Halloween 2021 and the muzzling of…me

Photo by Lucia Foster on Unsplash

As most of you know, I’m a fan of Joe Cella’s. After everyone else had moved on with their lives regarding Ron Tammen’s disappearance, after they’d all shrugged their collective shoulders and resigned themselves to the notion that they’d never truly know what had happened to Tammen, Cella refused to join them. He continued working the case, steadfast and alone, until the August day in 1980 that he abruptly passed away at the young age of 59. Thirty years later, when I began my book project, I consulted Cella’s news articles for guidance. I’d hoped to pick up the story where he’d left off. I aspired to follow in his footsteps.

I’ve now come to believe that I’ve achieved my dream. Not only am I following in Joe’s footsteps, but I’m facing the same old obstructions, smokescreens, and pushback that Joe had encountered in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.

What’s more, when it comes to the Tammen case, I’ve discovered that if a person employs more than the minimal amount of stick-to-itiveness in their investigation, it won’t be long before they breach the space-time continuum and go hurtling back to the days of Joe. 

Here are some examples: 

When I read Joe’s assertion in the Hamilton Journal-News that school officials hadn’t been cooperative, I thought “Same.”

When I saw in the Dayton Daily News that he felt that the university tried to cover up the case, I thought “Omg, SAME.”

And when I learned that, in 1973, the university had stepped in at the last minute to prevent Joe from presenting his latest evidence on Tammen to the campus community, I thought “OK, this is getting really weird.”

Because, you guys? They’re doing it to me too.

A few weeks ago, I discovered that the Miami University Alumni Association (MUAA) had written about Tammen’s disappearance on their blog known as Slant Talk. The post had been published online a year ago on October 30, 2020. For some reason, I’d missed it back then—2020 is such a blur. But early this month, I was searching a Tammen-related topic and up it popped. 

Here’s the post: Ron Tammen? Where are you?

I was bemused by their lack of new information. You and I have learned way more about the Tammen case than their write-up has indicated. All they had to do was Google “Ron Tammen” and they should have been able to find my blog. If they’d reached out to me—an alum who has dedicated a sizable chunk of her life to researching the Tammen case—I would have given them a nice quote. They didn’t even write about Butler County’s well-publicized reopened investigation in 2008. 

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Jenny, you didn’t make any new friends in Oxford with all your talk about Carl Knox’s former secretary and her relatively recent interview about the university’s Tammen investigation. Did you really think that they’d want to point anyone to your blog after all that?

But that’s the most interesting part. In October 2020, I hadn’t yet rediscovered the interview summary that someone had placed in the Ghosts and Legends folder in University Archives. The only post in which I’d written about a possible university cover-up had to do with Gilson Wright’s avoidance of the word “psychology” whenever he described the book that lay open on Ron’s desk.

That was such a long time ago. Could that have been the reason that they chose not to highlight my work, or was there another reason for the virtual snub?

At the bottom of their blog post is a comment made by a former friend of Ron’s from Fisher Hall. I recognized his name because I’d spoken with him early in my research. I’d also spoken with his roommate. He describes his memories searching for Ron as well as students’ mysterious encounters in the Formal Gardens after Ron had disappeared. It’s a moving sentiment.

The comment box is still open, so I decided to write a comment of my own. With as many followers as I’m sure MUAA has, I thought it would be a good way to talk about my project and steer people who have an interest in the Tammen story to my website.

Here’s what I wrote.

“Hi! I’m a 1980 Miami grad who has been researching the Tammen disappearance for nearly 12 years for a book project. I’ve been blogging about it too. I’ve discovered a lot of new information. Like…did you know that the FBI had Ron Tammen’s fingerprints when he disappeared and they expunged them in 2002, 30 years earlier than normal? You can read a lot more info here: https://ronaldtammen.com. Stop by!”

The comment made by Ron’s Fisher Hall friend was posted on November 1, 2020, two days after the blog was posted. My comment, which I’d submitted on October 8, 2021, is still awaiting moderation.

