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Thread: MD - Mary Frances Plewacki, manual strangulation in Baltimore, 1970

  1. #1
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    MD - Mary Frances Plewacki, manual strangulation in Baltimore, 1970

    My name's Maryann and just as a little background I'm the last remaining member of my family besides my daughter who was not born before they were all gone. I am searching for information on my mother, Mary Frances Plewacki who was alledgedly murdered when I was 18 months old. My grandmother raised me until I was 14 and then I was put in foster care right before she died. My grandmother was basically my only source of family background/information. I've searched all over the net and can't find any corraberating information so ...this is my story.

    Mary Frances Plewacki, 27 years old, lived in Baltimore, Maryland. Born November 21, 1942 found dead October (no date) 1970. She had gone to her new apartment with her boyfriend whose name was George Dollinger/Dolinger/Dolenger and was hanging curtains, as they were moving in together. I was an infant and stayed with my grandmother Anna while they worked on the apartment they were going to share together. The next morning my grandmother got a call stating that my mom was dead. George was supposedly arrested but only spent one night in jail. The autopsy reported that she was killed by "manual strangulation with hand prints around her throat and foot prints on her back, as well as alcohol and barbiturates" in her system. George supposedly went to trial and was found not guilty because his "people had money and bought his way out of it". Before my grandmother collapsed in court she screamed "you've faced man's law but you haven't faced God's law, yet".

    She was supposedly laid out at Lily & Zeller Funeral Home and buried at Oaklawn Cemetary in Baltimore. I've contacted both places several times, both by email and phone and have gotten no response back in over a year.

    I have no idea if any of this is true. Nothing in the Baltimore Sun. Can't find an obituary on my mother anywhere. No one alive left to ask. I should have paid better attention when my grandmother was telling me all the stories.

    Can't figure out if it was a "murder" why there's nothing online about it. Even in 1970 I'm guessing a relatively pretty young woman getting supposedly strangled by her love interest would make some sort of news, locally. I live in Louisiana since I was 9 years old so have no resources back up north.

    I'd appreciate any help. I like to think I'm good at this type thing. I do it all the time for friends, missing family members, tracking people down. Just like a mechanic with a car though, when I try to do it for myself...it just never seems to work out.

    Thanks for listening to me babble. I'm just really interested in finding out what, if anything, about my past life is true as I know it.

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  3. #2
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    Hi MA-First I am very sorry to hear about your mother & grandmother.
    I am not good at sleuthing-but my first thought was=she should go back to the town
    your M & GM lived and go to the library to see if any old newspapers did a story on her death
    if there is-look at the name of the police dept that did the invesagating & start contacting those people.
    hope you find your answers!!!

  4. #3
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    Thanks Syra

    Syra, I would if I could but I'm half way across the country now. Louisiana is a long way from Maryland but I use what resources I have such as the web and phone to try and contact people. I've sent a request to the Pratt Free Library in Baltimore but they want you to come in and research preferably and that's part of the problem.

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  6. #4
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    Well there is both a George Dollinger and a George Dollenger still living in MD, I checked Veromi.com.

    Baltimore Sun archives don't go back very far but I did check newspaperarchive.com to no avail.

    It has been my experience that the best source for information in a case like this is former friends and classmates of your Mom. With as many years as have gone by and with your loss at such a young age many of her friends may be willing to share things with you that they wouldn't share with authorities. If you don't know what school she went to it should be do-able to figure it out. At that point Facebook and Classmates.com can be VERY valuable assets. Even if you find out nothing about the actual crime, you may find out a lot about your Mom.

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  8. #5
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    I looked through all the unsolved murders in Baltimore from 1970 & up & found it strange that Mary is not listed anywhere- there were 2 other murders-Sister Cathy Cesnik & Joyce Malecki- both of these are still unsolved-but Joyce's name does not appear on any Baltimore Police unsolved websites or cold cases either!Just Sister Cathy!
    Last edited by SyraKelly; 06-26-2012 at 11:24 PM.

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  10. #6
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    Two suggestions for more info regarding your mom's death and burial site:

    1) Request your mother's death certificate. You can access the form and the instructions online. I think the fee is $14.00. I don't have the exact site addy, so google Maryland Department of Vital Records and it will give you the link.

    Not only will the DC give you basic info on your mom, but it will list the cemetery where she's buried. It's possible that it's a different cemetery.

    I don't know if funeral homes keep records, but, having worked at another Baltimore cemetery, I know that cemeteries keep very detailed records.

