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  1. #1
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    OH - Melvin Horst, 4, Orrville, 27 Dec 1928

    Melvin Horst Missing since December 27, 1928 from Orrville, Ohio.

    Melvin Horst
    Missing since December 27, 1928 from Orrville, Wayne County, Ohio.
    Classification: Missing

    Vital Statistics
    Date Of Birth: 1924
    Age at Time of Disappearance: 4 years old
    Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: N/A
    Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair; blue eyes
    The Doe Network: Case File 501DMOH

    Circumstances of Disappearance
    Melvin resided with his family near Vine Street and Paradise Street in Orrville, Ohio in 1928. He went to play with four neighborhood friends during the late afternoon hours of December 27, 1928.

    Melvin was wearing a coat and a hat; he was also carrying a red toy truck he received as a recent holiday gift. His friends said that they played in a vacant lot off of Chestnut Street near the railroad tracks. The boys told authorities that Melvin announced it was late and he had to walk home sometime during the evening hours. He was apprximately one block from his family's house at the time. Melvin never arrived and has not been heard from again.

    Melvin's parents, Raymond and Zola Horst, called him inside for dinner at approximately 4:30 PM. They became concerned when he did not respond and began looking for their son in their neighborhood. The Horsts summoned authorities by 7:00 PM and an extensive search was initiated by 8:30 PM that evening. Many of Orrville's 4,500 residents assisted in the process, which was led by Raymond's brother, Roy Horst, the Village Marshal. No sign of Melvin was uncovered.
    Melvin's disappearance made nationwide headlines and the media followed his story closely at the time. He vanished during the United States' Prohibition era and a bootlegger and his son were arrested for Melvin's alleged abduction in 1929, one year after he was last seen. A friend of the accused parties told investigators that he saw them lure Melvin into their home on the day he disappeared. The family lived around the corner from the Horsts at the time. The bootlegger and his son were convicted of Melvin's abduction and spent three months in jail before authorities learned that their witness lied about the events. The men were found innocent of involvement in Melvin's case during a second trial shortly thereafter.

    The witness who claimed the bootlegger and his son were responsible for Melvin's disappearance was subsequently arrested along with his own father in 1930. Both men confessed that they murdered Melvin inside of a garage after he caught them drinking whiskey. Neither of the suspects admitted being the actual murderer and it was later determined that their confessions were coerced by law enforcement officers. There have been no arrests in Horst's case since 1930.

    Some people believed that Melvin had been abducted, murdered or died as the result of an accident. Others thought that one of Roy Horst's enemies attempted to scare the marshal by instigating his nephew's disappearance. No evidence has been located to support any of the theories. Authorities have stated that they never officially closed Melvin's case, but they doubted that any new information would lead them to his whereabouts. It is unlikely that any skeletal remains that may be located in the future could be identified as Melvin's body, as poor dental records were kept at the time he disappeared.

    Orrville Police Department 330-684-5025

    NCIC Number: N/A
    Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information regarding this case.

    Source Information:
    The Akron Beacon Journal

    link
    http://www.doenetwork.us/cases/501dmoh.html

  2. #2
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    Feb 2004
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    Very interesting case Richard. Even though dental records aren't available, if bones were ever found couldn't they extract DNA and match it with any surviving decendants of Melvin's family, if there are any?

    I'm glad the Doe Network (and the old MPCCN) include these very very old cases. To me, if a body has never been found it is an open case and an unsolved disappearance, never to be forgotten. I think the MPCCN had a case of a woman missing since 1910. And I remember seeing a case of a little boy from New York in the 1930's. Have you seen any cases on these internet sites from the 1800's?

  3. #3
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    Cases from the 1800s

    Quote Originally Posted by joellegirl
    Very interesting case Richard. Even though dental records aren't available, if bones were ever found couldn't they extract DNA and match it with any surviving decendants of Melvin's family, if there are any?

    I'm glad the Doe Network (and the old MPCCN) include these very very old cases. To me, if a body has never been found it is an open case and an unsolved disappearance, never to be forgotten. I think the MPCCN had a case of a woman missing since 1910. And I remember seeing a case of a little boy from New York in the 1930's. Have you seen any cases on these internet sites from the 1800's?
    Depending on the condition of any bones found after a long period of time, it might be still possible to obtain DNA from them. If so, then you would have to have a close relative to compare the DNA with. The result of such a test, however, would only prove that he was related to that person - it would not be positive proof of his identity. If something of the child were to still exist - like a lock of hair, or a baby tooth, then possibly an exact could be made.

