually caught and Leigh was able to positively identify him at a restaurant. She said the color drained from his face when he saw her.
Investigators and Ann’s family suspected Oakley early on during the investigation in 1983. He was officially labeled a possible suspect in January of 1984 but he maintained his innocence in her apparent abduction and stated he left town on a business trip during the day she was last seen. A polygraph examiner concluded that Oakley was lying when he said he had no involvement in Ann’s disappearance and he failed the polygraph exam as a result. However, investigators had no evidence to charge him back then.
Oakley was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the attempted rape of Leigh Mooney. On February 26th 2001, Oakley was still in prison when he wrote a letter and in it he said “I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANN GOTLIB IN MY LIFE.” He stated he had no reason to lie about his involvement because he had terminal lung cancer at the time and it was getting progressively worse.
Gregory Oakley was released from prison in June of 2002 on the basis of medical parole. He moved back to Alabama and passed away in October 2002. He was never charged with Ann’s abduction and presumed murder but since he lived a block north of the Gotlib residence and around the corner from the mall.
Investigators found that bank records indicate Oakley was at Liberty National Bank in the Bashford Manor Mall just 100 minutes before Ann was last seen. This caused investigators to believe he was lying about his whereabouts but Oakley claimed he left on the business trip immediately after making the transaction and couldn’t have been in the area when she disappeared.
In June of 2008, Ann’s disappearance made headlines as the 25th anniversary had come and investigators wanted to let the community know they were still actively searching for Ann and her abductor. This prompted two new witnesses to come forward with information that tied Oakley directly to Ann’s disappearance.
Oakley’s girlfriend at the time initially gave investigators and alibi for him by saying that he wasn’t in the area when Ann went missing but she later recanted her statement and said she lied on Oakley’s behalf. The girlfriend said that Oakley came to her residence at 11:00 pm on the day Ann was reported missing and asked her to wash his clothing. This proves Oakley was indeed in the area when Ann disappeared.
Authorities believe Oakley saw Ann at the mall and followed her into the parking lot before abducting her. It’s believed he killed her that same day. In 1992, a former inmate who knew him said that at some point between the mid-late 1980s, Oakley confessed to abducting Ann and then killing her by injecting a drug known as Talwin into her body. He would’ve had access to the drug. Oakley said the overdose was intentional.
The inmate was interviewed in September of 2008 and gave the same statement from sixteen years earlier. He was even given a polygraph about his information and he passed the test. Investigators stated that if Oakley was still alive by 2008, he would’ve been charged with Ann’s abduction and murder. Her parents attempted to get a posthumous charge against him but were denied this request since Oakley wouldn’t be able to defend himself on the charges.
Oakley had access to slaughterhouses due to his job as a meat inspector and it’s possible he used this or another way to dispose of Ann’s remains. It’s unclear if he ever gave any locations as possible gravesites for the child.
Ann’s parents moved away from the apartment they shared with her some years after her abduction and had a son named Jeffrey as well. They continue to hold onto hope that someday, Ann’s remains will found so she can be laid to rest and so the case can be solved. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance and the investigation remains open and active.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Louisville Metro Police Department 502-574-7111