Boat name linked to woman missing for 30 yearsA sailboat called Cotton Blossom may hold the key to solving the 30-year-old disappearance of an Annapolis woman, investigators said
By LISA BEISEL, Staff Writer Published 06/10/10
In 1980, 44-year-old Nancy Snow vanished from Annapolis. Paul Collins, the man who was left to watch her home, said she left on a sailing trip and was reported missing when no one heard from her.
But late last year, investigators interviewed Collins again, giving him immunity so that nothing he said could be used against him, said Dave Cordle, chief investigator with the county State's Attorney's Office.
Snow, who worked for the Republican National Convention, was scheduled to return to Annapolis on Nov. 6, 1980, after being in St. Louis. A friend there saw her at a party the night before and at breakfast on Nov. 6 before she left for Annapolis, Cordle said.
Collins told police at the time that he talked to Snow in the early morning hours of Nov. 8. She told him she had gone to McGarvey's Saloon in downtown Annapolis and found a job helping "Captain Jay" deliver a boat to the Caribbean.
In an interview late last year, Collins told investigators that Snow had been looking for work on a boat at Petrini Shipyard on Spa Creek.
Around the same time, Snow's family members mentioned the 55-foot sailboat Cotton Blossom as a boat she might have been trying to work on, Cordle said. They had found the name in an old file and brought it to the attention of investigators, who started looking into the boat.
Collins also mentioned that Snow was going to work for a Captain J or Captain Jay.
"He doesn't know who Captain Jay is, and we're not even sure it was the Cotton Blossom," Cordle said.
Cordle has talked to longtime McGarvey's employees about Captain J, but no one there has heard of him, either.
Cordle also has been trying to track down the boat through Coast Guard vessel records in Baltimore.
The name may have changed over the years, or the boat may not exist anymore, he acknowledges. And apparently it's a popular boat name.
"There happen to be a lot of Cotton Blossoms," he said.
One is now based in Australia; one is in Washington state.
Still, any new nugget of information is cause for hope.
"At least after all these years, we finally have something to go on," Cordle said.
If it seems odd that anyone would take off on a sailing trip like this, it shouldn't, Cordle said. Snow was a "typical Annapolis sailor-type who would pick up in a heartbeat, on a moment's notice, and go on a trip," he said.
But at this point, he's convinced she was killed. Though she might pick up and leave, she never would have lost contact with her three daughters, who lived in California with her ex-husband.
"She would not have ever abandoned her daughters," Cordle said, adding that she'd write to them regularly when she was away. They were very close, he said.
Snow's daughters now have children of their own, children who ask about their grandmother.
"Their children ask questions all the time, and they can't give them answers," Cordle said.
He hopes that, at the very least, Snow's body will eventually be recovered. Hundreds of remains are found and entered into databases each year, and DNA may one day help recover Snow's body.
"There's always hope," Cordle said.Anyone with information about Nancy Snow or the Cotton Blossom is asked to call Dave Cordle or Bill Johns at 410-222-1740.