Two weeks later, I wrote to MUAA to see if perhaps there was something about my comment that they weren’t happy with. I wanted to let them know that I’d be open to submitting a new comment that fell within their guidelines. Here’s my email:

Dear MUAA,

I’m a 1980 graduate and recurring donor to Miami University. Recently, I noticed that, in October 2020, your blog “Slant Talk” had discussed the disappearance of Ronald Tammen from Fisher Hall (https://miamialumniblog.com/2020/10/30/ron-tammen-where-are-you/).  I’ve been researching Tammen’s disappearance for nearly 12 years for a book project, and have turned up some interesting findings. I submitted a comment to Slant Talk encouraging people to come to my website to read more about that topic, but after two weeks, my comment is still awaiting moderation. Is there a problem with my comment that I should adjust? It would be wonderful if MUAA would acknowledge the work of one of its own in helping solve this mystery.

Their bounce-back email said that they receive a lot of email traffic, and they would try to respond as soon as they were able. If I needed a more immediate answer, however, they provided a number to call.

Six days later, I’d still heard nothing, so I decided to call the number today. I identified myself and asked if they’d be approving my comment. I was informed that they would not. When I asked why not, the MUAA staffer told me that they had a policy not to direct their readers to other websites. When I asked if I could resubmit my comment without the URL, she responded (and I paraphrase here), “Was that on Ronald Tammen?” “Yes,” I said. She then told me that they’d already written a couple times on Ron Tammen and had no interest in writing anything more. “Interesting,” I think I said, and I told her to keep an eye out for my blog because I’d be discussing their blog post. 

“Thank you,” said she. “You bet,” said I.

The internet can be a daunting place for people like me. Compared to an organization like Miami University, I’m small and insignificant. So when MUAA posts a generic piece on Ron Tammen, it’ll trounce my stuff every time. They have way more followers plus an IT team who is busy maximizing their SEO through meta tags and alt texts and all the other stuff I’m supposed to do but I’m not very knowledgeable about. 

Credit: The IT Crowd, via GIPHY

It’s OK though. When A Good Man Is Hard to Find winds up on page one of a Google search (we’re #2!) or DuckDuckGo search (we’re #1!) on “Ronald Tammen,” you can bet that it landed there based on the content (85 posts and counting!). The search engines are confident that if you click on one of my links, you’re going to learn something about Tammen. 

Does Miami University want people to ignore my blog? All signs point to yes, though I don’t get it. No one alive today on or off campus had anything to do with Tammen’s disappearance. Why doesn’t the university want to help find the solution? 

If they really wanted to know the answer to the question “Ron Tammen? Where are you?” they have a funny way of showing it.

26 thoughts on “Halloween 2021 and the muzzling of…me

  1. Pfft, they pulled an FBI and copy/pasted from a 2006 Miamian article. For a blog that is supposed to “…attempts to get at the heart of what it means to be a Miamian. First and last, this is a place to tell stories–for, about and by Miamians. Because Miamians have so many good stories to tell. Stories of success. Stories of resilience. Stories of Love and Honor…” this is pretty shameful.

    Incidentally, my brother has been an assistant Sports Information Director, university fundraising, and is now a head Sports Information Director and I suspect he’d be highly disappointed in this post. Actually…I have some questions for him now, like how the position has changed since 1953 (social media, obviously, but how else?)

    1. It’s OK. Kind of a drag to be treated this way by my alma mater, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, turning up whatever evidence I can find.

      1. It’s hard because we’ve been trained to be loyal to institutions like these, doubly-so if you’re generational graduates. Kind of hard-wired into us, too, because humans are tribal, so when the blinders are ripped off it hurts emotionally. Same thing with brand loyalty or working for a company and you find out they’re actually terrible.

      2. Yes, perhaps that’s it. I just feel that it’s always better to bring out the truth, even if it’s a difficult truth. I’d welcome the university to join me in that effort.

  2. Shockingly, my response wasn’t printed. I know you try to be all nice and stuff, but I don’t even pretend. I call out incompetence when I see it. And I generally have an extremely dim view of college administrators. Regardless, your nice and my not nice posts didn’t get a response. Very odd.

    1. You made some great points, SJ. I liked the part about the date of their search too. As luck would have it, I’m about to hit the send button on a new update. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts—which, I can say with confidence, will be approved.

  3. From all the evidence you’ve presented, the only thing I could think of why there’s still a cover up is if the university did have a hand in getting Ron into MKUltra and mind control and doesn’t want it known. Too bad Joe Cella didn’t have his would-be 1973 talk in a cornfield somewhere with invites by discreet word of mouth-maybe it would have happened then.

  4. I’m sure it is hurtful, no doubt. But just remember, it’s their loss! And when the day comes that you’ve officially cracked this case wide open, or solved it, they will be crawling on their hands and knees, begging for a story. And well, they can just keep on crawling!

