The sudden disappearance of a 12-year-old girl more than 25 years ago stunned this community.

Metro police revealed Thursday they have named a prime suspect in the Ann Gotlib case -- and he was someone they investigated before.

He cannot help them in the case.

But police hope you can.

12-year-old Ann Gotlib disappeared from the Bashford Manor Mall June 1, 1983.

Police found her bike, but identifying her abductor had been a mystery.

"I'm very strongly sure that this is the individual that abducted Ann Gotlib.  I think I have enough probable cause to make an arrest," said Louisville Metro Police homicide commander, Lt. Barry Wilkerson.

However, homicide detectives cannot arrest Greg Oakley, Jr. because he died six years ago.

Oakley is the prime suspect in the Ann Gotlib case, in part because he had a history of assaulting 13-year old girls, including a stepdaughter.  Some of those assaults involved injecting his victims with drugs.  Oakley was once a veterinarian.  He also worked as a federal government meat inspector, police said.

Police say while in Louisville, Oakley drove a blue 1978 Ford pickup with Alabama license plates.

"We hope that this will stimulate other people's memories about what took place back in 1983," said metro police Maj. Dave Wood.

Also, a former girlfriend told police Oakley was in town and in the area of Bashford Manor Mall, where Gotlib was last seen, detectives said Thursday.

A former prison inmate has told police, twice, that Oakley confessed to him, Wilkerson said.

"He stated Oakley had told him Oakley had killed Ann Gotlib by overdosing her with an injection of Talwin. The witness statement was confirmed with a polygraph test."

In 1984 Oakley went to state prison for a Louisville assault.

Police questioned Oakley back then and say he denied any involvement in the Gotlib case.

Oakley died in 2002.

Retired Jefferson County police detective Bobby Jones said police had no physical evidence to link him then, however, "The case matched his M-O (method of operation)."

Jones told reporters he would like to apologize to the Gotlib family for not behing aggressive enough as a detective investigating the case in 1983 and 84.  Jones said his superiors insisted on turning parts of the case over to the FBI after waiting for Oakley's then-pending Louisville assault case to make its way through the judicial system.

Ann Gotlib's parents and friends used yellow ribbons to mark the 25th anniversary of her disappearance last June.

"It really gives us hope that someday, hopefully in our lifetime, everything will be solved.  And we'll know what happened," Ann Gotlib's mother, Ludmilla Gotlib, said on June 1, 2008.

Through a police spokesman, the Gotlibs declined comment on the latest developments. 

Police have never found Ann Gotlib's remains.

They're looking for new information through the tip line at 574-LMPD.  Officers say the information leading to Oakley came from tips prompted by coverage of the 25th anniversary earlier this year.

Editor's note:  You will find other details in the Louisville Metro Police news release recounting the case and Gregory Oakley's alleged involvement in it.  It is reproduced in its entirety below.

Louisville Police Name Suspect in 25 Year Abduction Case

  

LOUISVILLE (Dec. 4, 2008)

Today Louisville Metro Police Department's Homicide Unit investigators have announced the main suspect in the abduction and disappearance Ann Gotlib.   On June 1, 1983 at approximately 5:30 pm, Gotlib was abducted from the Bashford Manor Mall parking lot while riding her bike on her way home from a friend's house.  It was a case which received national attention and one of several missing children's cases which helped lead the US Congress to create the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children.   

LMPD investigators announced that in recent weeks they have received new information in the case and after sharing the information with the FBI and the Kentucky Commonwealth's Attorney they believe Greg Lewis Oakley, Jr to have been involved in her abduction and disappearance.   While Oakley is the main suspect, he died in 2002 and today police are asking assistance from the public for additional leads to assist them in possibly locating the remains of Ann Gotlib.  

Background

The investigation in to the disappearance of Ann Gotlib has spanned several decades and has included several hundred investigators and assistance from all regional law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Commonwealth Attorney's Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, multiple Jefferson County Volunteer Fire Departments, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and numerous citizen volunteers from throughout the region.

In recent weeks LMPD Homicide Unit investigators turned their focus back to Greg Lewis Oakley, Jr after follow-up interviews and various other leads developed.   Oakley was born in 1943 in Selma, Alabama and raised in Pine Apple, Alabama.  In 1970, Oakley received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University and continued to work as a veterinarian in Alabama.  In 1982, after being charged by Alabama authorities with two assaults and another attempted assault on young females, Oakley moved to Louisville, KY to work as a USDA Meat Inspector for the Louisville office. 

In June 2008 after the media and LMPD highlighted the 25th Anniversary of Gotlib's disappearance, a former girlfriend of Oakley's contacted investigators and provided new information, in particular confirming Oakley being in Louisville on June 1, 1983 as well as specifics regarding his request for her to wash clothing he had been wearing earlier in the day.   In addition, a former inmate who had been incarcerated with Oakley was re-interviewed in September 2008 and told investigators how Oakley had confessed to him how he abducted and killed Gotlib by overdosing her with an injection of Talwin.  The new information was confirmed via a polygraph test taken by the witness.

Timeline

-         July 1979.  While living in Alabama, Oakley was identified as a suspect in the attempted assault of a 13 year old female using a hypodermic needle.  The victim fought off the attack and fled.   

-         July 1979 - Alabama. Oakley assaulted a 13 year old female by injecting her with Katemine and then fled on foot. Oakley was charged and convicted for this offense.

-         November 1981 - Alabama. Oakley assaulted his 13 year old step-daughter with Demerol.  Oakley was charged and plead guilty to this offense.

-         Fall 1982.  Oakley moved to Louisville, Kentucky and became a USDA Meat Inspector for the Louisville office.

-         June 1, 1983 - 3:50 pm.  Evidence shows Oakley made a bank transaction at the Liberty Bank branch at the Bashford Manor Mall.

-         June 1, 1983 - 5:30 pm  Ann Gotlib disappears from the Bashford Manor Mall parking lot while riding her bike on her way home from a friend's house.

-         September 1983 - Oakley attempted to abduct two young females walking to school along Goldsmith Lane, several blocks away from Bashford Manor Mall.

-         September 1983 - Oakley assaulted a 13 year old female at her residence on Masemure Court, several blocks away from Bashford Manor Mall.  Oakley was charged in 1984 and sentenced to prison. 

-         June 2002 - Oakley was medically released from prison and returned to Alabama.

-         October 2002 - Oakley died

-         June 2008 - 25th Anniversary of Ann Gotlib's disappearance prompted new information from witnesses

-         September 2008 - former cell mate of Oakley's advised investigators of Oakley's confession to killing Ann Gotlib by overdosing her with an injection of Talwin.

Due to the information gathered, LMPD is asking the public's assistance for additional leads in this case which hopefully will lead to them locating the remains of Ann Gotlib.  In addition, due to the high number of young female assault cases perpetrated by Oakley, LMPD investigators are concerned as to the potential that there may have been additional victims.    Anyone with information as to Greg Lewis Oakley, Jr or to the Gotlib case are urged to contact Louisville Metro Police via their tip line at (502) 574-LMPD or toll free at 1-866-649-4479.