Anderson told law enforcement that he was driving on 408th Ave. just minutes earlier when he saw a small car pulled to the side of the road and a man removing what appeared to be a female body from the vehicle.
Sheriff Daryl Spagnoletti along with deputies were at the location within minutes. There was no sign of the reported car or its driver, however just a few feet off 408th Ave. officers found the body of a young woman.
The woman was identified as Mary K. Schlais, a 25-year-old artist and a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota. Police believe that Schlais was hitchhiking to Chicago and probably was picked up around the Minneapolis area.
An autopsy revealed that Mary Schlais was stabbed to death and considering that her body was still warm on a cold Winter day when police arrived, she must have been murdered, perhaps at the location she was found, very shortly before Denny Anderson saw her body being dumped along 408th Ave.
Despite a description of the man given by Anderson and an extensive investigation of the case, no one has ever been charged in connection with the murder.
Perhaps it was the extremely violent manner in which Mary Schlais died or the fact that no one has ever been brought to justice for her murder, but not long after her death stories began to circulate that Mary may not be resting peacefully.
Since her death many reports have accumulated involving the apparition of a young woman which may or may not be that of Mary Schlais. One story came from two men fishing at night near the Elk Lake Dam which is about a half mile from the murder scene.
The men saw what they described as the glowing apparition of a young woman on the banks of the lake who they believed to be Mary Schlais. An elderly woman who lived near the murder scene told her daughter that the ghost of a young woman was appearing in her garden every day at the same time.
The daughter went to her mother’s home at the time the ghost was said to appear but saw nothing even though the elderly mother claimed that she could see her.
The daughter believed that her mother may have been suffering from dementia and the clothing the spirit was said to wear, a pink sweater, did not match what Mary Schlais was wearing at the time of her murder.
Several reports claim to have seen the ghost of Mary at and near the site that her body was found on 408th Ave. The ghost has been seen as both full and partial manifestations of a young woman said to match the description of Mary.
It is really not possible to determine if any of the sightings of phantom female forms seen around Elk Lake are Mary Schlais. Maybe if her murder were to be solved and the apparitions are no longer seen, we would know that Mary Schlais has found peace at last.