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    January 16: 1936: Serial Killer Hamilton Howard “Albert” Fish was executed in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison. He was responsible for at least 5 murders, including 10-year-old Grace Budd whose murder he was sentenced to death for.

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Michelle Kelly Pulsifer murder July 1969 Silverado Canyon, CA *The Little Girl In The Blue Dress*

Michelle Kelly Pulsifer

Donna Pulsifer Kent Prentice [mistrial twice; charges dismissed due to lack of evidence]
James Michael Kent [died in Feb. 2005, but gave a statement first]

The recording of Donna’s statement to the police is chilling. This is a mother who did not love her daughter and did not care about her. I do not have any doubt that she was involved, if not the killer. She even said that she put Michelle out of her mind and did not think of her. However, that is my opinion. And the charges have been dismissed and she can never be tried again. There is no justice for the murder of 3 year old Michelle Kelly Pulsifer. I hope that her father and brother one day will find peace in their lives. My heart goes out to them.

Vista man recalls events around 1969 tragedy
Missing daughter a murder case now
Mom goes on trial in cold-case murder
No verdict today in Little Michelle case
Suspect in ’69 slaying dies
Prosecutor: Mom lied for 39 years about daughter’s vanishing
Defense attorney blames boyfriend in cold case
Not-guilty deadlock in cold-case murder trial
Judge dismisses charges in 1969 killing of 3-year-old
Center For Missing & Exploited Children: Michelle Kelly Pulsifer
The Charley Project: Michelle Kelly Pulsifer

The Girl in the Little Blue Dress

James Michael Kent           Donna Prentice


31 Responses

  1. Bonnie, I’m curious about some things in the 1969 Michelle Pulsifer murder case & wonder if you may have answers: If this little girls body is ever found, would they be able to retry her mother a 3rd time, since she was acquitted twice, or does that amount to double jeopardy? Does anyone know if James Kent was ever polygraphed before he died to see if he was telling the truth regarding the location where he buried Michelle’s body? And if so, what type of equipment was used & how extensive was the search for her? And has any follow up been done in that area over the last few years, with newer ground penetrating radar or groups of cadaver dogs? It’s sad that this baby was never given a proper burial, but even sadder that she had to live her few precious years on earth with such despicable people who got away with murder.
    Tracey from MD

    • Tracey,

      From what I understand, she cannot be tried again, as the Judge actually dismissed the charges, so it would be double jeopardy. I am not sure if there is a way around that. But I don’t know if anyone is even looking for Michelle anymore, or if they would be able to find her even. It is very sad. I wondered if they could not do federal charges, like they have in other cases. Not sure. And I don’t know if James Kent did a polygraph or not. But he did have a taped interview.

  2. Bonnie, I just wanted to thank you for running such a cool website on crime. It’s very informative & I often keep up on death penalty case news through you. You’ve also got great taste in music with your picks of the day, especially all those 80’s hair band songs. People can laugh about those days in music all they want, but those bands put out some beautiful, heartfelt ballads back in the day. A lot of them sum up victim of crime stories so well. After all, music brings people together & often speaks when the heart is too shattered to vocalize. Keep up the great work!
    Tracey from MD

    • Tracey,

      Thanks! I love hair bands and I listen to them all the time. Of course, I have also been on a KoRn obsession for a while, but still listen to the hair bands! And yeah, people laugh, but a lot of them still listen too or know the songs, so they can have their secret guilty pleasures!!! I have been to a lot of concerts, back in the day. Whitesnake, Great White, the Crue, Yngwie, Queensyrche, Tesla and many others!!! Oh to be young again!

  3. This yet another heart wrenching story.

    And on a side note, great music on the website! I agree with Tracey!

  4. I just viewed ‘The Girl in the Little Blue Dress’ and was pretty disturbed by it. I was happy to see you wrote up this, I really like all the factual information you incorporate into the cases you cover.

    When I first started watching the show tonight I right away thought “another step-dad strikes again” however after listening to his interview verses what she had to say and her demeanor there was no doubt in my mind that he was telling the truth and she’s a lying scum bag.

    He even told them where the body was also unlike the mother he sounded like he was weeping openly and full of remorse where she was as cold as a ice cube.

