Unsolved: The disappearance of Ilonka Cann



Ilonka Harless was born in 1948. In 1968, she married Charles Cann Jr. Not too too long after this, the couple welcomed a son together.


Ilonka Cann

On May 29, 1970, Charles, a junior high school teacher, left for work around 7:20 am. Ilonka was then left home alone with the couple’s 15-month-old son. A couple of newspaper articles at the time say Ilonka was last seen around 10 am, though the specifics of these alleged sightings aren’t clear.


When Charles came home around 3:30 pm, he found his son crying in his crib. There was no sign of Ilonka. He reported her missing the next day and an extensive search was subsequently conducted. Investigators searched the couple’s farm house as well as a nearby pond and the surrounding area. But Ilonka was never found. One year later, state police said the case was still open but there had been no new developments.


In 1971, Charles started dating a woman named Grace Brown. She moved in with him later that year. When they split up in 1987, Grace sought a divorce, saying they had married in 1972. Charles claimed they were never married. A Pennsylvania court found that the couple had entered into a common law marriage in 1982. They also noted that Ilonka had been missing for over seven years at that point, meaning she could be declared legally dead (even though she never had been). The divorce was granted.



So what happened to Ilonka Cann? Some speculators wonder if she left voluntarily or died as a result of a secret botched abortion. However, most people seem to believe her husband was involved. Some suggested Charles and Grace were having an affair while he was still married to Ilonka and he killed her so he could be with Grace. Others wondered if he killed Ilonka, who was reportedly pregnant at the time, because he thought she was having an affair and her unborn child wasn’t his. One Websleuths poster claimed they knew someone who went to the school where Charles taught at the time. According to this poster, there was a rumor that Charles killed Ilonka and put her body in the school’s incinerator.


A Reddit user wondered if Ilonka might be the Prince George County Jane Doe. This Doe was found in December 1972 in a wooded area in Laurel, Maryland. She’s thought to be between 20 and 25 years old and had been dead for about a year when her body was found. There’s no evidence this Doe ever gave birth, as Ilonka had, though that evidence easily could have been missed. Did Ilonka make her way to Maryland after going missing, only to somehow die a year later? And, if so, why did she leave — and what happened to her in the year between going missing and dying?



In 2018, police announced they had renewed their investigation into Ilonka’s disappearance. This investigation had been going on for awhile, during which time investigators had uncovered new information. They’ve never released this information to the public. DNA samples have been acquired from some of her relatives and put into the National Missing Persons DNA Database. Both of Ilonka’s parents have died, but as of May 2018 she has a sister who is still looking for her.

final details


Ilonka Cann was 22 years old when she was last seen at her home in Huntington Mills, Pennsylvania, on May 26, 1970. Ilonka is a white female who was 5 feet 6 inches tall and 122 to 130 pounds at the time of her disappearance, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s thought to have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance. She went by the nickname Tootsie and would be 74 years old if alive today.



If you have any information about this case, you can contact the Pennsylvania State Police’s Shickshinny Barracks at 570-542-4117.

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