On Sunday, April 19, 1953, at 8:30-ish in the evening, Ronald H. Tammen, Jr., disappeared from his second-floor room in Fisher Hall on Miami University’s campus in Oxford, Ohio. He left everything behind — his wallet, his string bass, his car, his clothing, even his toothbrush. No one could figure out what happened to Tammen. Miami University officials were mystified, the Oxford PD outwitted, the FBI flummoxed. Since the spring of 2010, I’ve been conducting my own search for Tammen and what his disappearance might tell us about this enigmatic 19-year-old who landed himself squarely in the middle of one of the most bedeviling mysteries ever to hit the state of Ohio.
New to this site? Welcome! Currently, a bunch of us are awaiting word from an interagency panel to determine if my theory on what happened to Ronald Tammen is upheld. Once that happens—either way—everyone who follows me (through the blog, Facebook, or Twitter) will be notified. In the meantime, this is the perfect time to bring yourself up to speed on the story as well as to start rummaging through the blog posts, which I’m still writing, when there’s something important to tell you. I’ve also written a summary that you can read in 10 minutes to help get you started. Finally, if you have a lead, comment, or question, you can use the contact form in the top menu to communicate with me, or email me at rontammenproject[at]gmail[dot]com. Thank you!
Can’t get enough of the Ronald Tammen story? Here are some things to watch or listen to
What Happened to Ronald Tammen?
In early spring 2020, right before Covid-19 upended all of our lives, Chris Riva, of WXIX (Fox) television in Cincinnati, began filming a news segment on the Ronald Tammen case. Chris was especially interested in interviewing Marcia Tammen (Ron’s sister) for the segment, so he drove to Marcia’s apartment in Wooster, OH, and spent the morning interviewing Marcia and me. Sadly, it was the last time Marcia would be interviewed on camera. She passed away in August. The two-part segment aired in November 2020 and, although it didn’t win, it had been nominated for a 2021 Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award.
Debunking the Phantom of Oxford: What Happened to Ron Tammen
Budding filmmaker Astrid Key recently interviewed me about my research into Ron Tammen’s disappearance. She asked some really great questions and in only 1/2 hour, she manages to get to the heart of the story. (Tiny correction: the date of Ron’s disappearance was April 19, 1953, not August.) Check out her mysterious YouTube channel.
The One That Got Away podcast — Season 2
Update: 9/19/2022: I have some bad news, everyone. At least for now, “The One That Got Away” is no longer available online. If it finds a new home, I’ll be sure to repost their second season, which was devoted to Ron Tammen.
I’d like to extend a very big thank you to Josh and Tyler for all they did to bring Ron’s story to a new audience. It was when I was preparing for one of their podcasts that I realized that Gilson Wright, a Miami journalism professor and stringer for area newspapers, had never (ever) mentioned that Ron’s open textbook was his psychology book, even though Hamilton Journal-News reporter Joe Cella had revealed that information in April 1954. If it weren’t for Josh and Tyler, I wouldn’t have seen with my own eyes how the university had covered up important details about Ron Tammen’s disappearance. Thank you, Josh and Tyler!
– MKULTRA –
Feel like searching the MKULTRA documents? Here’s how
If you’ve read my blog post on “the I&I guys,” you know that my theory is that MKULTRA (and Ron Tammen’s psychology professor) were behind Ron Tammen’s disappearance. Included below are some helpful tools if you’d like to search the collection of MKULTRA documents yourself.
Sortable, searchable MKULTRA index
The best way to peruse the MKULTRA collection is to first consult the index to find the documents you’d like to focus on before looking them up online. The index that the CIA provides isn’t listed in any particular order, nor is it searchable. Amazingly, AGMIHTF reader/contributer Julie Miles has transcribed the MKULTRA index so that it is now available as a spreadsheet through Google Sheets. Copy and paste it as-is to your hard drive or download it into another software platform, such as Excel. Then, you can sort the list chronologically, topically, or however you’d like.
or DOWNLOAD AS AN EXCEL SHEET
Once you know which documents you’d like to see, make a note of their ID numbers and then visit the Black Vault website’s MKULTRA Collection to look them up. They will be in one of four designated folders or in the list of additional documents that were released in October 2018. As an added bonus, the documents on the Black Vault website have been converted to searchable PDFs.
After you’ve found the document(s) you’re interested in, you will likely notice a number of redactions in the form of black blotches or whited-out areas along with corresponding letters in the margins. These letters offer a small clue regarding the category of the redacted word or words. We’ve developed a cheatsheet of our best guesses of what many of the letters mean, based on a comparison between documents.
Were Major Louis Jolyon West and Lt. Colonel St. Clair Switzer discussed in the same paragraph of a CIA document dated January 14, 1953?
If you blow up Document 145888 really, really big, there’s no question that the first name of the redacted Major is Louis. See the L at the beginning and the o, the u, the dotted i, and the s? It’s him you guys. (On good days, I can even see the West.) As I mentioned in the “I&I guys” post, I’m also convinced that I see an S, a w, a dotted i, and a z in the Lt. Colonel’s redacted name below West’s name.
As for the MC in parentheses behind USAF, West always wrote his affiliation with the Air Force in that manner—so much so that if the redacted name was missing the MC, we could invariably rule out West. MC stands for Medical Corps.)
I’m including a July 1953 letter from Jolly West to a colleague in which he has signed his name Louis J. West, Major, USAF (MC). I enclose the entire letter because he is discussing his position at Lackland Air Force Base as well as its importance and visibility in the Air Force.