    The only justice here was now her surviving son is with his dad and I’m sure has abandoned her and everyone knows she’s a piece of human crap.

    hope she’ll rot in hell.


    • Joan, You hit the nail on the head! I just watched this yesterday, for the first time, and I agree with you in that the stepdad didn’t kill this little girl. The MOTHER did. Had to have. Because of her heartless reaction to her missing daughter. If I was Dave Pulsifer, it would take every ounce of self control I had not to find her (the mother, I mean)and beat the living crap out of her until she told me EXACTLY what she had done to my daughter. Even if it meant jail time. I would find out one way or another. Even if I had to sift through all of the dirt in that canyon in which she is supposed to be buried, or find a way to dig up the garage of that house. That mother IS a human piece of dogcrap.

    • Joan, I am actually watching this show right now and i agree with you completely! This is such a sad story! Now a days it is difficult to find a father in a child’s life and here is one who longed to be with his kids and her mother more than likely killed her. Also the lack of assistance from the judicial system is disgraceful!

  5. It is unbelievable that she can just disappear like that! The Little Girl in the blue dress. If her mother was so battered and scared of the abusive husband that she did not want to talk, she is free to tell the truth now, cause he is dead!!
    Can she not be charged with conspiracy or something else? I can’t imaginge the agony of Michelle’s father.

  6. I have just watched the story, The Little Girl In the Blue Dress and I am so disturbed. My questions surround the so-called “mother” and her story. When on the witness stand, she states that Michelle was dead to her and that she was not going through the trouble of finding her. If this was so, why did she constantly tell her ex-husband that Michelle was graduating from high school and she would contact him and things of this nature? How did she know that if she had no knowledge of her whereabouts? If she stated that, she should have known what high school was she graduating from?
    My confusion with the defense stating that she believed James Kent took her daughter to his mother’s house & threatened her never to contact Michelle again doesn’t make any sense to me. At that time, to my recollection, they were dating (boyfriend/girlfriend), so if he was that abusive & took your child away from you, why would you marry him? He sounds like real husband material. To the story she told her son when he questioned her about Michelle–she stated that they didn’t have the money to care for all them and he should be happy that she chose him. Well, if that was the case, she and her ex-husband did not have a bad relationship, so why didn’t she give Michelle to the father, especially since he lived right down the road? I mean, he was her father and all. And if she disagreed with James Kent’s story of what happened to Michelle, what “did” happen that day? Where did this story come from & what did he have to gain by saying what he said? On that summer day, did you even see Michelle at all when she woke up? Did you get her dressed to go to the mother-in-laws house? Did you pack her bags? Did you leave instructions?

    Then she made the comment that Michelle still went by their last name, etc.–more lies. How do you know this if she is “dead to you” and the last thing you know was that you had left her at the mother-in-laws house? This lady was a lier and I have no idea how they couldn’t make that much stick in the case…

  7. Continued…
    So I have concluded that the mother knows what happened to the little girl & they both were responsible for her murder/disappearance.

    To the father, my heart goes out to him. However, there are things that are questionable there too. As a mother, there is no way that a year or even a couple of months will past that you have taken both my children and me not be on you like flies on poop. Forget the police/DHS, I would be guarding your mailbox to get names, SS numbers, phone bills and any other pieces of information that I could to track you down. If you didn’t forward anything, all your mail is still coming to that box. I would have gotten access into that house and searched whatever you left behind. And to think of an eleven-year spand of hearing nothing…NEVER. My face would have been on the news, in the papers, on the milk carton, on the bathroom stalls, EVERYWHERE. When you talk about my child, there are no limits anymore. Why wait 30 something years to hire a PI? It just doesn’t make any sense. There just is no way…

    I know that they lived in another time when technologies weren’t as high-tech as they are today, but when you want to know something, you can find it. When you are talking about the love of a child, and the stories that this lady was telling things would have gotten real ugly, real quick.

    I only pray that the father finds peace. As for the mother, she doesn’t deserve the title. To think of such a thing breaks my heart and I pray God has mercy on her soul…

    • The thing is, though, that in 1969, photos of missing children on milk cartons didn’t exist. Mothers usually got custody of all children in a divorce, no questions asked. Fathers basically had NO rights in this area during this time in history. There was no such thing as illegally crossing state lines with one’s children, if you had the kids you could do anything that you wanted and the non-custodial parent basically couldn’t do anything about it. That IS how the laws were back then. If you had a problem with what the custodial parent was doing, you basically had to have alot of money, and a really good lawyer to get around it, and even then it was hard with kids that little. If she would have been at least 12, she could have chosen who she wanted to live with. But with children that small, they usually went with the mother no matter what.

