A case of amnesia, part 3: Three youths from Ohio

Photo credit: Pexels, CC0 License

Gilson Wright was a dedicated journalist—a consummate newsman’s newsman—who taught his students at Miami the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys of getting to the heart of every story. (You can read his memorial here.) His daughter has spoken with high regard for her father’s impartial reporting and nose for news. So committed was he to chasing after a story, he was willing to put fact-gathering above even friends, and she recalled a time when an article he’d written about a close colleague wasn’t received very well and may have inflicted some permanent damage to that friendship. During her growing-up years, she worried that if she did anything wrong, her dad wouldn’t hesitate to write an article about her too.

Wright was so much the model journalist that, if asked, he probably would have agreed that his part-time gig with the local papers—filing occasional news stories about the institution that employed him full-time—probably wouldn’t pass the smell test anywhere else. Imagine if Kenneth Lay had said to the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine (the two news outlets credited with first uncovering Enron’s misdeeds), “Don’t bother assigning a reporter to this story. We’ll conduct our own investigation, and send updates your way.” The folks from the Hamilton Journal-News probably recognized Wright’s potential conflict of interest, which may be why they double-teamed the Tammen story with the intrepid Joe Cella.

On the other hand, there were obvious benefits for the area newspapers to hire Wright as an on-call correspondent, or stringer. Being an insider at Miami, he was in prime position to hear the scuttlebutt of whatever was happening at one of Ohio’s larger public universities. Also, if a topic was political or sensitive in nature, Miami’s faculty and administrators might have been more inclined to open up to him, at least more than they would have with Cella.

I think one of those occasions may have taken place during the first week after Tammen disappeared in one of the earliest stories to be printed about the case. I stumbled on the article in question as a news clipping in the Miami University Archives. Its dateline is April 26, 1953—seven days after Tammen’s disappearance—and it likely ran that day (a Sunday) or perhaps the following day. We don’t know. We also don’t know precisely which newspaper it ran in, and trust me, I’ve checked all of them. Whoever clipped it didn’t write the source in the margin, as was done for other articles. The article doesn’t even have a byline, so one might wonder who the reporter was, though I’m quite confident that it was Wright. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first: why would I care so much about the origin of an old newspaper clipping? Or, to be more specific, why would I seek the help of more than a half dozen reference librarians and archivists in Butler and Hamilton Counties, one researcher at the State Library of Ohio, and another at the Library of Congress, not to mention paying a special visit to the latter, to try to identify the outlet that carried it? Because, in it, the author reveals a detail that has never appeared in any other news article on the Tammen case. Because that detail generates a slew of follow-up questions, yet, instead, it was left to languish, ignored for decades. And finally, because that strange, surreal detail, buried in the second paragraph of the second column, might be an honest-to-goodness clue to the case.

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed three possible reasons why investigators were so quick to suspect that Tammen’s disappearance was due to amnesia. To recap, they were:

  • Why else would a responsible guy like Tammen go missing, leaving everything behind?
  • Tammen’s psychology book was open on his desk, possibly to a section on posthypnotic suggestion, even though he had dropped his course. Also, Carl Knox had jotted down the names of two psych professors in his notes, one of whom was a hypnosis expert.
  • According to a conversation someone had with Dr. Patten, chair of Miami’s psychology department at the time, there were things in Tammen’s background that would be consistent with his having experienced dissociation.

Reason #4: The three Ohio youths

Before we consider my fourth and final reason, I should probably let you know that I have both good news and bad news. The bad news is that, despite the assistance I received from all of those librarians, I’m still unable to identify with 100% certainty the source of the article in question. The papers that were examined—digitally, on microfilm, or both—are as follows, with the letters GW next to the papers in which Gilson Wright was a stringer or, in the case of Miami’s student newspaper, the adviser:

  • Miami Student (GW – adviser)
  • Hamilton Journal-News (GW)
  • Cincinnati Enquirer (GW)
  • Cincinnati Post (GW)
  • Cincinnati Times-Star (GW)
  • Dayton Daily News (GW)
  • Dayton Journal Herald (GW)
  • Middletown Journal

Because posting copyrighted material without obtaining permission is generally frowned upon (and by “frowned upon,” I mean that it’s not allowed and puts me at risk of being sued for copyright infringement), I don’t feel comfortable posting the article in question on this website. Our only evidence that the article existed at all is that two incredibly awesome people—scissor-wielding superheroes, actually—clipped it and socked it away for safe keeping, so that, eventually, it found its way into the Miami University Archives (clipping #1) and the Smith Library of Regional History, on the second floor of the Lane Public Library in Oxford (clipping #2). Its title, with the first letter of every word in caps, is: “Searchers At Oxford Fail To Find Missing Student; Amnesia Theory Stronger.” If you should find yourself in one of those two places, you can access it there.

But, as promised, I also have good news. The story—or at least a shorter version of it—ran in a second newspaper! A clever researcher at the State Library of Ohio, in Columbus, discovered that a truncated version was printed in the Dayton Journal Herald on Monday, April 27, 1953. He managed to find it by searching for phrases other than what was in the first article’s headline, since the two headlines are vastly different. In addition, the sentence with the outlandish detail (which I’ll be divulging momentarily) isn’t included in the Dayton Journal Herald article. That version includes everything up to the point where the sentence would have appeared and ends there.

But that’s OK, because I can post the Dayton Journal Herald’s version of the article on this website, having obtained permission. Here it is:

The Journal Herald (Dayton, Ohio) · 27 Apr 1953
Reprint courtesy of Cox Media Group Ohio. Article from April 27, 1953 in the Dayton Journal Herald.

And here, without further ado, is the sentence that appeared in the first article but not the second:

“Parents of three other Ohio youths who have disappeared in recent years but who recovered from their loss of memory have telephoned to Tammen’s parents to encourage them, it was learned here.”

