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  • The Strangest Mystery of New York Still Unsolved : AnnualTumbleweed871

     Deborah updated 1 year, 11 months ago 1 Member · 1 Post
  • Deborah

    January 10, 2021 at 3:47 am

    This is a case unlike any other . . .

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    A mystery, which more than a hundred years later, is still perplexing to mankind.

    “The Vanished Heiress,” as the newspapers referred to her, is the subject of one of the most peculiar mysteries of the 20th Century.

    25 year old Dorothy Arnold was the heiress of perfume importer Francis Arnold. As the daughter of a rich entrepreneur, Dorothy got a great education and graduated from the prestigious Brynn Marr College For Women where she majored in literature. She spoke several languages and dreamed of becoming a writer. She was smart, rich, beautiful and popular in New York High Society.

    Life was going great for the young woman, that is, until December 12, 1910.

    25 year old Dorothy Arnold was the heiress of perfume importer Francis Arnold. As the daughter of a rich entrepreneur, Dorothy got a great education and graduated from the prestigious Brynn Marr College For Women where she majored in literature. She spoke several languages and dreamed of becoming a writer. She was smart, rich, beautiful and popular in New York High Society.

    Life was going great for the young woman, that is, until the day she mysteriously disappeared on December 12, 1910.

    In the spring of 1910, Dorothy submitted a short story to McClure’s Magazine. Sadly, McClure’s rejected her work. As if aspiring women writers weren’t hard enough on themselves, Dorothy’s family and friends ridiculed her. Dorothy wouldn’t be dissuaded so quickly. She set up a PO box to secretly correspond with publishers and avoid her family’s teasing. Dorothy asked her father if she could get an apartment in Greenwich Village so she could concentrate on improving her writing, but he dismissed the idea. “A good writer can write anywhere.” he would say.

    That fall, Dorothy submitted a second story to McClure’s, and in short order, received another rejection letter. Dorothy was heartbroken. She ended up sharing this news with her family, and once again, was met with teasing and bullying.

    The day she disappeared was just as normal as the others.

    10:45 am. – December 12, 1910 – Dorothy donned a tailor-made blue serge coat that flowed to her hips. She paired this with a straight-cut skirt and an ornate hat of black velvet, adorned with two white roses and a pale blue lining. The heiress carried a large fox muff to warm her hands on that frigid New York day. Dorothy told her mother she was going to pick a gown for her 19 year old sister Marjorie’s coming-out party. The ball was scheduled for December 17th , five days after the incident. Mary offered to accompany her daughter, but Dorothy declined. At first glance, this appears suspicious on Dorothy’s part. But her mother was ill, and Dorothy likely didn’t want to cause her any undue stress. So Dorothy bid goodbye and walked away.

    11 a.m. – Dorothy leaves the family’s home in the Posh Upper East Side of Manhattan. She takes $25 with her. The sum did not seem too out of the ordinary since she was shopping for a ball gown after all. She was dressed well as was typical of a woman with her social status and she was carrying a large muff purse. She has West 4 5th avenue and then down toward midtown Manhattan. It’s about an hour’s walk but it probably took Arnold longer since the streets were icy and slippery. On her way, Dorothy meets several acquaintances. Later on, they all recalled that she was in a particularly good mood. She even stopped at a candy store on the corner of 5th avenue in 27th street for a box of chocolates. The clerk of the shop also recounted to detectives that nothing seemed strange about Miss Arnold’s mood or behavior.

    1 p.m. – on 27th street, Dorothy goes to Bretano’s Bookstore, where she buys a collection of funny stories and essays. Upon leaving the shop, she bumps into her friends, Gladys King, who is also been invited to Majorie’s party. They discussed this event in chat for a while, then Gladys excuses herself as she’s supposed to meet her mom for lunch. 2p.m. Dorothy waves a farewell to Galdys and heads home. She decides to go through Central Park on her way, at least that’s what she tells her friend, and that, was the last time anyone ever saw Dorothy Arnold. In the evening of December 12th , Dorothy still hadn’t arrived home but there wasn’t any immediate cause for alarm. Dorothy was a grown woman, and she was out and about taking care of her own errands. Perhaps she was having a hard time finding the perfect dress, maybe she met up with some friends. When she didn’t come home that night, her parents figured she’d stayed at her boyfriend’s.