  8. I just saw this story and am horrified at the disappearance of the little girl and how Donna got away with stringing the father along all those years. I’m sure the story left a lot out but it is hard to believe she could get away with this. There’s no excuse for her, and no justice for that innocent baby.

  9. I’m disgusted that the judge is essentially letting her get away with either murder or covering up a murder. Michelle was wanting to be hidden that night for a reason. Who was she scared of and what punishment was she expecting??? That evil biotch either did it herself or covered up for the man. No woman should pick a guy over her kids. My heart goes out to the father who can never bury his daughter. Since she can’t be retried no matter what, you would think she would have the heart to let him know what happened and perhaps where the body is. She’s evil! Poor baby girl.

    • Paula,

      What could the Judge actually do? The jury was hung, so he had to follow the law. He could not just say, well, the jury did not convict you but I do. It was not a Bench Trial, so he had to follow the jury. Before condemning a judge or jury, learn the laws, or at least see why they did what they did. A jury may believe a person to be guilty, but they have to follow the evidence and the law. It is frustrating, but the law is there to protect all citizens, not just a few.

      And just for the record, I believe that both Donna & James are guilty as sin. At least Donna has to live with the stigma of killing her child, as this show is shown over and over and I am sure that no matter where she lives, people have seen it and know that she killed her beautiful daughter.

  10. my name is Tracy W and I would like to know how I can get my hands on all the evidence of this case and the trile transcrips and any thing the got. I am going to relook in to this case I am a Psychic/medium yes people do not believe in these things bu I believe there is more to this then the mother is saying and I feel this really strongly to and that is what I am geting she lied about some things and I want to get that childs body home to her father and brother so she can be buried properly so let me know ok. I really want to bring baby Michelle home.

    • Tracy, did you ever find out about getting ahold of any evidence? I don’t know where you’re located but perhaps if you’re in California, you could visit the house she was last seen at or the site where the step father claims he buried her. I believe in psychics/mediums and after watching this special about this little girl, I feel terrible and hope Richard Pulsifer, Sr. can have his closure. Please let me know what comes of this because I am curious as well. I hope her mother rots in hell. Even if she wasn’t responsible for her death, she still covered up her disappearance for decades when she could have gone to authorities who would have provided protection for her and her son against who she claimed to be an abusive man. If he was so abusive, why did she marry him? And don’t you think filing for divorce would have made him snap if he was that psychotic? Ugh, some people!

  11. just watched the show about this poor little girl.
    I will not be returning to this channel ever again. I am so disturbed as a father of two girls. Just can’t believe with all the technology we have we are not able to find her body.
    Is it possible to gather some volunteers to search the site for the remains? What is the location? Any updates on the story?
    Not a religious man, just hope that there is a just place for her mom for what she did to this little girl and her dad.

    • Remains after this many years in the Santa Anas? Don’t think it’s liikely. That’s mountain lion country, first of all, and wildfire country, second, and shake,rattle & roll country, third.

      All the technology in the world isn’t going to help find what tiny remnants of already tiny bones may be left after all these decades.

      Don’t blame technology. Blame human error. Had authorities taken to heart the concerns of a father who knew something was wrong, they’d have tracked down the perps when they were under the most stress, gotten the truth, and located the grave so, at the very least, this father could have some peace of mind and closure. And that kind of human error continues today. For every story about a cute little blonde girl gone missing, there are more about a little Latino girl or African-American girl that never get that kind of publicity. Until we start seeing every child as precious and until we become a society that values and protects ALL children equally, this story will be repeated over and over again.

