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  • Rod Kackley

Missing: Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold, A Shocking True Crime Story

Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold was heir to nearly as much money as she had names. A happy woman, it seemed to all who knew her. A member of one of New York City’s leading millionaire families, the 25-year-old socialite was a graduate of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and was fluent in several languages.

Her dream was to become a published author.

On December 12, 1910, she left the Manhattan mansion on East 79th Street that Dorothy and her family called “home” to shop for a new evening gown for her younger sister’s debutante party.

Her mother, Mary Arnold, offered to help her shop for the gown last night, but Dorothy declined.

So, at about 11 a.m., wearing a tailor-made blue serge suit, a long blue coat, lapis lazuli earrings, and a small black velvet hat lined in pale Alice blue and decorated with two silk roses and a lapis lazuli pin, Dorothy left to begin her day.

With dark brown hair and blue/grey eyes, Dorothy stood between 5’1” and 5’4” tall and weighed nearly 160 pounds.

She had $25 to $30 cash in her purse, which doesn’t sound like much. But her money would be worth a little more than $800 today. So, she had plenty of money.

After leaving home, Dorothy walked to 5th Avenue and turned south. She stopped for some chocolates at the Park and Tilford’s candy store. Dorothy was in a good mood, happily chatting with the clerk behind the counter for a moment before moving on.

Next, Dorothy walked into Brentano’s, a bookstore on 27th and 5th, where she ran into a friend. They talked for a few minutes, and then, after purchasing a book, Dorothy said she was going for a walk in Central Park.

Her family didn’t hear from Dorothy all day. When she didn’t come home that evening, Dorothy’s parents assumed she’d spend the night with a friend.

But she failed to come home the next night, and alarm bells sounded. This could be trouble.

So her parents reached out to the NYPD? No. Afraid of negative publicity, her mother and father chose to contact a longtime family friend, John S. Keith, an attorney.

He spent a couple of months searching for Dorothy, following one lead after another, but failed to find a trace of the young woman.

Finally, Dorothy’s father, Francis Arnold, a fine goods importer, called the New York police.

Since she’d told her friend that she planned to walk in Central Park, her father was sure Dorothy had been murdered and thrown into a reservoir in the park in December.

The police searched the park and that reservoir but found no trace of Dorothy.

However, her disappearance was no longer a secret. Her frantic family ensured Dorothy’s photograph and the story were published in newspapers worldwide.

But still, there was no sign of Dorothy. She’d vanished into thin air after leaving Brentano’s.

Dorothy’s Secrets

Neither the NYPD, Keith, nor numerous New York journalistic sleuths could find Dorothy. But they did uncover a couple of shocking secrets.

First, they found she’d been paying for a post office box that neither her friends nor family knew of.


Most of her friends and family thought it most likely that she rented the P.O. Box to hide publishers’ rejections of her manuscripts.

That was troubling to her family.

Yet, it wasn’t the most shocking discovery.

There was a secret that Dorothy and her father shared. She’d been desperate to leave the family’s home and forge a career as a writer, but her daddy had refused to let her go.

He said a "writer could write anywhere," including her family's home.

Wait, there’s more. One more secret.

Friends and family were stunned to learn that Dorothy had a boyfriend. Not just a boyfriend — an older man was her lover.

Guess who became the leading suspect in the investigation into the disappearance of Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold.

You’ve got it. Dorothy’s lover — George C. Griscom Jr.- was an engineer in Pittsburgh, thirty years old, and came from a wealthy Pennsylvania family.

So he probably wasn’t a gold digger, just trying to tap into the Arnold family fortune.

Or was he?

He and Dorothy had been getting together on the sly for months. She even spent a week with George several months before disappearing.

Of course, Dorothy lied to her family about her plans for that week, telling them she would visit some old college friends in Pennsylvania.

Then on her way home, it was discovered that Dorothy pawned $500 worth of jewelry for $60 in Boston. But no one could figure out why.

Her parents discovered she was seeing George. Dorothy’s father found him unsuitable and unworthy of his daughter’s attention, so he forbade the relationship.

But Dorothy again refused to follow her father’s wishes. Her relationship with George continued.

Even more than 110 years ago, when a woman disappeared or was murdered, the husband or boyfriend came under suspicion before anyone else.

Since George was now the leading suspect in her disappearance, the NYPD wanted to find out where he was on December 12, 1910.

George had an iron-clad alibi.

He was out of the country, in Florence, Italy, all that month.

George came clean about his relationship with Dorothy. He promised her parents to marry the young woman when they found her.

But George also said he was afraid he might know why Dorothy had disappeared and feared the worst.

He gave her parents a letter Dorothy had written him before she vanished in 1910. In the note, she wrote that one of her short stories had been turned down again by a literary magazine's editorial staff.

George said she was crushed.

Maybe she just wanted to get away from her family. That possibility was investigated, but it was rejected since none of her friends had heard from her.

What about suicide? George seemed to think it a possibility, but no one took the idea seriously.

There was always the chance that she’d gotten pregnant — thanks to George, the engineer — and died because of a backstreet abortion in a place called by the newspapers, ‘The House of Death.’

Or what about this? Maybe, some theorized, Dorothy had an accident, banged her head, and couldn’t remember her name?

Well, the NYPD and that private eye checked with all the hospitals in the area. No one matching Dorothy’s description had checked into any medical facilities since December 12, 1910.

There was a rumor in February 1911 that Dorothy had eloped and then run off. That same month, she was spotted in Chicago. But the Pinkerton detectives on the job now failed to find a trace of Dorothy.

A couple of weeks after that, Dorothy was supposedly spotted in Idaho, then a year later, in Philadelphia.

A prison inmate, in 1916, said he’d help to bury a young woman matching Dorothy’s description under a house in Providence, Rhode Island. A search was mounted, but again, nothing.

Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold was never to be seen again.

Her father, who always thought she’d been murdered in Central Park, rewrote his will to exclude her. He was convinced his Dorothy, who dreamed of becoming a famous writer, was dead.

As mothers are apt to do, her mother refused to give up hope that someday her daughter would return home.

She never did.

Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold would be 138 years old on her next birthday, June 1, 2023.

"The Deadly Duo: A Tale of Crime and Chaos," takes you on a wild ride through the dark and twisted minds of two unlikely partners in crime.

Barney and Heidi, two individuals from very different walks of life, join forces to embark on a violent and unpredictable spree of robbery, murder, and mayhem.

The story begins with Barney, a bored thirty-something, meeting Heidi, a stunning woman — known as ‘Heid’ by her friends — when she comes running out of a liquor store with a bag of cash in one hand and the store’s owner in hot pursuit.

Barney and Heid quickly discover a mutual love for danger and excitement, leading them to team up for a series of heists and murders that leave a trail of destruction in their wake.

As their crimes become more daring and violent, Barney and Heid's relationship deepens, blurring the lines between their criminal partnership and their intense romantic connection.

But as their notoriety grows, so does the danger, as law enforcement closes in on them.

"The Deadly Duo" is a heart-pumping thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The novel explores the complexities of human nature and the allure of power and danger, making it a must-read for fans of crime fiction and psychological thrillers.

With its gripping plot, intense action scenes, and well-developed characters, "The Deadly Duo" is sure to be a hit with readers who crave a suspenseful and thrilling ride.

Whether you're a fan of crime fiction or just looking for a page-turner that will keep you guessing until the very end, "The Deadly Duo" is the perfect read for you.


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