Left: Annette circa, 1974
Right: Age Progressed to age 56
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: August 1, 1974
Missing From: Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: October 18, 1967
Age: 6 years old
Height and Weight: 4’0″ and 50 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Blue eyes, Annette suffers from a thyroid condition and is required to take daily medication
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A purple blouse and a pair of purple shorts
NCMEC Number: 1323574
Details of Disappearance
Annette was last seen in Jacksonville, Florida on August 1st 1974. She was last seen with her younger sister, Mylette. They were left at their home at 6:00 pm when their mother, Elizabeth, and older sister, Donna, left the house to go visit and care for a sick relative. Their father, Jack, was a commercial fisherman at the time his daughters went missing. He was due to go home at 6:00 pm but he was delayed due to boat problems.
Jack called the house at 7:00 pm and spoke to the two girls. When he was on the phone with the girls, he heard the family dog barking in the background but Annette assured him that the dog was barking at birds that were in the front yard. He was still concerned about his two daughters and he called them again at 7:20 pm with no answer.
When Jack arrived home, the girls were gone. The dog was found locked in the back bedroom of the home where there parents slept but there was no sign of what happened to the girls. Jack noticed that the baby doll Mylette loved and carried everywhere with her was also missing. Investigators suspect that both girls were abducted in the 20 minute time span and were taken from the area. There was no sign of a forced entry but the doors of the home were found to be unlocked.
Neighbors of the family reported seeing a white car in the driveway of the home around the time they were abducted but they can’t recall seeing anything out of the ordinary besides that. No one reportedly saw the girls being taken. Donna believes her sisters abductions were planned because they lived in a secluded, single road area. She said the person would’ve had to put the dog in the bedroom since it would’ve attacked anyone who tried to harm Annette.
The Anderson sisters have never been seen or heard from since their presumed abductions. Their abductions coincided with the abductions and murders of several other girls in the Jacksonville area during the summer and fall of 1974. The first of these girls to disappear was Jean Marie Schoen. Jean who was more commonly known as “Jeanie” was last seen on July 21st 1974.
Jean left her grandmothers home to go to a store just two blocks away to purchase a pack of cigarettes for her uncle. The clerk confirmed Jean did make it to the store and purchased the cigarettes. She initially forgot them at the store but came back to get them and told the clerk she was going to use the change from them to play pinball at a place called “The Hangout.”
Jean did go to the hideout but the floors were to wet to be played on since they were just cleaned so she was asked to leave and come back when the floors were dry enough. Jean ended up with two friends at a laundromat near the Win-Dixie in Springfield when they were accosted by a man riding a blue bicycle. The man grabbed Jean and took her into a bathroom.
He came out with Jean who was crying and he put her on the back of his bike and sped off. Jean did not attempt to escape the man or cry for help when she was abducted. A description of the man was given to police by her friends but Jean was never seen again.
On September 27th 1974, 12 year old Virginia Suzanne Helm disappeared from the South Side is Jacksonville after leaving her residence to go to a convenience store in order to purchase some soap just a block away. When 45 minutes passed and Virginia still hadn’t returned, her father went out looking for her and then filed a missing persons report on her.
Searches were done and people were interviewed in Virginia’s disappearance. A few witnesses recalled seeing a red compact car in the area at the time of her disappearance. Three days after she went missing, a couple came across the same type of car. The car was said to be a red Volkswagen Bug and it was pulled over to the side of the road known as New Kings Road. This is near the Nassau/Duval Border.
The couple got out of their car to see if the man driving needed help. They noticed a young girl in the backseat of the car. The girl matched Virginia’s description at the time. The girls knees were on the floorboard and her hands were on the seat as if she was trying to get up. Her pupils were dilated and she was looking back and forth rapidly and she appeared to be scared.
When the couple approached this man, he sped off. However, he left behind a bag that had fallen from the vehicle. The bag was collected for processing fingerprints but nothing was found. The bag can be tested for DNA but it’s unknown if this has been attempted yet. Investigators believe this man and his car abducted Virginia and that she was the girl in the backseat.
Just a day prior to Virginia’s abduction on September 26th, her friend, Mary Anne, was approached by a man in red car who told her to get inside or he would kill her. She ran for help instead and the man drove away. It’s possible this was the same individual who kidnapped Virginia. Virginia was described as a quiet child but she had a kind nature.
On October 16th 1974, Rebecca Ann Greene went missing while she walked home from a store that was located 5 blocks away from her residence. A clerk at the store confirmed she did in fact make it to the location but she never made it home. Extensive searches for her turned up no trace of her whereabouts.
