How woman mysteriously disappeared 114 years ago — dad spent $1m to search for her

The circumstances surrounding Dorothy Arnold's disappearance continue to fascinate and raise questions.

Dorothy Arnold made national headlines when she disappeared [Alamy/BE&W Agency]

That December morning, Dorothy Arnold told her mother to stay home. "I'll call you," she said, heading to New York for a supposed shopping spree. A few hours later she disappeared without a trace.

On December 12, 1910, a 25-year-old American woman walks down Fifth Avenue. She stops at Park & ​​Tilford for chocolates, then heads down the icy streets to Brentano's Bookstore to pick up Sketches of an Engaged Girl by Emily Calvin Blake. She casually tells her friend that she will walk home through Central Park. No one will see her again.

A missing Upper East Side heiress makes national headlines. Forty years later, The Times declared the case "one of New York's greatest mysteries." The circumstances surrounding Arnold's disappearance continue to fascinate and raise questions: Was she kidnapped, murdered - or did she simply decide to leave one life behind for another?

Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold, the daughter of a wealthy perfume importer and the niece of a Supreme Court justice, seemed - to outsiders - to have it all. But in her final months with her family, the unmarried 25-year-old seemed to long for something else: independence.

In the fall of 1910, the Bryn Mawr College literature graduate asked her father's permission to buy her own apartment in Greenwich Village, an artist's paradise. However, he was not sympathetic to her requests, according to American Heritage magazine in 1960 in the article The Girl Who Never Came Back.

At her residence on the Upper East Side, Dorothy wrote several short stories—Poinsettia Flames and Lotus Leaves—which she submitted for publication. McClure's Magazine rejected the first one. Apparently, she never received an answer to the second one.

Dorothy often corresponded with the elder George S. Griscom Jr., writing to him of rejection, "Failure is staring me in the face. All I see before me is a long road with no turn."

On that December day, dressed in a blue skirt, with her hair "in full pompadour" under a black velvet hat with blue silk roses, Dorothy "carried with her a large black fox flat muff with white tips" as well as $20 or $30, cards and probably other various types of papers.

In January, the New York Police Commissioner sent "to his colleagues in every city and town" a set of "three excellent portraits of Miss Arnold, one in walking dress, one in evening dress, and the third a bust portrait."

Police claimed to have "thoroughly searched" the women with "dark brown hair, grey-blue eyes and fair complexion," but to no avail. Moreover, "all steamers bound for Europe were traced and the passengers checked."

In 1914, two doctors and a nurse were arrested for running a private hospital offering abortions in a house where "an operating table and two large furnaces" were found. One of the medics later stated that the heiress was cremated after a likely unsuccessful abortion.

The writer's father publicly announced that his daughter was dead, but he still spent $1 million to search for her. More than a decade after she vanished from Fifth Avenue, the head of the city's Missing Persons Bureau announced that the case "has been solved" and "Dorothy Arnold is no longer listed as a missing person." However, he soon withdrew from this.

"Dorothy's disappearance is as much a mystery today as it was the day she sank into the ground," the family lawyer summed up briefly.

*

This article was originally published on Onet Travel.

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