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Title: 1950 Cox, Richard Calvin 01/14/50
Description: West Point NY

PorchlightUSA - July 26, 2006 04:30 AM (GMT)

Richard Calvin Cox
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Richard Colvin Cox was United States Military Academy (West Point) second-year cadet who disappeared after he left his dormitory around six p.m on January 14, 1950. Before he disappeared, Richard Cox had a mysterious friend named George with a German accent. One day Cadet Cox vanished without a trace after George paid him a visit. Cox was declared legally dead in 1957. So far, Richard Colvin Cox is the only cadet to disappear from the West Point facility. At the time, it was considered one of the great unsolved missing persons cases.

In the 1980s, historian Marshall Jacobs re-opened the investigation and spent close to eight years conducting interviews and reviewing FOIA and other documents. Eventually, he worked with writer Harry Maihafer to write the book Oblivion, which proposes a solution.

PorchlightUSA - December 26, 2006 05:27 PM (GMT)

PorchlightUSA - January 17, 2010 02:29 PM (GMT)
closer look at Mansfield's greatest mystery
Background American Gothic Into Thin Air In Search Of In Plain Sight? One Theory Epilogue
By LARRY PHILLIPS • News Journal • January 17, 2010

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Buzz up!Twitter FarkIt Type Size A A A MANSFIELD -- The greatest mystery in Mansfield history took place nowhere near the city.

It was 60 years ago last week, on a cold and blustery day, 515 miles directly east of Mansfield.

The disappearance of 1946 Mansfield Senior High School graduate Richard Colvin Cox drew nationwide attention. Some compared his disappearance to the Amelia Earhart case. To this day, Cox remains the only missing West Point cadet never to be found.

This month, Life magazine listed the Cox saga as one of the 50 greatest mysteries of all time, along with Jack The Ripper and the JonBenet Ramsey slaying.

It can be difficult to gauge the audacity of such a scenario today. Just after World War II West Point was the cradle of heroes, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley -- men who saved the world from the Nazi regime.

Taking his turn in this gray line, the 5-foot-8, 158-pound Cox was last seen Jan. 14, 1950.

From several stories written over the years, a consensus emerged. Donning a full dress uniform and a long gray overcoat, the brown-haired, blue-eyed Cox signs out at 5:45 p.m. At 6:15 p.m. he's last seen by roommate Dean Welch. A second-year military cadet, Cox is supposedly heading for dinner at the Hotel Thayer in West Point.

He never arrives and is never seen again -- or was he?

A national alert is distributed with a photo of Cox: brown hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion with a diagonal scar on his right elbow. He may have been accompanied by a shadowy figure known only as "George." The probe travels a lengthy labyrinth to nowhere.

Of course, like any good mystery, there is much more to the story. Dark figures are outlined, lurid rumors perpetuated, witnesses from multiple continents are interviewed, and potential sightings add intrigue and shroud the case to this day.

Closer to home, the tragedy paralyzed Cox's family. It haunts friends and Mansfield Senior classmates, who will celebrate their 65th reunion next year without him.

The story featured all the trappings of a true crime novel, and the press seized on it immediately. Whispers insisted Hollywood pondered two separate movie deals on Jerome Edelberg's story in Coronet magazine, but no film was made.

Cox's disappearance drew Life, Coronet and Redbook magazines, along with The New York Times and The Washington Post. Harry J. Maihafer's book "Oblivion" was written 46 years after the disappearance. The News Journal's Jim Underwood investigated the case for 10 months before publishing a 12-part series in 1982.

The details to follow are compiled from those sources.

Richard Colvin "Dick" Cox was born July 28, 1928, the youngest of six children to Rupert and Minnie Cox. The oldest child was Rupert Jr., then Emily, Mary, twins Nancy and Carolyn, and Richard. The girls' married names: Mrs. Nancy (Albert) Allen, Mrs. Emily (Robert) Beard, Mrs. Mary (Watson) Slabaugh and Mrs. Carolyn (William) Colby of Cleveland. William Colby was a detective in Mansfield who later worked for the FBI and assisted in the local investigation.

The Cox family owned the R.F. Cox Insurance Agency in downtown Mansfield. Rupert Cox died when his youngest was 10 years old. The family lived on Third Street for years, but moved to 554 W. Cook Road, in the late 1940s. This was the home address when he disappeared.

