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  1. #1
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    NY - Alice Parsons: Heiress, Long Island, 1937

    In 1925, Alice McDonnell, heiress to a sizable fortune, married William H. Parsons, whose family made millions in Standard Oil. For a while the couple lived in New York City but in 1929 they moved permanently to their 11-acre estate, Long Meadow Farms, located in Stony Brook, Long Island. The Parsons had a rather usual hobby - they raised plump, "well-bred" chickens for the fancy restaurant trade. By all accounts, the two of them enjoyed their quiet life.

    In 1931, Alice became ill and needed someone as a companion/housekeeper. On the recommendation of her sister, Alice hired Anna Kuprianova, an attractive Russian immigrant who spoke little English. She was very competent and when Alice recovered from her illness, Anna stayed on as the Parsons' housekeeper.

    Oddly enough, Anna owned a valuable recipe for squab paste used on canapes. Together she and the Parsons formed a partnership of sorts. The Parsons quit raising chickens and began raising squabs to use in the squab paste. Before long, no party was considered a success unless Parsons-Kuprianova squab paste canapes were served.

    It appeared that everything was fine in the Parsons household. When Anna's 5 year old son, Roy, came to live at Long Meadow Farms, the Parsons treated him like their own child. They had no children due to an accident Alice had in her youth. Before long, Roy Kurpianova became known as Roy Parsons and in 1936, when Anna took out citizenship papers, she changed her name to Anna Kuprianova-Parsons.

    Early in the morning of June 9, 1937, Alice drove her husband to the station to catch a commuter train to NYC, then returned home. At 11:00 that morning, a black sedan occupied by a middle-aged couple pulled up to the house. After speaking with them for a few minutes, Alice called out to Anna, who was working in the kitchen, saying she was riding with the couple to look at a nearby estate she was trying to rent out. Alice Parsons climbed in the car, and was never seen again.

    When Mr. Parsons arrived home around 7 p.m., Anna told him his wife had been gone most of the day and had not returned. Mr. Parsons conducted a quick search of the property, then called the police.

    When the police arrived, they began a search of the estate, including the Parsons' car parked in front of the house. Nothing was found in the car, so it was locked up and the search continued. At 1:30 the following morning, a policeman happened to shine his flashlight in the car and noticed a note stuck under the floorboard in the back seat. It was a ransom note demanding $25,000 within 24 hours.

    William Parsons and Anna Kurprianova-Parsons, joined by Alice's two brothers, waited at Long Meadow Farms for word from the kidnappers, but no contact was made. Mr. Parsons offered a reward for his wife's return, but no one came forward with any information. Eventually the FBI were called in. After a few months of investigation, the FBI turned the case back over to the local authorities, claiming Mrs. Parsons was murdered, not kidnapped.

    The local authorities repeatedly questioned Mr. Parsons and the housekeeper, but they stuck to their stories. Eventually, with all clues exhausted, the police gave up on their search for Mrs. Parsons.

    Some points to ponder:

    1. 22 days before she vanished, Alice Parsons drafted a new will leaving $35,000 to her husband, $10,000 to Anna, and $15,000 to Roy to remain in trust until he turned 30.

    2. In December of 1937, William Parsons began proceedings to adopt Anna's son Roy, now 12 years old. Mr. Parsons was living in California by then, and Anna and Roy left to join him there.

    3. In 1940, William Parsons and Anna Kuprianova-Parsons were married, although Alice Parsons would not be legally declared dead until 1946.

    4. Shortly after Alice disappeared, a series of eight letters were delivered to Anna Kuprianova-Parsons at Long Meadow Farms, allegedly from the kidnappers who claimed Alice had died of pneumonia. One letter contained a brooch which Mr. Parsons identified as belonging to Alice.

    5. No one remembers seeing Alice Parsons drive her husband to the train station the day she disappeared.

    6. Anna Kuprianova-Parsons was the only witness to the black sedan and middle-aged couple.

    7. Alice's two brothers contested her will and eventually an agreement was reached wherein William Parsons received eight pieces of jewelry valued at $200, Anna got nothing, and the trust established for Roy remained intact. The remainder of Alice's estate was divided among her five nieces and nephews.

    This information was found in the New York Times newspaper archives in articles dated June 10, 1937, December 21, 1937, May 27, 1938, and June 8, 1946. I also referred to an article entitled "Lost Ladies: Where Are They Now" by Pat Frank iin the February 18, 1947 issue of The American Weekly.

