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The Killing Season - Websleuths

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  1. #1
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    PA - Bedford, 'Mr. Bones' WhtMale 585UMPA, 30-35, found w/ .30-06 rifle, Oct'58

    Unidentified White Male, 30's, Skeletal Remains found Oct 1958, Bedford, PA

    Unidentified White Male
    The victim was discovered in October 1958 in a wooded area of Bedford, Pennsylvania
    Estimated Date of Death: Sometime in the 1950's
    Cause of Death: Gunshot wound to head
    Skeletal Remains

    Vital Statistics
    Estimated age: 30 - 35 years old
    Approximate Height and Weight: 6'4"; 200 lbs.
    Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair; wore contact lenses.
    Dentals: Available. Gold dental work
    Clothing: Dungarees and a black motorcycle jacket. He also had poetry books, a canteen and camping equipment, a black wallet containing $38 and a brass key stamped "Active 195 Avenue A" on it & a .30-06 Springfield rifle.
    DNA: Available

    Case History
    In October 1958 the remains of a white male were found in an wooded area in Bedford, Pennsylvania, about 85 miles east of Pittsburgh.
    While authorities believe the gunshot wound was self-inflicted, they don't know if it was an accident or suicide.

    Investigators believe the man was well off because of the gold dental work and the contact lenses, which were unusual for the time. The contact lenses were traced to a Chicago manufacturer and fitted by an Illinois physician, but there are no records of the buyer.

    The rifle was sold in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1939.
    The brass key hasn't been matched to any location.
    The dental work has yielded no matches.

    If you have any information about this case please contact:
    Pennsylvania State Police Troop G 814-623-6133

    Source Information:
    The Post Gazette 2/7/04
    The Doe Network: Case File 585UMPA

    Link:
    http://doenetwork.org/cases/585umpa.html
    Last edited by CarlK90245; 08-07-2012 at 02:19 PM. Reason: updated doe network link

  2. #2
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    Does it seem likely that someone so well provisioned would travel just to comit suicide?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auggie21
    Does it seem likely that someone so well provisioned would travel just to comit suicide?
    I wonder if he might have been hunting, since there was a canteen and camping equipment near the body. I'm not a hunter, so I'm not sure what times the various hunting seasons are. I know the wild turkey hunting season here in PA begins the end of October.

    It's odd that nobody missed this guy, and that nobody came forward to identify him. The gold tooth and the contact lenses should have led to an identification. But he was found in PA, and the lenses were purchased in Chicago, so this is a guy who traveled. Maybe no one knew he was missing, they just assumed he had moved on to another location.

  4. #4
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    Mystery man

    Dungarees and a Motorcycle jacket are not what most hunters would choose to hunt in. To hunt, however, he would have needed a hunting license, and back in the 1950's in many states, you had to wear it attatched to the back of your jacket. I am not sure what the regulations in PA were regarding that. Also, he would have had other things to indicate that he was hunting, like a knife, compass, and other equipment. Poetry books are not high on the priority list of most hunters. How much ammunition did he have with him?
    What other equipment and clothing did he have with him?

    He does seem like a traveler and camper with all the gear. But what happened to his car, truck, or motorcycle?

    There is probably more to the story regarding the "Springfield Rifle in 30-06 caliber". Records of the sale of a rifle dating clear back to 1939 would seem unlikely, unless this was a sale of an Army rifle to a civilian. This was probably a Model 1903 US Rifle, made at Springfield Armory, and commonly referred to by civilians as a "Springfield". .30-06 was the designation for the standard military cartridge in World War I, WW II, and the Korean War. It means literally 30 caliber round, developed and accepted by the army in 1906. If the ammunition in the rifle was US military ammo, there would have been a date stamped on the base of each cartridge.

    The model 1903 rifle, was the standard rifle of the US armed forces until it was superceded by the M1-Garand rifle in WW II. Sales of the 1903 Springfields were made to civilians through the Army's Department of Civilian Marksmanship, starting sometime after World War I. This was most likely one of those rifles, and it was most likely a record of such a sale that the police found during their investigation.

