BURLINGTON CITY — Forty-five years to the day that a South Jersey teenager went missing, authorities have shared an odd and disturbing audio recording for the first time, along with announcing a reward for information on the cold case.

Margaret Ellen Fox left her Burlington City home the morning of June 24, 1974, and took a 8:40 a.m. bus to Mount Holly for a babysitting job, according to FBI agents and Burlington City Police.

The 14-year-old had been hired, over the phone, as a babysitter by a person who responded to a newspaper ad, authorities say. She arranged to be picked up in Mount Holly at the corner of Mill and High Streets.

Witnesses reported seeing a young girl matching her description getting off a bus that day near Mill and High Streets in Mount Holly.

Fox never returned home.

The phone call from the prospective employer was traced to a phone booth at a supermarket in Lumberton.

Over the years, the FBI and Burlington City Police have re-evaluated the case and the leads that were developed during the original investigation in an effort to find Fox.

They also for the first time on Monday released an audio recording of a ransom call the family received in the hours after Margaret was reported missing. “$10,000 might be a lot of bread, but your daughter’s life is the buttered topping,” the unknown male caller says, before hanging up on Fox's mother.

“The disappearance of Margaret Fox has haunted this community for decades,” Burlington City Police Chief John Fine said. “As many local residents and police officers would tell you, they would hear the message every week at the end of church services to pray for a safe return of Margaret Fox. As chief of Police, I want to bring closure to this case and bring home an answer to the Fox family and community."

“The FBI has a long memory,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Denahan said. “The community we serve has our solemn promise that we will pursue all viable options in the interest of delivering justice. We realize that in missing persons cases, especially those involving children, there is a loved one or family at the other end enduring heartache every day because there is no conclusion. We hope this renewed effort will produce results that might give Margaret Fox’s family some sense of closure.”

At the time of her disappearance, Margaret Fox had brown hair and blue eyes.

She was last seen wearing a light blue, long-sleeved, floral-patterned blouse that was squared at the top and flared at the waist; a black and white or blue and white checkered waist-length jacket; maroon flared jeans with a yellow patch on one knee; brown sandals with a heel strap; a gold necklace with flowers and a blue stone on it; and a gold charm bracelet with a round blue stone.

She was carrying a brown bag and an eyeglass case with the Huckleberry Hound design.

The FBI also has released two age processed photos, of what Fox might look like at ages 49 and 56.

Anyone with information as to Fox's whereabouts after her disappearance is urged to call the FBI Newark Field Office at 973-792-3000 or Burlington City Police at 609-386-0262, extension 211.

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