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Human remains dug up decades ago on Florida beach identified as Maryland woman

Mary Alice Pultz.jpg
Posted at 3:31 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 17:00:28-04

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fl. — Human remains dug up decades ago on a Florida beach, have been identified as a Maryland woman.

Construction workers discovered the remains in a shallow grave while building a walking bridge on Crescent Beach back in April of 1985.

All detectives knew at the time was the body was that of a white woman, between the ages of 30 and 50.

However, the circumstances were enough for investigators to rule it a homicide.

Human remains dug up decades ago on Florida beach identified as Maryland woman
Human remains dug up decades ago on Florida beach identified as Maryland woman

With little evidence to go on, the investigation went cold.

In 2023 the St. John's County Sheriff's Office sent portions of the remains to Othram, a private lab in Texas, to develop a DNA profile of the victim.

Once complete the profile was entered into genealogy databases, where people can submit DNA in search of their ancestors.

This gave detectives the big break they'd been hoping for.

DNA from the remains turned up a pair of prospective relatives.

Detectives traveled to meet and familiarize them with the case.

Each allowed their DNA to be compared with the remains, which revealed a match.

With that, police were able to positively identify the remains as Mary Alice Pultz, originally of Rockville.

Police then tracked down her son in Arizona and sister in Virginia.

Neither had seen Pultz since 1968, when she reportedly left town with her then-boyfriend, John Thomas Fugitt, who also went by the name Billy Joe Wallace.

It turns out Fugitt died in prison after being convicted of the 1981 murder of his roommate in Georgia.

John Thomas Fugitt

While police still consider Fugitt a person of interest in Pultz's death, they're not ruling out other potential suspects.

How exactly Fugitt was killed remains unclear. She would've been 80 or 81 years old.

The Medical Examiner's Office noted Pultz suffered traumatic injuries in the past, possibly from a car crash, but wasn't able to directly tie it to her death.

“This investigation is a powerful example that we will never give up. The combination of highly skilled detectives and advanced DNA technology has given Mary Alice’s family some answers about her disappearance close to 40 years ago," said St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick.

Anyone with more information is asked to email crimetips@sjso.org or call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477).