    Police believe that the man shot himself, either by accident or as a suicide. I wonder what they based their conclusions on. Usually, someone committing suicide with a rifle or shotgun pulls the trigger with his toe, or hooks the rifle onto a tree branch. If he was murdered, why didn't the killer take his money and rifle? And why would they leave him in the wilderness? This man is alleged to have killed himself in an area that was so secluded nobody found him for years. Passage of time and the elements may have destroyed any suicide note, but why no identification papers?

    It would be nice to know more accurately when this man died. What were the publication dates in his books? What were the dates on the bills in his wallet? What was the condition of the rifle? What about the state of the remains, and clothing?

  5. #5
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    "Mr. Bones"

    DA, sheriff vie over burying 'Mr. Bones'
    Evidence or remains is key question on unidentified man who died mysteriously during 1950s
    Sunday, December 09, 2001
    By Tom Gibb, Pittsburg Post-Gazette Staff Writer BEDFORD, Pa.
    -- A few decades back, some local wag christened him Mr. Bones. The nickname stuck, and for 43 years, that's been the closest thing to an identity that anyone could fix to the man found long dead in the woods near here.


    He took a bullet through the head -- a suspicious death, the deputy coroner decided. Investigators guessed that he was in his 30s, about 6 feet tall, maybe a man of means. He had camping gear, $23, poetry books and a couple of changes of clothes with him.And he had no identification.

    So he sits -- bones, mostly -- packed with his belongings inside a 3-foot-tall cardboard drum, locked away in the county sheriff's cramped evidence room, sharing quarters with confiscated marijuana plants and seized weaponry. Or he does for now.

    Next week, the Bedford County district attorney goes up against the solicitor for the county sheriff's office. They'll argue in Common Pleas Court whether it's time to bury the remains or cart Mr. Bones' drum off to the local state police barracks for more safekeeping."This poor guy has been sitting around this long," said Sheriff Gordon Diehl. "Let's finally treat his remains properly. He's a human being.

    "But he's also live evidence in an unsolved homicide investigation, District Attorney Dwight Diehl, no relation to the sheriff, argues in court papers."The odds might be against us," said state Trooper Joseph Kovel, the investigator who three months ago inherited the case and its attendant binder of reports typed during the Eisenhower administration.

    "The way we approach it is that we have a chance. And the case is alive until there's no reasonable expectation we could make headway." Use 21st century science on a case from the 1950s, and it might unravel one clue that leads to another, Kovel said.

    Some good breaks could lead to a killer, a prospect that tantalizes investigators because there's no statute of limitations on murder, or at least determine the man's identity, the trooper said."It's the end of the investigation when the evidence is completely gone, when there are no leads, the case is cold and there's nothing to work on," Kovel said.

    Court papers call the mystery man "unknown decedent," not Mr. Bones. And the suggestion that he might be buried has brewed the closest thing to fervor that this case has seen since the weeks after a brush-cutting crew happened upon the remains two hours after sunup Oct. 8, 1958. The five brush cutters were working for a pipeline company, clearing a piece of farmland a half-mile behind the Pennsylvania Turnpike's northern Midway Plaza. What the crew found, the next day's Bedford Gazette reported, was "a collection of bare, weather-beaten bones and clothing."

    Investigators figured the remains had been there at least six months; it might have been as long as two years, Kovel said."It wasn't a suicide, from what everybody was thinking then," Gordon Diehl said. "They suspect there might have been some sort of foul play."Beyond that, the case remained a dead-end whodunit and a wide open how-was-it-done. Did he kill himself, or stumble with his loaded rifle? Did somebody else shoot him? A .30-06 Springfield rifle lay nearby, missing one bullet -- the one that went through the victim's head, police theorized -- but still was loaded with another two. Three boxes of shells lay nearby.It was the unhappy end to a camping trip, it seemed.

    The man, brown-haired and 30 to 35, investigators figured, wore jeans and a leather jacket, carried a bed roll, a four-quart canteen and a canvas backpack that had a few changes of clothes, towels and two poetry books. A portable cook stove and utensils sat nearby.

    He had copious dental work, done with gold fillings, and needed more. And, maybe of significance, he was packing contact lenses."Not a lot of people had them in 1958," Kovel said. "You might be a person with means to have had contact lenses then."

