MA MA - Joan Risch, 30, Lincoln, 24 Oct 1961

Discussion in '1960's Missing' started by smellsarat, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. StarrChance

    StarrChance Well-Known Member

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    One theory on Risch's disappearance came from a British author, whose book "Put Out That Star," U.S. title "Into Thin Air," was among those checked out by Risch. Risch's disappearance mirrored the book, according to a Globe article, leading some to believe she used it as a map to guide her disappearance. Leopold Ognall, pen name Harry Carmichael, told the Globe in 1964 that he suspected Joan Risch was alive, living somewhere between Boston and New York.
     
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  2. StarrChance

    StarrChance Well-Known Member

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    One theory on Risch's disappearance came from a British author, whose book "Put Out That Star," U.S. title "Into Thin Air," was among those checked out by Risch. Risch's disappearance mirrored the book, according to a Globe article, leading some to believe she used it as a map to guide her disappearance. Leopold Ognall, pen name Harry Carmichael, told the Globe in 1964 that he suspected Joan Risch was alive, living somewhere between Boston and New York.
     
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  3. MesquiteO21

    MesquiteO21 Please take the time to read "The Gift of Fear"

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    now i want to read this book to see the parallels and how it ended.....
     
  4. Alice Eileen

    Alice Eileen New Member

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    I have been very interested in this case for ages. I was still in Junior High when this happened and have followed all information since. I college, a friend from Lincoln told me she has babysat for the Risch's a few times.
    I all my research, one of the questions that haunts me is why did she bring Lillian, (her daughter) and the Barker child from her backyard to play at the Barkers between 2-2:30? (and she did not tell Barbara Barker) What was going on with her? Joan's napping son would probably be waking up from his nap around 2.
    Very mysterious case. I have visited the "site" Haunts me to this day!
     
  5. the_dahlia

    the_dahlia Silent but Active Member

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    Thank you so much, that was the book I'd heard about before. I might try and get hold of a copy and see how similar the real life and fictional cases reallt are...

    UPDATE: Seems like quite a hard book to come by, however I have managed to find a relatively inexpensive copy and will post my findings once I've read it, if anyone would be interested
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
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  6. ChuckMaureen

    ChuckMaureen Well-Known Member

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  7. Watson3379

    Watson3379 Member

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    I am new to Websleuths, although I have followed some threads in the past. Joan Risch was always a case that interested me, since I first heard about it when I was 12 and living in Arlington, MA. I began looking into the case again after I retired in 2015 and got access to the Middlesex DA's case investigation files (mostly Mass. State Police records and some Lincoln PD records). So, the 5,000-page, case file is available for public review. I've recently written a book about Joan's disappearance, but I don't think that Websleuths is the place for pushing book sales. So, I'll just say that there are three recent books written about Joan's case: Jessi Gomes, The Disappearance of Joan Risch; Masquerade: The Joan Risch Cold Case - A Cops Perspective by Michael C. Bouchard; and A Kitchen Painted in Blood: The Unsolved Disappearance of Joan Risch by Stephen H. Ahern. Two or more of these books were written after the Middlesex DA made the investigative file available.

    I wasn't convinced that Joan engineered her own disappearance. Sareen Gerson identified 24 books that Joan had taken out of the Lincoln library in 1961, and over time, the misconception has grown that most or all of them provided information that would have aided Joan in staging and sustaining her own disappearance. That's not true. Eight of the books dealt with wholly unrelated subjects. In my view only 7 of the remaining 16 could be viewed as books that might conceivably have aided Joan, but I don't think that they would have been all that helpful for such a purpose. For example, the missing persons in the two Harry Carmichael books (Ognell) were themselves murder victims, not people staging their own disappearances. Also, neither book discussed the planning and mechanics of voluntarily disappearing, which is not that easy to do long-term. Joan's husband, Martin, said that Joan loved mysteries and was a voracious reader, and he didn't feel that the books Joan had recently read were out of the ordinary for her. The police were initially interested in Gerson's report, but the investigators seemed to have made their own assessment that Gerson's lead did not pan out. In addition, Joan was too close to her family and too level-headed, in my judgment, to have taken such a desparate step, to leave her two children, husband, family and friends forever. All the evidence seemed to be to the contrary. Relatives and friends said that Joan was very happy in Lincoln, and the early loss of her parents in a 1939 fire, if anything, made her bond more closely with her children.
     