  12. I live in Caledonia, MN which is 20 miles from LaCrosse WI and thus not far from Genoa, WI where Donna Prentice was living at the time of her arrest. This story has haunted me since the beginning and I followed it in the paper and on the internet and read everything I could about it. I work in the Court system at the Courthouse here in Caledonia where I have worked for 39 years. I have a sister who was born in May of 1966 and I think “What if this was my sister?” I also have a granddaughter who is 19 and the picture of Michelle in the little blue dress reminds me so much of my granddaughter at that age. I so prayed they would find Michelle’s body, find the truth and be able to put little Michelle to rest finally and also give her father and brother peace. This is one of the saddest stories I have ever followed – how could any Mother leave her child behind, never look for her, put her out of her mind?
    How could any Mother harm/kill their child or cover up for someone who did harm her child? If Mr. Kent was the one responsible,and she was fearful of him, why wouldn’t she have told the entire truth after his passing? This story will forever haunt me and I still keep hoping and praying that someday the truth will still be know.

  13. Bonnie, I am curious, as to the address or even the town or city that Mike Kents mother lived in and do you know her name. This is very important to me. Thanks, for having this blog.

  14. She looks so much like Sharon Marshall and the time frame matches. Has anyone ever researched that? Floyd would have been in jail at time she went missing, however, she could have changed hands at some point. With the way the mom says shes dead to her and no longer part of her life, I wouldn’t be suprised if the poor little girl was sold.

  15. I think you will find that this Kent’s alcholic mother is where the Michelle was first taken too. She may well have been put into some kind of container, prior to moving, so that the boys could not see her, I suspect that she was beaten, and possibly raped by Mr. Kent, and when they moved so hastily as in the very next day, she may well have been in a container, some sort of covered wooden crate. But I believe she went to the alcholic mothers, stepgrandmother in this case. It is quite likely given that environment that she was taken out of the home by anyone who was toting a bottle of booze for trade. The only thing they could do was move and move quickly so that Dick Pulsifer would not come by and see the marks on his daughter. So they just made sure that he couldn’t do that by leaving.
    The court district attorney moved to dismiss that possiblity of her being taken to the grandmothers, and may have missed some valuable evidence in dismissing it entirely. That was the mothers story, that they had taken her to Mike Kent’s mother. It’s just my take on things

  16. Something about the picture of her in the dress, it just looks so much like some of the photos of Sharon. Someone should investigate.

  17. the comment that the mother gave the son…about not being able to afford all of the kids and “be glad she chose him” doesn’t have a ring of truth to it to me. if they couldnt afford to have all of the kids why not send the unwanted one to the father? i don’t get it. some people have no right to breathe the same air as us,,,

  18. We are only getting the story, from two people, whom know and knew the truth, but have chosen to lie… They both know what happened to Michelle and have gotten away with whatever it is that they did with her. The facts are that she has not been seen since that last evening, when she tried to get under the cover in her brothers bed, and the mother came and took her out of the room. They said she shared a bedroom with the boys, so the boys would have known if she had died in their room… as was said by Mr. Mike Kent, that he went into her room and she was cold and lifeless. Too much he said she said. Donna Prentice was never curious about where her daughter was? Who says she wasn’t, an ex-con? Mike Kent was abusive, who says he was? A bitter ex-wife, and someone who knows exactly what took place. But chooses not to tell the truth. I find it hard to except any of either of their testimonies. Unless there is proof to back it up, and so far, I haven’t seen any of that in this case. She should be forced to have a lie detector done on her and the use of sodium pentathol.
    I believe also that their are others out there who know what happened to Michelle. Isn’t it time to stand up and speak up, instead of hiding behind what ever it is you can find.

  19. I’m watching now and am horrified smh. Love the blog 🙂

  20. I was watching the program mikes testimony..did he ever say ,he put the little in girl in a bag before he buried her …..2nd: question; did you know that in 1969 that canyon was hit with the second worse torrential storm that destroyed homes and bridges ..they had massive flood damages through that whole canyon ..Am sure the forensic team took it into account …….so what I am trying to say is ,if her body was put into a bag ,her body or bones would still be some what still intact …Her bones could have easily moved 300 yards from where he said he buried her ……curious about taking a walk up there …is there any way to find out exactly where he said he buried her ……I would like to see the terrain in 1969 and what it looks now .That’ll show you how the land has moved …..nature is amazing

  21. The father should sue the state of California and whatever county failed to actively investigate his reporting of his missing daughter. The police department and prosecuter dropped the ball and let the case go cold and let 2 people get away with a terrible crime. They should be held accountable with a lawsuit.

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