Story originally published June 13, 1965.
Mary Harvey Meslener was 23 years old Feb. 23, 1959. She had grown up on McDonough St. in the Bronx, N.Y., an introvertish, shy child. The neighbors remember her as a "quiet sweet mama's girl."
Her mother described her as timid, very sensitive, and said she thought seriously about entering a convent at 17. "She was suspicious of all men until Frank came along."
Frank was Frank Meslener, then 29, a large tatooed man of contained emotion who had married her in 1954. They moved to Miami in late 1958 and lived with relatives at 19320 NW 7th Ct. They had a little money saved. He was taking an auto engine tune-up class at night school.
Mary Meslener put her reddish-blonde hair in a ponytail that Feb. 23, 1959, and worked eight hours as a telephone reservation clerk at the executive offices of National Airlines near Miami International Airport.
The job paid $68 a week. She had been employed 14 days. Her supervisor later described her as "very quiet," "very nervous," and "not one apt to make friends easily."
Near a candy machine, which held chocolate-covered peanuts, Mary Meslener punched her timecard Feb 23. The time: 7:36 p.m.
Presumably, she walked alone to her car parked in the lighted National lot. Soon she was to be murdered, the victim of a brutal, senseless, still-baffling crime.
Mary Meslener was due at North Miami High School that night for a creative writing class. She had enrolled seven weeks before and had previously told her instructor she would be a little late because she didn't quit work until 7:30 p.m. She never made it Feb. 23.
Late that Monday night, when she didn't return home, the husband and Mary's brother began searching the streets, the airport. They telephoned hospitals. They reporter her as a missing person to the police. Meslener searched again the next day and twice took the money from the bank to hire a private detective.
About 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, a cloudy warm morning, Hugh Zeigler and his wife Olivia parked their jeep along the weed-strewn edge of NW South River Drive to go fishing. This was about three miles north-northwest from the edge of the airport.
"My dog started toward the water and I called to him and that is when I saw a pair of legs sticking out from under the underbrush," the woman said. "I said, 'Oh, my God! There lays a body!' "
Mary Meslener had been found.
It took the chief of police of Medley about 30 minutes to reach the scene, and by the time the first Dade homicide Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) man arrived at 9:38 a.m. someone had gathered the evidence and put it on the hood of a car.
"We had to try to put the stuff back where it was found for the crime lab photographer," said Detective Philip Thibedeau.
Police found the victim's inexpensive Timex wristwatch which had no band, her initialed sterling silver Ronson cigaret lighter, a blood-smudged pack of Marlboro filter tip cigarets, a nickel, a penny, a few bobby pins, and an opened cellophane sack of chocolate covered peanuts.
The Medley chief, believing he recognized the woman, made a wrong identification. It wasn't clarified until a stunned Frank Meslener went to the count morgue at 10:05 p.m. that night.
His wife, Mary, 5 foot 3 inches, 118 pounds, had been dumped 40 feet from the roadway, 7 feet from the canal, partly on her face and partly on her side.