VT VT - Paula Jean Welden, 18, Glastenbury Mountain, 1 Dec 1946

Discussion in 'Pre-1960's Missing' started by Auggie21, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Auggie21

    Auggie21 New Member

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    Ok guys, go to work on this one.

    Paula Jean Welden disappeared December 1, 1946, reportedly while hiking in Vermont. Seven other people disapeared in the area over a short span of time. Foul play is suspected.

    Welden was a student last seen at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont on the afternoon of December 1, 1946. Some reports state that Welden disappeared while taking a walk on the Long Trail near Glastenbury Mountain.
    Vermont had no state police force at the time. Then-Governor Ernest Gibson called in police from New York and Massachusetts to help in the search. It also persuaded local legislators to support creation of the Vermont State Police.
    According to reports, seven people vanished from the Long Trail on Glastenbury Mountain between 1945 and 1950.
    Police suspect foul play. Welden was never found.


    Doe Network case 1784DFVT
     
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  3. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    Do you know anything about the other people who vanished? I wonder if these were seven people hiking at different times, or did two or more hikers vanish together? Were all of the missing hikers female?

    I am such a sucker for very cold cases, so I'll have to start working on this one!
     
  4. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    Wow, it looks like Glastenbury is called the "paranormal capital of Vermont:

    "Glastenbury is the paranormal capital of Vermont. For decades the mountain has had sightings of UFOs, Bigfoot, phantom panthers, mysterious robed figures, strange disappearances, you name it! Indeed, H.P. Lovecraft set his one-and-only alien story, The Whisperer in Darkness, in the Glastenbury area." :eek:
    -Joseph Trainor, UFO ROUNDUP Volume 8, #38 (Oct 2000).

    Much more about this area of Vermont can be found at http://bennington-triangle.blogspot.com/

    One disappearance from this area was a trio of hunters, and one was a boy named Melvin Hills. I'll see what I can find out about these people.

    It's interesting that one person reports 10 people disappeared during a five year period (from 1945 to 1950).

    I've located a few articles on NewspaperArchives.com. It looks like Paula was very confused about where her life was taking her, and from comments made by her roommate and others it appears that Paula may have staged her own disappearance. Her father vehemently denied that his daughter would willingly run off. As I read more of the articles, I'll post what I've found out.
     
  5. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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  6. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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  7. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    In '96, Joseph Citro authored the book Passing Strange: True Tales of Hauntings and Horrors which goes into detail on the missing from this area of Vermont, including Miss Welden. The book is available on Amazon.com.

    Glastenbury Mtn is difficult to navigate today, due to the very rough terrain, zig-zagging creveases, many old wells, etc. One can only imagine what it was like 60 years ago. Hunters who have spent their lives on the mountain report that they themselves sometimes become lost. If one of the older gentlemen reported missing were to have a heart attack in one of the more remote locations, they may never be found. Miss Welden may have become lost or disoriented and wandered off the trail. It is not hard to believe that someone could be missed during a search. There was also much speculation that she "ran off" to Canada with a "secret lover".
     
  8. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    Here is a little more info about missing people in that area:

    In a 6 mile radius, the following people vanished:

    11/12/45 - 75 year old Middle Rivers failed to rejoin four hunting companions at a camp. He was "spry" for his age and had no difficulty getting around.

    12/1/46 - Paula Welden

    10/12/50 - 8 year old Paul Jepson wandered away from his mother's truck in a wooded area near where Paula Welden vanished. Paul had an unspecified "handicap" that kept him from attending school. He was last seen near an abandoned mine. Bloodhounds searched for him but lost his scent.

    10/15/50 - Mrs. Frieda Langer, 53, vanished while hiking with her husband. She fell into the river and got her clothes wet, so decided to go back to camp to put on dry clothes. Her husband continued hiking, and when he returned to camp, his wife was not there.

    In addition to that, I found an article describing the discovery of three skeletons in 1935, presumably that of a mother (45) and her two children (male approx. 16, female approx. 10). They had each been shot in the head with a 38 caliber autoloading type pistol. Law enforcement said this was not a murder/suicide, since the position of the female's wound could not have been self-inflicted. The article refers to "exceedingly skillful and costly dental work, including tooth straightening devices on the boy, bespoke evident wealth."

    As as been posted already, this is a large wilderness area, and no doubt people can easily get lost there. It is probably also a good area for dumping a body, since so much of it is hard to access.
     