    2) Look into accessing Baltimore Sun and Baltimore News American archives. The Sun is still in business and there is a fee for the service. The News American folded years ago, but the Baltimore County Public Library's main branch in Towson may have archives of their dailies.

    Also look into the Dundalk Eagle (Oaklawn Cemetery on Eastern Avenue is in Dundalk). If your mom or her family had any connection to the area, her obit might be in their archives.

    I wish you the best of luck in your search. You deserve to know what happened to your mom.
    pet me, feed me, pet me, feed me, pet me, feed me

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  12. #7
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    Thank you all so much.

    I've also decided to try and contact the "crime beat" bloggers for the Sun, also. Neither of them were there way back then but it's worth a try. I appreciate everyone's help!

    It's just frustrating that I can help everyone else and there's nothing for me to find on myself.

    I'll keep you all updated if I get any info.

    Thanks again,
    Maryann Black

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  14. #8
    CatMama3's suggestion about contacting local libraries would be my suggestion also. I find that most libraries have very obliging librarians who will be able to search old records, including newspapers, that are not available online.

    Once you explain your situation, see if they are able to look into their records and photocopy them for you. I have had libraries do this for free, others charge minimal fees if it isn't an enormous request.

    A librarian could come up with other avenues of searching that you haven't thought of, or might even know someone personally with info (I've had that happen twice!)

    Best of luck, and if your trail leads to Pittsburgh and you need a local amateur sleuth, I'd be glad to assist you!

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  16. #9
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    I found Mary F. Plewacki's obituary in the Baltimore Sun as well as her mother and grandmother. I sent those to Maryann.

    Chris

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  18. #10
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    Thank you Mr. Chris

    CTSmithson has been amazing in helping me find things in the Baltimore Sun that are not online. What a wonderful person and an amazing resource.

  19. #11
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    I think the crime beat email is an excellent idea! Also maybe try going to the Facebook page for the town in which your mother passed and relay a bit of the story. Maybe someone will go to the library and help research since you're so far away? I am so so sorry that you lost not only your mother but also grand mother at such an early age. God bless and good luck!

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  21. #12
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    My biggest frustration...

    is that besides the folks on here and Mr. Chris I can't get a soul to write me back. As I've said I've contacted the funeral home, the cemetary, the two crime bloggers and even an old lead on my mom's old school in Baltimore. I have yet (it's been over a year with the cemetary and funeral home, several times) to hear back from anyone. Even a "sorry, can't help" or a "we don't keep files from that far back" or anything. It's frustrating because I KNOW someone's getting the emails because they're not bouncing back. It makes me wonder what happened to the common courtesy that people use to have...speak when spoken to, answer when asked a question, yes ma'am, no ma'am, please and thank you.

    I apologize for venting it's just annoying to know that even a "no" would be a definitive answer...not knowing is what makes it rough.


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  23. #13
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    Finding more info

    I live in Maryland, but not near Baltimore. However, there are some sources of information available to you via snail mail.

    You quote the the autopsy report, and if you have a copy, excellent. Otherwise, you can obtain one directly from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. There is a $30 fee, and the information you'll need is located here: http://dhmh.maryland.gov/ocme/SitePa...utopsy_report_

    Your mother's death certificate is on file with the State, and instructions on how to obtain it are at http://dhmh.maryland.gov/vsa/SitePages/death.aspx

    Finally, you may be able to obtain a copy of the police report from the Baltimore City Police. Instructions are here: http://www.baltimorepolice.org/conta...-police-report

    Oaklawn Cemetery is huge, and you would probably need to go there in person to locate your mother's grave.

    Wish I could be more help. Best of luck finding the information you seek.

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  25. #14
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    Mary Frances Plewacki is not listed as being reported dead in the Social Security Death Index. That does not mean that she did not die. It means that she either did not have a social security number or a family member did not report her as deceased.

    Mary Frances Plewacki is listed in a newspaper article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sept 6, 1970. About what? I don't know because its a subscription site.

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  27. #15
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    I found this complete with her Soc #. PLEWACKI, MARY was born 21 November 1942; received Social Security number 217-40-7219, which corresponds to Maryland; and died October 1970.

    http://sortedbyname.com/pages/p106288.html

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  29. #16
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    I went to my trees and found her death record from the US Social Security Death Index.

    Name:

    PLEWACKI, MARY

    Social Security Number:

    217-40-7219 Applied for in Maryland
    Date of Death:

    Oct 1970
    Date of Birth:

    21 Nov 1942
    Residence (2/88 and prior):

    Last Residence (Zip):
    Lump Sum Payment Location (Zip):
    Reliability of Data:

    Request Letter to the US Social Security Administration

    Click Here to request a photocopy of the original application for a social security card that was filled out by your ancestor.

