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Thread: OH - Ruth Baumgardner, 21, Delaware, 1937

  1. #1

    OH - Ruth Baumgardner, 21, Delaware, 1937

    Ruth Baumgardner was a 21 year old senior at Ohio Wesleyan College in Delaware, Ohio. By all accounts she was a good student, popular on campus, and was in the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She was engaged to a boy (Bud Moore) from her home town of Lakewood, Ohio. Her father was a wealthy manufacturer. She received a red convertible for her graduation gift, and had once remarked that if she ever wanted to disappear, she'd leave her car behind because the fiery red vehicle would be easy to spot. The last time she was seen was the evening of May 4, 1937, when she went to the sorority house for choir practice. She was described as being "jovial" that evening, but had seemed "nervous" for the past few weeks. She was last seen hurrying to her room, and seemed "excited" about something. She had received three calls from an unidentified male that day.

    The next day, Ruth did not show up for class, missing a test that she had been studying for the previous day. Finally, when she missed dinner, some classmates went to her room (she roomed alone) to look for her. The room was tidy, the robe and pajamas she had worn the night before were hanging in the closet. Either she had not slept in her bed that night, or she made the bed before she left. Her watch, sorority pin and change purse were on the dresser. Her room keys and her ID were found in the stair railing near her room. A brown suit, hat and shoes, and a small overnight case (recently purchased) were missing from her room. Her new car was left in the garage. Her car keys were on the front steps of her dorm. A woman reported hearing a scream around 2 a.m. near the Olentangy River, but an investigation of that area revealed no clues to Ruth's disappearance.

    After the disappearance, there were a lot of "sightings" of Ruth, none of which panned out. A mentally ill woman was arrested by the police in Boston, claiming she was Ruth Baumgardner. However, it turned out she was not.

    In 1938, four men were arrested for killing a police officer. One of those men confessed to the kidnapping of Ruth Baumgardner, and for a while there was hope the case would be solved. It was later proven these men could not have been the kidnappers.

    I have searched newspaper archives and have not found anything relating to this case since 1951, when a newspaper ran an article on the 14th anniversary of Ruth Baumgardner's disappearance.

    If anyone out there knows about this case, I'd love to hear from you regarding your thoughts about it. I continue to research this, and will attempt to locate anyone who was connected to Ruth Baumgardner. As this case is so old, it may be hard to locate anyone who knew Ruth personally.

    I'd appreciate any help.
    Last edited by Kimster; 05-23-2011 at 11:21 PM.

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  3. #2
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    College Library

    Try contacting or visiting the Ohio Wesleyan University Library to see if there are Yearbooks containing her picture. Also, check to see if there might be bound copies of the college newspaper for stories about her disappearance.

    Also, try to find out when her parents died, and look for an obituary or funeral notice, or cemetery records. What you will be looking for are other relatives mentioned, so that you can try to locate any surviving siblings or their descendants today.

    It is an intriguing tale. I would draw that conclusion from what you present that she left intentionally and purposefully, and that she did not plan to return.

    Strange of her to leave her car keys on the porch, but perhaps she thought of them after going outside and closing/locking house door. Not wanting to wake the housemother, but wanting to leave her keys behind, she may have placed them on the porch. Were there other keys on the ring as well? Cars back then did have keys, but they were not like ignition keys today. A 1936/37 era car with an electric starter was actually started by pushing a button on the instrument panel/ dashboard.

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  5. #3
    I agree that it seems Ruth Baumgardner disappeared on purpose. One article I read mentioned that she was intrigued by a movie she had seen in which a woman stages her own disappearance.

    Some articles mentioned that Ruth had missed chapel seven weeks in a row, which was a very unusual thing for a student to do. She appeared nervous in the weeks prior to her disappearance, but on the night of her disappearance, she seemed excited about something. She had received phone calls from a man on the day she vanished. She had written to her mother that she was feeling very tired. I believe she may have been pregnant, which accounts for the nervousness and the tired feeling, and that the baby's father arranged to meet with her, which accounts for her being excited. Who knows what happened after that - maybe they eloped, maybe the father of her child killed her, maybe she went somewhere to have the baby. There are a lot of possibilities.

    It is interesting to note that this case was closed in 1939 at the request of Ruth's parents. They had hired a private investigator who followed up on every lead, and there were a lot of leads. It's my opinion that this investigator did locate Ruth, but so far I have found nothing to substantiate that.

    Thanks for your suggestions of where to search further.