  9. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    This is interesting in and of itself. The only .38 cal pistol I can think of in use in '35 would be the Luger P 08, used by the German military. The very popular Walther P.38 didn't come into use until (go figure) '38, and would not have been available to American civilians until much later. Other countries, like Czechloslovakia, also produced .38 semi-autos, but again not until the late '30s. This would have been a rare weapon used in these murders. Most .38 caliber weapons are revolvers. I assume the police were able to recover shell casings, which would indicate a magazine-fed weapon. The shells would also have had ejector marks, indicating that they were not just unloaded from the drum of a revolver.
     
  10. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    Here is more information about the three bodies:

    They were persons of apparent wealth, but they seem to have been people nobody knew.

    The three skeletons lay beside a little used road in a sparsely populated wooded area. There had been pine boughs over them and pine needles had partially concealed them. They were also covered with remnants of a decayed striped awning, a woolen blanket, and old automobile curtains.

    The police speculated they were slain elsewhere and brought to the spot late at night. There were no houses for many hundreds of yards. The bodies were left there between May 1932 and November 1932. That time period was arrived at because in May 1932, a farmer had piled logs in the location where the bodies were found, so the bodies weren't there at that time. In November 1932, a man hunting in that area smelled a strong odor of decomposition, but didn't investigate - he attributed the smell to a dead animal.

    Harvard anthropologists were called in to look at the skeletons. They determined that the three were probably Jewish, or else Armenian, Syrian or Turkish. They were brunettes of short stature (the female was approx. 5'2"), with somewhat projecting upper front teeth, prominent noses, narrow faces, and receding chins.

    There is no mention of any personal belongings being found with the skeletons.

    Dental charts and descriptions of dental work was spread by the FBI to dental conventions in the U.S. and Canada, but no match was found. The police assumed the dental work was either not performed in the U.S., or the dentist was dead, or the dead trio were members of the dentist's family.
     
  11. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    The theory that they were moved makes me wonder how the police came to the conclusion that a pistol and not a revolver was used-the shell casings would be the only way I know of for them to discern a difference. I wouldn't think the killer would transport the casings along with the the bodies...

    A foriegn person just arriving to the country from Europe and carrying a firearm might explain the weapon used....
     
  12. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    I don't know how the police determined the type of weapon used, as there is no mention made of shell casings being found near the bodies. I believe the skulls were examined and through some method a determination was made about the gun.

    I believe the three were immigrants to the U.S., possibly Jews immigrating from Germany (based on your statement about the gun) prior to WWII. A woman and her two children go missing, and there are no family members or friends looking for them, no school teachers wondering where the two children were, etc. - this makes me think they three did not have any ties to anyone in the U.S. Another reason is the dental work - dental charts and descriptions of the dental work were sent throughout the U.S., and the FBI presented that information to dental conventions here and in Canada, with no results. Unless the dentist who performed the work was dead, I believe the dental work was not performed in this country.

    The article I read referred to the three as people of apparent wealth. If they immigrated to the U.S., they may have brought cash or other valuables with them, and possibly the wrong person found out about that. Or it's possible there is a husband/father involved, who decided once he reached the land of opportunity that he didn't want to be "saddled" with a family.
     
  13. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    What you say about Lugers is true, and many of them (especially later models) were chambered for 9mm, which is very close to the .380 Auto round. There were however, quite a few .380 Auto pistols available in the US from about 1910 on.

    Colt was probably the leading manufacturer of Auto Pistols in the US, and they made a popular model 380. It was produced in three variations from 1908 until 1945. Remington had a Model 51 Automatic pistol (made 1918-1934) chambered for .380 Auto. The Savage Model 1910 and Model 1917 Pistols could also be had in .380. Also many European Companies such as FN Browning, Walther PPK, etc made Auto pistols in .380 or 9mm.

    Most of the bullets for Automatic pisotols were fully jacketed in copper, while most revolver bullets were soft lead. You are correct about the automatic ejecting its shells. When one of those can be obtained, it tells much about the type of gun from which it was fired.
     
  14. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    I contacted the East Middlebury police department about the three unidentified skeletens. Here is the reply I received by e-mail:
    "Three skeletons were unearthed in East Middlebury in 1932 as the article you read pointed out. At the time, East Middlebury was not part of the jurisdiction of the Middlebury Police Department; this also pre-dated the Vermont State Police. Since then, of course, East Middlebury has been incorporated into Middlebury and is within our jurisdiction.
    I believe the remains were in the custody of the Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. They have never been identified and we have never received or discovered any information that could lead to either their identification or manner of death. One of the medical examiners, I don't remember which one now, had recently made this investigation a "pet project". An article about his efforts was nationally distributed in the wire services about 8 years ago. The Burlington Free Press in Burlington, VT may have the story archived.