    You should be aware that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a death record for all persons. Therefore, the absence of a particular person is not proof this person is alive. Additionally, there is a possibility that incorrect records of death have been entered on the Death Master File (DMF). The Social Security Administration does not guarantee the accuracy of the file.

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  31. #17
    Maryland has the index to their death certificates online, and I found her listed as deceased in Baltimore City, October 24, 1970. Age 27. You can order a copy of her death certificate for $25. (Anyone can do this for persons deceased in Maryland before 1972, you do not need to prove your relationship.)
    Here is the link to the index page:
    http://mdvitalrec.net/cfm/dsp_jump.cfm?CurrentPage=17

    I also went back and scanned the Baltimore Sun for the dates October 24-26, 1970 and didn't see any mention of her death (except for her obituary which ran on October 25, 26, and 27), nor any unsolved murders or mysterious deaths for that time. If her death occurred the way your grandmother told it to you, I strongly suspect it would have been newsworthy enough to make the Sun paper at the time. For example, there were articles on those days about much less salacious deaths, including a woman in her 40's who died in a house fire and details on the 7 people killed in car accidents in Maryland that weekend.

    Since we know she died in the city of Baltimore, I'm thinking either it didn't happen the way your grandmother said it did... or else it wasn't ruled a homicide until later. Do you have a copy of the autopsy report or are those just the details that were related to you?

    I would recommend getting a copy of her death certificate which should include, among other things, the cause of death per the medical examiner as well as the address where she died. If you can find out the address you might be able to find some neighbors who are still alive.

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  33. #18
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    More info, and many thanks.

    I'm still researching and I did get her death certificate and it lists her death as "strangulation, manual" and she was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 6:07 a.m. on 10/24/70 but the "hour of death" is unknown with a ?? in the blank. It gives her "Place of Injury-Death" as "home" at 1213 Quantril Way, subject strangled not while at work. Apparently there was an Autopsy done by Isidore Mihalaskis, MD and was ruled a Homicide by the Assistant Medical Examiner on 10/25/70.

    I've also recieved a nice picture from the cemetary and the lovely lady there was more than helpful. Snapped a picture and took the time to mail it to me. My moms bronze marker was installed in 1971, she's buried at Lot 1291 in the Linden Memorial at Oak Lawn Cemetary.

    So that's a lot more than I knew even a month ago. My Gram didn't lie or embellish too much, if at all, since the death was ruled a homicide due to strangulation. So, I'm still looking for any news of the "murder" and I'm still investigating. Thank you all so much for all of your help! I do appreciate everyone and I know sometimes it's a while between my posts but I don't want to update where there's nothing to really say and I will try to keep everyone posted as I try and accumulate more info. Thanks to everyone who suggested I get the death certificate...it really has been a wealth of information.

  34. #19
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    Just an update Mary Frances Plewacki -Maryland

    I talked to the Baltimore Coroner and they are working with me to get the records for my mom. They said that it was deemed a homicide but een though the case is so old they have to talk to the DA and others to release the files to me. She doesn't have a name of suspect. It just doesn't make any sense why there is no news paper article regarding a murder.

    I'll try to keep you posted but it's like pulling teeth. Everytime I think I find one thing it just either hits a wall or has no correlation to anything I'm looking for.

    Thanks again, all, for all your help and support.

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  36. #20
    Thanks for the updates, Maryann. I just came by here to see if you had received any more information on your mother's case or if you have any more updates? Please know we are thinking of you and hoping for the best!

  37. #21
    Good luck, Maryann. I wish I could be of more help to you. I hope you find more information on your mother's case, and all the best to you - it must be difficult, finding so little information and publicity regarding her murder.

  38. #22
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    Good luck, Maryann! Interested in updates

  39. #23
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    Wow, I find it amazing that there's nothing in the newspaper about this. I live just outside of Baltimore City, if you ever need anything let me know!

  40. #24
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    Hi Maryann. I am not a very active member and I hope you’re still checking this board. I don’t know that anything I’ve dug up is of particular use. But your story and quest compelled me, since I do a lot of Baltimore research, to respond. I hope some of this leads you in a productive direction somehow. Also, I hope you will forgive me as I explain my findings and observations about the various locales; I wasn’t sure how recently you’d lived in Baltimore and thought that some context about the geographical areas and neighborhoods might help a little.

