Timothy Lee Willoughby
Willoughby, approximately 1978; Mary Ann Higginbotham
Date reported missing : 06/06/1978
Missing location (approx) :
Missing classification : Endangered Missing
Gender : Male
Age at the time of disappearance: 24 years old
Height / Weight : 5'10 - 6'0, 160 - 170 pounds
Distinguishing characteristics, birthmarks, tattoos
: Caucasian male. Brown hair, green eyes. Willoughby has the name "Ann" tattooed on his shoulder in small letters.
Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : Willoughby was last seen in Clayton, Indiana on June 6, 1978. His live-in girlfriend of two years, 22-year-old Mary Ann Higginbotham, a waitress, disappeared at the same time he did. They lived on Rural Route 3 in Clayton.
A photo of Higginbotham is posted with this case summary. Her family wasn't concerned when she dropped out of sight, and no one ever filed a missing persons report for her.
On June 4, 1979, almost a year to the day after she disappeared, her skeletal remains were found welded inside a 55-gallon drum in White Lick Creek at the end of Sycamore Lane in Mooresville, Indiana, about a dozen miles from her home. She was fully clothed and had been shot in the head with a small-caliber handgun, execution-style. There was no sign of Willoughby, however, and he has never been located.
Authorities initially believed Willoughby had killed Higginbotham, but they could find no evidence to support this theory and the couple wasn't having problems in their relationship. He was never charged in her death and no warrants were issued for his arrest.
In 1982, an anonymous informant told police that both of them had been murdered on the day they disappeared by two people they knew, Ronald C. Tomasik and James L. Kellam. Willoughby was supposedly shot in the head, like Higginbotham, about a mile from his home and his body was put in a barrel as hers had been.
The alleged motive for the murders was to keep the couple from telling the police about Kellam and Tomasik's roles in an auto theft ring. Investigators don't believe Higginbotham was involved in any crimes, but shortly before his disappearance, Willoughby had been arrested for attempted auto theft, auto theft, and arson of the stolen vehicle.
Based on the witness's information, Tomacik and Kellams arrested for the murders, but both of them were later released and the charges against them were dropped for lack of evidence.
Investigators are still hoping to recover Willoughby's body and solve his disappearance and Higginbotham's murder. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
Other information and links : ncy
Indiana State Police
September 2021 updates and sources
Indiana State Police
A missing person is a person who has disappeared and whose status as alive or dead cannot be confirmed as their location and condition are not known. A person may go missing through a voluntary disappearance, or else due to an accident, crime, death in a location where they cannot be found (such as at sea), or many other reasons. In most parts of the world, a missing person will usually be found quickly. While criminal abductions are some of the most widely reported missing person cases, these account for only 2–5% of missing children in Europe.
By contrast, some missing person cases remain unresolved for many years. Laws related to these cases are often complex since, in many jurisdictions, relatives and third parties may not deal with a person's assets until their death is considered proven by law and a formal death certificate issued. The situation, uncertainties, and lack of closure or a funeral resulting when a person goes missing may be extremely painful with long-lasting effects on family and friends.
Several organizations seek to connect, share best practices, and disseminate information and imAge at the time of disappearance: s of missing children to improve the effectiveness of missing children investigations, including the International Commission on Missing Persons, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), as well as national organizations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the US, Missing People in the UK, Child Focus in Belgium, and The Smile of the Child in Greece.
The Indianapolis Star
United Press International
October 12, 2004. November 20, 2016; picture added, Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : updated.
Interactive Missing Person Search Map