Now do you see why I’ve been so obsessed with this article? That one loaded sentence has generated quite a few follow-up questions for me. However, because none of the A-listers are available for an interview (due to their being deceased and all), let’s unpeel this onion ourselves, layer by layer, and do a little speculating, shall we?

Who wrote the article?

Even though neither article has a byline, I’m sure that the author was Gilson Wright because he was a stringer for the Dayton Journal Herald, in addition to all of the other papers indicated above. For the article to show up in at least two area papers convinces me that Wright was responsible.

Who were the Ohio youths?

At the very least, we know that the individuals concerned weren’t full-fledged adults. They also weren’t children, otherwise the writer would have probably chosen that term instead. On the global stage, “youth” is defined as someone between 15 and 24 years of age. In the United States, the term is broader, incorporating early adolescence up to age 25. I would guess, then, that anyone from the seventh grade on up to the mid-20s would have fit the description. Ron Tammen was frequently identified in news accounts as a youth. Richard Cox, the West Point cadet who disappeared in January 1950 at the age of 21, was too.

Attempting to figure out who the three youths might have been, I searched two archival news databases for articles about young people from Ohio who’d gone missing due to amnesia from 1948 to 1953. I had to draw the line somewhere to define “in recent years,” so I cut it off at around five.

In addition, I had two hard-and-fast rules:

  • The youths had to be single. As the article implies, these particular youths were still accountable to their parents as opposed to a spouse. If a missing person was married, I automatically disqualified him, since no newspaper that I came across ever referred to a married person as a youth. If he was married with children, he was doubly disqualified. If, on the other hand, the person was a little older than 25—maybe 26 or 27, for example—and still single, he (or she) was still in the running.
  • They had to have returned, safe and sound. That was the point behind the phone call to Ron’s parents—that they’d recovered their memories and returned. Obviously, anyone found dead or who was reported to be still missing after April 1953 was disqualified.

Two additional assumptions that I had, but that I didn’t enforce as strictly as the above, were:

  • Preferably, the memory loss had to be “real,” or at least had to have some sort of backing or proof. If it was just a theory put forth by a parent searching for some explanation behind their son or daughter’s disappearance, it carried a lot less weight.
  • Preferably, the youths recovered their memories all by themselves.The way the article reads, it implies to me that, for the most part, the youths had managed to regain their memories with little to no assistance. Therefore, I considered any major effort put forth by third parties, such as the use of hypnosis or truth serum to bring the person back to the here and now, as less likely to have occurred with our gang of three.

Based on the above, my list of potential contenders can be viewed here. (Note: People who were too old and/or who were known to be married were immediately disqualified and aren’t included. People who were a contender but who were subsequently disqualified because of one of the hard-and-fast rules are marked with a red “X.” People who didn’t conform to one or both of the lesser-two assumptions are marked with an orange “?”.)

What I’ve learned from this rather arduous, unscientific exercise is that amnesia was being blamed for a whole lot of missing persons cases back then. When people in their late teens and twenties with Ohio roots occasionally went missing, as sure as night follows day, some distraught parent or a law enforcement official would propose the big A as the cause. The more likely reason was that they’d run away voluntarily, with their memories intact, because they wanted to get married, or they didn’t want to get married, or they’d grown tired of school, or they were experiencing some other unseen stress or desire to reinvent themselves. When one or more of these cases was later solved, amnesia was the perfect face-saving cover story. In 1948, one missing persons bureau chief from another state, obviously fed up with the amnesia excuse, had this advice for would-be fakers: “Phoney [sic] amnesia is fairly easy to spot and real amnesia is as rare as a picture of Joseph Stalin without a mustache.”

Do I think Roger Robinson, Rita Sater, Richard Resseger or anyone else with an orange question mark in front of his or her name were among the three who were alluded to in the April 26th article? (No one passed all four criteria.) No, I really don’t. Unlike today, investigators back then didn’t have digitized articles that they could scan by plugging in a few keywords. They had only their own memory banks to comb through. Also, the identities of the three Ohio youths seemed to be held in confidence for some reason. If investigators had reached out to someone who’d famously gone missing several years prior, I’d think that they would have simply named them. Lastly, there was the time element. I don’t think investigators could have come up with the names of the three Ohio youths so quickly if they didn’t already have that information at their fingertips, including how to go about contacting them.

Where in Ohio were they from?

If the youths happened to be from a particular town, such as Dayton or Cincinnati, or from a specific region, such as southwest Ohio, Wright would have likely written that. But by saying they were “Ohio youths,” it sounds as if they were from all over the state, doesn’t it? But, again, how would investigators have known about amnesia cases from all over the state of Ohio, and so quickly? I have a theory on this, which I’ll talk about a little later in this post. 

How did they lose their memories?

As we discussed in parts 1 and 2 in this series, the type of amnesia that causes someone to forget his or her identity and wander off is called dissociative fugue, which is considered a type of psychogenic or dissociative amnesia. It’s the type of amnesia that one might get from severe emotional trauma. But, as we’ve also previously discussed, it’s also rare. According to the American Psychiatric Association, dissociative fugue is estimated to occur in just 0.2% of the general population. Jason Brandt, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that the prevalence of psychogenic amnesia is unknown, since no one’s conducted a definitive study. However, in his entire career, which, at the time of our conversation in 2015, spanned roughly 34 years of diagnosing and treating individuals with memory loss, Brandt guesstimated that he’d probably seen only 12 people with psychogenic amnesia.


In 34 years.

Knowing this, how was it possible that, in 1953, the good folks of rural, southwest Ohio were aware of such an abundance of amnesia cases that they were able to locate three cases—again, all conveniently from Ohio—within one week of Ron’s disappearance? I have a theory on this too—keep reading.

How long did it take the youths to recover their memories?

I don’t think the three Ohio youths had amnesia for very long. The longer the duration, the more likely the news media would have caught wind of their disappearances (from their parents, no doubt) and we would have seen a few articles. But, as I’ve already discussed, I’ve found nothing in the press that might be applicable. I’m thinking that they were gone for no more than a day or two, but that’s just a guess.