  8. Luckyzmom

    Luckyzmom Well-Known Member

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  9. TootsieFootsie

    TootsieFootsie Well-Known Member

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    Could the "something red" she was seen carrying be a new born baby ?.

    I haven't read all the posts here yet so this most likely has been mentioned before.
     
  10. Watson3379

    Watson3379 Member

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    There has been discussion of a botched abortion, but I don't think the facts support that view. It is not clear that Joan was pregnant. She may have been, but it seems unlikely that she would have scheduled an abortion between 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in her kitchen while her 2-year old son was in his crib and normally would get up @ 2:00 p.m., and while her daughter was directly across the street at a neighbor's house and could return at any moment (perhaps, brought back to her house by the neighbor). Martin made the equivalent of $125,000/year at the time, and, even though abortions were illegal in 1961, wealthy people could usually find someone to perform such a procedure for the right price. A back-alley abortion was very risky and not something that Joan was likely to procure, given her cautious temperament, and given her financial circumstances. Too many things could go wrong without adequate, backup medical facilities. And why schedule an abortion on her kitchen floor where all the blood was. There were only a few drops of blood upstairs in her bedroom. Joan and Martin were both religious, and Martin, her relatives and her neighbors, all thought that Joan would have welcomed a third child. It would have delayed her ambition to become a teacher after her children had grown, but only by two years (her daughter was born in 1957 and her son in 1959). In addition, the timeline is tight: Joan had left her daughter across the street at 1:55 p.m.; David normally awakened from his nap at 2:00 p.m.; a woman fitting Joan's description was seen on Route 2A about 2:45 p.m.; another sighting of someone looking like Joan was made at @3:15 on Route 128, in the highway median strip of one of Mass.'s busiest highways, and 6 miles away from Old Bedford Road. Also, the 'mystery car" (abortionist's car?) wasn't seen departing the Risch driveway until @3:40 p.m. Moreover, the woman fitting Joan's description on Route 128 was bleeding, but the police K-9 tracker could not trace Joan past her driveway. So, while an bothched abortion is possible, I personally don't believe that the facts support that theory.
     
  11. Betty P

    Betty P Well-Known Member

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    BBM

    I agree, the abortion theory has no evidence to support it. JMO, I've also discounted witness accounts of her walking bleeding down the road way. She would have tried to flag down a car, or a driver would have pulled over. Its difficult to believe in a nice upper middle class suburb, people would drive past a woman bleeding profusely as she walked down the road without pulling over to offer assistance.

    It appears she was surprised and attacked by someone in her home, most likely the owner of the strange car seen in her driveway. In that situation, she would try to call on the phone for help. The attacker likely prevented that by tearing the phone out of the wall. She may have tried to hide in her son's bedroom, but was forced out. It seems most likely she was eventually forced from her home, into his car and taken to another location where she was killed and her body buried or otherwise disposed of.

    JMO, she was either acquainted with this person, so didn't fear him initially or he surprised her and threatened harm to her children if she didn't comply. He allowed her to take the daughter to the neighbors to protect her. He may have felt comfortable staying there, if the witness account is accurate of when the strange car left the driveway.
     
  12. dogperson

    dogperson Well-Known Member

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    I also do not believe Joan was getting an abortion. My top theory used to be that she suffered some type of medical emergency but now I lean more toward someone attacking her. It may very well have been someone she knew but not necessarily someone she invited to her home.

    Didn't someone comment on this thread a while back that their family was from this neighborhood and that the talk at the time was that Joan was having an affair? If this was the case, maybe she tried to break up with him and he came over uninvited to talk her out of it and got into a physical altercation with her. Or perhaps she never had an affair but a man she was acquainted with wanted to have an affair with her and stopped by, knowing her husband was out of town, and made a very unwelcome and forceful move on her and things went really bad from there.