    I have not seen any cases from the 1800s featured in the various Missing Persons websites. You could go to the Doenetwork and select a search option which lists their cases chronologically by state and then see what the earliest ones are. I think that 1910 or the 1920s and 30s is about it, and there are only a few of them featured.

    One case that I have always been fascinated with is the 23 September 1880 disappearance of David Lang. He literally disappeared in his front yard in view of his wife, two children, and a family friend. There was a large scale search for him, but he was never found.

  4. #4
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    Wow, I had never heard of the David Lang case until now. I just read the account, sounds like folklore more than anything, but very interesting indeed. Sometimes there are just no answers. As for the missing boy, there is little doubt that he is dead, probably on the very day he went missing. Perhaps he met with foul play or perhaps a more simple answer is the reality. There are too many kids who go missing in this country, and the government agencies don't even have an accurate tally on them, what a travesty. I only hope that more insight could be brought to all of these abducted children. We certainly don't see television documentaries on the missing kids on A&E or Discovery. We see resolved cases on Cold Case Files, but I feel there should be a documentary appearing weekly that would highlight Missing Children Cold Cases. There are certainly enough cases to fill up several years worth of programming. If you break it down to the average television show having between 23 and 26 new shows each season you could devote a half hour of every hour long show to one child, that would highlight 46- 52 cases each season. There are thousands of unresolved kidnappings each year, lets get something on television where someone might see them or no something! Unsolved Mysteries is only in reruns now, and they were seldom about missing kids. We need a forum for these children and their families. Just my two cents worth I guess.

  5. #5
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    Melvin Charles Horst, 4, Missing 27 Dec 1928 from Orrville, OH

    Melvin Charles Horst
    Missing since December 27, 1928 from Orrville, Wayne County, Ohio.
    Classification: Missing

    Vital Statistics
    Date Of Birth: 1924
    Age at Time of Disappearance: 4 years old
    Distinguishing Characteristics: White male. Brown hair; blue eyes
    Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 3'1"; 49 lbs.
    Marks, Scars: Burn scar on hip
    Clothing: Melvin was wearing a checked sweater, a brown coat and a cap; he was also carrying a red toy truck he received as a recent holiday gift.

    Circumstances of Disappearance

    Melvin resided with his family near Vine Street and Paradise Street in Orrville, Ohio in 1928. He went to play with four neighborhood friends during the late afternoon hours of December 27, 1928.

    His friends said that they played in a vacant lot off of Chestnut Street near the railroad tracks. The boys told authorities that Melvin announced it was late and he had to walk home sometime during the evening hours. He was apprximately one block from his family's house at the time. Melvin never arrived and has not been heard from again.

    Melvin's parents, Raymond and Zola Horst, called him inside for dinner at approximately 4:30 PM. They became concerned when he did not respond and began looking for their son in their neighborhood. The Horsts summoned authorities by 7:00 PM and an extensive search was initiated by 8:30 PM that evening. Many of Orrville's 4,500 residents assisted in the process, which was led by Raymond's brother, Roy Horst, the Village Marshal. No sign of Melvin was uncovered.

    Melvin's disappearance made nationwide headlines and the media followed his story closely at the time. He vanished during the United States' Prohibition era and a bootlegger and his son were arrested for Melvin's alleged abduction in 1929, one year after he was last seen. A friend of the accused parties told investigators that he saw them lure Melvin into their home on the day he disappeared. The family lived around the corner from the Horsts at the time. The bootlegger and his son were convicted of Melvin's abduction and spent three months in jail before authorities learned that their witness lied about the events. The men were found innocent of involvement in Melvin's case during a second trial shortly thereafter.

    The witness who claimed the bootlegger and his son were responsible for Melvin's disappearance was subsequently arrested along with his own father in 1930. Both men confessed that they murdered Melvin inside of a garage after he caught them drinking whiskey. Neither of the suspects admitted being the actual murderer and it was later determined that their confessions were coerced by law enforcement officers. There have been no arrests in Horst's case since 1930.

    Some people believed that Melvin had been abducted, murdered or died as the result of an accident. Others thought that one of Roy Horst's enemies attempted to scare the marshal by instigating his nephew's disappearance. No evidence has been located to support any of the theories.

    Authorities have stated that they never officially closed Melvin's case, but they doubted that any new information would lead them to his whereabouts. It is unlikely that any skeletal remains that may be located in the future could be identified as Melvin's body, as poor dental records were kept at the time he disappeared.

    Investigators
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact: Orrville Police Department
    330-684-5025

    Source Information:
    The Akron Beacon Journal
    The Charley Project
    The Doe Network: Case File 501DMOH

    Link:
    http://www.doenetwork.us/cases/501dmoh.html

  6. #6
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    He would be 87 years old now...