Who coordinated the telephone call between the youths’ parents and Mr. and Mrs. Tammen?

In my view, the person (or persons) who had known about the three Ohio youths who went missing is the most likely coordinator of the phone call. This also may have been the person who Gilson Wright spoke with for his April 26th article. Alternatively, it might have been Dean Knox, as the university’s investigator and chief spokesperson, who coordinated the phone call after hearing about the youths from his original source.

Who was the source of origin concerning the three Ohio youths?

While Wright’s immediate source about the three Ohio youths may well have been Dean Carl Knox, Knox wasn’t an amnesia expert. Neither was Oscar Decker, the Oxford police chief. They wouldn’t have been able to locate three young people who’d recently lost their memories on such short notice on their own. As we learned in part 1, one of the university’s experts on amnesia was Dr. Everett Patten, chairman of the psychology department at Miami. In fact, Dr. Patten had spoken directly with Wright for an in-depth article on amnesia that appeared two days later in the Dayton Daily News, on April 28, 1953. If I were a betting person, I’d bet that the information about the three Ohio youths originated with Dr. Patten.

You can read the article in its entirety here:

DDN -- 4-28-53 -- scan
Reprint courtesy of Cox Media Group Ohio; for closer view, click on article.

 How was it possible for investigators to locate three Ohio youths who had recently lost their memories so soon after Ron went missing?

This, in my mind, is the most compelling question of all. If it had happened today, police could check online for names of people who had recently disappeared from Ohio and were later found. But, again, this was before computers. There was no centralized recordkeeping system, such as NamUs. There were no grassroots websites tracking missing persons, such as the Doe Network, Websleuths, and the Charley Project. It would have been extremely tough for law enforcement units of differing jurisdictions to keep track of each other’s cases, and even more so for those in towns with paltry police forces such as Oxford, Ohio. Furthermore, this happened before the FBI became involved, so there was no help available on a national level.

Again, if I had to place bets, I’d say that whoever first informed Dean Knox and/or Gilson Wright about the three missing youths had prior knowledge of those young people. They may have even known them personally, and experienced anxiety first-hand when the youths had gone missing and great relief when they returned.

Because of its rarity, I don’t think that psychogenic amnesia was what caused the three Ohio youths to wander. Instead, I wonder if they’d had a different type of memory loss—the kind one might experience after being hypnotized. That would explain why investigators would be made aware of the three other amnesia cases so quickly after Ron’s disappearance. It could also be why the youths were described as being from Ohio in general. Maybe they came from various parts of Ohio but they happened to be attending a university that drew students from all over the state. Somewhere like, I don’t know, Miami?

Why didn’t Gilson Wright seek more information about the Ohio youths?

Honestly, I don’t know why Wright wouldn’t have pursued the Ohio youths lead further. Maybe he tried to. But herein lies that squishy zone between his role as reporter and university employee. If Wright’s source was a dean or department head who said, “That’s all I’m able to say on this subject—the rest is strictly confidential,” would he have pushed back? Would he have tried to dig up another source who could have told him more? And if they had told him more, would he have put that information into print, undoubtedly burning a few bridges in the process or maybe even putting his job in jeopardy? All I know is that no further details about the three amnesiac youths were included in any other article written by Wright. In fact he never mentioned the three Ohio youths again.

Why didn’t anyone else cover this story?

It seems to me that another reporter—Joe Cella, for example—would have loved following up with those three Ohio youths, especially if they happened to be students around Ron’s age who’d lost their memories in recent years. “How did you lose your memory?” he would have certainly asked them, upon which, if it was hypnosis, a cascade of additional questions would have sprung forth. (E.g., Who hypnotized you?, Why were you being hypnotized?, Was Ron Tammen being hypnotized too?, etc.)

But Cella (or any other reporter) may not have even seen Wright’s article. My reasoning has to do with the more obvious question that has been bugging me ever since I stumbled onto the newspaper clipping: why haven’t I been able to find a digital or microfilm version of that article?

I’d always thought that, once an article was printed in a newspaper, it would live on into perpetuity, thanks to microfilm and those hulking viewers housed in the dark corners of libraries. Countless news pages are also being systematically digitized as we speak for online viewing. For these reasons, at least for the major local newspapers, I thought that any article that had ever been written would be accessible in one form or another decades hence.

But one of my reference librarian friends quickly torpedoed my naïve, Pollyanna-ish view. As you may know, even today, newspapers usually produce multiple editions in a single day, beginning with an early edition, which is typically trucked to points farthest away, and ending with a final edition, for those living closest to the city center. Usually (and ideally), the final edition is the one that’s archived. Also, you might have editions that are geared to a neighboring state, just as the Cincinnati Enquirer produces a Kentucky edition and the Washington Post publishes editions for Maryland and Virginia. (The Newseum describes the process for the Washington Post in this fact sheet, under Edition.)

The front pages of the assorted editions can be very different. For example, the same reference librarian sent me the front page of a final edition from the Cincinnati Enquirer for June 22, 1953, that differed dramatically from an earlier edition from that day. Although the earlier edition carried an update about Ronald Tammen, that article never made it to the final.

A few weeks agoa representative of the Cincinnati History Library and Archives emailed me saying that she’d run my “Ohio youths” article by a retired editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer who was acquainted with how they did things back thenand he’d sent her some thoughts. The man guessed (and he emphasized that it was just that—a guess) that the article had appeared in the “state” edition of the Enquirer. The state edition was distributed to subscribers in communities outside Cincinnati—towns like Oxford and Hamilton and Middletown. It was printed after the street edition (which appeared in newsstands at around 8:00 p.m. the preceding night), but before the Kentucky and final editions. What was different about the state edition was that it featured a page that included news from the surrounding counties. If an article in the state edition was significant enough, it might make its way to the local page in the final edition, which was distributed to Cincinnati and the rest of Hamilton County.