    I do think the strange car is involved somehow. If a man came over not expecting things to end up the way they did then he might not have thought it important to park a block or two away so no one would see his car. He might not have cared about parking near the house, especially if this was a case of an affair being ended, because he could have driven over there angrily intending only to talk her out of breaking up with him and then in a rage (either accidentally or on purpose) wounded her fatally.

    I no longer really think the sightings of the woman walking along the roadway was Joan. If someone attacked her viciously then he wasn't going to let her just walk off bleeding because for all he knew she'd go to the police. The only way I can think she actually WAS the woman walking was if she was suffering from a medical condition and had no idea what she was doing.
     
  13. Watson3379

    Watson3379 Member

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    I’m agnostic about the first highway sighting, which was about 2:45 on Route 2A. That sighting was only a few hundred yards from the Risch house, and it was during the 2:15 to 3:45 period when Joan disappeared. The driver was a mother who wanted to be home when her children arrived back from school. She said she couldn’t stop because she was late.

    She didn’t see the woman’s face, and she talked about the woman wearing a scarf over her hair. Joan’s husband Martin, however, said that she hardly ever wore a scarf. Otherwise, however, her description was similar to the bulletin that the police circulated to other agencies and to the public.

    Route 2A, however, is a dangerous road to walk, because it is fairly narrow and has no sidewalk. I’d guess that cars would be going by between 30 and 45 mph. In addition, while she was heading towards Concord MA, there really was no place to go to for several miles. Why would she be walking west and why, if she had been attacked, wasn’t she either at a neighbor’s house or in the woods, which surrounded both Route 2A and Old Bedford Road?

    The other two sightings occurred later and both were on Route 128, one of the busiest highways in New England. One, in fact, was in the median strip of the highway, six miles away from Joan’s home. I’m much more suspicious of those two sightings. I, personally, wouldn’t want to try to cross 128 at any time.

    If it were Joan on 2A at 2:45, she either was driven away by the perpetrator, or she returned to her house with the perp and then was driven away in the “mystery car” around 3:40.
     
  14. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member

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    Just playing devil's advocate a bit. If a potential love interest killed her, and left blood, what happened to her body? Was there any blood between the house and his car's location? Was she wounded and brought to the car, or was she rolled up in a rug etc and carried there in broad daylight? Was anything suitable for transporting her missing from the home? There seem to be a lot of possibilities, but each one has at least one pretty big speed bump. JM.01 :)
     
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  15. Betty P

    Betty P Well-Known Member

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    I just began reading your book. It's very good! Thanks for writing it.
     
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  16. Betty P

    Betty P Well-Known Member

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    There was a (IIRC) medium sized pool of blood on the trunk of her car, which was parked in front of the blue car.
     
  17. dogperson

    dogperson Well-Known Member

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    There was some blood on her own car, I believe. He might have placed her on or against her car while getting his own trunk or car door open in order to place her inside. His own car probably ended up with a fair amount of blood inside it but apparently he was able to conceal or deal with such a circumstance since this has never been solved. If he were a single/divorced/widowed man who lived alone he would have had the privacy needed to attend to cleaning his car without anyone being the wiser.
     
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  18. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member

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    Good points, I guess she could have been wounded and less difficult to manage, but in suburbia in broad daylight, it seems someone would have noticed??
     
  19. Betty P

    Betty P Well-Known Member

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    It was risky. The houses in the neighborhood aren't close together and there are a lot of trees around. There wasn't a lot of traffic on the road, but cars did drive by.

    There's no Google Map view of the street, but this link is the intersection where the Risch's street intersected with a bigger road.

    Google Maps
     
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  20. dogperson

    dogperson Well-Known Member

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    It would definitely have been risky and I think whoever did this must have just gotten lucky. It was an era when many women didn't work outside the home so there was the risk of women and children seeing this take place, plus it was about the time of day when school kids would soon be coming home.

    But I think whoever did this probably didn't plan to do it. If a person had planned ahead to harm Mrs. Risch I wouldn't expect them to choose the middle of the afternoon. It was the time of year when it gets dark kind of early and you'd think late evening or even during the night would be better if someone wanted to remain unseen at her house. I think it may have been a crime of passion or a home invasion gone wrong.
     

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