    Bumping this case up from the back of the vault...

  7. #7
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    The Lang case is an Urban Legend that probably evolved from a short story by Ambrose Bierce. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranor...d_Oliver_Larch

  8. #8
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    Bumping up this very old, yet interesting cold case...

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    Ambrose Bierce

    Quote Originally Posted by iconoclast View Post
    The Lang case is an Urban Legend that probably evolved from a short story by Ambrose Bierce. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranor...d_Oliver_Larch
    Ambrose Bierce, himself, mysteriously disappeared while on a visit to Mexico.


  11. #11
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    Actually, the David Lang case is sort of an urban legend, but it actually happened. The real missing man was named Orion Williamson and he vanished back in 1854. He was crossing a field in full view of everyone and just, poof, gone. The Ambrose Bierce story is based off that incident, actually. And then for some reason someone took the Williamson story, changed the name and date and place, and retold it.

    The Williamson story sounds just impossible, frankly, and I would love to know what was going on there. He supposedly vanished in full view of his wife, child and a neighbor. Afterwards everyone in the area turned out to search the field. They linked hands and formed a line and walked across the field, step by step, kneeling down and picking at the ground with every step, and found nothing at all. Bloodhounds also turned up no results. They also dug up the field to the depth of several feet, looking for a hidden sinkhole or something, but underneath the soil was just solid bedrock.

  12. #12
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    http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/h/horst_melvin.html

    My Charley page has more information on Melvin's disappearance. He was also profiled in John Stark Bellamy's crime book The Killer in the Attic.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by meggilyweggily View Post
    ...And then for some reason someone took the Williamson story, changed the name and date and place, and retold it.....
    A radio man named Frank Edwards told the David Lang story on his radio program some time in the 1940's. He was an excellent story teller who liked to feature stories which were mysterious but true. In the 1950's he wrote a book called "Stranger than Science" which included the David Lang story.

    Unfortunately, he did not include many references as to where he got his information. I do not know whether the story he first got had the changes/enhancements that you mention, or whether Edwards made those changes to the story himself.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by meggilyweggily View Post
    Actually, the David Lang case is sort of an urban legend, but it actually happened. The real missing man was named Orion Williamson and he vanished back in 1854. He was crossing a field in full view of everyone and just, poof, gone.
    Is there really solid evidence that this incident actually happened as described? I like mysteries and I'm not out to disprove anything but my impressions of mid-19th century journalism is that it wasn't exempt from humorous exaggerations or even the crafting of bona fide hoaxes on the part of even the most scrupulous of chroniclers. After all it was their role to entertain as well as inform the mostly illiterate populace.

    Even when such stories were published by reputable newspapers getting to the original source documentation is usually extremely difficult not the least due to the fact that all a serious reporter had to do to be deemed credible was to affirm that his source was beyond reproach... and anonymous. Being a respected reporter does not necessarily preclude one from experiencing a sporadic burst of tongue-in-cheek mischievousness.

    Now let's assume this really happened, some questions are worth pondering. How far were the witnesses standing from Williamson? Apart from falling into a hole (cave, underground stream, etc.) what can cause a man to disappear from an open field? Lightning may be a possibility, although rare there are cases of some animals being struck by lightning that were reduced to ashes. Spontaneous combustion (what the heck)? Quicksand? Snatched by an unknown and since vanished exceptionally large bird of prey species? Admittedly this a bit far fetched but these cases sometimes require one wander away from the beaten path, à la Charles Fort. Mirage? Maybe Williamson was not exactly where witnesses saw him but at a different nearby location, or simply further away than they estimated? There are many possibilities.

  15. #15
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    I do not know the answers to most of your questions, I just know that's what everyone said happened. And, apart from something like a sinkhole (a theory that was apparently ruled out when the field was dug up), it is simply not possible that a man can literally vanish into thin air like that. It seems to me there are three options here:

    1. Something paranormal happened. This depends on whether or not you believe in the paranormal. I don't generally.
    2. The witnesses are lying or mistaken. The problem with "lying" is that it seems that they could have come up with a more believable story than that, assuming they had harmed Williamson and wished to conceal this. The problem with "mistaken" is it seems awfully strange that three people, two of them adults, could all see the wrong thing at the same time.
    3. The story was simply not true.

    If you really wanted to you could be able to verify at least some of it. The name Orion Williamson can't be that common. He might have been the only one, even. If you looked through old records and could at least prove Orion Williamson existed, that would be something. And if you find a birth certificate, but no death certificate, that would be something.

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