A Killer Moved In: The Disappearance of Pauline Rourke

Christmas was just 10 days away in 1976 when Sandra Rourke, also known as Honey, walked into her mother’s bedroom to kiss her goodbye before leaving for school. 

Honey’s mother Pauline was still in bed and seemed to be asleep, laying on her side. It was maybe a little strange to Honey, but then again, she remembered hearing her mom and Albert up late arguing the night before. Albert moved in with them, into their trailer off Route 129 in Fairfield that year. They grew up in the same household in Oakland together; Pauline was a foster child in Albert’s parent’s home.

The argument Honey heard was really bad. She ran to her room and put a pillow over her head to muffle the sounds of their shouting. They had been fighting more and more lately, and this was worse than it had ever been. Since that day when Albert drove them out to the banks of the Kennebec to look at something in the woods, things had been especially tense at home. 

So when her mother was still in bed on a weekday as she left for school, Honey thought she was probably just sleeping off the fight, giving Albert some space. Or maybe, she was tired from a surgery she’d just had and needed to hit the snooze button a few extra times. 

When Honey came home from school that day, her mother wasn’t home. Albert said she’d be back later. But Pauline Rourke never returned. Not that night, not even that week or month. Honey never saw her mother again. No one has seen Pauline Rourke since that day, December 15, 1977. In the 44 years since Honey kissed her mother goodbye before leaving for school, no one has found a single trace of Pauline.

This isn’t just the case of 32-year old Pauline Rourke’s disappearance. 

This is also the story of 30-year old Janet Baxter, 19-year old Patricia Ann Sinclair, 10-month old Craig, 2-year old Christopher, and 3-year old Christine. The one name that connects every person on that list? Albert P. Cochran.