    Most of the skeleton remained, according to Kovel. A few bones might have been carried off by animals, the sheriff said. A few more might have been rearranged when the ravine in which the body lay flooded during rainstorms.Investigators started off optimistic that they could match the man with an identity.

    But a month later, they were pretty much out of both leads and hope.A car found abandoned on the turnpike turned out to have no connection. No missing-person reports fit the puzzle. The serial number from the gun, the prescription for the contact lenses and descriptions of the dental work all were dead ends.

    It seemed that ever after, the man wouldn't be known as much more than "the luckless hunter," as the Bedford Gazette described him.Now the deputy coroner who handled the case is dead. So are the key investigators. Even the victim, had he lived, would be in his mid- to late 70s."I'd be surprised if they ever solve it," said Jack Geisel, once a deputy coroner.

    Six months after they were found, the remains were packed off to the FBI for an examination. They wound up back in the sheriff's evidence room in the county's ancient jail and were toted along six years ago when the sheriff got new quarters in a new county prison. Heretofore, that was the last change of address for Mr. Bones. But two years after he took office, the sheriff wants the remains to have a final address.He lined up space in the 75-foot-square cemetery where the county once buried indigent county nursing home residents, many in unmarked graves. He recruited a clergyman to officiate. And a monument maker offered a headstone for $100."Let's face it, it's time he has a decent burial," Gordon Diehl said.

    Or maybe it's not quite time. A last once-over isn't going to hurt things, according to Dennis Dirkmaat, director of the forensic anthropology department at Mercyhurst College in Erie. And Dirkmaat, the go-to guy for a lot of Pennsylvania coroners with nettlesome cases, is willing to pitch in his services gratis."I'd like to take a look," he said. "Maybe we can find something that was missed."Come up with a list of people who are missing kin. Then take DNA culled from the victim's hair and compare it with samples from the maternal lineage of the likely candidates, and it could make a match, Dirkmaat and other experts said.

    Piece together the skull, and computer imaging could guess at the look of the face, according to Marcella Sorg, a director with the American Board of Forensic Anthropologists."It won't always work," she cautioned. "It won't give you things like the tip of the nose, the shape of the ears, how fat the person was -- things we use in the mind as cues to who the person was."

    Beyond science, though, the Bedford County case could get a payoff from increased expertise from the investigators who handle these kinds of things, Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht said."People have simply become better and sharper," he said....

    Link:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/regionst...ones1209p4.asp

  6. #6
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    Bedford County: ID still a mystery

    Bedford County: ID still a mystery
    Monday, January 26, 2004
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The FBI and state police plan to release a composite drawing of a man whose murder has baffled investigators for four decades.The victim was found at a campsite near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bedford County in 1958 with an apparent gunshot wound to the back of the head. Authorities believe he died months or years earlier.
    Beside the man, who was wearing jeans and a black motorcycle jacket, were the books "100 Modern Poems," "Reading Poems" and "Science and the Modern World." Reports from the time also say a .30-06 Springfield rifle, a mess and shaving kit, a canteen and a change of clothes in a canvas backpack were also found along with crumpled money in his pocket.

    Investigators believed the man to be somewhat well-off because of his dental work and contact lenses -- a rare item at the time.The FBI took DNA samples from the bones with hopes of finding a genetic match to someone who might recognize him when the sketch is distributed nationally in February. ...

    Link:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04026/265865.stm

  7. #7
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    Composite Drawing

    'Mr. Bones' gets a face
    Case has remain unsolved since late '50s
    Saturday, February 07, 2004
    By The Associated Press

    A sheriff's unease over having four-decade-old human remains sitting in a barrel in the county jail has led the FBI to produce a composite drawing of the shooting victim known only as "Mr. Bones." ...
    State police released the drawing of a 6-foot-4, 200-pound man with brown hair who was between the ages of 30 and 35 when he was shot in the head sometime in the 1950s.

    The man's body was found in October 1958 in a wooded area in Bedford, about 85 miles east of Pittsburgh.While authorities believe the gunshot wound was self-inflicted, they don't know whether it was an accident or a suicide." What we would like to get is to find out who this person was and to have him returned to his family so he could have a proper burial," lead investigator Trooper Joe Kovel said Friday.

