CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WNCT) — On May 10, 1941, Mary Rachel Bryan and her mother, Leila, left home at 9 pm to buy groceries. They were never seen again.
Mary Rachel Bryan was born on July 14, 1937. She was 3 years old at the time she went missing.
The disappearance occurred 82 years ago and investigators have been left with more questions than answers.
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Leila was driving her husband’s black 1935 Ford Model A coupe the day they disappeared. The vehicle was also never found.
Investigators had two leading theories, Mary’s father and Mary’s mother.
Mary’s father, Edis Clarence Bryan, was a lead suspect in the case but was never charged. Edis died in 1976. Police thought that Edis killed his wife and daughter and then buried them beneath his beach cottage on Raleigh Avenue. Leila’s nephew, Lewis Smith, told police that his uncle poured concrete flooring in the basement at the time of the disappearance.
Investigators dug up the basement flooring in the cottage in 2009 to look for bodies but ultimately came up empty. The house was crossed off the list as a potential burial site.
Investigators believed that maybe Leila killed her daughter and then killed herself. There has been no evidence found to support this theory.
Both Mary and Leila were legally declared deceased in 1948.
If you have information about this case or any unsolved case in North Carolina, please contact the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, (800) 334-3000.