The editor based his guess on the following observations:

  • He recognized the font as Cheltenham, which he said was frequently referred to as just Chelt.
  • The headline format was standard for the paper back then. In news parlance, they referred to it as “2/36/3,” which meant that it was two columns wide, with 36-point type, and three lines deep.
  • The subject matter was more appropriate for the surrounding communities as opposed to downtown subscribers.
  • The dateline is consistent with what the Enquirer used in those days when someone from a bureau (he guessed it was probably Hamilton) submitted a story about another community.
  • The occasional bolding of paragraphs was also a practice of the Enquirer’s. Every fifth or sixth paragraph would be bolded for no obvious reason other than, probably, to break up the sea of grey, he suggested.

Interestingly, I’d arrived at the same conclusion—that the article had appeared in an early edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer—for pretty much the same reasons, except I didn’t know the insider lingo. I’d just noticed that the font and dateline looked similar to other Enquirer articles and that the headlines were lengthy with semicolons separating the clauses. I also noticed that the headline writer tended to refer to Miami University as “Oxford.” That was because they liked to include a local town’s name in the headline as an attention-grabber, the editor explained to me in a follow-up meeting.

What does all of this mean to those of us interested in the Tammen case? It means that, assuming the Enquirer had been the source of the article, it’s entirely possible (and maybe even probable) that a story could have run in the newspaper’s state edition but didn’t make it into the final version. As mentioned earlier, on June 22, 1953, a story about Tammen that was on the front page of an earlier edition doesn’t appear on the front page or anywhere else in the final edition. If not for the news clipping that my librarian friend had found, not only would people from the future (aka you and I) not have discovered the article, but people who read a later edition that day wouldn’t have known what they’d missed. Is that what happened on April 26, 1953, as well? Was the article dropped, for whatever reason, after it was run in an earlier issue?

Granted, the June 22 article about Tammen was simply a rehash of old info, and, for that reason alone, the editor probably decided to replace it with a more relevant article in the final. Their reason for pulling the April 26th article may have been just as innocuous. However, April 26 was much earlier in the case, and I would think that reader interest would have been high for even the most minuscule of details. At first, I wondered if perhaps someone—a  university official perhaps—was uncomfortable with the “Ohio youths” detail he’d read in the state edition and asked Wright to pull the article from the final. But my Enquirer friend assured me that articles in the state edition frequently didn’t make it to the final edition, and, moreover, no reporter had the power to stop an article from being printed. In addition, the production schedule for the three Ohio editions during that period, which he was able to recite to me by heart, was as follows:

Production Schedule
Click on schedule for a closer view.

According to this schedule, even if a person were standing at the front door of the Enquirer at 11:15 p.m. and snagged one of the first available copies of the state edition, they would have had only 15 minutes in which to convince the editor to pull the article from the final edition. A less frantic timeline would have been to pick up the street edition at 8:00 p.m. and to request the article be pulled in time for the state (10:30 p.m.) or final (11:30 p.m.) editions. However, my editor friend told me that, for the most part, there was no state news in the street edition, and, again (it bears repeating), no reporter had the power to pull an article. Based on all these factors, I’m convinced that it didn’t happen that way. But what if Wright had submitted his article earlier in the day and his editors told him that they would consider putting his article into the final edition but they’d first need more detail on the three Ohio youths. Gil would have gone back to his source, who might have responded with “Sorry, the rest is confidential,” and the story would die with the state edition.

To be sure, it’s just a hypothesis, but it also helps explain two indisputable truths: the Dayton Journal Herald printed the article the next day minus the offending sentence and Wright never raised the matter of the three youths again. Somehow, someway, Wright seemed to have gotten the message not to push that detail any further.

As additional supporting evidence, Wright used to repurpose his articles in other papers all the time. Although the front-page Tammen story from an early edition of the June 22, 1953, Cincinnati Enquirer is nowhere to be found online, the same story with a different headline had appeared in the June 20, 1953, issue of the Hamilton Journal-News. And on April 27, 1953, the same day in which the Dayton Journal Herald article ran its shortened version of Wright’s April 26th article, a different Wright article appeared in the Dayton Daily News, with the headline “Still No Leads In Case of Missing Miami Boy.” That same article, again, with a different headline, also appeared in the Hamilton Journal-News on the same date.

So with all of that recycling and repurposing, why wouldn’t the Hamilton Journal-News have published Wright’s April 26th article that mentioned the three Ohio youths? One possible reason was simply that the Hamilton Journal-News didn’t have a Sunday paper, though, in my view, that’s no excuse. As we’ve already seen, the same article could run in different newspapers on different days. Wright’s April 26th article contained all the new information found in the article that ran on April 27th plus the tidbit about the three Ohio youths. If I were editor, I’d have chosen to run it on Monday instead. No, with all this in mind, I can’t help but wonder if the problematic detail was left to die in the Enquirer’s state edition for a reason. And if that’s the case, then none of us would have ever known about the three Ohio youths if it hadn’t been for those two incredibly heroic people—scissor-brandishing badasses, actually—who saw fit to clip the article just in case someone might need it someday.


What do you think?

This is probably a good time to open up the floor. What are your thoughts on the topic of amnesia as it applies to the Tammen case?

57 thoughts on “A case of amnesia, part 3: Three youths from Ohio

  1. FWIW, one point strongly in favor of the 3 Youths claim being true would be that it’d inevitably get back to the Tammens. If they discovered that story and confirmed it never happened, that might be a career ender for whoever dared to run it.

    As I’m thinking of it, on this 3 year old post, could you do that yellow update thingy on the homepage for posts with new responses?

    1. To address DRader’s point: sometimes reporters misquote people in their stories, usually unintentionally. A person who is quoted may *think* he/she said one thing while the reporter may *think* they heard something a little different. (That’s why I always use a digital recorder in interviews.) But for a reporter to state that “it was learned here” that a phone call had happened and to provide the additional specifics–that’s very different. An ethical reporter for a reputable news organization wouldn’t make up that sort of stuff. For this reason, I believe that the phone call happened.

