Monday Mystery-Disappearance of Judy Smith

In 1997, Judy Smith was a 50-year-old mother of two from Newton, Massachusetts. She had recently gotten married to her attorney husband, Jeffrey, and decided to fly to Philadelphia to join him on a business trip.

When she forgot her ID at Boston’s Logan International Airport on April 9, 1997, the couple then decided to travel separately and meet later that night. When they met up, they went to their hotel room and made plans for the next day. On April 10, Judy went sightseeing while Jeff went to the conference, and that morning was the last time that he saw his wife alive.

At 5:30pm, Jeff came back to their hotel when he discovered that Judy was nowhere to be found. When she didn’t come back that night, he began searching the route that Judy had taken that day while sightseeing. He soon notified the Philadelphia police and Judy’s children and they all began searching for her, but to no avail. Then, on September 7, 1997, a man and his son hiking in the woods near Asheville, North Carolina discovered the skeletal remains of a woman who had been stabbed to death. The remains were soon identified as Judy’s, but a pair of Bolle’s sunglasses and a blue backpack found with her body was not hers. At first, nobody could not understand how Judy ended up in North Carolina, but some began to suggest that Judy may have left Philadelphia voluntarily and went to North Carolina. What makes this story truly baffling is that Judy’s remains were found 600 miles away from her hotel.

Authorities found that the clothing Judy was wearing suggested that she was hiking in the area at the time, not that she had been dumped there. Several shop owners reported talking to a “Judy from Boston” in Asheville after she vanished and a hotel clerk even remembered her staying at the hotel from April 10-12. Since she still had her wedding ring and $167 in her possession, robbery did not seem to be a motive. Even though she normally carried her belongings in a red backpack, a blue backpack was found at the scene. Police do not suspect Jeff Smith in the disappearance and death of his wife, but despite his insistence that he and his wife were in good terms with their marriage and that his wife met with foul play in Philadelphia, police believe that Judy may have planned her disappearance, and met with foul play while hiking neat Asheville. Investigators believe that the killer is not native to North Carolina, but may have ties to the area. Judy’s killer has never been identified and the case remains unsolved.

Authorities believe that the owner of the Bolle’s sunglasses and blue backpack found with Judy’s backpack is her killer, and that he has ties to the area where she was found.

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Among the theories Philadelphia police pursued were that Judith Smith ran off to establish a new life – or that she was murdered. It now looks possible that both may have happened. Smith, a nurse, was a hiker and lover of the outdoors, so the area where she was found – national forest land in Buncombe County, about 18 miles from Asheville – would seem like just the sort of place she might go if she had run away. Smith’s decomposed body was found Sept. 7, but only positively identified Monday through dental records. Authorities in North Carolina requested the records after a doctor spotted a story in a local newspaper about an unidentified body being found – and remembered that he had seen a flier about Judith Smith.

Buncombe County Sheriff Bob Medford said Smith had been dead since the spring, probably not long after she was reported missing. She was dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, but had warmer clothes with her. The clothes were in a blue backpack – not the red backpack that was her signature – indicating that at some point after April 10 she bought a new backpack. She had $80 in a pocket of her jeans and $87 in the pocket of a winter jacket. About 20 feet from her body was a paperback she apparently had been reading, a medical murder mystery, Flashback by Michael Palmer.

“It didn’t appear she was dragged out there,” Medford said. “The indications are she wanted to be there.”

North Carolina authorities have classified the case a murder mainly because because the body was buried. There are also indications Smith’s body may have been dragged a short distance to the grave. Medford said animals may have dug Smith’s body up, but could not have buried it.

All indications pointed to Judy being in a good mood, and a witness who spoke with her said she mentioned her husband was an attorney. If the woman that witness spoke to was indeed Judy Smith, no one knows why she felt compelled to run off without telling her family. And if Judy chose to disappear on her own, how did she wind up dead on a remote mountain?

Monday mystery-The Phantom Barber of Pascagoula

In June 1942, the population of Pascagoula swelled as increased demand for warships and supplies drew large numbers into the town. The local economy was booming, but in the long shadows of a wartime summer, something haunted the streets at night.

