This post looks at a 1972 North York, Ontario case involving a suspected abduction. Fourteen-year-old Ingrid Bauer stepped out into the warm August night intending to see her boyfriend. Instead, she mysteriously disappeared — and is still missing.
Like many girls her age, 14-year-old Ingrid Bauer was head over heels in love with a boy. His name was Larry, and he lived in Pine Grove, Ontario, about six kilometres from her own home in the sleepy village of Kleinburg. It was the evening of August 16, 1972, and she was anxious to see him. She had just gotten back from a two-week stay at the family cottage in Thornbury and decided she couldn’t wait until the next day to pay Larry a visit — she’d hitch a ride that night and see him.
In the early 1970s, public transportation didn’t exist in Kleinburg and the surrounding area. It was largely rural at the time. So if you were a teenager without a car and you wanted to get somewhere, your options were limited. You asked someone with a car (usually Mom or Dad) to take you. You walked or cycled if the weather permitted. And lastly – a popular option for young people at the time – you hitchhiked. It was fraught with obvious dangers, but, as the thinking at the time went, you’d be okay if you followed two simple rules: first, don’t get into a car with too many people. Second, avoid getting in with anyone who looked like a murderer.
She’d hitch a ride that night and see him.
Ingrid had thumbed rides to Larry’s house countless times before, but never this late. It would be her first time hitchhiking at night. But she was determined to see the love of her life. She went to her room, threw her suitcase onto the bed, turned around and headed back out the door.
“I’ll be back at around ten-thirty!” she called out to her father, Oscar. It was 9:30 p.m.
She left her makeup, money and purse in her bedroom. Her older brother, Brent, said she even left the house barefoot, wearing just bell-bottom slacks and a sweater with large red apples and green leaf design on a tan background. As the door banged shut behind her, nothing was amiss. There had been no fight or dire family problems to speak of. She was responsible, her grades were good and she had no known problems with drugs or alcohol. In other words, there was nothing to indicate that Ingrid was walking out of the house for the last time. After a short stroll to the intersection of Pennin Road and Islington Avenue, she stuck out her thumb at passing motorists and played the waiting game. Someone would pick her up.
“I’ll be back at around ten-thirty!”
There were two reported sightings of Ingrid after she left home. The first was made by Brent. He was on his way to the local shop to pick up milk and a pack of cigarettes when he spotted Ingrid near the corner of Pennin Road and Islington Avenue. He also saw a police cruiser nearby. On his return trip home just minutes later, Ingrid was gone.
Eighteen-year-old Terry Bell made the second sighting. He saw Ingrid walking south on the west side of Islington Avenue at around 9:45 p.m.
This was the last time Ingrid was seen before she vanished off the face of the earth.
The area where Ingrid was last seen and the location where cries were heard minutes later.
It wasn’t long after Brent returned home at around 10:10 p.m. that Larry called, looking for Ingrid. She hadn’t arrived. Almost immediately, alarm bells started ringing for Oscar Bauer. He got in the family car and drove to Larry’s house, checking the ditches on either side of the road, afraid that Ingrid may have been hit by a car. But he found nothing. When he returned home he called the police and reported his daughter missing.
Ingrid was gone.
That night and over the course of the next few days, hundreds of volunteers fanned out in a 20-mile radius around the Bauer home. Divers explored the Humber River and at least one old gravel pit in the area. A helicopter scoured the land from the sky. Vast resources were pulled to aid in the search for the missing girl. In later weeks, forty-two billboards were erected across the country with a photo of Ingrid and Oscar’s heartbreaking plea, “Please … tell me where Ingrid is.”
While the search was underway, several Kleinburg residents came forward and told police they heard the cries of a young person in the vicinity of Islington Avenue and Sevilla Drive at around 10 p.m. that night. Police were also told of a suspicious pickup truck that was seen in that area at around the same time. But nothing was borne from these pieces of information.
They heard the cries of a young person.
Despite the massive size of the operation that took place – one of the most highly-publicized in Ontario history at the time – no trace of Ingrid was found. Investigators acted upon the hundreds of leads that poured in, but they could unearth no clues to help narrow their search. It was as if Ingrid had simply melted into the shadows of that fateful August night, leaving no trace of her behind.
Today, only old photographs and faded memories remain of the vivacious teenager. Oscar Bauer died in 2016 after finally coming to the painful conclusion that his daughter, then missing for 44 years, was never coming back to him. And though hope fades with each passing year that she’ll be found, hope does still remain. All that’s needed is for that one person to step forward who has an inkling of what happened the night Ingrid was stolen.
What We Know
Name: Ingrid Bauer
Last reliable sighting: Wednesday, August 16, 1972 at around 9:45 p.m.
Clothing and Personal Items
- bell-bottom slacks
- sweater with large red apples and green leaf design on a tan background
Notes and Speculations
As noted, cries were reported that sounded like a young person at around 10 p.m., just a few minutes’ walk south of where Ingrid was last seen. If the reports are accurate, this strongly suggests that it was Ingrid who made these cries.
But what kind of cries were they? The cries of someone in distress? It was the summer holidays — could the cries have been kids at play? It wasn’t that late, not on a summer night. There’s also a difference between screams and cries. How long did they last?
A pick-up truck was also reported to be in the area where the cries were heard that night, but that’s all that was made public or was known. The make or color is unknown. Was the truck parked? Was it driving past Sevilla Drive on its way out of Kleinburg? Were the cries coming from the truck? This information leads nowhere.
Unless detectives are holding back what they know – and this is a certainty – the facts point in the general direction of Ingrid being the victim of a crime of opportunity and possibly of a stranger abduction. From all accounts, Ingrid was back home earlier than planned. She might have called a friend or two to let them know she was back, but that’s all. Was the boyfriend aware she was back? Accounts vary as to who knew what – and when – in the timeframe Ingrid went missing. She had hitchhiked before, but not at night, so she wasn’t following a pattern of known behavior that an abductor could schedule around. This looks less like a planned abduction and more like a chance opportunity being acted upon.
Was an experienced killer – a Ted Bundy type – out trolling the highways for victims that night and happened upon Ingrid, thumb out? Did she get into a vehicle with a driver who took his clumsy come-ons to a place where things got tragically out of hand? If she was taken, did she know the person or persons who took her? Or – on another track entirely – was Ingrid involved in a vehicular accident where the driver panicked and, instead of simply driving off, loaded her into the car and took her away? The answers to these questions are unknowable at this time.
Hoshowsky, Robert J. UNSOLVED: True Canadian Cold Cases. 2010.
Canadian Press (1972, August 22). Girl Hitchhiker Missing. The Ottawa Journal, p. 1.
Canadian Press (1972, September 8). Ingrid Bauer $3,000 Reward. The Gazette, p. 63.
Canadian Press (1972, November 7). Father Uses Billboards to Locate Daughter. Nanaimo Daily News, p. 1.
Canadian Press (1972, November 7). Billboard Ad for Missing Girl. Nanaimo Daily News, p. 7.
Canadian Press (1972, November 9). Search for Ingrid Hits the Billboards. The Brandon Sun, p. 12.
Canadian Press (1972, November 17). Billboards Aid Search. The Ottawa Journal, p. 5.
Canadian Press (1973, February 28). Billboards Down. Nanaimo Daily News, p. 12.
If you can help bring Ingrid home, please contact the York Regional Police Cold Case Unit at 1-800-876-5423 ext. 7865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.