By all accounts Cox enjoyed a normal upbringing. He was a paper carrier for the News Journal, served as the sophomore class president at Mansfield Senior, was a member of the National Honor Society and a major contributor to the yearbook, Manhigan. He was a sports fan and later ran track at Army, but did not participate in high school athletics.

Mansfield schoolmate Betty Timmons was informally engaged to Cox at the time of his disappearance. They planned to marry after Richard graduated from West Point in June 1952.

Fresh from high school, Cox went into the Army and served in the 28th Constabulary Unit in Schweinfurt, Germany. This is where he met the mysterious George, although details of this individual are sketchy at best. Cox reportedly was a clerk in the intelligence office but had no security clearance.

He took classes to help him pass an Army aptitude test and achieve enter to West Point. Some sources report Richard received a congressional appointment from J. Harry McGregor, who represented this district. Minnie Cox vehemently denied that, claiming her son got in on his own merits. Later, McGregor constantly badgered the Army and FBI about the case, one of the main reasons the search for the Mansfield native was so exhaustive.

At West Point, records show Cox was an exemplary student. At the time of his disappearance he was listed in the upper third of his class and first in his company in military aptitude.

Just when all seemed to be unfolding for a promising future, Dick Cox suffered bizarre back-to-back weekends, according to his roommates.

On the weekend of Jan. 7 and 8, 1950, Cox is seen talking with a visitor and later goes to dinner off base, apparently with this same person. This person is later dubbed George for the name he used when calling Cox's room and speaking to one of his roommates.

Cox returns from that weekend in poor form, drunk, and passes out at his desk. A photo of him captured at this moment appears in the book "Oblivion." He is unconscious and sitting up. Later, he wakes up, runs out of the room and into the hall. Looking down the stairs he says something indecipherable. His roommates, Dean Welch and Joseph Urschel, get him back to bed and all is quiet until the following weekend.

On the afternoon of Jan. 14, 1950, Cox attends an Army basketball game. He tries to talk Welch into an out-of-town jaunt. Welch considers the idea, and tries on a suit while pondering the notion, but declines.

Later, a visitor again hails Cox. Most think this is the same person who got Cox drunk the previous weekend, "George." Cox intimates to friends this person is a nuisance and hints he may be dangerous. Nevertheless, wanting to go to New York, Cox agrees to have dinner with George.

After a brief exchange with Welch, allegedly on his way to the Thayer, Cox disappears.

The 21-year-old Mansfield man left behind $85 and a prized wristwatch -- evidence, most believe, he intended to return. Cox may have had as little as $5 in his pocket at the time of his disappearance.

The search has many false leads and takes investigators on a wild ride.

Rumors of Cox being homosexual or bisexual are endorsed by independent researcher Marshall Jacobs and echoed in Maihafer's book "Oblivion."

"Very few people, even his family, knew the real Dick Cox," Jacobs told the Associated Press.

Although friends and family vehemently deny the allegation, the Army takes his West Point roommates (who also dispute Cox is homosexual) on a tour through the gay bars in New York City. Nothing is found.

The family still believes Cox was murdered by George and his body never recovered. Some believe Cox was killed as revenge for testifying against someone who committed a crime in Germany.

Another theory has Cox recruited by the CIA, working in Europe during the Cold War.

Still others think Cox knew about the cheating scandal that broke at West Point the following year. This angle takes off on Cox being murdered by those involved in the cribbing escapade. That story made international news in 1951 and involved numerous Army football players. ESPN recently made a movie about that incident, titled "CodeBreakers."

Another theory has Cox murdering George and going on the run.

In the end, there are no answers. Still, authorities don't stop looking.

The case becomes somewhat embarrassing to J. Edgar Hoover because the FBI is unable to solve it. The Army has no success either, and in 1953 it stops looking.

However, there are two intriguing and fairly credible Cox sightings long after his disappearance.

The first report comes in 1954. The FBI spoke to a former Army buddy, Ernest Shotwell.

Shotwell and Cox were in the same student company at Stewart Field Prep School in 1948. They took the same classes, geared toward gaining entrance at West Point.

After reading the story in Coronet Magazine in November 1954, Shotwell tells the FBI he saw Cox in a Washington, D.C., bus station in March 1952.

According to the book "Oblivion," the friend asks, "Cox, you are Dick Cox?"

The response, "Yes, how are you?"

A five-minute conversation ensues and Shotwell asks Cox if he is still at West Point.