      That’s also an interesting point you raise–that the article would have inevitably gotten back to the Tammens, and because they didn’t take issue with it, the story is more likely true. Let’s think more about that. It appears to have been in the state edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer, which would have been distributed in the surrounding communities, including Oxford, Hamilton, Middletown, etc. Because the clipping is located in the University Archives as well as the Smith Library of Regional History, both of which are in Oxford, it appears likely that at least two people in Oxford had seen it. So..if the edition in question was circulating in and around Oxford, and I believe it was, then the likelihood that the Tammens would have heard about it is much greater than, say, if it was only in a Cincinnati street edition. Carl Knox had surely seen it, as had other university officials. Perhaps other Oxford residents had as well, including Richard Tammen. So…yes, it’s definitely possible.

      Something else strikes me: the article appeared one week after Tammen had disappeared–April 26, 1953. Another group of individuals who had likely seen that edition would have been journalism students who wrote for the Miami Student. The Miami Student probably had subscriptions to all the area papers. That’s how journalism students learn their trade–reading articles written by other journalists. Plus, this was the biggest story to hit the university in a long time. Plus, the article had been written by their journalism instructor, Gilson Wright. Why wouldn’t they have jumped all over the detail about three area youths who had wandered away after losing their memories? I think Gilson Wright somehow nipped it in the bud after someone told him never to mention that detail again.

      Lastly, regarding your suggestion that I use my yellow highlighter plugin on recent comments to old posts–I wish I could. Unfortunately, I’m not able to use the app on comments. However, I may be able to add some code to recent comments and make them a certain color–like blue or red. I’ll look into that. Thanks!

    2. I found a different fix for your request for highlighting new comments: the most recent comments are now at the top and the oldest ones are at the bottom. I didn’t realize I could do that, so that’s cool.👍 Hope it helps.

  2. “Parents of three other Ohio youths who have disappeared in recent years but who recovered from their loss of memory have telephoned to Tammen’s parents to encourage them, it was learned here.”

    A huge mystery within a mystery… I’d forgotten how big a deal that claim is. And DRader and Jen summarize the plausibility of it being true or not. I will note that a cover story is typically concocted after an event, in this case, after Ron’s (and the others) return. Surely the amnesia theory wasn’t typically the first hypothesis created before any data was available. Anyway, anything new since the post first ran?

    1. I agree…it’s so wild. And I love how matter of factly it’s stated, and how buried it is in the article. Alas, nothing new has turned up so far. But I’m still working on it. I’ve wondered if this incident might have been one of the reasons Carl Knox’s secretary had been instructed not to say certain words in front of reporters. My suspicion is that ‘hypnosis’ was one of the forbidden words. But that’s just a theory. I’m still trying to find the person who conducted the interview with Carl Knox’s secretary to see if they might be able to shed some light…anonymously or otherwise.

  3. Briefly to put this out there….a few years ago my brother and his then girl friend were planning their wedding. They reserved a nice area outside of Hamilton, Ohio to have their reception and went on planning for their big day. Tragically, the building they were to have their reception in burned down three weeks before the wedding. My now sister-in-law had to scramble to find a new place to have the reception. The building burning down of course made it into the news and my sister-in-law was interviewed by a journalist writing for one of the big newspapers in the area. Afterwards I read the article and spoke with my sister-in-law about it. She told the rest of the family and myself that she was quoted correctly on one part of the article, the rest of her quotes in the article she stated, “I never said those things.” She didn’t really care at that point. She was too busy planning the wedding. But the writer clearly embellished the article and put quotes into the article that were false.

    My reasoning for putting this out there is that I highly question whether there were parents of 3 youths who contacted the Tammens and in such a short time. I feel that too could have been put into that article just for dramatic effect. To give the original article that extra oomph so to speak. And the fact that this part was cut out following that supports that. It wasn’t fact. We don’t know it as fact that parents of youths with amnesia contacted the Tammens.

    In short, always question what you read in news print.

    1. I don’t know…maybe? I’ve been burned before in print too (no pun intended), though I don’t believe it was ever intentional on the reporter’s part. Intentionally making up info would be such an obvious breach of journalistic ethics, although you’re correct that it has happened before. Also, the statement about the parents of three Ohio youths is just so specific. And the words “it was learned here” give it more credibility, as if to say: this is new information given only to me. I learned it, right here. And with everything else going on with hypnosis on campus at that time, I just have to believe the reporter that it happened.

  4. This may have been covered at some point, but there are so many little things to remember.

    Did he have a social security number? I am just thinking that if he did, the FBI should have checked it, to see if there was any activity, but I don’t recall seeing any evidence that they did.

    Could it be that entering it into the death index would pull up his death under whatever name he was using? Could that be how the FBI learned he was deceased?

    1. We do have a SS#, per FBI’s FOIA documents. It was 276-28-2084. If they found another person whose name matched that number, it wasn’t included in the FOIA documents. Also, I just plugged the number into the SS Death Index, and it came up empty. (Thank you for that idea, btw!) There is an interesting story related to this topic concerning the cold case detective from Butler Co. A while back, they’d found someone in Florida (I believe) who they thought was using Ron’s SS number. I’ll dig that story up and write about it in a future post. It’s pretty fascinating and shows the lengths they were going to try to solve the case.

  5. Thanks for all if your research and writing about this. I’m totally engrossed in the ongoing story. It really sounds like MKUltra to me, and I’m glad to hear others have similar inklings. I think that would explain the most—everything from the potential university involvement, to Ron’s body never being found, to possibly his death in 1995 based on the records being moved in 2002 (hope I got those dates right). You’re doing a great job of building up the facts and I’m so excited for whatever is next!!!

