She was a 10-year-old girl with solemn eyes who walked away from the YMCA's Camp Sloane on July 16, 1952, and was never seen again.
Was she homesick for the family ranch in Sundance, Wyo., and searching for a phone, or an escape from tent-mates with whom she had roughhoused the day before?
An intense search on the ground and in the air yielded clues that went nowhere. Ever since there's been a 57-year stream of theories about what happened at 8:45 that morning, when Connie Smith vanished from Route 44 near Belgo Road.
The mystery would possess her father, Peter, a prosperous rancher and the son of former Wyoming Gov. Nels Smith, to come to Salisbury in cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat several times as recently as the 1980s hoping to find someone who remembered something.
It's a mystery that still haunts the lead investigator, Richard Chapman, then a 27-year-old rookie cop, who got to know the girl and who remains in his thoughts to this day.
Although convinced that the secret lies somewhere in the file he keeps on the case, referred to as B-57-H, he said he has no idea what happened.
"They asked me to say something when I retired 35 years ago. I said I never found Connie," said Chapman, who lives in Bristol. Now 84, he is among the few who worked on the case who is still alive.
Connie's mother, Helen, died of a heart attack 10 years after Connie disappeared. She was 47.
In an interview in the 1950s, she said the unanswered questions made the loss more painful.
Relatives interviewed in the 1980s said Connie's mother died of a broken heart.
The case remains one of the Northwest Corner's most familiar cold cases, one that is being actively investigated by a new generation of detectives with high-tech tools like DNA that were not available at the time.
It's a name very familiar to locals, including Resident Trooper Mark Lauretano, and a state police detective from the Western District Major Crime Squad who is assigned to it as a cold case. DNA from relatives has been entered into forensic databases.
It was 80 degrees on a Wednesday morning when campers headed toward breakfast. The East Coast was in the grip of a heat wave that delivered thick, humid air.
Connie had been at the camp for three weeks with another month to go when she left her tent a little before 8 a.m., telling seven tent-mates she intended to return an ice pack to the dispensary, according to documents in a thick police file.
Connie had injured her hip in a fall the day before, but left the ice pack on her bed and never made it to the dispensary. Her mother, who was divorced from her father and split time between Greenwich and Sundance, had visited three days earlier to deposit money in her account. A camp official saw Connie crying after her mother left.
Adding to the girl's apparent isolation was the lack of access to a phone and reading material. She had broken her only pair of glasses, leaving her unable to escape unhappy moments by reading a favorite comic book.
August Epp, the camp's caretaker, told police he saw her leave the camp, picking daisies as she walked. He didn't stop her because he thought she was old enough to be a camp counselor.
She turned right on Indian Mountain Road past Deep Lake Farm toward the Lakeville section of Salisbury. A pair of farm hands who had been out late the night before were among many who fell under suspicion.
Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs Hortman and Alice Walsh, who lived in the area, saw the 5-foot, 100-pound girl, crying while she walked. They gave her directions to Lakeville. She had blue eyes and shoulder-length hair tied in a red ribbon, and wore navy shorts, tan leather shoes and a red wind breaker.
Mrs. Frank E. Barnett was the last to see Connie at 8:45 a.m., and said it seemed the girl was looking for a ride.
Police were summoned when camp officials realized at breakfast that Connie was missing. They called Connie's mother, who was in Greenwich, and her father, who came from Wyoming and stayed for several weeks. He rented a car and a horse, and chartered a plane.
Chapman, known as "Chappy," recalled Connie's disappearance as the most extensive missing person search of its time. A dozen troopers assigned to the Canaan barracks got help from volunteers and anyone who answered the fire alarm. Westover Field in Massachusetts and the Civil Air Patrol sent aircraft.
The story eventually drew national attention, and theories. Tips came in that she had been living in Canada, a hotel in Cincinnati, and in Alabama. No one claimed a $3,000 reward posted by the family for Connie's safe return, or $1,000 for her body.
Truck drivers were questioned. So were itinerant carnival workers who monitored Ferris wheel rides in Lakeville, and people from Arkansas who camped along Route 22 and hired out as barn painters. Witnesses said they saw her on a bus in Albany, N.Y., and Randolph, Vt.
Chapman traveled around the country chasing leads and hearing confessions. Convicted sex offender and death row inmate George Davies admitted at Wethersfield Prison to killing her.
Chapman took Davies for a ride to find the body. It wasn't found, and Davies later told authorities his confession was false.
Frederick Walker Pope told police in 1953 that he had taken her across the country with another man, Jack Walker, who killed and buried her in Arizona. A body was found, but dental records didn't match Connie's.
The search waned during the late summer that year and resumed when the foliage was gone. It hasn't stopped.
In a 1984 interview, Peter Smith said he imagined his daughter in the face of every woman he passed who would be about her age. His hope was always that "something would turn up," especially in light of his daughter's considerable lively independence. He recalled her softness for animals and flowers and how she liked to fill in coloring books and read comics. He could not be interviewed for this story.
Chapman believes every crime can be solved. "There were questions we never got to ask," he said of the itinerants who were in the area. "I have no idea what happened to her, but I would like to know."