Florida authorities identify remains found on Crescent Beach nearly 40 years ago

Mary Alice Pultz last seen by family in 1968
Mary Alice Pultz, who was raised in Maryland, was 25 in 1968 when she was last seen by her family.
Posted at 1:03 PM, May 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-12 13:06:53-04

Nearly 40 years ago, human remains were found on a beach in St. Johns County, Florida. This week, authorities identified those remains as a woman who was last seen by her family in 1968.

Mary Alice Pultz was 25 at the time. She had been raised in Rockville, Maryland, and had two children. She became estranged from her family then and left with the man who was her boyfriend, John Thomas Fugitt, according to a news release from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Fast-forward to 1985 when human remains were found by construction workers who were digging for a walkover on Crescent Beach. The manner of death was determined to be a homicide, the sheriff's office said.

The remains of Mary Alice Pultz were found in 1985 by construction workers, 17 years after her family had least seen her in Maryland.
The remains of Mary Alice Pultz were found in 1985 by construction workers, 17 years after her family had least seen her in Maryland.

An initial investigation determined the remains belonged to a white female between the ages of 30 and 50.

The case went cold over the years and the remains were left unidentified.

A facial reconstruction created in 2011 gave officials a few leads, but ultimately left the case unresolved.

That was until 2023 when a big break was discovered after the remains were sent to Othram, a lab in Texas specializing in forensic genetic genealogy.

With the help of advanced technology at the lab, potential relatives of the victim were identified, the sheriff's office said. Sgt. Gene Tolbert traveled to meet with those relatives and after more DNA samples and testing, authorities were able to positively identify the remains.

Officials identified Pultz as the victim in January 2024, but her homicide remains unsolved.

Fugitt, who went by Tommy, also had an alias: Billy Joe Wallace.

"We don't know if Tommy had anything to do with Mary Alice's appearance but he is certainly at the top of our list in terms of persons of interest," Tolbert said in a video posted to Facebook that the sheriff's office made about the case.

In the course of the investigation, officials learned Fugitt died while on death row after he had been convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his roommate in 1981.

"Although a significant amount of time has passed, detectives are hopeful that the information developed so far will result in a lead(s) that brings final closure to the family," the sheriff’s office said.

St. Johns County is located on the northeast coast of Florida. Police say they don't know if Pultz moved to Florida with her boyfriend. They don't have any addresses or records of jobs she might have held between 1968 when she left Maryland and 1985 when her remains were found.

Her son, Norman Jenkins, was young when she left.

"I would just like to know if anyone ever saw her or knew her," Jenkins told police.

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