  6. Pertinent facts I have today I didn’t when I first found this site:

    1. Ron wasn’t doing all that well academically.

    2. The FBI either knew he was dead, or the same organization that routinely stonewalls information requests decided to reveal information that they were forbidden to reveal by their own rules.

    3. Ron was on scholarship and was in danger of losing it by falling below full time student status.

    4. Ron was in danger of being drafted by virtue of losing his full time student deferment.

    5. A newspaper printed a reference to the parents of 3 temporarily missing children calling the Tammens in reference to recovery from amnesia.

    6. Miami’s investigation was slipshod at best, and at least hints at being obstructionist.

    7. A Miami professor of psychology who was cited in the official Miami records of the case refused comment on the case when interviewed for a local newspaper, although he did offer his opinion Ron was alive, but “some distance” from Miami.

    8. That blasted Psychology book was open to THE most incriminating or provocative or something else page possible.

    I can’t include all of those in any remotely consistent hypothesis. Before the 3 youths revelation, I was leaning toward #4 being the underlying reason for his disappearance, and maybe Patten was (incorrectly) a bit worried he’d contributed. The 3 youths would still fit, but somehow I am not as confident. And always, that blasted book open to THE page works against him just walking away. Maybe some of these facts are just that sort of real life red herring that pops up when you look too closely at things.

    1. I know I could look back through and find it somewhere, but can you post again the name of the book on Ron’s desk and what page it was open to (if that’s known for certain)?

      1. Book title is “Psychology—The Fundamentals of Human Adjustment,” by Norman L. Munn. A notation indicates it was the second edition, 1951. Go to https://ronaldtammen.com/blog/the-open-psych-book and scroll to the subhead HABITS. The first three paragraphs describe the possible page numbers that were open, and then I describe my process for narrowing things down from there.

      2. Just received “the book” today. A little freaky, as if I’m tempting fate and will soon end up on a missing persons list. :-{ But others of you have bought it and are still with us (I assume). Thanks Jen, I’ve been perusing the pages you put into question. A random first thought that others may have already alluded to: for all we know, Ron turned the page (to 294?) and immediately heard a noise or was interrupted……. He may have never even had a chance to read one word on the open pages, provocative as they are. Another question which we may never know the answer to, which makes this case so damn intriguing!

      3. Ha! Happy reading! And don’t worry—I’ve read many of those pages and I’m still here! 😉 Also, you make a good point. Just because a page is open doesn’t mean he actually read it.

      4. I’m really intrigued by this book now. I should order a copy. Is there a best website to do so? I see Abe Books has that year, but not the second edition. Whenever there is a book on a case with prior information, it could hold a lot of vital clues especially if it’s something the person/subject/victim was reading/studying at the time of the incident. There is a local Seattle missing person case in my area that went cold for nearly 40 years. Police never talked about the case and the victim–a young mother, who was murdered by a Michigan escapee, who abducted her, and presumably murdered her, and hid her remains. I purchased a book written by several lawyers and forensic experts back in 1982 on his previous murder charge and trial. I found a copy online and discovered the suspect’s prior murder in Michigan was identical to the Seattle victim’s. The police would not comment on the case as they said it was still active, even though the escapee was sent to prison where he was murdered two years later. I also questioned why the victim was not entered into the NamUs database. No response. But when I posted and presented the case, and my research, on Webslueths, it got the attention of several out of state police officers who convinced my local police to enter her info into NamUs. And, not long after, she was entered into the database, and then … DNA from a family member was finally submitted for her profile. All of this happened was because I purchased an out-of-print book on the case online.

      5. Wow!! That’s so cool! I think you need to write a book about that case and your experience! As far as sources of used books, I obtained my copy from Abe Books. I’ve also used Alibris in the past. You can also plug in the title on Amazon and some third-party sources will pop up. I see at least one is a second edition. (Note: I’m not endorsing any one vendor over another. Just offering possible sources.)

      6. jwenger: While on the topic of Ron’s psychology book, I was wondering if the authorities, or school officials, ever investigated the school’s library, even the local public library, to see if he had any books checked out (whether they be fiction or non-fiction) before or at the time of his disappearance?

      7. Good question. I’m sure the answer is no. There’s no indication anywhere that such a question was ever asked by authorities. I will say this: one person on my radar had said that he would be conducting research upon retirement. When I contacted the library in question to find out if they would have records of books he’d checked out, they said the following: “We do not provide information to third parties on book requests researchers have made. In any event, during the period you referenced the Library was using a handwritten paper call slip request system and any copies have long since been discarded.” So…my thinking is that those sorts of records are now long gone.

      8. jwenger: Thanks for the answer regarding the libraries. Sheesh, they could have provided some answers and vital clues at the time. It truly was a haphazard investigation.

      9. Truly haphazard. And I feel that it was brought to a halt for some reason. We’ll be discussing the clues that were never investigated in the near future.

    2. Another thought just popped in my head as I read this comment.

      If the parents of the three “amnesia victims” calling the Tammens was a set-up, wouldn’t the guy who appeared at that woman’s door, disoriented, likely have been planned as well, in the hopes that she’d report it once she learned Ron was missing? This is another thing that could have been done to support the theory that he’d developed amnesia and wandered off.

  7. Another thought is that the actions of the FBI are not consistent with someone who simply developed amnesia. Firstly, I think they would have releases that without a lawsuit having to be filed, and I think his family would have been notified.

    This, of course, is assuming the FBI knows that he is deceased, which I believe they do based on what I’ve read.

    1. Good point! Yes, I do believe he was confirmed dead. If they’d discovered that he started a new life due to amnesia, why not tell the family?

      1. @jwenger: Regarding Ron’s family, I was wondering if any of his surviving relatives have tested with any of the commercial DNA testing companies to see if any unknown and close, or questionable matches from other testers who could be descendants from Ron if he lived under a new identity?

      2. Great question. As of this past spring, Marcia now has her DNA on file with two commercial entities. So far, no hits, but she’ll be notified if there are subsequent matches.

