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Thread: NC - Leila Bryan, 36, & Mary Rachel Bryan, 4, Carolina Beach, 10 May 1941

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    NC - Leila Bryan, 36, & Mary Rachel Bryan, 4, Carolina Beach, 10 May 1941

    New technology in old cold cases...how awesome!! Innocent blood cries out forever!!

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    Do you have a link?

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    NC-Missing persons case reopened after 67 years. Missing since 1941

    By David Reynolds
    Staff Writer

    Published: Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 10:11 p.m.
    Last Modified: Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 10:20 p.m.

    State investigators returned to Carolina Beach on Thursday, 67 years after a mother and her young daughter disappeared.

    They brought with them ground-penetrating radar modern technology they hope will finally solve a case that stumped the agency in 1941.

    After Leila Bryan, 36, and her 4-year-old daughter Mary Rachel disappeared on May 10, 1941, agents with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement officials tracked leads from New York to Florida looking for them, according to old newspaper articles.

    On Thursday, Carolina Beach Police Chief William Younginer said the SBI reopened the case recently after a relative of the missing mother and child saw the new radar technology used on a police television show.

    Full article here.

    Pdf document with old newspaper clippings and photos here.

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    Thanks, just got it on google alerts too.

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    I am not clear, was her car ever found?






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    Nope, the car was never found. Apparently the concrete was being poured the same day as the disappearance.

    http://news14.com/content/top_storie...y/Default.aspx

    Ground penetrating radar shows 3 voids, so they are going to dig. Guess we'll hear eventually whether they find anything.

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    Good, it is nice to know that even after all this time someone is looking and caring.






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    Here is a link to an article called The Incredible Disappearance by Pat Clausen. There are also old newspaper articles. It's in PDF format.

    http://www.ncgenweb.us/bladen/vrecor...ryan/lelia.pdf
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    This is a fascinating story. Hope the search will be successful.

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    There is another thread for this on the Cold Case forum. Maybe the threads could be merged?

    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75004
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    Another new article.

    Maybe Answers Can Help Family Heal

    Sorrow can endure for generations. For almost seven decades, Lewis Smith of Elizabethtown has longed to know what happened to his aunt and cousin. Leila Lewis Bryan, 36, and her 4-year-old daughter, Mary Rachel, disappeared from Carolina Beach on the evening of May 10, 1941.

    This week, Smith's wait may end.

    More at link....

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/196/story/360492.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryBeth View Post
    Here is a link to an article called The Incredible Disappearance by Pat Clausen. There are also old newspaper articles. It's in PDF format.

    http://www.ncgenweb.us/bladen/vrecor...ryan/lelia.pdf

    Thank you for posting the link. I haven't read it all yet because I keep getting distracted by all the WWII reports which I find pretty interesting.

    Does anyone know who made all the corrections and notations throughout the story?
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    okay - so what I gather is a lot of this is contingent on what Edis says. He said they left at 9pm but there is no proof of that. If the story is accurate - his reaction seems geniune.

    The purchase of the mercury at the drugstore is pretty bizarre.

    I cannot find this listed on Charley Project or Doe Network.
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    gaia - I wondered who made the marks through the PDF file too. It's interesting to see all the old news articles and the stuff from Lelia's high school yearbook.

    From what I gather just about everyone in Lelia Bryan's family suspects Edis. The fact that he was laying concrete at the same time is a little too coincidental for me.

    Lelia and Mary Rachel were just put on Charley Project November 16. They're in the updates section. I can't find them on Doe though either.

    I sure hope they can find something from the scan. This case is a perfect example of how a disappearance like this is never forgotten and even people born into the family afterwards can be deeply affected by it.
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    It sounds like the scan they are using is very similar to what was used in the 3 Missing Women case from Springfield MO. They think they have found something buried under the concrete of a hosital parking garage that was a big field at the time.

    Did he receive any insurance money? Did Edis remarry? Was there any reason to believe he was in love with another woman? Was the family aware of any marital problems? Does anyone know?

    He didn't have to kill his little girl too. I'm sure her grandparents would have loved to have taken her. He didn't have to kill either of them but you know what I mean.

    I will look in the updates at the Charley Project. I didn't look there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaia227 View Post
    It sounds like the scan they are using is very similar to what was used in the 3 Missing Women case from Springfield MO. They think they have found something buried under the concrete of a hosital parking garage that was a big field at the time.

