Vigil Marks 45th Anniversary of 7-Year-Old Tolland Girl's Disappearance

Janice Pockett is one of three Connecticut girls who disappeared between 1968 and 1974.

What to Know

  • Janice Pockett, a 7-year-old Tolland girl, was last seen on July 26, 1973. Her bike was found, but she was not
  • The Tolland County Cold Case Squad was established in October 2014 to investigate three disappearances between 1968 and 1974.
  • 13-year-old Debra Spickler disappeared July 24, 1968, and 13-year-old Lisa White disappeared on Nov. 1, 1974.

Janice Pockett, a 7-year-old Tolland girl, disappeared 45 years ago, and her family still doesn't have answers about what happened to her.

On the anniversary of her disappearance Thursday a vigil was held for her and other missing person or cold cases.

“We did a lot of fun things together. Always playing outside. Riding bikes and catching butterflies,” said Mary Engelbrecht.

Engelbrecht holds on tight to memories of her older sister Janice.

Their family and this community were stunned when the 7-year-old disappeared July 26 1973 in Tolland.

“My mom that night she’s like, ‘Robin, oh my god, something, Janice got taken.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ It was awful,” said Robin Pascarelli of Tolland.

“I remember the fathers, they were all arms-length apart walking through the neighborhood looking,” said Donna Torrey of Tolland.

Second-grade classmates of Janice were some of the people who gathered for a vigil at Cross Farms Recreation Complex in Tolland.

They remembered her, as well other missing area girls and cold cases.

Among the cold cases, 20-year-old Susan LaRosa vanished on a trip to a store in Rockville in 1975.

“She was supposed to go there to get the baby some formula who was 9 months old, her youngest, and to call my mom from the pay phone. And she never came home,” said Terri Shanks, LaRosa’s sister.

Susan’s remains were eventually found, but her murder remains unsolved.

Now decades after the cases captured headlines, many hope more attention now will finally unravel these mysteries.

“I’m telling you, I will never give up. I always have hope there’s information out there that could crack my sister’s case and all the other missing persons and cold cases in Connecticut,” said Mary Engelbrecht.

The Tolland County Cold Case Squad was established in October 2014 to investigate the disappearances of Pockett, as well as 13-year-old Debra Spickler, and 13-year-old Lisa White. All three disappeared between 1968 and 1974. 

Debra Spickler:
Spickler, of Mystic, was staying with family in Vernon when she was last seen at Henry Park on July 24, 1968. She was last seen walking alone in the direction of the Henry Park swimming pool. 

Janice Pockett:
Pockett was 7 when she left her home on a bicycle on the afternoon of July 26, 1973 and was last seen riding in the area of Anthony Road and Rhodes Road in Tolland. Her bicycle was found on the dirt portion of Rhodes Road, but there was no sign of her. 

Lisa White:
White was 13 when she was last seen walking on Prospect Street in Rockville after visiting with a friend during the evening of November 1, 1974. She lived around two miles from Prospect. 

The cases have not been solved and the website for the Tolland County Cold Case Squad says $50,000 rewards are being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the three cases. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Tolland County Cold Case Fund.

The tip line is 860-870-3228 or you can email

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