    The reconstruction of the man's skull and body was prompted by a request from the Bedford County sheriff's office to bury the remains after they had been passed from sheriff to sheriff. Current Sheriff Gordon Diehl enlisted a clergyman to perform last rites over the remains.

    "I wasn't particularly fond of having the safekeeping of him," Diehl said Friday. "You know, it was a human being. It's time that he be put to rest."

    But the district attorney stepped in, noting that the case was still open. The objection prompted state police to revive its investigation in late 2001.
    Investigators believe the man was well-off because of gold dental work and a pair of contact lenses -- unusual for the time. He wore dungarees and a black motorcycle jacket.Found with him were poetry books, a .30-06 Springfield rifle, a canteen and camping equipment. A black wallet contained $38 and a brass key stamped "Active 195 Ave A" on it.

    The contact lenses were traced to a Chicago manufacturer and fitted by an Illinois physician, but there are no records of the buyer. The rifle was sold in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1939. The brass key hasn't been matched to any location. And the dental work -- a bridge and gold crown on the upper right side -- yielded no matches.

    When the body was found, investigators tried to match him to missing persons reports around the country. Kovel has done the same and found nothing.

    Police hope to hear from someone on the man's maternal side for a possible DNA match....

    ------------------------------------------
    Go to link below to see Composite Drawing.
    Link:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04038/270334.stm

  8. #8
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    The Books...

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    ... Beside the man, who was wearing jeans and a black motorcycle jacket, were the books "100 Modern Poems," "Reading Poems" and "Science and the Modern World." ...
    The books may provide a way of identifying this man - or at least might give an insight into his intellect or interests. The actual publication dates would be of importance in establishing a "no earlier than" date for his death.

    Here is what I could find out about these books:

    "100 Modern Poems", by Selden Rodman, was first Copyrighted in 1949 and published (in hard and soft cover) by The New American Library. It was published in paperback form by Pelican Mentor beginning in 1951, with seven more printings by Mentor by 1960. Signet books later published it in paperback vesion.

    "Reading Poems": I could find nothing on this book. Possibly it was of very limited publication. But more likely, this is only a partial title for the second poetry book.

    "Science and the Modern World" by Alfred North Whitehead was first Copyrighted in 1925, and was in continuous publication in both hard and soft cover to recent years. Copyright was renewed in 1953. Pelican/Mentor published this book in paperback starting in 1948, and had several printings of it: 1st in 1948, 2nd in 1949, 3rd in ?, and 4th in 1953. There may have been more. This book is a book of philosophy which is considered highly intellectual and a very difficult read by many. See reviews in the following link:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/cus...283155&s=books

    I feel that it is possible these books were college text books that he was carrying with him, perhaps to read for an English Class. They are not the sort of books that one would normally choose for light reading.

    Because of the many printing editions of these books, it is likely that they would have been of about the same date - if purchased at the same time, and this might indicate that they were purchased as text books for a class. Did any colleges in that area use these books for classes?

    We know that this man could not have died before 1949 (Copyright on 100 Modern Poems). But how close to 1958? This man, being 30 to 35 years old might be thought a bit old for college - but perhaps he was a Veteran of the Korean War (1950-1953) going through school on the GI Bill. Maybe he was a college professor?

    Estimates indicate that the man had been dead from 6 months to two years by October 1958. That would make a rough estimate of between October 1956 to April 1958. Did any college students or professors go missing around that time frame?

  9. #9
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    A few questions...

    The Doenetwork case file, by necessity, is a short summary. I prefer to have more details. If I were looking into this case, I would ask the following questions:

    The Body:
    - What about the state of the remains? Reports indicate sketal, but that the skeleton was mostly complete.
    - How was the body situated (face down or up, sitting, etc)?
    - Do autopsey photos or crime scene photos still exist?
    It would be nice to know more accurately when this man died.
    - How did police determine that it was between six months and two years prior?
    - Why does the posting now state only "in the 1950's?"

    Initially police believed that he was murdered - what evidence led to that conclusion?
    Police now believe that the man shot himself, either by accident or as a suicide.
    - What evidence pointed to that conclusion?
    - Usually, someone committing suicide with a rifle or shotgun pulls the trigger with his toe, or hooks the rifle onto a tree branch. Was there any evidence of this?
    - Was there any kind of a suicide note found at the scene?
    - Were there any other unsolved murders around that same time frame?