    I eagerly await any comments!
    Last edited by Kimster; 12-18-2012 at 04:36 PM. Reason: featured cold case from 12/17/2012 to 12/23/2012

  2. #2
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    Sounds like the classic "we could be together if not for your inconvenient wife" scenario. It sounds like his family had money, but perhaps he did not? Do you have any information on that? If that's the case, then in order to maintain the lifestyle they needed her money. Speaks to motive.

    Seems like "no attractive help" (of either gender) is a good rule, esp. for rich couples.

  3. #3
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    Marilyn, Wow - good read. Thanks for typing all that.

    Probably unheard of in those days, but in this day and age, looks like a simple case of hubby getting rid of an unwanted wife.

    I wonder about her body though. It sounds as though they may have had a pretty large window of time to dump her, so she could be about anywhere.

    Wonder what the 2 families thought of this situation?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluecat View Post
    Sounds like the classic "we could be together if not for your inconvenient wife" scenario. It sounds like his family had money, but perhaps he did not? Do you have any information on that? If that's the case, then in order to maintain the lifestyle they needed her money. Speaks to motive.

    Seems like "no attractive help" (of either gender) is a good rule, esp. for rich couples.
    I don't think it was a matter of money at all, the top of the story mentions that both sides were wealthy. I think it was the simple fact that divorces were such a scandal back then and to add salt to the wound, he would have hooked up the the "hired help!"

  5. #5
    tennessee is offline Blew out my flipflop. Stepped on a pop top . . .
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    Interesting read, Marilyn. To your points.

    1. New wills should always be the number one clue.

    2. Wasn't Roy only 6-7 when the adoption process started? I took it he was 5 when he arrived at the estate in 1936.

    3. Their marriage wasn't legal then, was it? Further supports what Bluecat says about the inconvenient wife.

    4. Why on earth would the kidnappers send letters to Anna of all people? Wouldn't they be addressed to Mr. Parsons? Wouldn't it be easy for him to just grab a brooch from her jewelry box and say it was mailed? Where were the letters postmarked? Did either of them take a day trip or such around the time of the postmarks?

    5. To me this is really not suspicious. I couldn't tell you whether my neighbors are gone at any given time and I really hope they don't watch me like that.

    6. Well, she is already suspect. But, what if she told the truth? See #5. Just because no one else saw it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    7. I wonder what the original will said. Was it brought into evidence when the brothers contested the new will? On what grounds did they overturn the new will? Were the brothers just greedy and jealous? Did they have any evidence that Mr. Parsons and Anna got rid of Alice?

    I think that this story is the stuff that makes for a great 40s movie. It is sad that it really happened to Alice though.
    Opinions are like belly buttons. Everyone's got one. This one is mine.

  6. #6
    tennessee is offline Blew out my flipflop. Stepped on a pop top . . .
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    Quote Originally Posted by LisainWV View Post
    I don't think it was a matter of money at all, the top of the story mentions that both sides were wealthy. I think it was the simple fact that divorces were such a scandal back then and to add salt to the wound, he would have hooked up the the "hired help!"
    Greed does crazy things to some people. I think among ordinary folk the divorces were a scandal but that they were becoming accepted by the upper class by then.
    Opinions are like belly buttons. Everyone's got one. This one is mine.

  7. #7
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    Tennessee, my post was not clear enough about when Roy joined the Parsons household. That was late in 1931, when he was five.

    It would appear that the marriage between husband and housekeeper was not legal, since for all legal purposes Alice was still alive.

    Your questions about the letters make sense. I have no idea why Anna was selected as the recipient of the letters. And I agree that it would be easy for Mr. Parsons, or Anna for that matter, to have picked up a brooch and claimed it was an enclosure to the letter. At the time the letters were received, Anna's attorney (I have no idea why she thought she needed one - LOL) claimed they were written by a brother and sister, and that the sister appeared to be remorseful for her part in the kidnapping. I'm sure Mr. Parsons had ample opportunity to leave the house and mail the letters. I am very suspect of the source and legitimacy of these letters.