    Did he receive any insurance money? Did Edis remarry? Was there any reason to believe he was in love with another woman? Was the family aware of any marital problems? Does anyone know?

    He didn't have to kill his little girl too. I'm sure her grandparents would have loved to have taken her. He didn't have to kill either of them but you know what I mean.

    I will look in the updates at the Charley Project. I didn't look there.
    I haven't found anything about insurance money. One of the articles states:
    "Some people think Leila should've had better sense than to marry Edis.
    She was a young nurse, working in Wilmington, when they fell in love. Rumor is he had come to the emergency room with gunshot wounds, courtesy of an “irate husband.”

    I don't know if he was seeing anyone else at the time of their disappearance but another article stated that he left North Carolina "soon after" they disappeared. He settled in Florida and eventually remarried and worked in real estate. I don't know when he passed away.

    According to just about everything I've read, Edis was a suspect but was never charged.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryBeth View Post
    gaia - I wondered who made the marks through the PDF file too. It's interesting to see all the old news articles and the stuff from Lelia's high school yearbook.

    From what I gather just about everyone in Lelia Bryan's family suspects Edis. The fact that he was laying concrete at the same time is a little too coincidental for me.
    I wouldn't let my hopes soar too high regarding what's under the slab.

    Original articles do not mention any pouring of concrete so I don't know where the nephew obtained that information. All he has to rely on, apart from initial press coverage and police reports, is hearsay and family lore which is not always a reliable source. My own great-grandfather was the victim of an unsolved murder in the early 1930's and when I became interested in the story and started probing relatives about it I found almost as many theories and hearsay details about the case than he had children. Many of those stories were compelling but years later after reading police files related to the murder I found that many of the stories' details did not coincide with known facts and were more based on opinion than reality. For example almost everyone I asked told me my GGF had been found shot in the chest in the back seat of one of his business associate's car near the racetrack, but in reality he had been found shot in the back of the head in his own car and 15 miles away near a railroad track. However most of his family thought the business associate was behind the killing and over the years formed an idea of circumstances that involved this man more closely than he had actually been. What I found was that many of his children had not known him that well (he had been a quiet, private man) and made assumptions about him that weren't true but they believed they were. The business associate was convincingly cleared but was later convicted on unrelated fraud charges for double-charging lumber supplied to the Navy during WW2, something that may have contributed to my great-aunts and great-uncles' negative opinion of him even though this had nothing to do with the murder. Unfortunately once the police reports became available to me most of my GGF's children had passed away or were very elderly and I couldn't discuss the case with them anymore.

    Back to the case at hand. Considering that the victim did not appear to have been close with her siblings, how informed were they? The story of how the victim met her husband sounds as if it's straight out of a bad movie. Gunshot wounds inflicted by an irate husband? And police never heard of it? Wife disaapears same day fresh concrete is poured down the basement? One would think cops would have been a bit interested by this detail yet no mention is made of it in the original articles. Also it's not just the husband's word against that of everyone else; there was that visit from his BIL, and his sister was staying at their home at the time. A man who plans to bury his family in concrete would not do it with so many potential witnesses around. Also the police found it was the wife who had acted a bit odd that day, not the husband, and it's not him who brought this up.

    Fact: it is she who, unbeknonwst to him, had bought the mercury bichloride at the pharmacy under a false name however I don't think she intented to use it to commit suicide. Contrary to what many believed the stuff isn't a potent poison, even pure mercury is not well absorbed when taken orally and most suicide attempts using mercury have failed to make anyone even seriously ill. In order to kill mercury has to be breathed in vapor form over years before it can cause any serious damage, or eaten in phenomenal quantity -again, over decades of time. A nurse would have known this.

    A nurse would also have known that the sole medical use of mercury bichloride was to treat syphillis and if she had that disease it would be understandable that she didn't want her family to know about it unless it had been passed on to her by her husband. But why, in this case, use a false identity? Regardless, syphyllis is known to induce severe depression and erratic behavior when the brain becomes affected and that is usually the stage when sufferers seek treatment. I wouldn't conclude from this that she was having an affair because those symptons only occur years after infection (usually more than a decade), maybe from a premarital relationship in her case. If such is the case I can very well picture her deciding to leave her husband on a whim or drive over a cliff, if she was depressed. She may not have initially planned to take her daughter along.