    Physical Condition
    - Was there any indication of previous injury or illness?
    - Any deformaties, or congenital problems which would have precluded military service?
    - What was his eyesight prescription? Was he wearing the contact lenses, or carrying them in his pack? Were eyeglasses found?
    - What was his actual height and weight?

    Questions on head wound:
    - What was the exact nature of the head wound? Entry and exit points?
    - Was there imbedded propellant in the skull to indicate point blank range shot?
    - Was it a clean entry wound, or did it look like a keyhole entry - perhaps from a riccochet?

    Dental work:
    - Was the Dental work, bridge and crown of recent construction?
    - Was there any indication that it may have been done by military dentists?


    Clothing and Equipment found with body:

    Besides the bed roll, 4 quart Canteen, mess kit, shaving kit, small cooking stove, change of clothing, canvas knapsack, 3 books, brass key stamped "Active 195 Ave A" on it, and his wallet, what other equipment and clothing did he have with him?

    - What kind of shoes was he wearing? Were they well worn? If so, perhaps he was living off the land. If not, perhaps he had driven to the area for a brief one or two day camping trip. Were the shoes suitable for hiking and waking over rough terrain?
    - What about his socks? Were they thin or worn out? Or were they thick wool, appropriate for hunting or hiking?
    - What was the type of clothing? Was it the type normally worn in warm or cold weather?
    - Dungarees - what brand?
    - What kind of shirt?
    - Leather jacket - motorcycle or military? Was he wearing it at the time of death?
    - Underwear: short or long?
    - What other clothing did he have with him? Hat? Gloves? (This would indicate time of year)
    - Were any fingerprints taken from rifle or equipment?
    - Was any knife or tool found?
    - Is any of the camping equipment of military issue?
    - It was mentioned that he had a cooking stove and utensils. Did he have any food with him? What kind, and how much?

    Money:
    Newspaper reports state alternately that $38 was found in a black wallet, and that $23 in crumpled bills was found in his pocket.
    - What were the dates and series on the bills found with the man? (the date on the most recently issued bill would establish a "no earlier than" date of death)
    - Clarification: What was the actual amount of money and what denominations? In wallet or pocket?
    - Was there anything else in the wallet?
    - Was he carrying any coins with dates?
    The Rifle and Ammunition:
    - What was the serial number of the rifle?
    - To whom was the rifle sold in 1939? Was the origional owner ever located and questioned?
    - Was it in a condition to be fired when found or was it completely rusted?
    - Was there any damage to rifle, like burst breach?
    - Was it in military configuration, had it been sporterized/modified?
    - If the rifle was professionally sporterized, was there any evidence as to who the gunsmith was, or what company did the work?
    - Were any fired shell casings located nearby, or were they in the boxes of ammunition?
    - What make and lot was the ammo? (This could help establish a "no earlier than" date)
    - Was there a sling or case for the rifle? How did he transport it?

    The Books:
    - What were the actual publication dates in his books?
    - Did the books appear new or well worn?
    - Was anything written in the books? Like notes, or names, or class times?
    - Was there any underlining of text, as would have been done by a student?
    - Are there any stampings inside the books by any college book stores? Sometimes bookstores will stamp every book inside the cover, or on a certain page to indicate subsequent sales as a used book.

    The Brass Key (stamped "Active 195 Ave A"):
    - Is this a door key?, a padlock key?, a mailbox key?
    - What make or pattern is it? (eg: a Cole, Dexter, Chicago, Schlage, Master, Quikset, etc.?)
    - Is it an origional key, or a copy made on another company's blank?
    - Is this a continuous stamping, that is all related, or is it stamped in several places?
    - "Active" may be the name of the locksmith who made the key, or could be the name of a company that it was made for.
    - "195" could be an address, and if so, is probably the address of the key maker. It could simply be a key code.
    - What cities have an "Avenue A"?

