Marie “Marliz” Spannhake had only been living in Chico, California for a month or so, having relocated from Cleveland, Ohio in December 1975. The nineteen-year-old was poised for a new beginning far from her hometown, employed as a part-time model at a camera shop while cohabitating with her fiance, John Baruth.
On January 31, 1976 Marie and John visited an indoor flea market and at some point an argument ensued. Marie left her partner on foot from the Eagles Hall, but being unfamiliar with the area would have to rely on the kindness of strangers for directions.
John reported her disappearance to authorities on February 2 when she failed to return home. Her personal belongings were untouched, making it unlikely that she packed up and moved out after the incident at the flea market.
Charges were never filed in connection with Marie’s disappearance despite a confession from a woman claiming she and her husband murdered the young woman and disposed of her remains.
Note: This entry contains graphic details and links that might be difficult for some readers.
In 1984 the world learned the nightmarish story of Colleen Stan, who had been kidnapped and imprisoned as a sex slave for over seven years by Red Bluff residents Cameron and Janice Hooker. The “girl in the box” was confined to a small coffin-like container for sometimes up to twenty-three hours daily, enduring physical, mental, and sexual abuse at her captors’ hands.
After being arrested for her role in Colleen’s abduction Janice told authorities that she and her husband picked up Marie as she hitchhiked in Chico in 1976. They drove her to their Red Bluff home where she was tortured suspended from ceiling rafters as she plead for mercy.
According to the Chico News & Review, Janice outlined Marie’s final hellish twenty-four hours of life after the abduction. Cameron unsuccessfully tried to sever her vocal cords, re-suspended her from the basement ceiling, shot her in the abdomen several times with a pellet gun and finally strangled her to death.
The couple concealed Marie’s body in blankets and drove her to an area somewhere between Redding and Lassen Park for an unceremonious burial. Janice guided authorities to the grave location but there was no evidence to substantiate her claims.
The lack of evidence prevented either of the Hookers from being prosecuted for Marie’s murder and to this day her remains have never been found.