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Orlando abduction, slaying still unsolved hurts family, tasks police

Bob Armstrong looks at a photograph of his daughter, Regina Mae. She was abducted 25 years ago; her remains were found two years later.

Orlando Sentinel

Bob Armstrong looks at a photograph of his daughter, Regina Mae. She was abducted 25 years ago; her remains were found two years later.

ORLANDO — A life-size portrait of Bob Armstrong's little girl sits on a dresser beside the TV in his bedroom.

"She's always right there," he said, looking toward the only school picture of his slain 6-year-old daughter.

Twenty-five years ago, a man with a cut lip who reeked of alcohol led Regina Mae Armstrong from her babysitter's courtyard and disappeared.

Less than two years later, a construction worker found a skull and a weathered sundress in an Oviedo housing development more than 15 miles from where she was kidnapped. Regina Mae was found, but her killer was not.

Her disappearance is still felt by her family and the Orlando police detectives who want her case solved.

On June 18, 1985, Regina Mae was playing with her 9-year-old sister, Christina Worsham, and their babysitter's younger brother when the abductor approached them.

"He smelled oily, like he worked for a mechanic or on cars," Worsham recalled recently.

Police reports from 1985 describe the abductor as a man in his 40s, who wore a plaid shirt and old blue jeans. He had a cut lip and stubble.

The man persuaded Regina Mae to follow him and promised the two other children he would pay them $2 each to watch a door at the nearby Beau Barton apartments where he said he and his wife lived.

When Christina realized her sister wasn't coming back, she tried to warn their babysitter. But the woman had locked the door and wouldn't listen to Christina's pleas; two hours later, she got help.

Police were finally notified when Donna Armstrong returned to pick up her daughters.

The largest manhunt in Orlando's history was launched. .

The efforts were fruitless.

Now, when a child is abducted, it's almost instantaneous that an Amber Alert is sent out. Descriptions and pictures of the child and abductor can reach millions, Moreschi said.

In the months that followed her disappearance, the Armstrongs' marriage fell apart. Nearly 21/2 years later, they divorced.

But, two months before the divorce was finalized, a construction worker found a skull and a little girl's sundress. Oviedo police never alerted Orlando police about the discovery.

Shortly after the skull was found, the Oviedo police chief was ousted for incompetence. The new chief found the dress in an evidence locker and connected the dots nearly 10 months later. Regina Mae was found.

She would have turned 31 in March, and the Armstrongs wonder how her life would have been.

"I've felt guilty, because I'm the one that was supposed to protect my children," Donna Armstrong said. "I know she cried for me that day, and I wasn't there to help her."

Orlando abduction, slaying still unsolved hurts family, tasks police 06/18/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 18, 2010 11:22pm]
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