http://www.statejournal.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=60004A 27-Year-Old Mother Disappears Without A Trace
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009 ; 04:34 PM
Part One of A Special Report...... "Missing: Annita"
Story by D.K. Wright
Benwood, WV -- It was on this week, 35 years ago, that an Ohio Valley woman disappeared without a trace.
She was driving to work and then suddenly she was gone.
Her borrowed car was parked along the road, with no one inside.
Annita Maria Musto Price was 27.
They say she was attractive and enthusiastic.
"A boisterous personality," describes her daughter, Madonna Layne of Richmond, VA. "She had a big laugh. You'd hear her before you'd see her."
At six feet tall, she was statuesque and unusual.
"She had an exuberant personality," says Sgt. Dan Swiger, cold case investigator for the West Virginia State Police. "She was described by some as a fighter."
May 30, 1974, this spirited mother of two disappeared.
She was on her way to work at the Flamingo Club in Benwood.
Her borrowed green Gremlin was found with no one inside.
"The car was found parked along Route 2 northbound, north of Moundsville," said Madonna Layne.
Police say there was no evidence of a struggle, although some cosmetics--including lipstick and an eyeliner--were lying on the seat of the car.
Annita's disappearance was not reported to police for three days.
And the original West Virginia State Police file on the case is only a few pages.
Madonna Layne is critical of the original police work.
"They spent a total of 18 hours investigating her disappearance," she said. "Not even a full day."
Thirty-five years later, it's again in the hands of the West Virginia State Police, this time with their cold case investigator.
Sgt. Dan Swiger admits the file was scant, but says that's the way things were done then.
"In 1974 I think it was a different time," says Sgt. Swiger. "It's easy to Monday morning quarterback."
Madonna Layne was five years old when her mother disappeared.
Her brother was three.
She says her mother was involved in the fight of her life at the time, for the custody of her two children.
"Actually, she and my father were separated at the time," Layne says. "They'd been going through a pretty nasty custody battle and she was fighting tooth and nail to keep my brother and I."
Layne feels certain she knows what happened to her mother.
"She was shot in the head by an individual with a small caliber handgun in the Moundville area and she is buried near or underneath a power pole," Layne says.
This amazingly detailed concept is one she has held--very vocally--since childhood.
"And I got in a lot of trouble for speaking my mind," she recalls. "I just grew up saying this is what happened.
Was this just the fanciful idea of a child?
Everyone thought perhaps it was, until four years ago, when an anonymous informant came forward.
Layne says investigators talked to the informant and then told her that the informant's version of what happened matched hers, almost word for word.
So now this cold case has heated up.
The picture that Layne holds in her mind even includes a clear image of the killer.
So does she believe she knows who did it?
"Absolutely," she answers calmly. "I know who did it. I have no doubts."
Does the cold case investigator believe this case is solvable?
"With the right piece of the puzzle, I think it is," says Sgt. Swiger.
Anyone with memories or information about this case is urged to call WTRF's Crimefighter's Tipline at 1-800-223-0312.
Your tip will go straight to law enforcement and will be kept confidential.