    But they sounded the alarm only when Dorothy hadn’t come home by the next evening. They didn’t go to the police though, not yet. Her father didn’t want to make a stir as he was afraid of damaging his business reputation because of a possible scandal.

    The thing is, at that time, it wasn’t common for a young unmarried woman to date men and not get married. If the press wrote something about it, Mr. Arnold’s good name would be ruined. He also thought that someone could have abducted his daughter to demand a ransom from the well-off family. He didn’t want to make things more complicated by giving publicity to this story.

    It seems bizarre that he didn’t go to the authorities right away, but one should imagine what was going through his head at that time. Instead, the Arnolds’ turned to a friend’s of Dorothy’s older brother, John S. Keith. He was a lawyer, he knew the missing girl well and he had connections, so the family friend got down to his business immediately. Keith interviewed Dorothy’s friends, acquaintances and shop assistants that worked in the young woman’s favorite stores. Little by little, he started putting together a detailed account of Dorothy’s last day but there was still no information out there on what happened to her after she parted ways with her friend.

    Keith went to all the hospitals and mortuaries in New York and sent requests to nearby cities, but nothing turned up. He also searched the girl’s room but only found one strange thing. There were burnt sheets of paper in the fireplace. He couldn’t make out the text but there were some flyers of ships carrying passengers from the U.S. to Europe. It looked like this investigation would require more manpower so Keith recommended the family hire a famous private detective agency called Pinkerton. The detectives checked the passenger lists of all ships that were going to Europe. Their contacts across the Atlantic kept an eye out for a woman arriving by a ship and matching Dorothy’s description.

    Again, nothing was found.

    However, the young woman’s boyfriend, George Griscom Jr. was in Europe at the time. Dorothy had met the 42 year old, Philadelphia native while she was in college. In December 1910, he was on vacation in Florence, Italy, with his family. Perhaps the pieces of the puzzle were finally falling into place. Dorothy’s parents had always been against her relationship with Griscom, so maybe the two went to Europe to secretly elope.

    The Arnold sent a telegram to Griscom asking him about what he knew about his daughter’s whereabouts. He answered that he knew nothing. This reply didn’t satisfy the Arnolds’ so, on January 16th 1911, Dorothy’s mother and brother came to the hotel in Florence, where Griscom was staying, to talk to him face-to-face. The girl had been missing for over a month by then and her brother lost his nerve. He threatened bodily harm if Griscom didn’t tell the truth, but he kept saying he didn’t know where Dorothy was, or what happened to her. When George professed his love and concern for Dorothy but denied knowledge of her whereabouts, John punched him square in the jaw. But Griscom also showed concern about her well-being. In his opinion, she might have decided to take her own life.

    As proof of that, he showed them a letter, she’d recently written to him. In it, she described how stressed she felt because she kept getting refusals from literary magazines that wouldn’t publish her writing. The letter did, indeed, sound grim:

    “Well, it has come back. McClure’s has turned me down. Failure stares me in the face. All I can see is a long road with no turning. Mother will always think an accident has happened.”


    Along with the letter, Dorothy had sent a rejection letter she had received from a local publishing house.

    Dorothy’s brother looked through the letters Griscom had kept and decided that they didn’t contain anything that could be useful in this investigation.

    Six weeks after his daughter’s disappearance, Frances Arnold finally gave in, invited journalists for a press conference, and assumed that she had been attacked on her way home through Central Park, but perhaps it seems unlikely that a popular and easily recognizable woman could be attacked in broad daylight without any witnesses seeing anything, but you never know.

