This is nothing short of a fascinating case. Richard Cox was and is the only West Point cadet ever to go missing and remain that way. For all its intricacies, this case is almost undiscussed online. The following information is taken from Cox's Wikipedia entry:
Richard Colvin Cox was [a] United States Military Academy (West Point) second-year cadet who disappeared after he left his dormitory around six p.m on January 14, 1950. Before he disappeared, Richard Cox had a mysterious friend named George with a German accent. One day Cadet Cox vanished without a trace after George paid him a visit. Cox was declared legally dead in 1957. So far, Richard Colvin Cox is the only cadet to disappear from the West Point facility. At the time, it was considered one of the great unsolved missing persons cases.
In the 1980s, historian Marshall Jacobs re-opened the investigation and spent close to eight years conducting interviews and reviewing FOIA and other documents. Eventually, he worked with writer Harry Maihafer to write the book Oblivion, which proposes a solution.
I've read Maihafer's book, and the first half does an excellent job of describing the investigation and presenting the evidence. Cox simply walked away from West Point and never returned. The story is too long to present here, but has as many twists and turns as any spy novel. What most researchers agree on, is that Cox's somewhat mysterious military record before West Point had something to do with his disappearance.
Maihafer and Jacobs document much anecdotal evidence that suggests Cox was gay; if true, this could have got him discharged in disgrace, assaulted by his fellow cadets, even imprisoned. If true, this might be one reason for Cox to vanish in the cold and snow of a Saturday night. But he had been several years in the Army previously...would he not have done this sooner?
The second half of the book details Jacobs' personal investigation. It also proposes a solution which frankly I find somewhat fanciful. The book is interesting if you're into this sort of thing (which I assume we all are), but they lost me at the end.
Dead, secret agent, or just plain didn't want to be found, Richard Cox has been missing for just over 68 years. If alive he would be in his mid-80s.
This is a fascinating case, and the book "Oblivion" is pretty good.
Richard Colvin Cox had been an enlisted man in the Army, a Sergeant, stationed in Germany after WW II. He was assigned to an Intelligence Unit and was involved in covert operations and in counter-intelligence activities at the very start of the Cold War.
At the time of his disappearance, he was a Sophomore (2nd year) cadet. He was last seen walking across a drill field in his full dress uniform and overcoat. He told his roommates about a mysterious visitor named "George" and it was thought that perhaps he was on his way to see this guy when he went missing.
Big searches were conducted of the West Point grounds and surrounding areas, but no trace of Cox was ever turned up.
This year, 1950, was a banner year for Cold War incidents. About the same time, a Navy Privateer Plane was shot down by the Russians over the Baltic and it is quite possible that the crew was captured (and never returned). There were kidnappings taking place in various Eastern Bloc countries, and of course in June, the Korean War broke out.
Couldn't find any references on "The Doe Network"
Anything on "The Charley network"?
At least Life Magazine April 14, 1952 did a profile/picture of Cox-start page 147 to read article
[ame="http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=91365"]NY-Richard Cox-vanished from West Point 1950 - Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community[/ame]
Last edited by PFF; 11-10-2009 at 08:16 PM. Reason: CORRECTED THREAD
Amazing case. I am intrigued by this "George: character
Fascinating case! I think people are starting to look alike to me---he has a Benjaman Kyle look to him, but I know BK could not be 81 yrs old, right?
I am looking for a few good sleuthers to help Missie find her sister--please, please, please bring your fresh ideas!!
I'm thinking a homosexual relationship gone bad? From all accounts (mostly from Richard Cox), this "George" guy was an unsavory psychopath, and Cox was afraid of him.
This case will be 60 years old on 14 January. Cox is still missing and considered a deserter by the army.
Here is an interesting new article from the Mansfield NewsJournal about Richard Cox from one week ago.
A closer look at Mansfield's greatest mystery
Background American Gothic Into Thin Air In Search Of In Plain Sight? One Theory Epilogue
By LARRY PHILLIPS • News Journal • January 17, 2010 MANSFIELD -- The greatest mystery in Mansfield history took place nowhere near the city.
It was 60 years ago last week, on a cold and blustery day, 515 miles directly east of Mansfield. The disappearance of 1946 Mansfield Senior High School graduate Richard Colvin Cox drew nationwide attention. Some compared his disappearance to the Amelia Earhart case. To this day, Cox remains the only missing West Point cadet never to be found.
I ran across an old book at a library sale recently which is a collection of cases involving unsolved disappearances. The Cox case is one of those featured. The name of the book is: Lost and Never Found II by Anita Larsen, 1991.
This case was featured briefly on a TV program about the Military Academy at West Point. I saw the program just last month, but don't know when it was origionally produced.
what channel was it?
For those of us coming in late (such as myself) and are finding the links not working....here is a small summary with some useful info - such as that Richard Cox had a girlfriend, relationship to his mother, etc.....
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Oblivion The Mystery of West Point Cadet Richard Cox by Harry J. Maihafer
On Saturday, January 14, 1950, shortly after 6:00 p.m., popular, accomplished, and handsome 21 year-old cadet Richard Colvin Cox left West Point Military Academy to dine with an unidentified friend after telling his roommates that he would return early, most likely between 9:00 and 9:30, and was never seen again.