      3. @jwenger: Thanks for the fast response and for the info. Good to hear Marcia has tested with both companies. I do a lot of genetic genealogy research and all it takes is one unknown tester to take the test, which just might solve a family mystery.

      4. Totally agree. Those DNA tests are now solving a lot of mysteries. I have a good friend who found her biological father that way. For so many years, he hadn’t even known she existed, but he and his family have welcomed her into their lives. Very cool…

  8. Facts……start with facts. Sorry, just a reminder to myself.

    Okay. At least one newspaper ran a story affirming 3 youths had called the Tammens. That’s a fact. That raises 2 pertinent questions:

    1. Did 3 different people make such a call to the Tammens?
    2. Were those 3 different people telling the truth?

    The entire Tammen mystery has reminded me to be careful about what I consider a fact. I have known for 39 years Ron was doing well in school. I’ve known it for a fact. Then I discovered that was not a fact. What persuaded me was documentary evidence. So in the newspaper story, we know for a fact that it ran in the paper. We really don’t “know” the answers to questions 1 and 2 that I just posed. I will suggest if the answer to either question is “No”, then Gilson Wright orchestrated an inexcusable and immoral cover story, a monstrous violation of trust. It beggars belief that he’d do such a thing. But just a reminder that it’s not a sure thing those phone calls happened, and that they were truly people who had children suffer from at least a claimed case of amnesia.

    That said, I will assume that the answers to questions 1 and 2 are “yes”. Such common sense as I have tells me someone staged those calls, persuading for some reason those parents to call the Tammens and share their comforting stories, such as they were. If it was anyone but Patten or Knox, this whole story is in danger of crashing down on itself in a combination of million to one oddities. And I’d lay odds of a million to one that it was Patten and not Knox.

    I was about to list the 3 students that I suspect were the “3 youths”, but Jenn did us the favor of broadly hinting a Miami connection for all 3. I will wait on her to tell us. Then I might tell the 3 I think it is as of now. I might not. 😉 But knowing that broad hint definitely changed my opinion of who the 3 were. FWIW, the RIchard Rosseger story whereby truth serum was administered at first glance struck me as the most likely if there was no Miami connection, as that one would be most likely to be picked up by a publication subscribed to by a professional psychologist.

    Wright affirms Patten “refused” to offer his opinion on the case, except to share his opinion Ron was alive. WHAT?! Patten agreed to be interviewed and then refused to answer questions about the case? That’s beyond suspicious, for both Wright and Patten. What kind of reporter would accept that? What kind of reporter wouldn’t find another PhD somewhere to offer their thoughts? Why wouldn’t Patten share SOMETHING about such a high profile case.

    But then, Patten adds his thought that Ron was “some distance” from Oxford? What in the world? Seriously? Jenn, I encourage you to ask some PhD’s about a hypothetical case and see if any of them would agree that it was most likely the missing person was “some distance” away. Maybe even couch it in a historical context, that is, “Based on the consensus view in the world of psychology in 1953…….”

    Other thoughts, a bit random, but here goes. Have you checked the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other more local to Ron’s home’s newspapers?

    MK Ultra fits…….I mean, it just fits. Someone on record as willing to serve in the military, doing well enough in school to show some intelligence, but not good enough to just continue a normal path of life, their whereabouts earlier in the school year are a bit unaccounted for, a bit murky, their disappearance is just a bit “orchestrated”, that psychology book left on THE incriminating/provocative/something else page (in this scenario, I see it as RON leaving a false clue), Miami at least having the appearance of not being very forthcoming, well, SOMEONE got brought into the MK Ultra program, sure, one in a million, but…….is there anyone you can ask about whether signing on for MK Ultra meant a lifetime ban from contact with your family?

    But then, there’s the 3 youths. If those 3 youths all have a Miami connection, we might tend to go back to a hypnosis experiment gone bad. Then we start to see Patten in a rather sinister light, and Wright also. What then of the psychology book left on THE incriminating/provocative/something else page? (I encourage every reader to buy a copy of that book. There’s just something very spooky in reading it. It bothered me for a week, but I feel it deserves far more attention in this case than it’s gotten.) Did Ron read for an hour and get to that page and realize his situation? Did he just read the same section over and over and over and think he was damaged goods and it would be best to just drop out, of college, of his life, of his family? Was there some directive given under hypnosis to make a person STOP seeking answers if they got a bit too close to the uncomfortable truth about what happened to them?

    There’s a lot of ugly possibilities here. And yet people always wonder about the deathbed confession. If any of these ugly things happened, why didn’t at least one of the principals come clean? Or at least, why didn’t they leave a record to be revealed ____ years after their death? People do that.

    Did Ron get in a situation with MK Ultra or the CIA or simply as a draft dodger whereby contacting his family would constitute a felony on their part not to report it?

    The hypothesis that Wright was given a little with the 3 youths in the early edition but then was turned down when he went back for more seems very implausible to me. If the whole story was being orchestrated, I can’t imagine Patten and Wright didn’t have that kind of detail worked out before any of it hit the newspapers, period. If I was hiding 3 youths information, I wouldn’t give any of it away, not just a teaser and then turning down a request for more information. I guess maybe, but I’m not buying that one.

    Okay, enough randomness. I await with trembling expectation the next installment.

    1. Very interesting comments. I Just feel the need to remind readers that the story is still unfolding and everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Totally agree that the only thing we can really bank on is that the info was in the paper–once.