    The Crime Scene:
    This man is alleged to have killed himself in an area that was so secluded nobody found him for years.
    - Were there any houses or farms nearby? Who owned the property that he was found on?
    - Was it property where people normally hunted or fired rifles for practice?
    - Was it an area frequented by backpackers or campers?
    - Do any roads lead to the area, besides the main highway?
    - Who else normally hunted or shot there?
    - Was there any evidence that someone may have tampered with the scene prior to police arrival?
    - Were metal detectors ever used at the scene to locate any other possible evidence?
    - Were crime scene photos taken, and do they exist today?

  10. #10
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    Could this young man have been a follower of the "Beat Generation", which was rapidly gaining popularity at the time? The dress is one indicator, a motorcycle jacket and dungarees...Very similar to the style of "counter-culture" dress made popular by characters portrayed by actors such as Marlon Brando (The Wild Ones, 1953) and James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause, 1955).

    The book 100 Modern Poems is an anthology by Seldon Rodman, who was known to be a fan of the works of Theodore Roethke. Roethke expressed similar themes on existentialism in his poems as those espoused in "Science and the Modern World". They may not have been books for college classes, but may have been of personal interest. Though Roethke was never associated with the Beat movement, he expressed many similar ideas to those found in concurrent or later works by the more popular Beat Generation writers (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, et al).
    In fact, I find it almost surprising that a copy of Kerouac's On the Road was not found with this young man (possibly indicating that he died before its 1957 publishing?)
    I think it possible that this man was on a "pilgrimage", of a sort, from the East Coast to CA, probably San Francisco, with was becoming the home for the Beat movement. Hitckhiking his way across country would explain his lack of transportation (and car or motorcycle keys). He may have had an education, possibly being introduced to the Beat during college-even pursued a career, earning respectable money (being able to afford the dental work and contact lenses). He may have become disillusioned with his life, possibly through some contact with the Korean War. This may have led to his "soul-searching" cross-country journey.
    There are active addresses of 195 Ave A in both Bayonne, NJ and Brooklyn, NY, both to the east of where he was found (especially if he were following a course which took him through Philly toward Pittsburgh).


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowangel
    Could this young man have been a follower of the "Beat Generation", which was rapidly gaining popularity at the time? The dress is one indicator, a motorcycle jacket and dungarees...Very similar to the style of "counter-culture" dress made popular by characters portrayed by actors such as Marlon Brando (The Wild Ones, 1953) and James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause, 1955).

    The book 100 Modern Poems is an anthology by Seldon Rodman, who was known to be a fan of the works of Theodore Roethke. Roethke expressed similar themes on existentialism in his poems as those espoused in "Science and the Modern World". They may not have been books for college classes, but may have been of personal interest. Though Roethke was never associated with the Beat movement, he expressed many similar ideas to those found in concurrent or later works by the more popular Beat Generation writers (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, et al).
    In fact, I find it almost surprising that a copy of Kerouac's On the Road was not found with this young man (possibly indicating that he died before its 1957 publishing?)
    I think it possible that this man was on a "pilgrimage", of a sort, from the East Coast to CA, probably San Francisco, with was becoming the home for the Beat movement. Hitckhiking his way across country would explain his lack of transportation (and car or motorcycle keys). He may have had an education, possibly being introduced to the Beat during college-even pursued a career, earning respectable money (being able to afford the dental work and contact lenses). He may have become disillusioned with his life, possibly through some contact with the Korean War. This may have led to his "soul-searching" cross-country journey.
    There are active addresses of 195 Ave A in both Bayonne, NJ and Brooklyn, NY, both to the east of where he was found (especially if he were following a course which took him through Philly toward Pittsburgh).
    Interesting insight and possibilities. The timeframe does seem to be right. Do those beat philosophers say anything about not carrying identification?

    Are those Ave A addresses for residences, or for businesses?

    I wonder just what other stuff he was carrying that might point out who he was, where he was coming from and where he was going? His being older than most college students, and of an age where many have started families and/or careers, makes this case a bit different. Here is a guy - maybe living off the land, maybe traveling cross country, maybe just out for a pleasant weekend of camping - who is killed, and nobody seems to be looking for him.

