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Sunday, June 2, 1991

‘Remember her and keep looking’; After


8 years, friends still wait for Ann Gotlib
By Lawrence Muhammad
The Courier-Journal

Under an overcast sunset yesterday, about 50 people tied yellow ribbons on a spruce tree
in remembrance of Ann Gotlib, the 12-year-old girl whose disappearance eight years ago
sparked a nationwide search that is yet unresolved.

The tree, dedicated to Gotlib last year, was part of a makeshift shrine erected on the lawn
of the Meredith-Dunn Learning Center, 3023 Melbourne Ave. There was also an 11-by-
17-inch computer-generated likeness of Gotlib as she would look today, at 20, set
between two kerosene torches flickering atop 6- foot poles. "The only thing we can do for
our child now is remember her and keep looking," said her mother, Lyudmila Gotlib.

Ann Gotlib vanished from Bashford Manor Mall on June 1, 1983. Her bicycle was found
on the southeast side of the mall.

Local and federal authorities have conducted an intensive search in the years since,
interviewing more than 1,000 people and investigating more than 200 possible suspects.
Spokesmen for the law-enforcement agencies say the case is still under investigation.

Photographs of Gotlib's smiling, freckled face under shoulder-length red hair were spread
nationally on milk cartons, utility bills, posters and shopping bags.

The search seemed to feed aspects of the mystery but produced few clues.

Two years ago, WAVE-TV aired a 30-minute documentary, the result of 10 weeks of
chasing leads in several major cities and developing theories on whether the girl, whose
family had emigrated from the Soviet Union, was actually abducted -- as widely believed
-- or ran away.

According to the program, more than 500 people -- in nearly every state and the Soviet
Union -- have reported seeing Gotlib, and U.S. intelligence agents pursued speculation
that she was kidnapped by the KGB.

Then last March, 20 local police and FBI agents with shovels and a bulldozer searched a
remote area of Fort Knox where a Texas convict said he murdered and buried a "freckle-
faced girl" while he was stationed there in 1983.
Nothing has been found in eight years. But through it all, Gotlib's parents and their
supporters have kept a brave, hopeful vigil in the form of yearly observances, first at
Bashford Manor, then the Jefferson County Courthouse, the Jewish Community Center
and, for the last two years, the Meredith-Dunn Learning Center.

In the 30-minute ceremony yesterday, Rabbi Leonard Devine of The Temple briefly
recalled the Ann Gotlib he knew as "vital, beautiful, dreaming of a future," and Rosie
Norris, of the Exploited Children's Help Organization, a Louisville activist group, urged
those who "ache to hold Ann in your arms" to keep holding her in their hearts.

Her mother expressed gratitude for the observances but wasn't sure how much good they
do.

"We feel we have to stay with it, no matter the result," she said. "We are not going to give
up, even if it takes the rest of our lives."

Asked about the theory that Ann might be living a normal life outside captivity, her
father, Anatoly Gotlib, said, "that's one possibility."

Some investigators have speculated that the girl, who emigrated with her parents in 1980,
ran away because she found adjustment to American life difficult.

If she is alive and free, her father said, "we want her to know we are waiting for her, that
we love her. We want her to come back home."

Anyone with information about Gotlib's whereabouts or disappearance should call local
police or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.

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