    In any case, the police then joined the search, they did a thorough investigation, checking every square foot of central park and still no traces of Dorothy were found. They also verified George Griscom’s alibi, a lot of eye witnesses could confirm that on December 1910. He wasn’t in the U.S., let alone New York.

    Not a single shred of evidence that Griscom was connected with Dorothy’s disappearance was ever found, besides he himself spent several thousand dollars on advertisements in the newspaper, where he begged Dorothy to come back. He told the press that he was going to marry her, even if her parents were against it.

    There’s also a theory that she simply ran away. It had been known that she was feeling particularly down about the magazine refusals. In fact, it’s believed that the burnt papers in the fireplace that had been found in the early days of the investigation were letters of refusal. Many say the money taken for the ball gown really meant a secret escape. The day before her disappearance, she’d also taken an additional $36, supposedly to have lunch with some friends. Together, with the dress money, she’d have around $1500 to start a new life, but that’s highly doubtful as well. Unfortunately, despite what would have been $2,000,000 searching for their daughter, Dorothy’s family never did find her. The mystery is still unsolved more than a hundred years later.

    He was nearly 20 years her senior, but he was shiftless. Francis, when accused of stifling his 25-year-old daughter, said this: ‘I would have been glad to see her associate more with young men than she did, especially some young men of brains and position: one whose profession or business would keep him occupied. I don’t approve of young men who have nothing to do.’

    Naturally, the Arnolds suspected George had something to do with her disappearance. However, George was in Italy when Dorothy vanished. December 16, 1910, the family sent a telegraph to George in Italy, asking if he had an idea where Dorothy went. George insisted he did not know where she was. The Arnolds were not satisfied with George’s answer. Mary, along with Dorothy’s brother, John, traveled to Italy in January to talk to him face to face. They met George in a hotel room in Florence Italy. John put the screws to him. When George professed his love and concern for Dorothy but denied knowledge of her whereabouts, John punched him square in the jaw.

    Although her family failed to locate her whereabouts, one more person was still hell-bent on bringing her back home – her past lover, George Griscom Jr. After returning from Italy, he had a heavy hand to play in the search of Dorothy Arnold. Like her father, Griscom also spent copious amounts of money in an attempt to find her. However, many skeptics believed that he was only doing this to cover up the fact that he killed her.

    The fact that she killed herself seems too far-fetched since the girl was ambitious and was looking for popularity. She’d hardly be so discouraged by her unsuccessful literary attempts to harm herself.

    All witnesses say she wasn’t acting any strange or secretive on the day of her disappearance, so by all accounts, the woman just vanished. Francis Arnold called this confession, “Utter nonsense.” He concluded that she died as a result of some accident, although no body was ever found.

    However, In April of 1916, a man named Edward Glennoris was serving time in Rhode Island State Prison for extortion. As convicts often do, he experienced a conversion to Christianity and wanted to confess his sins. He claimed that an acquaintance asked him to transport an unconscious woman from New Rochelle, New York, to a house in West Point. He was met by two other men, one named Doc and a finely dressed gentleman, who many believe to be George. On the drive, Little Louie told him that the unconscious woman was Dorothy Arnold. He also said that he recognized Arnold and was able to identify a signet ring on the index finger of her left hand that matched a ring she owned, it was set with an exceedingly brilliant, inky and pitch-black diamond, finest and most sparkling, few uncut, but perfectly beautiful and large engravings. Arnold’s father, Francis Arnold, after hearing this story, expressed his condolences, ‘So far it spears on the face of the man’s story, he is talking utter nonsense. It is absolutely ridiculous and untrue’

    Little Louie called Edward the next day to tell him Dorothy died. The rich man paid him $250 to bury her in the basement of a house. Police went to a house that fit the description. Edward stated that he buried Dorothy beneath the cement in the cellar. Police found an area of broken cement, but it was too small for a body. The new owners said the hole was simply access to a gas pipe. A little digging revealed two gas pipes, but no sign of Dorothy.

    One of New York’s strangest mysteries will forever be unsolved . . .

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