Girl, 9, shot dead at Oregon rural fair in 1961 identified

Police say they have made a ‘major breakthrough’ in the murder of the little girl in a remote area in northwestern Washington State

Police in Washington state have said they have solved a more than 60-year-old cold case of a nine-year-old girl who was shot dead while selling mints at a town fair.

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Abby Wolfe was shot in the head as she stood beside her bicycle at the fair in 1961. Her family placed her body in a basket and carried it to the family farm for burial.

The investigation into her death stalled for decades, with few clues, until police in Snohomish County concluded last year they had found the girl’s body along the Edmonds Marsh, a mudflat that runs behind the Clearview area.

Abby Wolfe Photograph: AP

The 1,000-acre marsh had become a popular “hot spot” for small children playing in recent years, but it was mostly marshland, making it difficult to find since the girl’s body was beneath a lot of tall vegetation. More than six decades after the girl’s death, investigators narrowed down a search area with the help of forensic scientists and technology, like drone surveillance.

Last year police confirmed the remains were Abby’s. On Thursday they announced they had made a “major breakthrough” in the case and that the death was a homicide. They declined to say how they believe Abby was killed.

The case remains under investigation, and there has been no word yet on whether anyone is being charged, police said. Police identified the girl using evidence, as opposed to DNA analysis, because the girl was four years old when she died, and the effects of time and exposure likely made the DNA completely go away.

“The fact that our family has endured all these years is a testament to Abby’s legacy, and it’s a testament to their strength,” said Susan Wolfe, Abby’s sister, in a statement. “We will always remember and cherish that spirit. It is the fabric that binds this family together today.”

Nearly 70 people who were at the fair on the day Abby was killed have been interviewed, according to the sheriff’s office. The case remains open and police said they may interview other people who were at the fair.

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