  5. Wow. This case is getting more strange with every discovery you find. And I’m glad you post them, letting us, and others know what’s going on (or not). It’s just bizarre that they’re churning out inaccuracies, and shutting out even one their own—an alumna at that!

    It’s just so peculiar, after all this time. It’s like there’s still someone out there, someone who was involved in Ron’s disappearance that is still pulling the strings to keep things quiet. To put up roadblocks. And to freely give misinformation.

    What the hell is going on?!

    1. Thank you, Brett! I’m glad to know you think it’s weird too. As for why they’re behaving so bizarrely…I’m still pursuing that question. I gotta admit that it hurts to be treated like this, and my infraction was simply to pursue the Tammen story…a story that they themselves had kept alive year after year.

  6. Here’s what I posted. I don’t like my chances of seeing it accepted, but whatever:

    “What a pitiful waste of space. Does Miami actually pay people to write such error riddled fluff pieces? Nothing new, just a rehash full of mistakes. As for the mistakes, it was a 1939 model car, not a 1929. Ron was 19 when he disappeared, not 20. That campus search happened April 25th, not in June. June?! Seriously? What, a bunch of students came back to town then? It is very disappointing to see my alma mater print such unprofessional prose.”

  7. You know, I do not encourage people to go comment on the blog. I mean, to correct them on the 1929/1939 issue. Or the 19YO/20YO issue. I would not suggest my fellow alumni go post there.

    And I have my doubts he paid a full year’s insurance premium.

    1. OK—I see what you’re saying. I’d like to add this: if anyone from MUAA would like to comment about my post on this site, I will approve and post whatever they might have to say.

  8. *Total* fluff piece! They just wanted to take up a bit of space and rehash useless details from an old campus mystery for their spooooky October edition. They obviously didn’t want any more comprehensive or (relatively) new information. I get it, they filled up the necessary space with regurgitated snippets but…BUT…to leave your comment in moderation purgatory is (as kids these days say) sus af.

    1. Good catch! You’re right—it was a 1939 Chevy. Also he was 19 when disappeared, but they said 20. Alas, I think I could have written something pretty cool for their blog as a guest blogger. I just really don’t understand why they don’t want to team up on this topic.

  9. Jen,

    Curious about the fish that was left in Ron’s bed from the night before. Was he having trouble with one of the freshman students on his floor! Was there animosity or jealousy among them? Did he tick off the wrong person who had ties to local mobsters? Never explored this thought before.

    1. After Ron disappeared, there was a supposed “phantom” who would occasionally appear in the Formal Gardens, near Fisher. They had a high-pitched voice and would go running and jumping around. I discuss it a bit here: https://ronaldtammen.com/2017/10/29/the-real-phantoms-of-oxford-ohio/. Here’s the pertinent graf:

      The third possible reason that Ron’s name became associated with anything phantom-related had to do with rumors of a life form that appeared in Miami’s Formal Gardens, near Fisher Hall, the November after Ron disappeared. The visitor first came to students’ attention on Sunday, November 15, at roughly 7:45 p.m., and was described as roughly six feet tall with long black hair, a soprano’s singing voice, and superhuman athletic ability. At one witness’s insistence, the phantom was bounding at a height of 10 feet. The so-called phantom obviously recognized the importance of bundling up, for he/she remembered to wear a coat (it was black) as protection against the chilly November temperatures. Several more appearances were made that week, but, as the crowds of students continued to grow each night (a time when they really should have been studying), the visits abruptly came to a halt (phantoms need to study too). One of the students admitted that he nearly overtook the phantom at one point, but slowed up at the last moment out of fear of actually catching it. The human imagination is a powerful thing.

  10. Hello Jen,
    Been very, very under the weather recently. Fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis is casting a very painful shadow on my happy nature.
    Sounds to me you are walking thru a great shadow of info. yourself.
    “Everything is wonderful at the university; don’t disrupt it.” What bull!
    I am still inclined to wonder. . .what really happened in Dayton?”
    If Marcia were alive and here, she would be rubbing my head. It’s the only part of my body I could handle being touched.
    As you dive in Jen to a deeper massage of evidence, I am certain you are hitting nerves.
    Where, what happened to Ron, Jr. is perhaps a second burner question for most.
    What is what is driving Miami of Ohio to a nervous wreck.

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