On the afternoon of Tuesday, January 16, 1973, Anna Waters came home from school and changed right away. She then asked her mother if she could play outside. Anna didn’t care about the cold and rainy weather near Half Moon Bay, California. That afternoon, Michele, her mother, had some friends over. She told her daughter that she could go outside as long as she wore her rubber boots. Anna put them on over her blue jeans and ran out the back door with a smile at 1:15 pm.
Over the next hour, Michele checked on her daughter a few times and found the 5-year-old playing in the garden and back garden of their home in rural San Mateo County. At 2:00 p.m., Anna was playing with some of the farm’s cats on the back porch. Around 2:15, Michele went to look for Anna but found that the little girl wasn’t on the back porch or in the yard. With the help of some friends, Michele searched the area for another hour, but Anna could not be found. Just after 3 p.m., Michele called the police to say that her daughter was missing.
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office sent deputies to the house at 3:15 pm to look for the 5-year-old right away. They thought she might have went into Purisima Creek, which was behind their house. The creek was higher than usual because it had rained recently, and people were afraid that Anna might have fallen into the water and not been able to get back out. So, the first part of their search was focused along the edge of the creek.
A huge number of people looked for Anna physically. There were also about 100 volunteers from the state’s Division of Forestry and deputies from the sheriff’s office. They looked all over the area around the family’s house for any sign of the missing girl. Deputies set off a loud siren because they thought she might try to hide from the searchers. They hoped Anna would hear it and go back home to find out what was going on.
Small boot prints found near the edge of the creek made people even more afraid that Anna had drowned. At first, they thought the footprints belonged to the 5-year-old, but later they found that Anna’s big rain boots couldn’t have made them that small. A bloodhound was sent to the area to try to find Anna’s scent, but he couldn’t find her anywhere.
The police searched more than a mile of the creek, but they couldn’t find any signs that Anna had fallen in and drowned. They also went through two homes on the property where Anna lived, five barns, and a few chicken coops where she was known to hang out. They didn’t find anything.
After midnight, the search was put on hold, but it began again as soon as the sun came up. She had always been happy to play in the backyard, so Anna had never been the type of child to get lost. She also knew from a young age that she couldn’t go near the creek without an adult, and she always made sure to follow this rule.
Thursday, the weather got stormier all day, so volunteers had to give up their search for the missing child. A sheriff’s department spokesperson said that things were not looking good, but they were still hopeful that Anna would be found alive.
Anna went to Alvin Hatch Elementary School in Half Moon Bay and was in kindergarten. She had morning classes and took the school bus home every day around 1:00 pm. In a farmhouse seven miles south of Half Moon Bay, she lived with her mother, stepfather, and half-brother. The family had horses, chickens, and roosters. Anna loved the animals on the farm and working in the flower garden with her family. She liked herself and was happy. People at school liked her, but she was wary of new people.
George Waters was Anna’s real father. He lived in San Francisco and hadn’t seen his daughter in a few years. Even though he didn’t really know Anna, he sent Michele monthly child support payments. He was told that Anna had gone missing, but he didn’t seem too upset about it. After learning that Anna was missing, he never called her mother again.
Divers were sent back into Purisima Creek after the weather got better. They searched a three-mile stretch of the creek but didn’t find anything. They were sure Anna wasn’t in the water.
The search for the missing child on land got tougher after the search in the water failed. They, along with dozens of volunteers, looked everywhere in the area, desperate to find any sign of where Anna was. The searchers mostly went on foot, but some rode horses and some brought tracking dogs to help. The area was searched over and over by a police helicopter, which was hoping to find something that the people on the ground had missed. The searches on land and in the air turned up no clues, just like the search in the water.
Because deputies first thought Anna had drowned, they didn’t talk to any of her neighbours to find out if they had seen anything strange in the area on the day she disappeared. As soon as the police realised she probably wouldn’t be found in the creek, they rushed to talk to people who lived near the family farm.
Someone saw two men in a white panel truck driving away from the family’s house around the time Anna went missing. She could not describe either of the men to the police. All she could remember was that one of them was much older than the other. Both men were strangers to her, and she was sure they were not from the area.
The girl’s half-brother told police that a man and a woman had tried to get her into their car while she was playing in the front garden about a month before she went missing. He said the car was a Chevrolet Impala from the 1960s and remembered that it had a Washington licence plate, but police couldn’t find it.
As the investigation went on, some detectives thought that Anna’s biological father might have had something to do with her disappearance. Brody was the last name of a man that George Waters had been seeing for a long time. They met in 1967, when Waters was still married to Michele. However, Brody was apparently a fake name, and the man’s real name is still unknown. Family friends say that Brody would manipulate George, but George wouldn’t stop hanging out with him.
Not only did Brody have a strange effect on George, he also became obsessed with Anna and thought she was the reincarnation of a woman he had lived with before. As George’s relationship with Brody grew, his mental health became more unstable, and Michele finally decided to divorce him.
A short time after the divorce, George was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but he refused to go to the hospital. He refused to accept any help, even though he came from a well-known family and went to one of the best medical schools in the country. He moved in with Brody in a sketchy hotel in the Tenderloin, but there was no sign that they were dating. Now, some people were wondering if Brody’s love for Anna was what led the two men to take her. The idea was interesting, but there was no proof in the real world.
Joe Ford, Anna’s stepfather, was so sure that George had something to do with her disappearance that he often followed the two of them, hoping that they would say something that would help him figure out where the missing girl was. He also wrote George a letter in which he accused George of hurting Anna. George is said to have replied, “I’m glad the tot is dead.” Michele, on the other hand, didn’t think George had anything to do with her daughter going missing. She thought he was too crazy to be able to do something like that without leaving some kind of clue.
Even though there wasn’t much evidence, police eventually came to the conclusion that Anna had been taken by a stranger. On the other hand, the family lived on a road that wasn’t really a major thoroughfare. Most people wouldn’t have driven down that road unless they had a reason to. Someone from the outside wouldn’t have been able to easily find that spot. Some people thought that a couple without kids might have been following the family around, waiting for a chance to grab Anna. Anna’s half-brother remembered seeing a couple try to get Anna to get into their car, which seemed to make this a very real possibility.
There was a chance that Anna was still alive, which was good news for her family and friends. When Michele talked to a psychic, the psychic seemed to support this theory, saying that Anna had been taken by a woman who couldn’t have her own child but really wanted one. The psychic also said that Anna was healthy and happy, but a little confused about what had happened.
Others couldn’t get rid of the idea that George and Brody had something to do with it. George was a lot younger than Brody, so it was possible that they were the two men who were seen by a witness soon after Anna went missing. Even though George hadn’t seen his daughter in a long time, he knew the farmhouse’s address and could have easily found it. He might have been able to get her to get into the car with him if he told her he was her father.
George may have known something about his daughter’s disappearance, but he took it with him when he died. In 1981, just two weeks after Brody died, George killed himself. He got rid of all the papers that mentioned Brody or Anna before he killed himself.
Investigators have never been able to figure out what happened to Anna that day, which was almost 50 years ago. The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children has labelled her case as a random stranger abduction, and the case is still being looked into as a missing person.
In 1973, Anna Christian Waters was only 5 years old when she lost her way. It’s possible that she’s still alive and doesn’t know that she was taken as a child; she might have vague memories of living on a farm as a child. Ana has brown eyes and blonde hair. She has a mole on her cheek and smiles with dimples. Please call the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office at 415–364–1811 if you know anything about Anna.