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  7. #4
    I just located obituaries for Carl Baumgardner and Emma Baumgardner, Ruth's parents. Her father died in 1957, and her mother died in 1969. Both obituaries refer to "the late Ruth E. Baumgardner".

    This would mean that Ruth Baumgardner died sometime between when she disappeared in 1937 and the date of her father's obit, which was 8/5/57. However, I am wondering if they refer to her as "the late Ruth Baumgardner" simply because she was missing and presumed dead? I was unable to find an obituary for Ruth Baumgardner.

    I was also able to get the names of a male and female who would be Ruth's niece and nephew, and will try to contact them to see what they have to say about Ruth Baumgardner.
    If anyone out there knows this family, I'd love to hear from you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marilynilpa
    I just located obituaries for Carl Baumgardner and Emma Baumgardner, Ruth's parents. Her father died in 1957, and her mother died in 1969. Both obituaries refer to "the late Ruth E. Baumgardner".

    This would mean that Ruth Baumgardner died sometime between when she disappeared in 1937 and the date of her father's obit, which was 8/5/57. However, I am wondering if they refer to her as "the late Ruth Baumgardner" simply because she was missing and presumed dead? I was unable to find an obituary for Ruth Baumgardner.

    I was also able to get the names of a male and female who would be Ruth's niece and nephew, and will try to contact them to see what they have to say about Ruth Baumgardner.
    If anyone out there knows this family, I'd love to hear from you.
    It could simply mean that Ruth was declared dead after a period of time missing - usually after 7 years.

    You might check with the courts where the family lived to see if there are wills on file following the deaths of her parents. If the family was wealthy, they likely had wills. Such a document would identify other family members.

    Also, try to get access to the census records for their home town to see if the family is listed. The names, ages, and relationships of family members will be there.

    There could be a number of reasons for why Ruth left. Without other information, however, it would be hard to tell. Maybe some of her sorority sisters are still living. You could find out who they are by checking College yearbooks. I wonder if she might have confided her reasons to a close friend, but asked that she tell no one - even police. It would be interesting to see what statements those girls told police. Do police files still exist on this case?

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  11. #6
    The Delaware, Ohio police department says the files for this case have been destroyed. I was able to get the names of a couple of officers who worked this case, one is deceased and the other I am still trying to get in touch with.

    Ruth's parents hired a private detective to find her. Although he is most likely deceased, it's possible I can track down a family member who might know if the detective kept any files on this case.

    I have the address where Ruth's family lived at the time of her disappearance. From the obituaries for her parents, I was able to get the names of her brother, sister, nephew and niece. Today I'll see if I can get in touch with any of them.

    I will look into obtaining a college yearbook, and the names of her sorority sisters. I imagine most of them got married, so it may be difficult tracking them down without knowing their last name. Maybe the sorority can help me out with that.

    It is possible that she confided in someone, but I tend to doubt that. With the passage of time, it seems someone would have said something.

    Thanks again for your comments, you are very helpful.

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    I've dug into the archives, and have found basically the same info that you have. One question-I can't find any further mention of her fiance...Any idea what became of him?
    Pregnancy was the first thing that came to my mind. Possibly she had arranged for an abortion which went wrong? I was just researching an angle in the Sharon Marshall case which brought this scenario to mind.

  14. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by shadowangel
    I've dug into the archives, and have found basically the same info that you have. One question-I can't find any further mention of her fiance...Any idea what became of him?
    Pregnancy was the first thing that came to my mind. Possibly she had arranged for an abortion which went wrong? I was just researching an angle in the Sharon Marshall case which brought this scenario to mind.
    I have no idea of what became of the fiance, but plan to track him down.

    Pregnancy is the first thing that came to my mind. First, she skipped chapel for seven weeks, which makes me think she might have been meeting someone during that time. Second, she was described as being nervous during that time period, and in letters to her mother, she complained about being tired. Third, on the day of her disappearance, she received three phone calls from a local number from a man, and she was described as being "jovial" and "excited" that evening.

    I am wondering if she was excited because the father of her baby agreed to meet with her to discuss marriage. I don't know if she would have been excited if she were going to leave to have an abortion. Anyway, maybe the man wasn't as eager as Ruth to get married, they had a fight, and she was killed. There is a report from a woman who claimed to hear screams around 2:00 a.m. near the river.

    Of course, there are other scenarios as well, but like you, pregnancy was the first thing that came to mind.

    One curious aspect of this case is that her parents always refused to comment on Ruth's disappearance, and eventually asked the police to close the case. That makes me think that somehow they found out what happened to Ruth.

