The author of Clueless in New England attempts to tie the 1946 disappearance of Paula Welden and the 1952 disappearance of Connie Smith with an earlier case, that of Katherine Hull in 1936. Katherine was 22 when she disappeared from Lebanon Springs, New York. Her skeletal remains were found in a nearby wooded area seven years later. There wasn’t much left of her and the police had almost zero evidence to go on, so they closed her case as an accidental death and threw out all her investigation files. But as Dooling points out, it could well have been murder. We’ll never know now.
I’m not at all convinced by his serial killer theory — the many years between the disappearances, and the fact that they occurred
hundreds of many miles apart, are hard to get over — but I do think this was an excellent book. It provides a wealth of detail on all three women’s cases, as much detail as you’re going to get at this late date, not only about the disappearances themselves but about the investigations and the way police did things back in the day. I will be updating Paula and Connie’s casefiles with additional information from the book.
Well done, Mr. Dooling.
I am on page 106 of Clueless in New England, a book I mentioned before which covers the disappearances of Paula Welden from Vermont in 1946 and Connie Smith from Connecticut in 1952, as well as other cases. It’s very good so far, and has a new picture of Connie and better quality photos of Paula, all of which I plan to scan and post on Charley.
The book mentions the disappearance of eight-year-old Paul Jepson from Vermont in 1950. I found several articles about it on NewspaperArchive, but unfortunately no pictures. If anyone knows where I can find a picture of the little boy, tell me so I can add him to Charley too.
I just found out about another book on missing people that was published last year: Clueless in New England: The Unsolved Disappearances of Paula Welden, Connie Smith and Katherine Hull, by Michael C. Dooling. I put in a library request for it, since its publisher did not see fit to send me a surprise free copy.
Katherine Hull is no longer missing; she was found dead seven years after she vanished. The whereabouts of Paula Welden and Connie Smith are still unsolved mysteries, however.
Back in Vermont in 1978, a woman named Grace Canto Reapp and her five-year-old daughter, Grace Noel “Gracie” Reapp, vanished off the face of the earth. The husband/father, Michael, was a suspect in their cases for a long time. He remarried and moved to Florida. Then in 1996 he walked out of his life. He left after the police began searching his former property in Vermont for Grace and Gracie’s bodies, and a Vermont reporter called his home in Florida to interview him about it. The last known trace of him was an ATM withdrawal in New Orleans.
In 2006, Michael was finally charged with the murders of Grace and Gracie. The theory was that he killed Grace cause she found out he was having an affair, and Gracie witnessed her mother’s murder so he killed her too. (Reminds me very much of the murder of Jennifer Blagg and the disappearance of her daughter Abby, but there was a conviction in that case.) Unfortunately the authorities were no closer to finding Michael than before, so the case stagnated again.
Well, they finally got a break, and it’s not an altogether happy one: Michael has been identified as a John Doe out of Yuma, Arizona. Thus he is beyond the reach of earthly justice.
The circumstances of his death are unusual. On January 10, 1997, he kidnapped a man at gunpoint and stole his money and car. His victim escaped and Michael, driving the man’s car, was in a high-speed chase down the highway. The police caught up to him and forced him to pull over, and they were trying to get him to get out of the car so he could be arrested, but instead he shot himself in the head. And he had no ID or anything and remained unidentified for thirteen and a half years.
Grace and Gracie’s loved ones may be relieved that Michael has been located and is no longer a danger to society, but now he will never be held accountable for what he did and will never get a chance to tell whatever it was that he knew (assuming he would have done so). This was not the only tragedy in the family; one of the couple’s sons died young in 1996. Natural causes, the flu I think.
The police have begun searching again for Brianna Maitland, a seventeen-year-old girl missing from Montgomery, Vermont since 2004. There hasn’t been any press activity in this case for a long time, though it has gotten a lot of attention over the years. The fact that the cops say it’s not related to Maura Murray‘s disappearance from Haverhill, New Hampshire (a hundred miles away) six weeks earlier hasn’t slowed down any of the speculation.
Foul play is strongly suspected in Brianna’s case. She doesn’t fit the profile of a teen runaway. She did NEED to run away. She was already employed and living with friends with her parents’ permission. I hope this new investigative effort yields some answers for her poor family.