    2. Really great post. I’m to the point of one possibility being that if Ron got caught up in the MK Ultra Project, the consequences of its repercussions started to have a psychological effect on him–fast! Perhaps he wasn’t given LSD before, or at the time of his disappearance, but it sounds like he could have been subjected to its hypnosis sessions (knowingly or not). And since jwenger discovered that the FBI basically confirmed Ron’s death pertaining to his SS#, I believe that the FBI knew something more on their end, possibly via the CIA. In all likelihood, Ron could have fallen victim to MK Ultra early on, resulting in serious psychological trauma, something permanent and irreversible where he would have been under the care and watchful eye of the CIA for the remainder of his life. Not to be rude or sound disrespectful to him or his family, but what I’m hinting at is a life-long ‘vegetative state.’ Perhaps he was in the CIA’s care from the beginning of 1953 until the projected ended in 1973, and was cared for within the U.S. government until his death. That would explain why Ron was never seen or heard from again after his disappearance. Be sure to watch Netflix’s excellent docu-series, “Wormwood,” that premiered this last December 2017. It recounts Frank Olson’s 1953 experience with MK Ultra in 1953 that led to his death several months later. Also be sure to peruse the FBI’s online vault of the actual documents pertaining to MK Ultra. There’s some scary things the CIA was doing at that time in in the project.

  9. Another intriguing read! Sorry if I missed it in your article, but do we know the identity of the “scissor-brandishing badass” who clipped the article mentioning the three Ohio youths? You mentioned that it was in the Miami University archives; is everyone allowed to clip articles and just add them at random to the university’s records? Or were only certain people, such as archivists, allowed that privilege? I know decades have passed, but it seems that, of all institutions, it would be standard operating procedure for an archive to keep records of people who added anything to their collection.

    1. I checked with the university archivist about your good question. She said that, while they do keep records of donors since she began work in the Archives, due to the age of the article, she does not have information about the donor.

  10. Taking some time to gather my thoughts. For now, again, that book on the desk is mentioned. That book, left open to THE most incriminating or provocative or something page possible…after an hour of reading/study, that page…there’s no way that doesn’t mean something.

  11. I doubt there was any conspiracy and I highly doubt he had amnesia. And I’m 100% certain the CIA wasn’t involved.

  12. Probably not relevant at all but did you notice that Roger, Rita, Richard and Ronald all start with the letter “R”? Coincidence I’m sure but wanted to note it.

  13. This three-part series is so intriguing! Since reading all three posts, and this latest one, I, too, like the poster above wondered how this amnesia possibility fits in with the mysterious woman. It also sounds like a cover-up within Miami University. They knew the truth to the reason why Ron vanished and kept it a secret.
    And I agree that the three youths that contacted his parents were, without a doubt, orchestrated by someone very quickly.

    It’s also very interesting that from the list of possible contenders for the three youths in the pdf, Richard Resseger’s amnesia event occurred while attending Sampson Air Force Base in NY, which at the time was located a little over 2 hours Northeast from Wellsville, where HH Stephenson thought he saw Ron at a hotel restaurant months after his disappearance.

    Online, there are numerous Air Force company graduate photos from Sampson Air Force Base from the mid-1950s. I wonder if Ron might be seen in any of them? He could have been photographed with a new identity–with amnesia, or not. With my thinking, I still think there was a willingness to leave or to join a government organization like the CIA that could have happened with the ‘amnesia theory’ being a distraction to protect Ron’s new life.

    I’m still not ruling out the possibility of the MK Ultra Project, which was active and utilized in Ohio at the time of Ron’s disappearance. Their target was youth at colleges and universities across the nation. And it is interesting that the novel ‘The Manchurian Candidate,’ was released just a few years later in 1959.

    1. Per my post above, I’ve been doing some research on Sampson Air Force Base in NY. From looking at some of the 1953 photos, there is a young man who resembles Ron Tammen in a squadron graduation picture. It is dated September 1953. Air training at that time was 12 weeks. The man is the last one on the right in the second row from the top: https://cdn.militaryyearbookproject.com/images/joomgallery/originals/usaf_basic_military_training_bmt_photos_3/sampson_afb_ny_flight_photos_42/1953_sampson_afb_ny_109/1953sampson_afbsquadron_3652flight_2750_20140122_1149433046.jpg

      1. @jwenger: Thanks for the info, and for sharing the photo with Marcia and Robert, and their clarification that the man in the photo is not Ron. So glad that you did because, well, sometimes reality truly is stranger than fiction and the one chance just might the needle in the haystack. Yes, the SAFB photo archive site is really great. I’ve spent hours on it looking at the photos. For the 1953 year, there are 600 photos listed and I’ve only looked at maybe 200 or so far.

    2. The young man has a striking resemblance to Tammen. I especially noticed the ‘dispassionate void of expression’ of the man’s face compared to the others in the photo, even the ones who weren’t smiling as they were more expressive than he was.

      1. Just circling back on this. I ran the photo by Marcia and Robert, and neither think it was Ron. However, Marcia noted that Sampson AFB was where Ron’s older brother John was when he enlisted in 1952, before he got married that summer and moved to the northwest. Interesting coincidence. Thanks again for raising the question. Also, thanks for the website — I intend to spend more time perusing it.

  14. The hardest part of accepting the amnesia theory. for me, is that whenever I hear of incidents involving amnesia and disappearing, the word “wander” seems to appear. I guess that’s what I would envision as well; the person is disoriented, and will wander in search of something familiar.

    Yet, Ron doesn’t appear to have wandered at all. If he’d wandered around his dormitory building, he probably would have been seen. If he’d wandered around campus, someone would likely have noticed as well. He seems to have made a beeline somewhere.

    There is the possibility that he was seen getting into a car with a female, which, if true, would be an awfully crazy coincidence. What are the chances that someone comes for him in that short window between him walking back to the dorm normally, and suffering from amnesia? Could there have been some point where he was just beginning to feel symptoms of amnesia, but was still able to call someone to come get him?

    Could he have wandered to the parking lot and gotten into a random car with a woman he didn’t know, asking for help and to be taken somewhere?

    I don’t know what other judgment deficiencies accompany amnesia, so it’s hard for me to say whether he might have still had someplace in mind that he wanted to go. If not, I think he would have just wandered, starting on campus and gradually working outward, and I think he would have been seen.

    Love when I see a new post! Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

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