    The only thing that doesn't fit with the hitch hiking scenario is the Springfield Rifle. How would he have carried it while hitch hiking and hoping for a ride? A Model 1903 Springfield measures 44 inches in overall length. Most people seeing that he had a rifle - even if in a case, would pass him by. I could understand him carrying a pistol, which could be easily concealed, for protection. But carrying a rifle would be difficult to do without arousing the interest of police and citizens.

  12. #12
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    My most simple answer to that--it wasn't his rifle. Maybe the killer left the rifle and ammo? It doesn't make much sense to me either, but is a possiblity. Or a hunter who made a horrible mistake and, in panic, decided to leave all evidence at the scene. As I understand it, this would not have been a very valuable weapon at the time (this is only info from friends familiar with such things, no research on my part). The 1903, like the M-1, was made for the very difficult conditions of the wars our military faced at the time-I'm told it would be very unlikely for the weapon to discharge if dropped. I'm told it is also heavy with a strong trigger pull, and would not be an easy weapon to kill oneself with (unless the trigger mechanism had been altered in some way to decrease trigger pull).

    Is this an area where people would commonly hunt? The stories state this is farrmland, so I assume is not state park land, therefore if the land was used by hunters permission would most likely have had to have been sought by the property owner.

    I can't find any particular reference against carrying identification, but there is such a massive volume of works involved it may have been advocated at some point-freedom from "the establishment" (the primary target of most of the later literature).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowangel
    My most simple answer to that--it wasn't his rifle. Maybe the killer left the rifle and ammo? It doesn't make much sense to me either, but is a possiblity. Or a hunter who made a horrible mistake and, in panic, decided to leave all evidence at the scene. As I understand it, this would not have been a very valuable weapon at the time (this is only info from friends familiar with such things, no research on my part). The 1903, like the M-1, was made for the very difficult conditions of the wars our military faced at the time-I'm told it would be very unlikely for the weapon to discharge if dropped. I'm told it is also heavy with a strong trigger pull, and would not be an easy weapon to kill oneself with (unless the trigger mechanism had been altered in some way to decrease trigger pull).

    Is this an area where people would commonly hunt? The stories state this is farrmland, so I assume is not state park land, therefore if the land was used by hunters permission would most likely have had to have been sought by the property owner.

    I can't find any particular reference against carrying identification, but there is such a massive volume of works involved it may have been advocated at some point-freedom from "the establishment" (the primary target of most of the later literature).
    The Model 1903 rifle was, in my opinion, the finest bolt action military rifle ever built. You are correct in saying that it was built for rugged conditions, but this particular rifle is known to be a Pre-World War II rifle (sold commercialy in 1939), and would have had the more intricate machining and polishing. The trigger pull is normally about 4 and a half pounds, which would make it difficult to discharge if simply dropped, but very easy to pull if one intended. If "sporterized" with an adjustable trigger, it may have had a lighter trigger pull, but usually not, as the adjustable trigger mainly was intended to make it a single stage pull with a crisp break, rather than a light trigger.

    The safety on this rifle is a very positive locking piece, which prevents the firing pin from advancing unless placed in the "ready" position. But the indication that the rifle had two unfired cartridges in the magazine, might indicate that the shooter was in the process of firing a series of shots. The safety would have remained in the "Ready" position until placed manually in "safe".

    My feeling is that this man - IF he killed himself - did it by placing the rifle with the trigger in a tree branch, and pulled it toward his head. But it would have seemed rather obvious if that were the case, and it was never mentioned in initial police reports.

    It is also possible that he was firing at rocks or very solid trees, and that a bullet could have riccocheted back and hit him in the head. The amount of ammunition might indicate that he was indeed doing some target practice, rather than hunting. Also, if his intent had been to kill himself, he did not need three boxes of shells to do it.

    I have not been to the site. Looking at the map, it appears to be quite rural around Bedford. Being a land owner, I can tell you without hesitation that more people hunt WITHOUT permission than with it. True, the law states that you have to have permission (often in writing), but the reality is otherwise. The most common excuses are: 1. My buddy has permission, and told me I could hunt, too. and 2. Well, I thought this was ___'s land. Funny how they never seem to notice the signs!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
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    2,381
    I've never had the opportunity to fire a 1903, but did get to fire an M-1 during my Army days (in competition with German soldiers). The difference between the M-1 and the M-14 (I won't even mention the M16A1 or A2) is truly amazing. It has such a solid, "dependable" feel as opposed to more modern military weapons. I can see how soldiers from WWII could come to feel this weapon was not a tool but a friend.