Cox replies he resigned from West Point the previous year, 1951, and is heading to Germany. Shotwell said Cox was agitated, jumpy and terse, not like himself. Cox was not friendly to his former friend and abruptly leaves.

Only after reading the Coronet Magazine story does Shotwell understand the ramifications of this chance meeting. Since he knew Cox, and the Mansfield grad allegedly responded in an affirmative manner to him, this was considered a genuine sighting.

Nothing came from the ensuing leads, though. So, on Jan. 14, 1957, Cox was declared legally dead by the state of Ohio.

A second sighting of Cox was brought to light by the News Journal's Underwood in 1982.

According to his research, which included 3,000 pages of information from the Army and the FBI, Cox was allegedly seen May 16, 1960, in the Sho-Bar tavern in Melbourne, Fla.

On an undercover assignment, an FBI source begins drinking with one of his contacts. This contact is accompanied by a woman and a man named R.C. Mansfield. Later, the man is called Richard by the woman accompanying them. Still later, after several drinks, Richard admits the name Mansfield is a phony and his real last name is Cox. He intimates he's considered dead by the Army and his mother.

The source, looking for information on another subject, is unfamiliar with the Cox disappearance (it's been 10 years since this was national news) and is pressing his current case. Still, he sets up an appointment to meet Cox again, and does so four days later, May 20, to continue pressing for his original objective. When the source tells the FBI about Cox, it's discovered he is the missing cadet. A stakeout is planned for May 25, 1960. However, Cox never arrives at this meeting and is never seen again.

This second, and final sighting, is considered a genuine possibility.

Author Harry J. Maihafer believed independent investigator Marshall Jacobs solv- ed the case. Jacobs said he met with a retired senior CIA official in Florida. This individual, given a false name to protect his identity, told Marshall that Cox worked "in the intelligence field" in Europe during the Cold War.

"One of Cox's tasks was getting people out from behind the Iron Curtain ... These were members of the scientific community ... important to the Russians' nuclear capability.

"His work has been secret and significant."

Jacobs also was told at the time, in the early 1990s, Cox was alive but dying of thoracic cancer in a National Institute of Health facility in Bethesda, Md.

Jacobs, who died in 2008, and Maihafer, who died in 2005, believed that was the end of the mystery.

The family doesn't buy that theory, mostly because they insist Cox would find a way to contact his mother, who died at age 96 in a Mansfield nursing home.

We probably will never definitively know what happened to Richard Cox.

He would have been 82 this summer. One way or another, he is almost certainly dead.

Whether he died Jan. 14, 1950, or in a Maryland hospital bed in the mid-1990s, there has never been a sense of closure for the Cox family or his friends.

Six decades later, the disappearance of Dick Cox remains the greatest mystery in Mansfield history. 419-521-7238

PorchlightUSA - January 17, 2010 02:31 PM (GMT)
found. (AP FILE PHOTO)


Key events and dates in the life of Mansfield Senior High School graduate Richard Cox, whose 1950 disappearance remains a mystery to this day:

•July 28, 1928 -- Richard Colvin "Dick" Cox is born in Mansfield, the youngest of six children for Rupert and Minnie Cox.

•June 1946 -- Cox graduates from Mansfield Senior.

•September 1946 -- Cox enlists in the Army and is stationed in Germany.

•July 1948 -- Cox enters West Point Military Academy.

•Jan. 14, 1950 -- Donning a full dress uniform and a long gray overcoat, the brown-haired, blue-eyed Cox signs out at 5:45 p.m. At 6:15 p.m., he's last seen by roommate Dean Welch. A second-year military cadet, Cox is supposedly heading for dinner at the Hotel Thayer in West Point. He never arrives at the Thayer and is never seen again -- or is he?

•March 1952 -- Former Army buddy Ernest Shotwell claims he bumped into Cox in a Washington, D.C., bus station, greeted him by name, and had a short conversation. This incident isn't reported until November, 1954, because Shotwell didn't know Cox was still presumed missing.

•Jan. 14, 1957 -- Seven years to the day of his disappearance, Cox is declared legally dead by the state of Ohio. His mother collects a small life insurance policy and divides the money among her children.

•May 16, 1960 -- Cox is reportedly seen in the Sho-Bar tavern in Melbourne, Fla. On an undercover assignment, an FBI source begins drinking with a contact. The contact is accompanied by a woman and a man named R.C. Mansfield. Later, the man is called Richard by the woman accompanying them. After several drinks, Richard admits Mansfield is a phony name and his real last name is Cox. He intimates he's considered dead by the Army and his mother. An FBI stakeout is planned nine days later, but the subject never shows.