The man nicknamed the Phantom Barber by newspapers worked in the darkness. This was made easy by army blackout regulations, which left whole areas of the town without light for several hours at a time.  On Monday or Friday evenings, he slit a window screen to gain access to a house, crept inside, and cut the hair of sleeping occupants, particularly blonde girls. Not satisfied with only a lock or two, he sometimes pushed so far as to shear a whole head of hair. He took nothing else from the home except his prize, left his victims sleeping and unharmed.

He began with two young girls in the convent of Our Lady of Victories, followed by a six year old female child visiting another family. That time, he left a clue—the print of a man’s bare foot in sand on an unoccupied bed in the room. The police were baffled. Three hundred dollars was put up as a reward for information that might help catch the phantom. The public was in a panic. Women refused to go outside at night. Men applied for pistol permits. Bloodhounds were brought in to track the bizarre intruder, but the efforts failed.

At last, the phantom broke his pattern, or so it seemed. A window screen was slit in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Terrell Heidelburg, and the intruder came inside their bedroom. However, rather than cutting hair, he brutally assaulted the couple. Mrs. Heidelburg lost her front teeth and was knocked unconscious, while her husband was beaten with a metal bar. Both survived the attack. Two months later, the police chief announced the arrest of a suspect, William A. Dolan, a chemist, who was charged with attempted murder.

A connection between Dolan and the Phantom Barber came with the discovery of human hair allegedly found near his residence. He continued to deny he was the phantom, and while convicted of the attack on the Heidelburgs—he bore a grudge against Terrell’s father, a judge—was never charged with the phantom’s acts. Since the Phantom Barber never touched his victims other than their hair, it would seem no meaningful tie exists between Dolan and the Phantom Barber, whose break-ins ended as mysteriously as they began.

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Monday Mystery-Hinterkaifeck

Hinterkaifeck, a small farmstead situated between the Bavarian towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen (approximately 70 km north of Munich), was the scene of one of the most puzzling crimes in German history. On the evening of March 31, 1922, the six inhabitants of the farm were killed with a mattock (similar to a pickaxe). The murder is still unsolved.

The victims were Andreas and Cäzilia Gruber, their widowed daughter Viktoria, her children Cäzilia and Joseph and the maid, Maria Baumgartner. It was rumored that Andreas and Viktoria had an incestuous relationship, and that Joseph was their two year old son. Hinterkaifeck was never an official place name. The name was used for the remote farmstead of the hamlet of Kaifeck, located nearly 1 kilometer north of the main part. It was hidden in the woods, and isolated from its neighbours.

A few days prior to the crime, farmer Andreas Gruber told neighbours about discovering footprints in the snow leading from the edge of the forest to the farm, but none leading back. He also spoke about hearing footsteps in the attic in the dead of night, and finding an unfamiliar newspaper on the farm. Furthermore, the house keys went missing several days before the murders, but none of this was reported to the police.

Six months earlier, the previous maid had left the farm, claiming that it was haunted. The new maid, Maria Baumgartner, arrived on the farm on 31 March, only a few hours before her death.Exactly what happened on that Friday evening cannot be said for certain. It is believed that the older couple, as well as their daughter Viktoria and her daughter Cäzilia, were somehow all lured into the barn one by one, where they were killed. The murderer(s) then went into the house where they found and killed two-year-old Josef who was sleeping in the cot in his mother’s bedroom, as well as the maid, Maria Baumgartner, in her bed-chamber.

On the following Tuesday, the 4th of April, some neighbours went to the farmstead because none of the inhabitants had been seen for several days, which was rather unusual. The postman had noticed that the post from the previous Saturday was still where he had left it. Furthermore, young Cäzilia had not turned up for school on Monday, nor had she been there on Saturday.

Inspector Georg Reingruber and his colleagues from the Munich Police Department made immense efforts investigating the killings. More than 100 suspects have been questioned through the years, but to no avail. The death of Karl Gabriel, Viktoria’s husband who had been reported killed in the French trenches in 1914, was called into question. His body had never been found. The police first suspected the motive to be robbery, and interrogated several inhabitants from the surrounding villages, as well as travelling craftsmen and vagrants. The robbery theory was, however, abandoned when a large amount of money was found in the house. It is believed that the perpetrator(s) remained at the farm for several days – someone had fed the cattle, and eaten food in the kitchen: the neighbours had also seen smoke from the chimney during the weekend – and anyone looking for money would have found it. The case laid active even in the 1980s, where people were still fruitlessly questioned. Today the motive remains unclear, and the killer will never be known.

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