    I became interested in this case while researching the missing Zanesville, Ohio girls. I searched "Zanesville" and "missing", and one hit was a Zanesville, Ohio newspaper mentioned that two women in Zanesville claimed to have seen Ruth Baumgardner walking down the street.

    Isn't it funny how researching one thing can lead to another??

    I'll post again when I have any new info.

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    quoting, I became interested in this case while researching the missing Zanesville, Ohio girls. I searched "Zanesville" and "missing", and one hit was a Zanesville, Ohio newspaper mentioned that two women in Zanesville claimed to have seen Ruth Baumgardner walking down the street.

    Isn't it funny how researching one thing can lead to another??

    I know. I've gotten leads on other cases while looking into things posted which have nothing to do with the original case. That's one of the reasons I like it here so much.
    I agree, she wouldn't be giddy over an abortion, but possibly relieved? Happier than before because she believed the pressure would soon be off?
    There probably weren't many OB/GYNs around at that time, maybe theres's something in the records that could be researched?
    I only bring this up because, as you said about how one case leads to another, I came across reports of an abortion/adoption clinic in GA which operated in the '50s and '60s. I found it while looking up info from the Akron area for Upallnite's sister's case from the early '80s.

  17. #10
    [QUOTEI agree, she wouldn't be giddy over an abortion, but possibly relieved? Happier than before because she believed the pressure would soon be off?
    There probably weren't many OB/GYNs around at that time, maybe theres's something in the records that could be researched?
    I only bring this up because, as you said about how one case leads to another, I came across reports of an abortion/adoption clinic in GA which operated in the '50s and '60s. I found it while looking up info from the Akron area for Upallnite's sister's case from the early '80s.[/QUOTE]
    I had thought about that possibility, haven't really delved into it yet. This happened in the late 1930s, and I don't know how easy it would have been to find someone to perform an abortion. I've heard horror stories about "backstreet butchers" who performed abortions using coathangers, among other things. Obviously these were not doctors and they probably lost a few "patients" due to bleeding, infection, etc. Just another possible reason for Ruth's disappearance.

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    Bud Moore

    You mention her fiance as being Bud Moore. What other information do you have on him at this time? Bud was probably a nickname. If he was in his early 20's in 1937, it is a good possibility that he served in the Armed Forces during World War II (1941-45 for US involvement). There are a lot of paths to search if he was in the service.

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  21. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    You mention her fiance as being Bud Moore. What other information do you have on him at this time? Bud was probably a nickname. If he was in his early 20's in 1937, it is a good possibility that he served in the Armed Forces during World War II (1941-45 for US involvement). There are a lot of paths to search if he was in the service.
    His full name is/was Harry B. Moore. Unfortunately his name is not all that uncommon, so I'm having to go through a lot of information to see if any of it pertains to him.

    I'm still plodding along and following each trail.

    Thanks again for your comments.

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    I have a book with a chapter on Ruth's disappearance which has two pictures of her. I have no clue what happened to her though. It doesn't seem likely that a girl would go off to start a new life with only $5 in her pocket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by meggilyweggily
    I have a book with a chapter on Ruth's disappearance which has two pictures of her. I have no clue what happened to her though. It doesn't seem likely that a girl would go off to start a new life with only $5 in her pocket.
    What book is that? And when was it published? Any other good stories in it?

  25. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by meggilyweggily
    I have a book with a chapter on Ruth's disappearance which has two pictures of her. I have no clue what happened to her though. It doesn't seem likely that a girl would go off to start a new life with only $5 in her pocket.
    I don't know about that. If she were meeting a man she probably felt she didn't need any money. But if she was actually staging her own disappearance, I agree with you, she certainly would have taken more money.

    There are numerous newspaper articles about Ruth's disappearance, and some of them contradict each other, so it is hard to tell what is true and what isn't. She carried a newly purchased overnight bag with her when she left, but her mother said the only clothing missing was a brown suit, low-heeled brown shoes, and a brown hat. She did not take her pajamas and robe, they were hanging up in her room. She did take her hair rollers. What I have not been able to determine is whether or not she left behind the engagement ring her fiance had recently given her.

    It is truly a puzzle.

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    found a book

    http://www.booksmatter.com/b188622885X.htm
    I found a book that claims to have a chapter about the story.

    In other web searches (google) I also found a Ruth Baumgardner that was married before the alleged date of disappearance. So I wonder (I have no way of knowing if its the same person since many people have similar names.) if she didn't want rich family to know of her secret marriage to someone else but when they expected a marriage to someone else other than her secret hubby she finally had to leave.

