Chilling ransom call released 45 years after New Jersey girl's disappearance

/ CBS/AP

Authorities have released a chilling ransom call placed to the family of a missing southern New Jersey girl hours after she disappeared 45 years ago. Margaret Ellen Fox was last seen getting off a bus in Mount Holly, where she was to meet someone who had answered her ad for a baby-sitter. The 14-year-old girl had traveled from her home in Burlington City, about seven miles away.

Hours later, her parents received a call from a man who said he had the girl and demanded money for her return, according to the FBI.

″$10,000 might be a lot of bread, but your daughter's life is the buttered topping," the man says on the short clip.

Margaret Fox, 14, pictured before her 1974 disappearance FBI Newark

Investigators were recording calls to the family's home after her disappearance, according to the FBI.

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The case has been investigated by the FBI and the Burlington County Police Department over the years, but remains unsolved. On Monday, federal authorities released the short clip, enhanced with the help of new technology, in an effort to solicit tips on the 45th anniversary of the girl's disappearance.

The FBI also announced a reward of $25,000 for information leading to an arrest or conviction in the case.

Burlington City Police Chief John Fine said the disappearance has "haunted this community for decades" and said he hoped to bring answers and closure to Fox's family.

margaret-fox-1.jpg
Margaret Fox pictured in an age-progressed composite image how she might appear today NCMEC via CBS Philly

Authorities asked anyone with information to come forward.

"Margaret Fox was loved dearly by her family and friends," said Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina in a statement. "To this day, her disappearance continues to cause great sorrow. If someone out there possesses information that could assist the investigators working to solve this mystery, I urge you to come forward."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the FBI Newark Field Office at (973) 792-3000 or Burlington City Police Department at (609) 386-0262, extension 211.

First published on June 25, 2019 / 12:39 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

margaret-ellen-fox.jpg margaret-fox-1.jpg

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