The Trail Went Cold – Episode 2 – The Fort Worth Three

December 23, 1974. 17-year old Mary Rachel Trlica, 14-year old Lisa Renee Wilson and 9-year old Julie Ann Moseley, a.k.a. the “Fort Worth Three”, head on a shopping trip to a mall in Fort Worth, Texas. The three girls never return home and their abandoned car is found in the mall parking lot. The next morning, Rachel’s husband finds a strange mysterious letter in his mailbox which throws the whole case for a loop. Did Rachel actually write this letter and stage her own disappearance, or did something much more sinister happen? Join me for a new episode of “The Trail Went Cold”, as I analyze the baffling unsolved disappearance of the “Fort Worth Three.”

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

19 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Episode 2 – The Fort Worth Three

    • Thank you for pointing that out, Summer. I did not select the picture for the article, as that’s always done by the Listverse layout team. But I’ll try to contact the editors and see if they can change it.

      Thank you for commenting. I hope your family will receive closure someday.

      • That’s the problem with you Canadians ; too even keel to troll. All kidding aside I love your Listverse articles and your podcasts. You really know our taste for the mysterious and mystifying crimes. You mentioned ‘Disappeared’; do you watch that show? I like it a lot but they seem to leave some (arguably significant) facts out of their stories which are included on other shows that they share have some ellipses with.

        Anyways. I really enjoy your work..

        • Thanks for the compliments. I’m definitely a fan of “Disappeared” and have watched most of the episodes. That’s where I got introduced to the Felipe Santos/Terrance Williams case which I chronicled in Episode#5.

          • That was an intriguing episode and disturbing back story. Especially when you hear the officer lying to dispatch or perhaps misremembering. Did you see the Toni Sharpless episode?

          • Yes, and I’m actually considering doing an episode on that case in the near-future. I’m very intrigued by the anonymous letter from a few years ago where the writer claimed to have disposed of Toni’s car and actually provided the correct VIN.

          • That will be very interesting. As long as I am throwing out requests like some sort of audience member at a macabre carnival (I think I will trademark that term for use), one disappearance that also really strikes me is the couple in Philadelphia who vanished after a night at a bar together,. You probably know it already. I can look it up later.

          • Ah yes, that’s probably Richard Petrone and Danielle Imbo. That’s a bizarre one, but there’s so little evidence to work with that it might be difficult to devote an entire podcast to it.

            In regards to Cheri Jo Bates and Kathleen Johns, I’d probably to freshen up on my Zodiac research to come up with a conclusive theory. He took credit for so many crimes that I have hard time discerning how many of his claims are truthful.

  • What I always find the weirdest about that case is the car. If they left for Houston for a spontaneous trip, why leave the car behind? How would they go there? It immediately implies they left with someone, and raises many questions. Didn’t the police see that? And why insist on where the car is in the letter? They leave suddenly with a young girl and they worry about their family finding the car? Or: why would the perpetrator(s) draw attention on where it is? Maybe the letter is genuine and the girl was trying to point out she was forced to leave the car behind? Or that it shows her ambivalence toward her situation, and that she doesn’t really know what to say or do? Like: don’t be mad at me, telling you where the car is is the better I can do now. The wording of the letter is very open to interpretation too. “we just had to get away” could imply anything from “we want to go away to have some good time” to “we are in troubles or have an emergency and have to leave immediately”. The idea that something happened to one of them, and the other have fled or followed a perpetrator because of that, is interesting. It is not unheard of in multiple people abduction that some of the victims follow a perpetrator out of guilt, or because they don’t want to leave a friend behind, or are scared of consequences, real or not. The two older girls surely felt responsible of the younger one; maybe it was a trigger. The letter reads “I know I’m going to catch it”; I not we. The security guard theory makes a lot of sense, as you pointed out. Even the late night sighting might be explained. Maybe the girls were lured or convinced to hide somewhere in the mall or nearby, and were retrieved of the location after closing time? It seems the most plausible thing to me – someone using authority to scare them or promise them something interesting so they would follow more or less willingly. Let’s say someone accused them or one of them of stealing and said they were to be taken into custody, and took them aside; or, as you said, invited them to party or lured them with gifts. As a girl of the 70s, it totaly makes sense to me, I would have trusted\believed someone like that until it was too late, especially of he played on my sense of responsability toward my family.

    • Hey, thanks for your suggestion and for your comments on the Fort Worth Three case. I agree, I’ve never understood the logic of the girls running away to another city and leaving their car behind, which is why I don’t think the letter was written by Rachel. I’m still on the fence about whether the letter could have been written by someone with a personal connection to Rachel, as it’s still strange to me that a random perpetrator would go to the trouble of writing that letter or even know where Rachel lived. I actually found an old podcast with Rachel’s brother, who claimed that Rachel’s dad and Renee’s dad waited in the parking lot that night with shotguns in case the girls came back. Apparently, they were there until 11:00, which is why I find it interesting that the sighting of the girls with the security guard occurred at 11:30.

      I’ll add St. Louis Jane Doe to my backlog. While we’re on the subject, if you haven’t listened to it already, check out my episode of the El Dorado Jane Doe because it actually has a potential tie-in to the Fort Worth Three case.

  • (I’m up to around 8:40 by the way) There’s even more recent missing people cases that were written off as runaways such as Amanda Berry’s case. And that was only 13 years ago.

  • This story is so creepy! Was the car operable when it was found? If they were stranded easier for someone to abduct them if they needed a ride or maintenance on the car.

    • That’s a great question. If the perpetrator sabotaged the car, then that would be a surefire way to lure the three girls into his own vehicle and abduct them. However, I have a feeling that if someone was wrong with the car, that info would have been mentioned somewhere.

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