This week’s Flashback Friday case is one of the Charley Project’s oldest: Melvin Charles Horst, a four-year-old boy who disappeared from the small town of Orrville in northeast Ohio two days after Christmas in 1928. Melvin had gone out with some friends to play with one of his Christmas toys. Then he said he would be walking home. Melvin never arrived home but they did find the toy in his front yard.
They actually charged five suspects with Melvin’s abduction after he disappeared, and two of them were convicted, but were released after a few months when it turned out the key witness in the case, a neighbor boy, had lied about what he’d seen. That same child (who seems to have been quite the fibber) went on to accuse his own father and another man of killing Melvin, but that story didn’t hold up either.
In the extremely unlikely event he’s still alive, Melvin would be 90 or 91 years old today.
With more recent cases, I occasionally find traces of a person’s activities on the internet before they disappeared. One college student had a website with some pictures of her and poems, one of which she wrote just a few days before she vanished. Another person, a middle-aged man, wrote somewhere about his experiences volunteering for the Peace Corps in the 1970s. Etc.
Well, I just found an online trace of an MP who is most definitely NOT recent: Bessie Hyde, who disappeared on a rafting trip in Arizona over eighty years ago. Northern Arizona University’s digitial archive has a book of poems Bessie wrote, called Wandering Leaves. You can not just read the text but actually see the book itself, bound with string. It’s typed but the cover has the title in what is presumably Bessie’s handwriting. From page 4:
The first fall frost
In shining silver,
Comes out at night.
And soon beguiles
The fluttering trees,
The barren ground
Is carpeted with brown,
Dry, crackling leaves:
Who can no longer whisper
Soft, low songs
I always wondered why people made such a fuss about the beauty of autumn. The whole season is about death. Apparently Bessie shared my sentiments.