This time I’d like us all to discuss one of my oldest cases: Mimi Boomhower, who’s been missing for nearly 70 years. She disappeared from Los Angeles in 1949, at the age of 48, and was never seen again. Her case got a fair amount of attention at the time, probably because her deceased husband had been a wealthy businessman and Mimi herself was quite the socialite. Contemporary press articles often called her “the merry widow.”
Mimi was childless and her closest living relatives were siblings who lived on the East Coast, but she had plenty of friends, and they all swore that it was completely unlike her to just drop out of sight without telling anyone where she was going. Yet I found a seeming contradiction in the news accounts: when she DID drop out of sight, her friends assumed she’d just gone off on a short trip and would be back in her own sweet time, and so she wasn’t reported missing for the better part of a week. I have to wonder if her friends knew more than they disclosed.
The only trace of her they ever found was her purse, which got left in a phone booth with a note saying “We found this on the beach Thursday night.” The police never found out who left it there, but they noted the purse didn’t look like it had been exposed to sand or water. And anyone who’s been anywhere near a beach knows that sand gets into everything.
It’s worth noting that, although she kept up appearances, she was having financial problems and was pawning things and selling other things at a loss and taking out loans and so on. A judge found it necessary to declare her legally dead a whopping eleven days after she was last seen, just in order to allow her attorney access to her accounts so he could keep paying on her home equity loan and the bank wouldn’t foreclose on her house. (The judge subsequently reversed his decision and declared that Mimi was legally alive after all. Seven years later, she was declared dead a second time. Shrug.) Mimi’s furniture and her late husband’s big game trophies were sold off after she disappeared to cover her debts, and I learned that one of the buyers discovered his new elephant head had tusks made of plaster-of-paris rather than ivory — presumably Mimi had sold off the ivory earlier.
Nevertheless, she can’t have been TOO hard-up. She was wearing $25,000 worth of jewelry when she disappeared, after all. That’s $25,000 in 1949 dollars, too. Factor in inflation and that jewelry would be worth over $250,000 today.
Mimi’s friends and associates all said she was neither suicidal nor thinking of eloping. One of her closest friends was quoted as saying, “We’ve ruled out everything but foul play.” Yet they couldn’t think of anyone who had a reason to hurt her, either.
Offhand the only sensible explanation I can think of is this: Mimi had arranged to meet someone, possibly to talk about selling or pawning more of her jewelry or something. Maybe this person was of the sketchy variety and that’s why she didn’t tell her friends about it. And this person, rather than buying whatever Mimi was selling, simply killed her and took it for himself.
But in that case, where’s the body? And can there have really been NO SUSPECTS AT ALL over the years? ‘Tis a puzzlement.
Let’s talk about it.
Is there a possibility that she started life under a different name?
The name Mimi Boomhower is AWESOME…like something from a book or film. I’m sure she was quite a glamorous lady, too.
About whether she could have assumed a different identity, that is a very good question. Maybe with her being rich, she felt the need to “escape” and simply start a new life in a place no one would ever think to find her.
Regarding the supposed “husband/family” comments she made: maybe someone had contacted her claiming to be a relative of her dead husband to try to get his money, then killed her when she refused to give it to them?
This is one we will probably never know. She would have been 116 years old now and even any witnesses would not remember, even if they were still alive. I think if some good detective work back then didn’t yield any suspects, the odds of us figuring it out now are nil. For example, did the detective talk with the pawn shop owners to see who else she may have discussed dealing with on selling her things? Did any of them give her a leads on a jewelry buyers with white hair? Was the purse and contents dusted for prints? Did any witnesses see a woman and or a white haired man sitting by the water ‘at the beach’ (wherever that might mean). Or near the phone booth where the purse was found? I guess at this point the best bet is if her bones or jewels somehow turned up (small chance) or if somebody could find a connection between any other cases of missing rich women who were last seen with white haired men or any cases similar where we know the suspect or perpetrator.
Or from the family angle, could somebody have been mad that she was blowing through the money so fast and selling the house at a loss to support her lavish lifestyle? Who did end up inhering everything?
I don’t know who inherited everything, but my guess would be her closest relatives — her brother and sister and, perhaps, their children. Her attorney got most of it, frankly. In seven years of administering her estate he somehow managed to get through two-thirds of it.
If the purse was found on or near a beach, the chances are that whoever killed her probably just put the body in a boat and dumped it out at sea. I don’t know what percentage of those ever return to shore but I’m guessing it’s pretty small.
it said the purse showed no evidence of ever being exposed to water or sand.
This book is trying to establish a link between Boomhower and the Black Dahlia murder I think. I’m not so sure about that, but it does state who found the purse, and also tells about some anonymous tips. One of those is that she was seen with somebody named Evans in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel :
(Sorry for the long link)
Looking into this other book, Evans would be Thomas Ellery Evans, an (alleged) gangster type. I’m not saying he did it, per say, just posting for background info on who he is. This book does say there are some unsettling parallels between Mimi Boomhowers disappearance and Jean Spanglers :
This newspaper article has a picture of him for interests sake.:
I don’t know. Boomhower telling her furrier she had to discuss it with her husband first, then changing to family, I wonder…..a possible mafia romance gone wrong?
Perhaps owing money to a loan shark, and not being able to pay it back?
Pure speculation, and though I know a lot of time has passed, I wouldn’t want to upset any relatives reading this or anything. 🙂
Yeah, I had read about Mimi supposedly being spotted with Evans. When the police asked him about this he said he’d never even heard of Mimi until they went to talk to him.
I found it odd that he was questioned about both Mimi and Jean Spangler, but in the second book it indicated that they questioned him about Jean Spangler, but they really wanted to find out about Jean Spangler’s relationship with someone else, so being questioned in both cases could be a coincidence.
It could have been a bogus tip, too, as that happens a lot. I think the first book is implying the tip to police was given to throw them off a bit, and that’s possible, too.
I don’t like to speculate too much, but when I saw she needed money, I wondered if she might have been into some gambling or illegal gambling and needed money quick, but she very well might have just been having a rough time of it, moneywise.
It is a twisty-turny missing person case, and there are just so many questions. Especially about the purse! I hope it is resolved someday. 🙂
Wow all this is really interesting. I was thinking how does a wealthy socialite even get involved with the underworld or the mob or loan sharks or somebody willing to kill her and steal her stuff? And the most obvious connection seems to be through the pawn shop owner. He might not be in the market for something she was selling but he could have told her he knows a guy. I was wondering how the crook would have made sure she wore the expensive items? Maybe he feigned a love interest and asked her to wear her nice things on some big date or outing but then why on earth is there a salad on the table? And then that raises the question, if he knew he was going to do this why not just pull the gun after she let him in and then ransack the place and take it all?
Wonder if there is a photo of the jewelry anywhere?
If a person’s life is shrouded in mystery, then why is anyone surprised that when they do end up disappearing that there will be no answers? These woman wrote their own stories with their actions. They created their “fame” by being unheard of. People should spend their time searching for missing children who have no choices, not adults who make poor choices.
I believe everyone should be looked for.
I’m attempting to see if the LAPD will confirm they still consider this an active missing persons case and get the case number. If I can, I will submit her to NamUs.
Is the purse still in laps evidence ? If so could a dna swab be preformed on the purse and contents maybe that could be a start
I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve lost it.