Another abduction occurred in the city just a few days after Rebecca was taken. A 7 year old girl was allegedly picked up by a man in a truck. She was left in a wooded area north of Jacksonville but she managed to find her way out by following a power transmission line. She was beaten and sexually assaulted. Police arrested a 25 year old man named Earl Taylor Higginbothom who was charged with sexual battery in the case. It’s unknown if he’s connected to the other abductions.
On October 25th 1974, the body of Virginia was found partially buried in a wooded area near Beachwood and Beach Boulevard. Virginia was the victim of a homicide and was killed by being shot in the head with a .22. She was partially nude as she was only wearing a blouse. Her murder remains unsolved.
Rebecca Greene would remain missing for 3 years until her skeletal remains were discovered washed up on the shore off Fort Georgia Island and in the mouth of the St. John’s River. Her remains were located in the summer of 1977. Rebecca was also 12 years old when she died. Jean and the Anderson sisters remain missing as their bodies have yet to be located.
Investigators have considered the possibility that serial killer Ted Bundy may have been involved in one or more of the cases. He owned a Volkswagen Bug which is the type of car seen in the area where Virginia Helm was kidnapped from and the same car she was allegedly seen in three days later. However, he was known to kill in the state of Washington in 1974.
Investigators have hopes of identifying who was responsible for the murdered girls who have been recovered. They still have the bag that flew out of the car that sped away with Virginia in it. They also took a sample of hair from the skeletal remains of Rebecca Greene to see if they can locate any foreign DNA. Nothing has been announced and no arrests have been made in any of the cases of these missing/murdered girls.
Investigators were initially convinced that the abductions were not connected due to them all occurring in different parts of Jacksonville. They now believe it’s possible all these girls were taken by the same individual(s) and were probably slain afterwards.
For many years, it was assumed that the Anderson sisters were victims of serial killer Paul John Knowles who is also known as “The Cassanova Killer.” Knowles committed his first murder just 5 days before the sisters were abducted. The murder occurred on July 26th 1974 in Jacksonville. The victim was Alice Heneritta Curtis who was 65 in 1974.
Knowles gagged her mouth while he stole her belongings and she died after fatally choking on the gag. He also allegedly stole her Dodge Dart car. He killed her the same night after he had escaped prison for stabbing a bartender in Jacksonville. Knowles claimed he planned to dispose of Curtis’s vehicle on the day the Anderson sisters were abducted.
Knowles claimed he was on their street and he reportedly saw two little girls looking at him from their home. He recalled that these two girls knew his mother and were friends with her at the time. He said he knew he couldn’t leave witnesses so he abducted both Mylette and Annette from their home. He killed them by strangling them. Accounts differ as to how he claimed to have disposed of the two sisters.
Some accounts stated he left their remains in a swamp while others claim he buried at the west end of Commonwealth Avenue. Authorities did search for them in that location but they were not found. Knowles has 20 confirmed victims but has claimed to have more than 35 other victims. He was later shot and killed by federal agents in Georgia on December 18th 1974.
In 2011, Knowles was named as the killer of missing girl, Ima Jean Sanders. Sanders disappeared at some point in July of 1974 after she ran away from her home in Beaumont, Texas to go and live with her mother in Warner Robbins, Georgia. Knowles picked her up in Georgia where he raped and strangled her. He left her body in the woods in Peach County, Georgia.
Ima’s remains were found in that location in April of 1976 but they weren’t identified at the time. As a result, Ima remained listed as a missing person and presumed runaway until her remains were identified in 2011. It’s believed without a doubt that Knowles was responsible for her death since he confessed to killing the then-unidentified Ima in 1974.
Some websites falsely claimed that the Anderson sisters bodies were recovered in January of 1975 after Knowles confession was unearthed but this is untrue and both sisters are still missing. After the confession, Jack filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Paul Knowles.
In the summer of 2019, investigators announced that they now cast doubt on Knowles being the killer of the Anderson sisters. He was known to inflate the actual number of victims he had and it’s now presumed his confession to killing the sisters was a false admission. It’s still believed that someone with bad intentions took the sisters.
At the time of their abduction, the sisters were both students at Louis Sheffield Elementary School in 1974. Their parents never stopped hoping they would be found one day, Jack emend moved away from the home and never changed their phone number. Jack passed away in 1994, he suffered a near fatal stroke in 1989 which caused him to be confined to his bed where Elizabeth cared for him, she even quit her job as a result.
After his death, Elizabeth purchased a conjoined headstone for Annette and Mylette. By then, Elizabeth assumed the worst and believed her daughters were both deceased. Elizabeth herself ha since passed away but Donna is still alive and hopes to find her two long lost sisters. The Anderson sisters case remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Jacksonville Police Department 904-630-1157
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children