Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

A Malvern mother vanished. A year later, it's a murder investigation. So why haven't you heard of her?

There has been no sign of the 43-year-old wife and mother, causing the case to morph from a missing persons investigation into a homicide investigation. Yet many in the region have never heard of Anna Maciejewska.

Anna Maciejewska, who has been missing since last year and is presumed dead, and her father, Zygmunt, on a family trip to Rome, Italy in 2011.
Anna Maciejewska, who has been missing since last year and is presumed dead, and her father, Zygmunt, on a family trip to Rome, Italy in 2011.Read moreJanina Maciejewska

The Malvern woman vanished, leaving behind a young son, a husband, a successful career as an actuary, and a new custom-designed home.

In the weeks before she went missing last April, she canceled a trip to her native Poland for her father's 80th birthday and only texted with those outside her home. By May, her car was found, parked for an unknown length of time less than two miles from her home. Friends and family grew worried, organizing search parties, looking for any clues. In time, police said, her husband stopped cooperating and hired an attorney.

For a year, Pennsylvania State Trooper Chadwick S. Roberts said, there has been no sign of the 43-year-old. Now, the case is being investigated as a homicide.

Yet most in the Philadelphia area have never heard of Anna Maciejewska. Media attention on her case has been sporadic, with some of the most consistent coverage coming from a weekly Delaware County newspaper called the Spirit.

"There's a hierarchy of missing persons cases, and while we'd like to believe we [as a society] treat everybody equally, we don't," said Mark G. Hopkins, chief of Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue, which authorities called in last spring to help look for the woman. "We're not comfortable with names we can't pronounce. We're not comfortable with people that don't look like us."

In March, many in the region were reading dozens of articles about Mark Dombroski, a Media native and St. Joseph's University rugby player who went missing in Bermuda and was found dead from what was ruled an accidental fall. 

"Handsome lad," Hopkins said. But in recent years, "there have been about six other missing people right here, local, who have just as much of a right to life, that nobody cares about."

Anna Maciejewska, he said, is one of them.

"We feel like we're living in a horrendous nightmare, from which we're not able to wake up," said Anna's mother, Janina Maciejewska, 78.

More than 4,000 miles away in Warsaw, Poland, Janina and her husband, Zygmunt Maciejewski, keep busy. Both cancer survivors, they struggle with health problems and require near-constant medical supervision. They know hardship and loss. But the void left by their daughter weighs on them most heavily.

Due to emotional stress, exacerbated by the anniversary of Anna's disappearance, her parents declined a request for a phone interview but corresponded via email.

Janina apologized for taking a couple of days to answer a long list of questions; she needed to consult her husband.

"I am more optimistic then he is," Janina said. "It helps me to survive."

Throughout the investigation, police have focused on two weeks: Tuesday, March 28, 2017, when Anna last spoke on the phone with her mother, to Tuesday, April 11, 2017, when Anna was reported missing.

On March 28, Anna told her mom that she and her 4-year-old son, Andrew, planned to arrive in Poland that Thursday and surprise her father for his birthday, Janina said. Anna's husband, Allen Gould, was thinking about coming, too, and the couple would discuss the trip that evening, Janina said.

"I'm sorry, I can't come," Anna texted a day later, her mother said. On March 30, Zygmunt received a birthday text from Anna. But the message had mistakes in the Polish language, something that in retrospect seemed ominous considering that was Anna's native tongue, Janina said.

"We think the text message was not written by Anna," Janina said.

Efforts to reach Gould were unsuccessful. His lawyer, Evan Kelly, declined requests for comment, which included a summary of statements made about his client in this article.

For more than a week, Janina said she tried to reach Anna on her landline phone (there was poor cell reception in the Malvern home). Once, Gould answered, saying Anna was sick and would call in a few days, Janina said.

On Tuesday, April 11, Janina said, Gould delivered an alarming message. He said Anna had left for work the day before and never returned.

That same day, Anna's West Chester employer, Voya Financial, called police to report that she had not shown up for work, authorities said.

On Wednesday, Gould reported Anna missing, telling police he last saw his wife Monday, when she had been running late for work and left home in a "panic," police said. Several of Anna's former coworkers, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, said any meeting that morning would have been routine and Anna would have faced no consequences for being late.

A filmmaker in Los Angeles, Michal Wronski, 30, is Anna's closest blood relative, her nephew, and Andrew's godfather.

The day after Anna was reported missing, Wronski flew to Philadelphia, meeting Janina at the airport. They called Gould. He was at Andrew's swim practice, Janina said. Gould said he would meet them, but he was trying to maintain Andrew's routine, Wronski said.

Gould told her he had no idea where Anna was and logistics involving a layover on her planned flight to Poland had led her to cancel the trip, Janina said.

At first, Gould cooperated with police, Roberts said, but "at this point he is not cooperating with us at all."

Asked if Gould was a person of interest, Roberts said,

"I won't say that he's not. I also wouldn't rule out anybody else."

Police have searched the Chester County area, Roberts said, and multiple residences. (Anna had two homes: the Malvern home on Hedgerow Lane and a West Chester townhouse, which she purchased before meeting Gould.)

Hopkins said it was his understanding that Anna's phone and wallet never left her Malvern house — a detail that alarmed coworkers, who said Anna was attached to her phone.

Anna came to the United States in 1997 to pursue a graduate degree in actuarial mathematics at the University of Louisville, Janina said. She followed her then-boyfriend, who had come over from Poland to start classes there a year before.

Her ex-boyfriend, who lives in California now, asked not to be named due to the ongoing investigation. He said he and Anna broke up when she moved to West Chester for a job at ING, which would become Voya.

Anna met Gould on a ski trip in the mid-2000s, her mother said.

"She thought he had no flaws," Janina said. Gould seemed infatuated with Anna, too, and they married in 2006.

The marriage looked like a happy one, Janina said, until Andrew was born and Gould developed "eyes only for Andrew," which caused Anna to feel less close to her husband.

After Anna suffered a miscarriage in 2016, she was treated for depression, Janina said, and began to feel better.

But during the last phone call with her daughter, Janina said, she sensed Anna was in a bad mood. She said she wishes she had asked if anything was wrong.

Hopkins' calendar is full of depressing reminders. With Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue, he has worked about 250 missing persons cases. Anna's story gnaws at him.

He often thinks about Toni Sharpless, the Downingtown mother who disappeared in 2009 after leaving the Penn Valley home of a then-76ers guard. For eight years, Sharpless' case has gone unsolved. He hopes Anna's family is not left waiting that long.

Anna's friends still communicate on the "Finding Anna" Facebook group, sharing updates and planning vigils. Anna's parents know the odds are slim, but they have faith their daughter could be found alive, Janina said, citing a Polish saying.

It translates to "Hope dies last."

Authorities ask anyone with information about Anna's disappearance to call the Pennsylvania State Police at 610-486-6280.