Discussion in 'Pre-1960's Missing' started by Richard, Jan 9, 2005.
Still haven't heard from anyone in Selma. I'll wait a little while before trying again, don't want to make a pest of myself. I'll start a new thread if anything comes in, I feel a little guilty for inadvertently hijacking this one.
Bumping for Melvin
I find no Williamson's in 1860 census and no Orion Willamson in 1820. I wish I had 1850 or 1860 to look at also.
Something I had forgotten to post here 3 years ago. There is no trace of an Orion Williamson in Selma's city records. Not that it proves or disproves anything as I was told that documents pertaining to events that occurred outside municipal boundaries would not be filed in city records. I think that at this point we should perhaps consider the possibility that either the name, the location, or both, are wrong.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the disappearance of Melvin Horst. Bumping this case up. It has been a while since anyone has posted on it.
I've been reading all the old stories on Melvin Horst, and after all the bootleggers were done lying about their competitors killing him, police were left with the belief that he survived his kidnapping and may have gone on to live a full life without ever knowing his identity. One common theory in his hometown is that he was put on a boat to Italy and raised there. Wouldn't it be wild if familial DNA some day solves this mystery?
Ok, we just finished and aired our episode on Melvin Horst. Check it out! Ohio Mysteries podcast. You can also find links to this episode on our "Missing Melvin Horst" page at ohiomysteries.com
On Dec. 27, 1928, 4-year-old Melvin Horst vanished in this small city 90 minutes south of Cleveland. It is the oldest missing-persons case in Ohio and one of the oldest in the country
‘A missing child can never be forgotten’: Police, surviving sister seek answers in 1928 disappearance of Orrville boy
Police, sister seek answers to boy's disappearance in 1928
July 28, 2019
On Dec. 27, 1928, her 4-year-old brother, Melvin Horst, vanished in this small city 90 minutes south of Cleveland. It is the oldest missing-persons case in Ohio and one of the oldest in the country, authorities said.
Auten-Forney is the only living, immediate member of a family that suffered for decades. She was just 2-years-old when her brother disappeared, and she has no recollection of what took place that day. But she has lived through its aftermath.
"I just want to know what happened to him," she said recently in the living room of her modest ranch, less than a mile from where her brother disappeared. "I want to know why it happened."
"I really can't imagine a why.
"I want to know if he lived a life or if something happened soon after (he disappeared). It would be a miracle if I can find something out at my age."
In recent months, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, D.C., and Orrville police have renewed a push to find answers in the case.
They have submitted family members' DNA to state and national crime databases for a possible victim's match, pored over old police records, newspaper clippings and letters, and followed leads from recent years that pointed to an organized crime boss in Northeast Ohio.
They said they realize an arrest is highly unlikely, but they hope to at least give Auten-Forney some peace.
"Anything that involves a missing child has to be worked on, no matter how old," said Orrville's police chief, Matthew Birkbeck. "In this case, we're not looking for justice, but for closure for a family."
Read more: Police, sister seek answers to boy's disappearance in 1928
Ohio’s oldest missing person case - The Lima News
Melvin's NAMUS link: The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
Age progressed to 94 yoa - AP done by NCMEC
Circumstances of Disappearance
Four year old Melvin went to play with four neighborhood friends during the afternoon of December 27, 1928. Melvin was carrying a small red toy truck or wagon at the time of his disappearance. His friends said that they played in a vacant lot off of Chestnut St., near the railroad tracks. The boys told authorities that Melvin said he had to walk home. He was approximately one block from his family residence. Melvin never arrived and has not been heard from again. The toy was found in his front yard.
Melvin Charles Horst
Name: Melvin Charles Horst
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: December 27, 1928
Location Last Seen: Orrville, Wayne County, Ohio
Date of Birth: circa 1924
Age: 4 years old
Weight: 49 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Burn scar on hip
Dentals: Not Available
Fingerprints: Not Available
Clothing & Personal Items
Clothing: A sweater, brown overcoat, and stocking cap
Additional Personal Items: Carrying a red toy truck he received as a recent holiday gift
Circumstances of Disappearance
Melvin resided with his family near Vine Street and Paradise Street in Orrville, Ohio in 1928. He went to play with four neighborhood friends during the late afternoon hours of December 27, 1928. His friends said that they played in a vacant lot off of Chestnut Street near the railroad tracks. The boys told authorities that Melvin announced it was late and he had to walk home sometime during the evening hours. He was approximately one block from his family's house at the time. Melvin never arrived and has not been heard from again. Melvin's parents called him inside for dinner at approximately 16:30. They became concerned when he did not respond and began looking for their son in their neighborhood. The Horsts summoned authorities by 19:00, and an extensive search was initiated by 20:30 that evening. Many of Orrville's 4,500 residents assisted in the process, which was led by Melvin's uncle, the Village Marshal. No sign of Melvin was uncovered.
Melvin's disappearance made nationwide headlines and the media followed his story closely at the time. He vanished during the United States' Prohibition era and a bootlegger and his son were arrested for Melvin's alleged abduction in 1929, one year after he was last seen. A friend of the accused parties told investigators that he saw them lure Melvin into their home on the day he disappeared. The family lived around the corner from the Horsts at the time. The bootlegger and his son were convicted of Melvin's abduction and spent three months in jail before authorities learned that their witness lied about the events. The men were found innocent of involvement in Melvin's case during a second trial shortly thereafter.
