Missing Bowmanville girl who vanished in 1963 may have gone to New York, police say

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Published September 14, 2023 at 12:58 pm

Durham Police released these sketches of what Noreen Greenley may look like grown up.

Noreen Greenley, the 13-year-old girl who vanished from Bowmanville 60 years ago, may have gone to New York state and grown up there, investigators now believe.

Greenley was out bowling at the Liberty Bowl on Baseline Rd. on the evening of Sept. 14, 1963. Two friends, Bonnie Wilkins and her boyfriend Gary Woolner joined her. After the game, the trio headed to Sam’s Restaurant for dinner and then returned to Wilkins’ home.

Wilkins later reported she and Woolner wanted some time alone and Greenley left to catch the 11:30 p.m. bus. However, she returned to the Wilkins home a short time later. She left the home a second time and was never seen again.

A neighbour reported seeing a Ford Prefect or similar car in the area driven by a man in a fedora. Greenley’s sister Joyce later encountered the same car, racing past the girl’s home. She reported she heard a scream from inside the car.

In the wake of Greenley’s disappearance, more than 400 volunteers came out to search for her alongside sweeping Bowmanville Police action. (Durham Regional Police was not formed until 1974.) Volunteers searched the area around Greenley’s home for eight days ultimately finding no trace of the girl.

However, Greenley’s family has never given up the search and police have continued to release appeals for information every few years. Durham Regional Police took over the investigation in 1995 and have continued to follow numerous avenues to find Greenley in the nearly 30 years since.

Hopes were raised in 2018 when a man came forward to report their father had confessed to killing Greenly and hiding her body in a buried car. This new lead prompted an excavation near Hwy. 57 and Concession Rd. 8. Police dug two long trenches through the area in search of the vehicle but did not turn up any evidence.

Five years later, on the sixtieth anniversary of Greenley’s disappearance, police held a press conference to share a new theory about where she ended up; Rochester, New York.

Investigators now believe Greenley went to Oshawa the night of her disappearance and stayed there for two weeks until about Sept. 28, 1964. Next, they think she went to Whitby and stayed there for another three weeks until roughly Oct. 12.

While in Whitby Greenley stayed with Mary and Gary Benson. However, she soon met a man known only as “Franko.” This man took Greenley and another girl across Lake Ontario to New York in a 40-foot cabin cruiser. The boat, dubbed the Mary Bell, left the Oshawa port and arrived in Rochester.

Police believe Greenley went from Rochester to Syracuse, about 140 kilometres east. They’ve recieved reports that she was pregnant at the the time and later gave birth to a son.

Additionally, police have identified several phone numbers linked to the case. However, it’s not known who these numbers belong to. They are;

  • 781-1373
  • 925-3654
  • 745-9145
  • 925-3654
  • 781-1373

Anyone with information about who these phone numbers belong to or has any other information about Greenley’s disappearance can call police at 1-888-579-1520, ext. 5444 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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