    The fact that Bryan remarried is not suspicious, it seems he did this years later and my guess is with a woman he had not known previously. If I put myself in his shoes I don't think I would have acted any different than him. He most probably wondered what had happened to his wife and daughter to his dying day but did not let this ruin his life, which is prbably the best way to cope (after moving away from ghosts) although it must be painful and frustrating.

    I would be curious to know if the husband ever developped symptoms of syphillis in later life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlK View Post
    I wouldn't let my hopes soar too high regarding what's under the slab.

    Original articles do not mention any pouring of concrete so I don't know where the nephew obtained that information. All he has to rely on, apart from initial press coverage and police reports, is hearsay and family lore which is not always a reliable source. My own great-grandfather was the victim of an unsolved murder in the early 1930's and when I became interested in the story and started probing relatives about it I found almost as many theories and hearsay details about the case than he had children. Many of those stories were compelling but years later after reading police files related to the murder I found that many of the stories' details did not coincide with known facts and were more based on opinion than reality. For example almost everyone I asked told me my GGF had been found shot in the chest in the back seat of one of his business associate's car near the racetrack, but in reality he had been found shot in the back of the head in his own car and 15 miles away near a railroad track. However most of his family thought the business associate was behind the killing and over the years formed an idea of circumstances that involved this man more closely than he had actually been. What I found was that many of his children had not known him that well (he had been a quiet, private man) and made assumptions about him that weren't true but they believed they were. The business associate was convincingly cleared but was later convicted on unrelated fraud charges for double-charging lumber supplied to the Navy during WW2, something that may have contributed to my great-aunts and great-uncles' negative opinion of him even though this had nothing to do with the murder. Unfortunately once the police reports became available to me most of my GGF's children had passed away or were very elderly and I couldn't discuss the case with them anymore.

    Back to the case at hand. Considering that the victim did not appear to have been close with her siblings, how informed were they? The story of how the victim met her husband sounds as if it's straight out of a bad movie. Gunshot wounds inflicted by an irate husband? And police never heard of it? Wife disaapears same day fresh concrete is poured down the basement? One would think cops would have been a bit interested by this detail yet no mention is made of it in the original articles. Also it's not just the husband's word against that of everyone else; there was that visit from his BIL, and his sister was staying at their home at the time. A man who plans to bury his family in concrete would not do it with so many potential witnesses around. Also the police found it was the wife who had acted a bit odd that day, not the husband, and it's not him who brought this up.

    Fact: it is she who, unbeknonwst to him, had bought the mercury bichloride at the pharmacy under a false name however I don't think she intented to use it to commit suicide. Contrary to what many believed the stuff isn't a potent poison, even pure mercury is not well absorbed when taken orally and most suicide attempts using mercury have failed to make anyone even seriously ill. In order to kill mercury has to be breathed in vapor form over years before it can cause any serious damage, or eaten in phenomenal quantity -again, over decades of time. A nurse would have known this.

    A nurse would also have known that the sole medical use of mercury bichloride was to treat syphillis and if she had that disease it would be understandable that she didn't want her family to know about it unless it had been passed on to her by her husband. But why, in this case, use a false identity? Regardless, syphyllis is known to induce severe depression and erratic behavior when the brain becomes affected and that is usually the stage when sufferers seek treatment. I wouldn't conclude from this that she was having an affair because those symptons only occur years after infection (usually more than a decade), maybe from a premarital relationship in her case. If such is the case I can very well picture her deciding to leave her husband on a whim or drive over a cliff, if she was depressed. She may not have initially planned to take her daughter along.

    The fact that Bryan remarried is not suspicious, it seems he did this years later and my guess is with a woman he had not known previously. If I put myself in his shoes I don't think I would have acted any different than him. He most probably wondered what had happened to his wife and daughter to his dying day but did not let this ruin his life, which is prbably the best way to cope (after moving away from ghosts) although it must be painful and frustrating.

    I would be curious to know if the husband ever developped symptoms of syphillis in later life.
    Karl, I'm sorry about your great-grandfather. Were you ever able to deduce from the police reports who you thought may have been the murderer or possibly why it happened?

    You're right about things being twisted and losing translation that are passed down through the generations. I actually don't have my hopes up THAT high about the scan, but I'm just hoping Mrs. Bryan and her daughter are there nevertheless.

    They probably never met in the ER as suggested. It did sound like it was a line from either a B film or a 10 cent pulp detective magazine. And possibly the family never even held Edis Bryan in low esteem....until after the disappearance when suddenly things about Edis were brought up which may or may not have happened regarding his behavior. There had to be someone to blame, in their eyes. I agree, I don't think he was seeing anyone else when he went to Florida but met someone later and remarried.

