09-12-2008, 12:54 PM #1
NY - Andrew Carnegie Whitfield, 28, Long Island, 1938
I debated on even posting this because there isn't a whole lot to do with it. However, I decided to post it because it is interesting and I know there are several other people like me who like the really old cases.
Andrew Carnegie Whitfield was the nephew of Andrew Carnegie. His plane disappeared after take off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island.
Everyone assumed it was an accident until police discovered he had checked into a hotel that same day under an alias and in the hotel room they found a lot of his belongings, life insurance policies, etc. He also made a call and the operator heard him say "well, I am going to carry out my plan." This call was made while his family was out looking for him. The police theorize suicide but how could he have crashed his plane and then made a phone call while everyone was out looking for him - or is that just a typo?
Neither him nor his plane have been seen since.
http://charleyproject.org/cases/w/whitfield_andrew.html'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated'
09-12-2008, 05:45 PM #2
I'm glad you did post this, as there is always more than first meets the eye going on with these old cases.
The report that ACW made the call home while the search was underway appears to be an inaccurate report by the INS (International News Service, little brother to the AP and UPI at the time).
After digging for hours through AP reports from 1938 through 1946, here is what I've been able to put together.
ACW's wife of 10 months, Betty Halsey Whitfield, was questioned after his disappearance was reported. At first, she stated that she had last seen ACW on the morning he vanished, a Friday, at around 9am. ACW was being transferred by his company (International Business Machines Inc) to Bethlehem, PA and they were leaving that day. In fact, their bags were packed and ready when ACW stated he would be back in a few minutes, walked out, and never returned.
Within a few days, her story completely changed. Betty stated to police that the night before ACW disappeared, they had quarreled. ACW had called her from his office, stating he would not be home for dinner. Betty then went to the home of her parents for dinner, returning home at around 8pm. At 9pm, ACW returned, extremely upset that Betty had not stayed home. He then left, returning around 10pm at which time the couple argued more. ACW then told Betty "I am going away and I won't tell you where or why. I can't tell you when I will be back. I am just going to disappear". (In a later interview, Betty stated that ACW stated he would be back in three years). Betty stated that ACW had been drinking. He picked up a travelling bag and left once more.
At 10:30pm ACW called for his Packard Phaeton from the garage, headed for Long Island (where he took a room at a Garden City hotel shortly after midnight). Betty stated she got a call at about 3am, in which ACW stated that he was "going through with" his plan. (A bellboy at the hotel, as well as a telephone operator, stated to police that the call was made around 12:30am.) His belongings would later be found in the room as stated on various sites such as The Charley Project.
The next morning, ACW arrived at Roosevelt Field where his plane was readied for flight. ACW reportedly made a call to a friend, asking the friend to meet him at Brentwood Airfield, some 15 minutes away. ACW took off, headed east, and was never seen again.
Or was he? An employee at a Roosevelt Field hotel stated that the next day, ACW (accompanied by friend and fellow aviator Frank Steinman) cashed a check, signed AC Whitfield. Later, the Embarkation Officer of the cruise liner Westerland stated to police that a man fitting ACW's description was seen boarding the ship. Steinman was booked aboard the Westerland for a trip to Europe. When authorities radioed the ship, the ship's captain stated that Steinman had not seen Whitfield for three weeks and that Whitfield was not found aboard following a search.
ACW was worth over $56,000 at the time he disappeared, a small fortune in that day. If he wanted to vanish....Could he had bought his way on board? Could he have paid for the captain's silence? Would his friend, after helping arrange his "disappearance", have been truthful about the last time he saw ACW?
Betty had reportedly gone into seclusion at her parents' residence, "close to collapse". However, she wasn't in such bad shape that she couldn't fabricate a story of what had happened that first day...In June, she filed for seperation based on abandonment. By May of 1946, Betty had ACW declared dead, remarried "an artist" (in the time after ACW's disappearance, Betty had returned to her interest in art) and was made the adminstratix of ACW's $56,000 estate.
The whole thing reads like a trashy '40s detective novel.
09-13-2008, 07:41 AM #3
In July of 1938, a body was pulled up in a fishing net from the Long Island Sound just off the coast of CT near Norwalk. In October of 1939, parts of an airplane were pulled up in a fishing net near Cape Cod. Both were considered at the time to be related to the disappearance of ACW, though I couldn't find any reports that either were ever confirmed to actually be related.
In June of '39, famed newspaper columnist Walter Winchell claimed that Whitfield and his plane were on his father's farm in Middleburg, VA. In August, Winchell claimed that reporters had attempted to gain access to the farm but were turned away.
09-17-2008, 08:09 PM #4
Links to VA...
He's probably related to me. I'll have to ask my Papa what he knows about it."The cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears, or the sea." -Isak Dinensen
09-19-2008, 04:39 PM #5
Wow Shadowangel thanks for all the research you did! Sorry I didn't see it until now. I am just getting ready to head out for the day so don't have much time but will take some more time this weekend to re-read and process.
BTW - do you have a specific website you go to that allows you access to an archive of AP reports? I would love to know what it is as I really like looking at old newspaper articles - it like looking back in time.'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated'
09-19-2008, 04:52 PM #6
I have a subscription to newspaperarchive.com. Its not all that expensive for a year, and well worth it to an info-junkie like me. Some people don't like it becuase there are some states that have very few papers listed and very limited years...But for my purposes it's worked well so far.
04-09-2010, 08:02 PM #7
NY-Andrew Carnegie Whitfield, Long Island, 1938
Andrew_Carnegie_Whitfield http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_L._Gaines"Don't forget the kangaroo!"
01-28-2011, 08:26 PM #8
I still think about this case a lot, and in my mind I like my scenario. Whitfield, tired of the pressures of business, the weight of his family name, and a marriage that appears more arranged for convenience than love...
Some collaborating with friends, maybe family, and he disappears across the Atlantic to start life anew. His wife, now free and well-off, marries the love of her life. Sounds like a novel in the making to me.
As a footnote, I did some research on ACW's friend Frank Steinman. Sometime later, he met and married a Swiss woman, Lisette, and together they ran an air ambulance service out of Long Island for several years. Unfortunately, in January of '55, Frank was killed in a plane crash. In the articles I've found, the second victim of the crash isn't named (but doesnt appear to be Lisette). Could ACW have returned..?
03-15-2015, 11:27 PM #9Registered User
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Upon first read, I would think that ACW had plans to disappear but ran into foul play.
Then, I started really thinking...I know I'm probably going into crazy territory, but could it be possible that he knew he had been overheard talking about his plan, so he tried to make it look like he was indeed going to do that but simply didn't get that far? Maybe the belongings in the hotel room were just props, for lack of a better word.
If he did indeed go to Europe, I would imagine it would've been fairly easy for him to disappear...it was 1938, after all, and the turmoil of the war really kicking into high gear.
By N8tiveNYR in forum Cold CasesReplies: 5Last Post: 07-26-2014, 01:05 AM