    It would seem that if a young woman had acquired a secret married name she could easily drop out of site by going to live with her hubby under her new name.-just a thought.

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  29. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by docwho3
    http://www.booksmatter.com/b188622885X.htm
    I found a book that claims to have a chapter about the story.

    In other web searches (google) I also found a Ruth Baumgardner that was married before the alleged date of disappearance. So I wonder (I have no way of knowing if its the same person since many people have similar names.) if she didn't want rich family to know of her secret marriage to someone else but when they expected a marriage to someone else other than her secret hubby she finally had to leave.

    It would seem that if a young woman had acquired a secret married name she could easily drop out of site by going to live with her hubby under her new name.-just a thought.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this cold case.

    Unfortunately, I've learned that Ruth Baumgardner is not an extremely unusual name.

    Ruth's parents hired a private investigator to run down every clue that came along, no matter how far-fetched it seemed, all to no avail. I would imagine that would have included checking out marriage licenses, etc., although I don't know that for sure.

    You're right that if Ruth did want to disappear, she could certainly have done that by getting married. If no one knew the man she married, she would be virtually untraceable.

    Is the book you are referring to "Death Ride at Euclid Beach"? I am trying to locate a copy of that book to read what is written about Ruth.

    Thanks for your input, and hopefully you'll come up with some other good suggestions for me in my "quest".

  30. #18
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    "Death Ride at Euclid Beach" is available right now on Amazon.com. Hope this helps.

  31. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by joellegirl
    "Death Ride at Euclid Beach" is available right now on Amazon.com. Hope this helps.
    Thanks, I hadn't gotten around to looking there yet. I'll order a copy just to see what that book has to say about Ruth Baumgardner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docwho3

    In other web searches (google) I also found a Ruth Baumgardner that was married before the alleged date of disappearance. So I wonder (I have no way of knowing if its the same person since many people have similar names.) if she didn't want rich family to know of her secret marriage to someone else but when they expected a marriage to someone else other than her secret hubby she finally had to leave.

    It would seem that if a young woman had acquired a secret married name she could easily drop out of site by going to live with her hubby under her new name.-just a thought.
    This senario makes a lot of sense. I would also explain why she took one suit, but left her other belongings. I can see someone who is leaving for a new life with her new husband leaving her "old" pajamas behind. It could also explain why her parents stopped looking for her if they found out she eloped.

    Major problem. If she was in her twenties in '37 she's very likely deceased by now. Unless she told someone who she really was, her secret may have gone with her.

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  34. #21
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    It looks like Delaware, Ohio is in Delaware County. Here is a link to the Delaware County, Ohio Historical and Genealogical Society:

    http://www.midohio.net/dchsdcgs/


    The address for the Delaware County Courthouse is:

    Delaware County Courthouse
    91 N. Sandusky
    Delaware, OH 43015-1703
    (740) 369-8761


    The Delaware Gazette has been published since 1920. It's website is:
    http://www.delgazette.com/

    I would think that all of these places would be useful in your research, especially in finding a marriage license if she was married in that county.

  35. #22
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    Two pictures of Ruth Baumgardner:

    http://www.charleyproject.org/images...rdner_ruth.jpg
    http://www.charleyproject.org/images...dner_ruth2.jpg

    Pretty girl. I'll post her case on the Charley Project tomorrow.

  36. #23
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    It's called "Death Ride at Euclid Beach" by John Stark Bellamy II. It's part of a series on historical true crime and disasters in the Cleveland area. I have three or four of the series' books and they have some interesting stories in them, including at least three on disappearances: Ruth Baumgardner, Melvin Horst and Beverly Potts.

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    I'm pretty sure Ruth wasn't married before her disappearance, from what I read in "Death Ride." She was engaged to a guy back home, and her friends swore she wasn't seeing anyone else. Besides, wouldn't her parents' detective had figured out about the marriage pretty fast?

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    Quote Originally Posted by meggilyweggily
    I'm pretty sure Ruth wasn't married before her disappearance, from what I read in "Death Ride." She was engaged to a guy back home, and her friends swore she wasn't seeing anyone else. Besides, wouldn't her parents' detective had figured out about the marriage pretty fast?
    I guess that would depend on what kind of ID, if any, you had to show to get a marriage license back then. She could have applied for a marriage license under a different last name. If she roomed alone, I don't see how her friends could be 100% certain she wasn't seeing anyone else. Her comings and goings wouldn't be noted as closely as they would be with someone who had a roomate.

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