    As other posters have noted, there’s no mention of your mom’s death outside the death notice. I have a subscription to the historical Baltimore Sun and can access anything they have. Furthermore, I searched in a huge variety of ways and across a large date range before her death and afterwards. I looked not only for her name, but for any articles at all mentioning (I’m sorry!) “corpse,” “body,” “strangled”/”strangulation”, “Plewacki”, “Dollenger”, “Dollinger”. I looked for any incidents on Quantril Way—the only thing mentioned was a strange incident at 1100 Quantril (a block separated from the 1200 block by a kind of grassy area) where some police jacked up the wrong guy in September, 1970, thinking he was an escaped inmate from Jessup Prison, but the guys were named Reedy.

    Other weird things about Quantril Way: It’s shown on the Google map as located in what’s now a pretty bad part of East Baltimore, though it’s hard to tell whether it was as rough then and/or whether nowadays it’s more industrial or crime-ridden. (Basically that part of town to the south and west a couple blocks is really rough. It wasn’t rough—just working class—until around the postwar period. I only know this from research I’ve done in the vicinity about the Clare Stone murder, which happened between Elmora Ave. and Duncanwood Lane in the vicinity of Orangeville; Quantril Way is a kind of old, hidden area of duplex/triplexes north of Orangeville and east of Lake Clifton Park. Essentially the area has been doomed by city planning (highways and “boulevards”) and major industry located nearby, plus its proximity to traditionally poor areas to the south.)

    HOWEVER, the street does NOT show up—at all—in the property tax database! Clearly it exists, and it simply must be in Baltimore city proper or, at a stretch, in Baltimore county, but it’s not there. The street itself is winding and kind of a back street, almost like it was once a motel? But it should exist.

    Cambridge St., in Canton (a neighborhood east of the Inner Harbor) was probably, in 1970, not at all the place it is now—it was always a solid neighborhood of working class folks, but it has become fancy, fancy, fancy since the late 90s. The difference between Cambridge St. and Quantril Way, however—even in 1970—was light years. If your mom died on Quantril, any parent would prefer that the record showed Cambridge street.

    Plewackis are mentioned in the paper often enough up to the 70s, mostly residing in Canton. It's unclear why your mom's death is so obscured. Do you have your dad's name? This might lead to further productive searches, particularly if there was a *reason* this was hidden or covered up.

  41. #25
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    Long time since last update

    Hi everyone. Just wanted to touch base. I know it's been a long long LONG time since I've updated anything on my mom so I thought I'd send what I've come up with. It took months to finally track down the homicide report and then even more time with the coroner and such. I've talked to DAs, cops, homicide, file clerks...anyone who would give me 10 minutes to explain what I was looking for...I even tracked down some of the cops in the homicide report. It didn't get me far until just recently.

    I made a copy of all the district courts in Maryland and I just started calling from the top of the list. I would do a couple a day or a few a week as time would allow. Everyone would give me more numbers or push me to someone else. Then, I called and a wonderful lady name Ms. Theresa answered. She was part of the public information office for the States Attorney (Who knew?? I had long ago given up on trying to keep up with what department I was talking with THIS time...)

    I told her my story. Exact same one I told here and all my life and for months and months during this road I've decided to follow looking into my mom. She said I'd have to call the city solicitors office and see if they would be willing to work with me or if it was even legal after all this time and gave me the number. When I hung up she was going to be my last call for the day, and I hadn't told her any contact information because...what was the point really? No one ever calls back. Then my phone rang within 15 minutes of me hanging up. It was Ms. Theresa on the line and she had searched the offices caller ID to find what she hoped was my number. She asked if anyone with my name was here and then she told me something amazing...she said not to worry about the solicitor's office. She said they have an in-house investigator and she went and gave my information to him to follow up on.

    Apparently after I hung up she went and dug around in some old files thinking she'd find something and then track me down. What she found was a dead end that annoyed her as much as it had me. So...she was kind enough to pass everything she had on to this investigator. That was on the 13th of this month. Today I spoke to Investigator Cole! He's been digging around and can't figure out why there's NOTHING. He said there were some information degradation when they switched to microfiche from hand written paper and that many years ago pipes broke at the main courthouse and tons of records were destroyed...but it didn't fit this timeline. I've sent him everything I have (autopsy, homicide report and death certificate) and he said he's still digging and will contact me when he tracks down more information. I'm so excited! I know this is a 40+ year old case and I honestly want nothing to come of it...I just want answers.

    I don't know what it's ok to post here or not but if anyone is interested in the homicide reports or autopsy or thinks that those documents could help more this search forward let me know and I'll post them.

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