    What I do find suspicious is the concrete (if there's any truth to it) and the fact that he seemingly left so soon after the disappearance. He may have had nothing to do with it and left because he was grief-stricken and wanted to get away from there.

    I just thought that the SBI must have given some credence to the concrete being laid around that time to do the scan at all.
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    Okay - I have read the PDF file and a fair ways down there is a page headed with part of a picture and the caption "Page murder case solved." Under that, under the heading 1956 is a story about the skeletons of Lelia and her daughter being found in near Carolina Beach. The article starts out claiming the fifteen year old mystery has been solved. It says a zoo keeper found them while chasing a pony.

    Nothing else in the PDF file contradicts this. So, if they were found, why are they looking now?






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    According to my research, bichloride of mercury is extremely toxic;if taken internally, it causes a slow, painful but certain death due to kidney failure. It was meant to be used externally for treatment of syphyllis. Examples of death due to this poison are silent film star Olive Thomas and KKK victim Madge Oberholtzer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    Okay - I have read the PDF file and a fair ways down there is a page headed with part of a picture and the caption "Page murder case solved." Under that, under the heading 1956 is a story about the skeletons of Lelia and her daughter being found in near Carolina Beach. The article starts out claiming the fifteen year old mystery has been solved. It says a zoo keeper found them while chasing a pony.

    Nothing else in the PDF file contradicts this. So, if they were found, why are they looking now?
    See the very bottom of the pdf, there's a summary article there that mentions the skeletons were eventually ruled out as relating to the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stella View Post
    According to my research, bichloride of mercury is extremely toxic;if taken internally, it causes a slow, painful but certain death due to kidney failure. It was meant to be used externally for treatment of syphyllis. Examples of death due to this poison are silent film star Olive Thomas and KKK victim Madge Oberholtzer.
    I looked this up and indeed you are right that if someone takes a huge amount of inorganic mercury salts (such as mercury bichloride) they may perish of kidney failure but this requires many hours if not days. I seriously doubt a nurse would choose this compound over the vast assortment of lethal substances available to her. At the time nurses were allowed to purchase drugs such as barbiturates that procured a quicker painless "gentle" way out. It is my belief that the drug was purchased to treat syphyllis or perhaps what the victim thought was syphillis. In those days having an STD must have been a devastating reality to a small-town girl and may have driven her to a desperate act, be it suicide or flight, to avoid the social consequences of her condition becoming known.

    Hopefully the fact that her car (an extremely common model at the time) was never found could simply mean that she drove it far away enough to be out of the area where people would be looking for it, and started a new life elsewhere. The articles claim that the story was known nationwide but this was a common exaggeration with most cases of regional interest. Outside of the state it's likely that PD's in large cities were sent a description of the car and occupants but they received many such requests and rarely made them known to the local public. With Europe at war and FDR wanting to join there was little room in the national media for missing persons outside the areas where those events occured. I doubt anyone in NYC (for example) would have paid the slighest attention to a 1935 Ford, be it one with NC plates, since they weren't aware of the case. The articles make it sound as if it would have been very hard for her to disappear but I don't think it was such a challenge in those troubled days leading up to us becoming involved in the greatest war in world history. If she drove straight out she would have been quite far once authorities started looking for her.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlK View Post
    See the very bottom of the pdf, there's a summary article there that mentions the skeletons were eventually ruled out as relating to the case.

    Thanks, Karl. I missed that, and I thought I was kind of thorough.

    ETA - Okay and I read that. It says ruled out "This was not true for the bones have been tested and proven to be Negro." I wonder a) when this test was made b) how would bones look Negro vs White c) LB is from the South and does not appear that fair - could she have had enough Negro blood to skewer this kind of test. Just thinking here - seems odd they would find a woman and child, seemingly right age, right size etc in what could be the right spot. Is anyone in the area that might be able to find out more about the bodies found in 1956 and how they were ruled out.
    Last edited by WholeLottaRosie; 11-19-2008 at 01:19 AM. Reason: added thoughts and didn't want to make a seperate post






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    You're right about the poison. I would choose something as quick and painless as possible. The car is what has me baffled. Perhaps she changed the plates to ones from another state? If they were only looking for Fords with North Carolina plates, she could have gotten away completely. A lot of strange things about this case.

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