This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class. The student credited above wrote this story as a class project.
Strawberry blonde hair, a beautiful smile and an infectiously friendly personality — those are just some of the ways friends and family describe Anna Marie Mullin.
Sure, she’d had a hard life – a childhood filled with trauma and an adulthood filled with alcohol — but her generosity was never questioned.
“It sounds cliché but she was the kind of person who would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it,” said Francis Kubes, Mullin’s sister. “It didn’t matter what it was, if you needed help, she’d do whatever she could.”
But that generosity was forever ended 36 years ago when Mullin’s body was found on the front steps of St. Clement’s Catholic Church in Wilton Manors. The 22-year-old had been beaten, raped and murdered.
Mullin was seen leaving a bar called The Caboose with a man less than a mile from the Wilton Manors Police Department on Nov. 6, 1982. That was the last known time she was seen alive.
According to a story in The Florida Sun Sentinel, a suspect was quickly identified after two employees at the bar agreed to undergo hypnosis to provide police with details of the night.
The man the employees described was in his early 30s, roughly 5-feet-11-inches tall, weighing approximately 200 pounds with dark brown hair and brown eyes – similar to the man seen leaving The Caboose with Mullin that night.
One of the employees reportedly said the man’s name was Toni – spelled with an “i” — but was unable to remember a last name.
They recalled playing pool with the man and that he used a unique assembly style he referred to as “the New Jersey rack.” An envelope that the suspect had laid on the bar had a return address in northwest Pompano Beach and a name starting with a “t.”
No arrests were made, and the case remains unsolved.
Kubes said the case files and evidence for the case seems to have been either lost or thrown out by the police.
When contacted, both the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and Wilton Manors Police Department declined to comment on Mullin’s case. Officials in the Florida Attorney General’s office identify Mullin by her medical examiner number and say they don’t have an official police report number for her file.
Life wasn’t easy for Mullin, but she made the most of it from a young age, according to her sister. In a family of eight siblings, Mullin took on the role of protector and caretaker for her brothers and sisters. She did her best to ensure her siblings never went hungry and were taken care of.
“She was my hero,” said Kubes. “I’m alive because of her.”
Kubes describes her sister as extremely loyal and generous to a fault.
Mullin and her siblings were eventually put into the foster care system, with Mullin going to live with her aunt’s family in Ashland, Massachusetts.
Barbara Shahood, Mullin’s cousin, remembers Mullin as a beautiful, intelligent, artistic young woman.
Never in trouble and with innumerable friends, Mullin was involved in both sports and the arts at Ashland High School. She played basketball for three years, but art is where she really excelled.
Mullin was also in love with the outdoors. She was always camping and hiking with her family and friends.
But it wasn’t just extracurricular activities that had Mullin’s interest. She was also incredibly intelligent.
“She graduated a year early in high school,” Shahood remembered. “I always thought she would graduate with me since we were in the same year, but she finished early.”
After high school, Mullin joined the Air Force in an effort to break out on her own. She graduated basic training and moved on to her job school.
Mullin was offered the choice to change jobs or be honorably discharged when she was 19. Shahood isn’t exactly sure why but believes Mullin may have struggled in the school for her original job. Mullin chose the honorable discharge.
Shahood said she believes that Mullin enjoyed the freedom that being on her own allowed her, which led her to move to Florida after leaving the Air Force rather than move back to Massachusetts.
Mullin lived in Wilton Manors for the next three years where she worked as a telephone operator.
For many years Mullin had problems with alcohol use. Her sister believes it was Mullin’s attempt to forget the traumas of her childhood.
But Mullin was always generous and loved, her sister said. That’s why Kubes is still angry that her sister was taken from her that night in 1982.
Kubes views what happened as a theft of her sister’s dignity and says that she won’t stop until those responsible are brought to justice and that dignity is restored, “I owe that to her.”
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