Cadet Cox seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth. The newspapers and magazines gave the story of his disappearance extensive coverage, rivers were dredged, all 15,000 acres of West Point were exhaustively searched, leaving no stone unturned, all ponds, lakes, and the reservoir were either dragged or drained, a helicopter was even brought in for an aerial search. J. Edgar Hoover even took a personal interest in the case and assigned some of the FBI's best agents to investigate, but not a trace of Richard Colvin Cox was ever found though sightings of him continued to be reported for several years, some with an intriguing ring of truth about them. Every tip--and there were hundreds--was followed up, no matter how unlikely or ludicrous, by either civilian or military investigators. Details of every aspect of the young man's life were gone over with a fine-toothed comb, searching for a clue, either in his past or present, and thousands of people were interviewed, all to no avail. No one who knew Cox could shed any light on his disappearance, and he never contacted his family, fiancee, or best friend.
Richard Cox gave every appearance of being a devoted son to his widowed mother, strong-willed Christian Scientist Minnie Cox, and his letters showed that he was very much in love with his fiancee, Betty Timmons, whom he planned to marry after graduating from West Point. His grades were excellent, he was one of the top men in his class, and there was every indication that he had a bright future ahead of him; there was nothing to suggest he had any reason to just walk away from his life and disappear. His occasional expressions of discontent with West Point life in letters to his mother and girlfriend were typical cadet complaints and, though taken into account by investigators, were not deemed serious enough for him to pull a vanishing act and cause his family and others who cared about him so much distress.
Many felt the key to unlocking the mystery lay in the identity of his mysterious visitor, who had also visited Cadet Cox the weekend before his disappearance, a man who came to be known only as "George" based on a possible phone call he may have made to Cox prior to his visit. Cox himself, in the week before his disappearance, was reluctant to discuss this man and never divulged his name, referring to him only as "he," or "him," or "my friend," though his roommates felt the last was rather odd as he gave the distinct impression of disliking the man and even being uncomfortable with or even afraid of him. Everything Cox said seemed to indicate that his visit was an unwelcome one, and he reportedly described the mystery man as a braggart and a bad apple who boasted about killing a girl in Germany, where the two had served together in an army intelligence unit. Cox claimed this man was "capable of anything."
Despite intensive searching, "George" was never identified, and rumors swirled about murder, suicide, amnesia, revenge, abduction, homosexuality, cover-ups, the CIA, and Russian spies. One persistent rumor claimed that while serving in Germany Cox had testified at a court-martial against a fellow soldier, possibly the man known only as "George," who, upon release from prison, had come to West Point in pursuit of Cox to exact vengeance, but no records to substantiate this were ever discovered. The mystery was never solved and in 1957 Richard Colvin Cox was declared legally dead and the case was officially closed, though it continued to intrigue armchair detectives and readers of books about unsolved mysteries and mysterious disappearances in which it often shared space alongside chapters about Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa, and Judge Crater.
Thirty-five years later Marshall Jacobs, a retired history teacher, decided to take on the mystery as a research project to help while-away his retirement. What followed was an eight year odyssey to find the truth and rescue Richard Cox from the oblivion of those lost without a trace. Jacobs obtained all available documents via the Freedom of Information Act and even tracked down and interviewed all the living witnesses he could find. And, despite a rather--to my mind at least--unsatisfying conclusion, where Mr. Jacobs seems content to take the word of one informant without any proof or facts to back up his assertions, "Oblivion" is a riveting tale from start to finish.
I have an interest in this story as a relative of mine just graduated West Point and they do indeed, still speak of Cox....
Thanks for the case summary. I have always felt that Cox's disappearance was in some way related to his earlier service in Germany. He was in a counter intelligence unit there, and may have been involved in actions against the East Germans or the Soviets. This could have been a kidnapping to gain intelligence on such operations, or simply a revenge kidnapping, as speculated in the summary.
I think Cox must have felt he could handle this situation, as he obviously had opportunities to tell someone if he feared for his life or needed assistance.
Last edited by Marilynilpa; 06-29-2012 at 05:43 PM. Reason: grammar
I was just re-reading stories about Cox's disappearance when something occurred to me. After that first visit with "George" when Cox was awakened by the lights out bugle, his roommates said he jumped up, ran to the stairs and yelled, "Is Alice down there?" or possibly the German "Alles kaput", meaning "all is over". Is it possible he yelled ''Is ALEX down there?" Since there was no "George" in his overseas company by that name and Cox claimed he had never heard of him, perhaps "George" was an alias for someone named "Alex". Was there an Alex or Alexander that Cox might have known in Germany?
I wonder why Cox refused to tell his roommates Cadets Welch and Urschel what the mysterious visitors name was. Cox only ever referred to him as "my friend" or "he". We only have Cadet Mauresca's word that the name of the man was George; when told that "George" was there to see him, Cox had no idea who "George" was. It appears there might even be 2 Georges; the first visitor was blonde, the second night, he was dark haired.
The first time I heard of this case was when I was reading old Washington Post newspaper microfilm files. There were a number of articles about the search for Cox in the weeks and months following his disappearance.
Copies of the West Point register of cadets still list him in the class of 1952 as missing.
I think LIFE mag did an article on this case when it happened. Interesting to see what they said.
I found an interesting article about this case with some information that doesn't seem to have been posted here…:
"The detective had never heard of Dick Cox, but he gave the tip to the CID. When Jacobs heard about it, he flew west.
A MURDER SUSPECT
The murder suspect's name was Robert W. Frisbee, a secretary who during a Canadian cruise had allegedly murdered the wealthy widow for whom he worked.
Checking back, Jacobs learned that Frisbee, then known as Robert Dion, had once been stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., with Dick Cox. The two men knew each other and, Jacobs says, might have had a relationship.
More significantly, a Canadian prosecutor told Jacobs that Dion/Frisbee had once been involved in a phony-ID racket in the New York area. In appearance, Dion matched the "George" who visited Dick Cox at West Point a week before he vanished, and was to meet him again for dinner that night of Jan. 14."
See message # 3 for link to Life Magazine Article