Speaking of the January 14, 1953 document…
What’s great about being able to sort the MKULTRA documents chronologically is that duplicate documents show up next to each other on the spreadsheet and can be more easily compared with one another. And as luck would have it, there are two versions of the document written on January 14, 1953. Whereas one redactor felt that the second paragraph needed to be scratched out entirely, another redactor only blackened someone’s name and identifying information. Here are the two excerpts for comparison:
I don’t know who they’re talking about, but I’m looking into it. Unfortunately, the redactor of Document 184424 didn’t wish to disclose more information in paragraph #3, which is where I believe Louis Jolyon West and St. Clair Switzer are mentioned for a “well-balanced interrogation research center.” Instead, they blacked out all identifying information regarding the two individuals, including their military ranks. That’s why I’m extremely grateful for the redactor of Document 145888, who didn’t see any harm in allowing that information to remain visible. Otherwise, I don’t think we’d have been able to link West and Switzer together this early in the program.
Other pertinent MKULTRA documents
Listed below are several documents that could be related in some way to Ron’s case, or at least to Ron’s psychology professor, St. Clair Switzer. There could be more though. If, as you spend time searching the MKULTRA index and collection, you find other documents that may pertain, feel free to let us know through the online chat form (Room 225 Fisher), as a comment in the Putting Things Together discussion page, or send me a message on the Contact page. Thanks, and have fun searching!
Bluebird-Artichoke, Proposed Research, with Covering Memo
Artichoke team proposal: hypnosis, narco-hypnosis, amnesia, etc.
Proposed Memorandum for Secretary of Defense
Draft memo to Sec of Defense asking for help from the Research and Development Board (RDB).
Project Artichoke (Deleted) Evaluation of ISSO Role
Memo providing overview of Artichoke, including the problems it’s facing.
Conversation between (Deleted) and the Writer on 12 February 1952
Conversation between Morse Allen and R.J. Williams about how displeased R.J. is with Artichoke’s progress and how he wants scientific expertise.
(Deleted) Interview with
Q&A with a professional hypnotist about what can be done through hypnosis.
Attached (Re Bluebird) with Attachment
Birds-eye view of Bluebird and how more scientists are needed.
(Deleted) Re Investigative File
They’re looking into hiring someone to serve as a consultant.
Technical Assistance for Project Artichoke
They are seeking help from the Director of Central Intelligence to request assistance from the Medical Sciences committee of the RDB.
Security staff feel that OSI’s interest in science is important, but let’s keep on doing what we’re doing too.
(Deleted) Interview with
Interview with a hypnosis expert who wishes to help but is morally opposed to applying these techniques.
I&S Activities Re Project Artichoke
The need to bring in 2 top hypnosis experts.
(Deleted) Technical Assistance
Meeting with RDB representative regarding DCI’s request for assistance.
This is the memo in which they discuss approaching two scientists with expertise in hypnosis. Although the names are redacted, I believe they are St. Clair Switzer and Griffith Wynne Williams. This document is currently under consideration by ISCAP for declassification.
Extensive report on Project Artichoke by R.J. Williams where he describes new task of the RDB.
Special Interrogations Referencing AD/SI Memorandum to DD/P on Subject, Dated 13 March 1951
Repurposed memo to Allen Dulles from OSI reporting on Project Artichoke and the new task of the RDB. The referenced March 13, 1951, memo is Document 144927.
Memo on forming the RDB’s study group.
(Deleted) Study Group
These are the names of the study group members, all redacted. I’m currently attempting to get the CIA to lift the redactions on these names.
(Deleted) Study Group
Discusses proposed group members and the downgrading of a Top Secret document establishing the study group.
(Deleted) Report with Attachment Same Title Dated 7 May 1953 with Cover Page, Preface, and Table of Contents of Report Titled “Some Areas of Psychiatric Interest” by Psychological Strategy Board Dated 5 September 1952
This report was produced by (I believe) a member of the RDB executive committee, and possibly St. Clair Switzer. A forensic document examiner assessed whether the typewriting on this document matched a document Switzer had typed in 1951 and determined that it was not typed on the same typewriter.
Matter Possibly Relating to Project Artichoke with Enclosure Titled “A Suggested Procedure for Collection of Information,” Dated 28 March 1952
An outside expert offers ostensibly unsolicited suggestions on using hypnosis against the enemy. The suggestions were written 3 days after the I&I memo, which makes me wonder if it may have been written by one of our two experts. However, it didn’t make its way to the proper office until October 1952.
Memorandum on (Deleted) (Artichoke)
This is a summary of the ad hoc committee meeting dates and discussions.
This memo names two individuals affiliated with the U.S. Air Force with hypnosis expertise for an interrogation research center. Although the names are redacted, I believe the two are Louis Jolyon West and St. Clair Switzer. This document is currently under consideration by ISCAP for declassification.
Report of Ad Hoc Medical Study Group (Deleted) Without Attachment This is the cover letter of the ad hoc group’s report. Note that the group’s official title is revealed here as the Ad Hoc Medical Study Group.
Report of Ad Hoc Medical Study Group (Deleted) This is the ad hoc group’s report.
Report on Artichoke by (Deleted), Summary of, (Deleted) Dated 2 February 1953
This is the opinion of the chief of the Technical Branch on the ad hoc committee’s report.
Report on Artichoke by (Deleted), Summary of, (Deleted) Dated 2 February 1953
Another memo from the chief of the Technical Branch on the ad hoc committee’s report.
To access other original documents and resources pertaining to the Tammen story, scroll to the bottom of this page.