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Paul V. Coates--Confidential File

October 14, 2007 |  9:20 pm

Oct. 14, 1957

Paul_coates SUBJECT'S NAME--Rosalee Cartwright

SUBJECT'S DESCRIPTION--Age, 14. Height, 5 feet, 4 inches. Weight, 118 pounds. Blond hair.

Subject was last seen five weeks ago.

Any person with information concerning whereabouts of subject is requested to contact subject's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Cartwright, 846 S. Greenberry Drive, West Covina. Phone EDgewood 8-5798.

Rosalee Cartwright ran away.

She did so after being struck by a malady not uncommon among 13 and 14-year-old girls.

It has no special name, but its symptoms are obvious and universal. Many of them show through clearly in Rosalee's parting note.

1957_1014_rosalee_cartwright "Dear Parents," it starts.

"I guess I missed up things real fine.

"I can't face you again. I know I am a cheap little tramp. I don't know how to tell the truth.

"I am a stupid fool for doing this, but I can't face the truth. I was no good from the start. I never in my life did anything right.

"I don't deserve good parents like you, and I wish I was someone else.

"Goodbye--I am sorry I made such a mess of everything. Rosie."

Mrs. Cartwright showed me the note.

"I thought I knew her so well," she told me. "We did so many things together, and I knew almost all of her friends.

1957_1014_gas_fridge "So many times, she'd say, 'You're a good kid, Mom.' "

I've heard the same comment, slightly paraphrased, from nine out of 10 mothers of missing teenage girls.

Most of them add:

"There was absolutely no reason for her to run away."

But here Mrs. Cartwright is more realistic:

"Rosie wanted, very badly, to be 17," she said. "And she figured the only way she could do it was to leave home."

The girl left a week before school started.

With her was another girl from the neighborhood: Delores Ross, 17, of 1306 Marguerita Drive.

They were seen about 10 a.m. on Sept. 11, each with a suitcase in hand, running up the street.

Talking with Mrs. Cartwright, I deduced that Rosalee was extremely well treated and loved. Like any young teenager, she was subject to certain restrictions by her parents.

And, also like any young teenager, she broke rules, occasionally, often going to great lengths to keep her parents from finding out.

When her parents did find out, it hit the girl especially hard, because her parents had demonstrated near-complete trust in her.

That this bothered Rosalee very much comes through powerfully in her goodbye note:

"I don't know how to tell the truth... I was no good from the start..."

There was the time when she went "cruising" with other teenagers after she told her parents that a girlfriend's father was driving them to the beach.

There was a smoking incident about eight months ago.

And then, the day before Rosalee disappeared, there was another smoking incident.

Rosalee had made a promise after the first reprimand and had broken it.

Her father talked to her.

"Since you can't keep your promise," he said, "I'm taking away all your privileges until you can."

Mrs. Cartwright told me that she didn't add much to what her husband said. "But I was upset and Rosie could tell.

"When something like that happens you have to show that you're upset.

"But really," she added, "I couldn't have asked for a nicer, sweeter girl."