    The office of the Medical Examiner may be reached in Burlington, VT at 802-863-7320. They are located at 111 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT.

    I know we have no record of the event, due to lack of jurisdiction at the time, but I believe we may have started a file based on the medical examiners article.

    With advances in DNA and identification technology, they may be able to extract DNA from the remains."

    I will look for the newspaper article, and will also contact the Medical Examiner. If someone has made this a "pet project", he probably has a lot to say about this.
     
  15. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    The Burlington paper's archives only go back to '99, but I have found some articles on NewspaperArchives...I'll put something together and post what I find.
     
  16. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    I did a NewspaperArchives search yesterday and didn't come up with much. I've e-mailed a librarian in Burlington to see if they have past issues of the paper in their library, maybe I can get a copy of the article that ran about 8 years ago.

    I've also placed a call to the Vermont Medical Examiner's office to see if I can speak to the medical examiner who has made these three unidentified skeletons his "pet project".

    I look forward to seeing what you are able to come up with!
     
  17. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    You probably mean that their "ON LINE" archives only go back to '99. This is the case with a great many newspapers. But if you check into it, there is very likely a collection of Microfilm or Bound copies of the newspaper available at research libraries throughout the state.
     
  18. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    The Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, July of '35, reported that Boston police investigators had found "a promising lead" after scouring dental records there. They were searching the records of a Dr. Stanley, who had passed way in '25. The PD there were working with Dr. Stanley's brother-in-law, a Dr. Russell, who stated that the dental work in the skeletons was very simialr to work frequently performed by Dr. Stanley.

    Another article from the Nashua (NH) Telegraph from February of '47 recounts several unsolved murders from Vermont. It mentions the skeletons were of a woman, about 37, a boy of 14, and a girl of about 10, found in the woods of Middlebury in '35. This article states the murders had taken place five to seven years before the discovery of the skeletons. The skeletons were taken on "a futile tour of the country, then back to the state lab at Burlington".
    It calls this one of the two outstanding mysteries in Vermont, the other being the "Chester Woman", a young woman who was found in a pasture on August 20th, 1929. Her exact cause of death and identification were never found.
     
  19. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    I ran across the same articles yesterday. Apparently that "promising lead" went nowhere, as the three skeletons remain unidentified.

    The article from the New Hampshire paper is one I'm following up on today, because I'm pretty certain these skeletons are the same ones we've been talking about. But I'm curious about why the article says the murders took place 5 to 7 years prior to the discovery of the skeletons. I wonder if somewhere along the way, the police changed their opinion as to time of death. The police originally said the three bodies found in Middlebury were probably left in the woods between May and November of 1932, but were not found until 1935.

    I am waiting to hear back from the Vermont Medical Examiner's office, and will post any information I get from them.
     
  20. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    The second article seemed more anecdotal that an actual report, so the writer may have just been working off rumor or what he had heard somewhere previously. However, the information the police used to date the remains-someone stacking logs in the area-isn't overly reliable...And the other report, of someone smelling a strong odor of decomp? Not exactly reliable, either...

    Doesn't it seem that the person who put the bodies here knew where he was going?
     
  21. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    Yes, it does appear that whoever placed the bodies there knew the area. The bodies were found off of a seldom-used road, far from any houses. This seems an unlikely place for someone to just stumble upon while looking for a place to dump three bodies. So it's likely the murderer either lived in the area, or had lsome familiarity with it. But that brings up another point - the murderer may have been local, but apparently his three victims weren't. No one in the area seemed to know them. There weren't any missing persons reports filed for a woman and two children in that area. So where did they come from, where were they murdered, and how did they wind up in Middlebury, Vermont?:confused:

    As for the dating of the remains, you're right, the methods used certainly weren't foolproof by any means. One of the questions I am going to ask the medical examiner, if I ever hear from him, is whether the skeletons were intact. The bodies weren't covered up all that well, and there has to be a lot of animal activity in the woods, so I would expect the bones to be scattered if the bodies had been there for a few years. Yet the articles refer to them as "skeletons" and not just skulls and a few bones.
     

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