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Ann was last seen in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky on June 1, 1983. She was riding her red and white bicycle from the Bashford Manor Mall back to her family's residence between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Her bicycle was later found propped up against a brick pillar outside of Bacon's Department Store in the mall; a photo of the bicycle is posted below this case summary. Ann never arrived home and has not been heard from again. The mall was across the street from her Gerald Court home.
Three days after Ann's disappearance, a police bloodhound picked up her scent around a ditch near the mall and twice led investigators to the window of an apartment across the street. It was the residence of Ester Okmyansky, the grandmother of Ann's best friend, Tanya Okmyansky. Tanya was the last person to see Ann before she vanished. Ester said Ann had never visited her apartment. Officials eventually concluded that the dog erred when distracted by the smell of cooking food. The entire family was checked and all were cleared of involvement.
There was speculation that Ann ran because she was having trouble adjusting to life in America. Her loved ones say she was not unusually anxious and, if she had decided to run away, she would probably have contacted them eventually or taken money and her favorite possessions. There were several reported sightings of her, particularly in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, which has a high concentration of Russian immigrants. None of the sightings were ever substantiated, however. A theory that Ann was kidnapped by agents of the Soviet government in an attempt to force her family to return to that country has been discarded.
In December 2008, authorities announced they believed Gregory Lewis Oakley Jr. was responsible for Ann's abduction and murder. A photograph of Oakley is posted below this case summary. He had once abducted his stepdaughter and injected her with a painkiller drug to sedate her. He was charged with attempted murder in that case, but eventually pleaded guilty to assault. In September 1983, Oakley attacked a police officer's thirteen-year-old daughter in her home, stabbed her and attempted to rape her. She survived. Oakley was arrested for the crime in January 1984 and was then questioned about Ann's case. He denied involvement, but he failed a polygraph test and bank records proved he made an ATM transaction at the Bashford Manor Mall just 100 minutes before Ann disappeared. Oakley stated he left Louisville on a business trip immediately after he finished at the bank.
In June 1984, Oakley was convicted of burglary and attempted rape and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was paroled on medical grounds in 2002, returned to his native Alabama and died of lung cancer months later. In September 2008, an inmate who had served time in prison with Oakley told authorities Oakley had killed Ann with an injection of the painkiller Talwin. He was a veterinarian and would have had easy access to the drug. The informant passed a polygraph about his information, and Oakley's former girlfriend corroborated the story. She stated that at 11:00 p.m. on the night Ann disappeared, Oakley came to her Louisville home and asked her to wash some clothes for him. This contradicts his story that he left Louisville that afternoon, before Ann disappeared. Investigators stated if Oakley was alive today, based on the evidence now available, he would be charged with Ann's murder.
The investigation into Ann's case remains active, and authorities hope they can find her body. Her parents still live in the Louisville area and are hopeful that the case will someday be resolved.
Left: Gregory Oakley in 1984;
Right: Gotlib's bicycle propped against a pillar
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
Louisville, Kentucky Office