    I also wonder what the original will said. This is something I am still researching. The articles I have found so far just state the brothers contested the will, but no more information is provided as to why they did so. I don't believe the brothers were greedy, as they had ample wealth of their own. My feeling, totally unsupported by any evidence, is that they were suspicious of William Parsons and/or Anna from the beginning and did not want to see them gain from their crime. As to whether they had any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of William and/or Anna, I don't know.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm hoping that when I finish all of my research, I'll have the basis for a good book.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LisainWV View Post
    I don't think it was a matter of money at all, the top of the story mentions that both sides were wealthy. I think it was the simple fact that divorces were such a scandal back then and to add salt to the wound, he would have hooked up the the "hired help!"
    I agree that money probably wasn't a motive for William Parsons. However, Anna is another story. I can't decide whether William was manipulated by Anna, or if they were both equally complicit. I have no doubts that the two of them were involved in Alice's disappearance. They lived near plenty of water, so disposing of Alice would probaby not have been a problem.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluecat View Post
    Sounds like the classic "we could be together if not for your inconvenient wife" scenario. It sounds like his family had money, but perhaps he did not? Do you have any information on that? If that's the case, then in order to maintain the lifestyle they needed her money. Speaks to motive.

    Seems like "no attractive help" (of either gender) is a good rule, esp. for rich couples.
    It is my understanding that William Parsons had inherited wealth. However, that could have been the impression he wanted to present. I am trying to look into financial information, including information about Alice's will before it was changed, to see if that sheds any light on motive.

    Alice was an average looking woman who enjoyed the quiet life. Perhaps William found the Russian housekeeper more intriguing. I am sure Anna enjoyed the lifestyle she had with the Parsons and would not easily give that up.

    You are right, attractive help is definitely not a good idea!

  10. #10
    tennessee is offline Blew out my flipflop. Stepped on a pop top . . .
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    If you do write a book about this case, please let me know. I would snap one up in a heartbeat.
    Opinions are like belly buttons. Everyone's got one. This one is mine.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tennessee View Post
    If you do write a book about this case, please let me know. I would snap one up in a heartbeat.
    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Tennesse!

  12. #12
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    This is a very interesting case, Marilyn. I will have to look up some old newspaper articles on it this weekend. It kind of sounds to me like maybe the husband and housekeeper had something to do with it but, who knows?

    I did a quick search last night in the archives and I found an article in an Oshkosh, WI newspaper from August of 1937 that said Anna was not the only witness who saw Alice in the black sedan. I think it said a postal employee saw her in such a car as well. I will have to look again this weekend and see if I can find any other articles that say the same thing. I may find out the postal worker later said she was mistaken or made it up.

    As far as hiring attractive or unattractive help, I don't think it makes a lot of difference. I've seen and read of many instances where it doesn't really matter what the help looks like. Some very wealthy men seem to have a fascination with women who are "below them", so to speak. To them it's a huge conquest to sleep with the hired help no matter what they look like. One such case that comes to mind is when Jude Law slept with his kids' nanny and he was engaged to Sienna Miller. Sienna Miller is absolutely gorgeous and that nanny was very plain looking, not attractive at all. I don't understand what the appeal is to some men but 9 times out of 10, looks don't have anything to do with it!

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  13. #13
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    What a great read -- just riveting!

    One question: Is there anything anywhere about a search done on the grounds?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. E View Post
    What a great read -- just riveting!

    One question: Is there anything anywhere about a search done on the grounds?
    Yes, there was an extensive search done on land and from the air. Apparently they had some sort of magnifying apparatus attached to a plane that flew over the area trying to locate any sign of Alice. Also, the surrounding areas of water were searched and, at one time, a body was found that at first was thought to be Alice. Turns out the body was that of a man.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by liz325 View Post
    I did a quick search last night in the archives and I found an article in an Oshkosh, WI newspaper from August of 1937 that said Anna was not the only witness who saw Alice in the black sedan. I think it said a postal employee saw her in such a car as well. I will have to look again this weekend and see if I can find any other articles that say the same thing. I may find out the postal worker later said she was mistaken or made it up.
    I also saw that article, but after searching the New York Times archives, I found a couple of other articles that refuted that sighting. There actually were a number of alleged sightings of Alice, in Boston as well as New York, but nothing was ever confirmed. Also, there were telephone calls from women claiming to be Alice which were determined to be hoaxes.

    The train stations were checked to see if anyone sold a ticket to Alice, or a woman matching Alice's description, and that turned up nothing.

    I have more info to post on this case, and when I get it put into some kind of coherent form, I'll post it here.

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