    I question several things about the circumstances surrounding this man. As you point out, why so much ammo? Its more reminiscent of Charles Whitman and the UT Tower...
    If he were camping, where is his campsite? I would expect at least a tent and sleeping bag, or some type of bedroll. If this were the case, why did he bring everything else with him? Why not leave the extra books (assuming he planned to read one if bored), the extra clothes, etc at the campsite? Why was no such campsite ever located? The same question would apply if he were staying somewhere close. Why bring these items with him? I hold to the theory that he was "passing through", and did not have a campsite, a place to stay, or a vehicle.
    What did operator's permits look like in these days? Were they just paper permits, unlaminated, with no photos? (I am only making assumptions, I rellay don't know). Such an ID may not have survived being outside for very long if, for some reason, it was not kept in the wallet with the recovered money. Or, it may have been removed...

    An address of 195 Ave A is now showing in Manhattan, not Brooklyn (?). It is a business (a realty co. and a tailor) today, but in the late '50s? The address in Bayonne NJ is a private residence. I checked several other surrounding states, and found another matching address in Turners Falls, MA (a bank, interestingly enough-could the brass key have been to a safety deposit box?).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    5,005
    Quote Originally Posted by shadowangel
    I've never had the opportunity to fire a 1903, but did get to fire an M-1 during my Army days (in competition with German soldiers). The difference between the M-1 and the M-14 (I won't even mention the M16A1 or A2) is truly amazing. It has such a solid, "dependable" feel as opposed to more modern military weapons. I can see how soldiers from WWII could come to feel this weapon was not a tool but a friend.

    I question several things about the circumstances surrounding this man. As you point out, why so much ammo? Its more reminiscent of Charles Whitman and the UT Tower...
    If he were camping, where is his campsite? I would expect at least a tent and sleeping bag, or some type of bedroll. If this were the case, why did he bring everything else with him? Why not leave the extra books (assuming he planned to read one if bored), the extra clothes, etc at the campsite? Why was no such campsite ever located? The same question would apply if he were staying somewhere close. Why bring these items with him? I hold to the theory that he was "passing through", and did not have a campsite, a place to stay, or a vehicle.
    What did operator's permits look like in these days? Were they just paper permits, unlaminated, with no photos? (I am only making assumptions, I rellay don't know). Such an ID may not have survived being outside for very long if, for some reason, it was not kept in the wallet with the recovered money. Or, it may have been removed...

    An address of 195 Ave A is now showing in Manhattan, not Brooklyn (?). It is a business (a realty co. and a tailor) today, but in the late '50s? The address in Bayonne NJ is a private residence. I checked several other surrounding states, and found another matching address in Turners Falls, MA (a bank, interestingly enough-could the brass key have been to a safety deposit box?).
    Maybe this guy was considering "Climbing the Texas Tower", but decided on suicide instead, because he didn't want be a bother to others.

    The news papers said that he did have a "bedroll" and that a camp stove and utinsils (probably meaning his mess kit) were nearby. My guess is that he was found in or very near to his camp - or it was made to appear that way. The bedroll could have been a blanket or two with a ground cloth. But was it his intent to sleep in it, or was it being used to lie prone on when target shooting?

    The answers to some of my quesions could probably be answered in the police files. Certainly they must have found shoes at the scene. What type and what wear did they have? This would give an indication as to whether he was on an overnight camping trip, doing a lot of walking, or driving, etc.

    I kind of think that if he had any Identification it would have survived inside his wallet along with the bills. Even his books were still intact, and they were probably paperbacks. You would expect him to have SOME kind of identification, but he had none. Was it stolen?

    I have a collection of different kinds of keys. I notice that some have numbers and/or letters stamped on the. The stamps are sometimes single digits that are struck separately. There are some stampings, however that have several letters together and all are hit at the same time. In some cases, one or more of those letters fails to strike the key. I wonder if the word "Active" or the other things on the keys might be a mis-strike.

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