Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eddie Gein

Vanished

During the late 1940's and 1950's, Wisconsin police began to notice an increase in missing persons cases. There were four cases that particularly baffled police. The first was that of an eight-year-old girl named Georgia Weckler, who had disappeared coming home from school on May 1, 1947. Hundreds of residents and police searched an area of ten square miles of Jefferson, Wisconsin, hoping to find the young girl. Unfortunately, Georgia would never be seen or heard of again. There were no good suspects and the only evidence police had to go on were tire marks found near the place where Georgia was last seen. The tire marks were that of a Ford. The case remained unsolved and wouldn't be opened again until years later when Eddie Gein was convicted of murder.

Another girl disappeared six years later in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Fifteen-year-old Evelyn Hartley had been babysitting at the time she had vanished. Evelyn's father repeatedly tried to phone the girl at the house where she was babysitting and there was no answer.

Worried, the girl's father immediately drove to where she was babysitting. Nobody answered the door. When he peered through a window, he could see one of his daughter's shoes and a pair of her eyeglasses on the floor. He tried to enter the house, but all the doors and windows were locked. Except for one — the back basement window. It was at that window where he discovered bloodstains. Petrified, he entered the house and discovered signs of a struggle.

Immediately he contacted police. When police arrived at the house they found more evidence of a struggle including blood stains on the grass leading away from the house, a bloody hand print on a neighboring house, footprints and the girl's other shoe on the basement floor.

A regional search was conducted but Evelyn was nowhere to be found. A few days later police discovered some bloodied articles of clothing that belonged to Evelyn, near a highway outside of La Crosse. The worst was suspected.

In November of 1952, two men stopped for a drink at a bar in Plainfield, Wisconsin before heading out to hunt deer. Victor Travis and Ray Burgess spent several hours at the bar before leaving. The two men and their car were never to be seen again. A massive search was conducted but there was no trace of them. They had simply vanished.

In the winter of 1954, a Plainfield tavern keeper by the name of Mary Hogan mysteriously disappeared from her place of business. Police suspected foul play when they discovered blood on the tavern floor that trailed into the parking lot.

Police also discovered an empty bullet cartridge on the floor. Police could only speculate about what might have happened to Mary because like the other four missing people, they had no bodies and little useful evidence. The only other common tie among these cases was that all of the disappearances happened around or in Plainfield, Wisconsin.

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