The witness who claimed the bootlegger and his son were responsible for Melvin's disappearance was subsequently arrested along with his own father in 1930. Both men confessed that they murdered Melvin inside of a garage after he caught them drinking whiskey. Neither of the suspects admitted being the actual murderer and it was later determined that their confessions were coerced by law enforcement officers. There have been no arrests in Horst's case since 1930..
Agency Name: Orrville Police Department
Agency Contact Person: Sergeant Jamie McGreal
Agency Phone Number: 330-684-5058
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 17-38077
NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 40180
The Akron Beacon Journal
501DMOH - Melvin Charles Horst
Melvin Charles Horst
Melvin, circa 1928; Age-progression to age 94 (circa 2018)
Missing Since 12/27/1928
Missing From Orrville, Ohio
Classification Non-Family Abduction
Date of Birth 07/02/1924 (96)
Age 4 years old
Height and Weight 3'1, 49 pounds
Clothing/Jewelry Description A homemade dark brown coat, a checked sweater, blue overalls, and a stocking cap.
Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Light brown hair, blue eyes. Melvin has a jagged burn scar on his hip. He had a slightly upturned nose and a stocky build in 1928.
Details of Disappearance
Melvin resided with his family near Vine Street and Paradise Street in Orrville, Ohio in 1928. He went to play with four neighborhood friends during the late afternoon hours of December 27, 1928. He was carrying a small red toy truck or wagon at the time of his disappearance; he had received the toy as a recent Christmas gift.
His friends said they played in a vacant lot off of Chestnut Street near the railroad tracks. The boys told authorities that, sometime during the evening hours, Melvin announced it was late and said he had to walk home. He was approximately one block from his family's house at the time. Melvin never arrived and has not been heard from again, but the toy he had been playing with was found in his front yard.
Melvin's mother, Zora, called him inside for dinner at approximately 4:30 p.m., and he did not arrive. She sent her older son to look for Melvin at neighbors' homes, but the search turned up nothing. When Melvin's father, Raymond, arrived home from work at 6:00 p.m., he and Zora began looking for their son in their neighborhood.
The Horsts summoned authorities by 7:00 p.m. and an extensive search was initiated by 8:30 p.m. that evening. Many of Orrville's 4,500 residents assisted in the process, which was led by Raymond's brother, Roy, the village marshal. The search lasted weeks and covered about 100 square miles, including house-to-house searches in Melvin's neighborhood. No sign of the child was uncovered.
Investigators originally thought that Melvin had been abducted for ransom by someone who mistook him for a neighbor boy he resembled. Melvin's family was working-class, but the neighbor child's parents were considered wealthy. Authorities discarded the theory when no ransom demands were made.
Melvin's disappearance made nationwide headlines and the media followed his story closely at the time. He vanished during the Prohibition Era and Roy was a particularly zealous enforcer of liquor laws, which incited considerable enmity against him in Orrville and the surrounding area. It was theorized that bootleggers kidnapped Melvin to get revenge on Roy, who had lived with Melvin's family until shortly before the child disappeared and was very fond of his nephew.
A bootlegger, Elias Arnold, his children, William Arnold, Arthur Arnold, and Dorothy McHenry, and his son-in-law, Dorothy's husband Bascom McHenry, were arrested and charged with Melvin's abduction on January 2, 1929. Elias had spent much of 1928 in jail as a result of liquor arrests, as had several members of his family, and he reputedly bore a grudge against Roy Horst. The family lived around the corner from Melvin's family at the time.
Charles "Junior" Hannah, the eight-year-old son of Elias's brother-in-law, told investigators that he saw Melvin being lured into the Arnold home on the day he disappeared. The story was corroborated by a nine-year-old neighbor.
The Arnolds maintained their innocence in Melvin's disappearance and they had alibis for the time the child vanished, but Elias and Arthur were convicted and spent three months in jail before authorities learned that Junior could not have seen what he claimed he had seen from where he said he had been standing at the time of the abduction. The men were found innocent of involvement in Melvin's case during a second trial shortly thereafter.
Junior subsequently accused his own father, Charles Hannah, and a neighbor, Earl Conold, in 1930. He stated that they had killed Melvin and then asked him to make up the story accusing the Arnold family.
Both men confessed that they murdered Melvin inside of a garage after he caught them drinking whiskey. Neither of the suspects admitted being the actual murderer and it was later determined that their confessions were coerced by law enforcement officers. There have been no arrests in connection with Melvin's case since 1930.
Some people believed that Melvin had been abducted and/or murdered, or that he was hit by a car and the driver panicked and concealed the evidence. Others thought that one of Roy Horst's enemies attempted to scare the marshal by instigating his nephew's disappearance.
Investigators are still looking into the second theory; one possible suspect is Anthony "Tony Long" LaFatch, an organized crime figure from the Akron, Ohio area. A woman reported LaFatch had kidnapped Melvin to get back at Roy, and that she cared for him for several days in an upstairs apartment off Market Street in Akron before LaFatch moved him elsewhere. Authorities hope to verify this account. LaFatch died in 1994.
Melvin's parents moved to Florida after his disappearance and are now both deceased, as are his two brothers. His younger sister still lives in the area, however, and still hopes for answers in his disappearance. Authorities have stated that they never officially closed Melvin's case, but they doubted any new information would lead them to his whereabouts.
Orrville Police Department 330-684-5025
The Akron Beacon-Journal
The Killer in the Attic: and More True Tales of Crime and Disaster from Cleveland's Past
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Evening Independent
Melvin Charles Horst – The Charley Project