•May 28, 1976 -- After a search spanning Europe and North America, the case is officially closed by the Department of the Army.

•July 30, 1982 -- The News Journal launches a 12-part series on the case. Reporter Jim Underwood conducts a 10-month investigation and receives more than 3,000 pages of information from the FBI and the Army in connection with the case through the Freedom of Information Act. Several theories are detailed, friends and family are interviewed, but no conclusions are drawn.

•July 22, 1986 -- The News Journal runs its most recent story on the Cox case, profiling Marshal Jacobs, an investigator from North Miami Beach, Fla., who is in town trying to unravel the mystery. Jacobs interviews Mansfield residents and spends a great deal of time looking at News Journal stories, especially the Underwood series.

•1996 -- The book "Oblivion" is published by Brassey's Inc. The work, citing a CIA operative as its source, claims Cox worked in the intelligence field in Europe during the Cold War. He lived into the 1990s before dying of thoracic cancer at a federal hospital in Bethesda, Md.

•January 2010 -- Life Magazine lists the Cox disappearance as one of the 50 greatest mysteries of all time, along with the Amelia Earhart case, Lizzie Borden murders and Zodiac killer.

PorchlightUSA - January 18, 2010 02:06 PM (GMT)

Family: 60 years later and nothing new
By ERIK SHILLING • News Journal • January 18, 2010

MANSFIELD -- Nancy Allen was 25 when her younger brother Richard Colvin Cox seemingly vanished into thin air. Sixty years, numerous FBI investigations, one News Journal probe and two crusading authors later, she still believes the family knows nothing more than they did a week after the disappearance.

"It was foul play, was the conclusion we all came to," said Allen, now 85. "I finally threw the book out. It wasn't worth reading. Dick would never have ignored his family."

The book she was referring to was "Oblivion" by Harry J. Maihafer, a retired Army colonel's attempt to explain the mystery. Maihafer, who died in 2005, insisted the case was solved by the emergence of a retired spymaster who said Cox joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1950 and never looked back.

The CIA, then in its infancy, was recruiting heavily as it geared up for the Cold War. Given Cox's experience overseas in Germany, he would seem to be a plausible candidate. Later sightings may have placed Cox in Washington, D.C., and Florida.

Maihafer wrote that by the early 1990s, Cox was dying of cancer in a Maryland hospital after decades of spy service in Russia and beyond.

Allen frankly disputes that theory.

"We didn't think he had the brains" for intelligence work, or the heart, she said.

"We were a close family. He always called us."

One point vociferously disputed by Cox's family and friends is the notion that he might have been gay, and his disappearance simply a vanishing into New York City's burgeoning counterculture.

One man, known only as George, was the last to have been seen with Cox.

"You would've known," said Helmut Wiehm, 82, a high school classmate of Cox. "He liked the girls, and they liked him."

George Frank, 82, of Mansfield, also was a high school classmate of Cox.

"We could never come up with an answer that any of us agree on," Frank said. "It's one of the great mysteries of the world."

Cox's sister Mary Sla-baugh, 95, of Mansfield, said she turned the page on the whole case years ago.

"People ask us every so often about it, people that are old enough," Slabaugh said recently.

Like her sister, she believes the most likely explanation for Dick's disappearance is murder, plain and simple.

"That joker who wrote this book said that he was dying in Maryland. It's been way too long."

"The joker," of course, is Maihafer. The primary investigator who worked with Maihafer, Marshall Jacobs, remained obsessed with the case for 10 years. Jacobs died last year.

Slabaugh, Allen, and their sisters Carolyn Cox, 85, and Emily Beard Herrick, 93, are still alive. Slabaugh, in fact, has had three husbands since her brother's disappearance and outlived them all. Allen's husband Albert, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, died in 2004 after more than five decades of marriage.

"You live with the memories that you have," Nancy Allen said. "We just had happy ones in our family. Our father had died and there was no money for college. Dick disappeared to me somewhere up in New York."

One of Slabaugh's last memories of Dick was the 1949 St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City. The four sisters took the train from Ohio and met Dick in the city for the parade.

"He was in his sophomore year," Slabaugh recalled. "We played hearts -- and we didn't play it the way I liked to play -- and Dick, well, he would shoot the moon every time."

PorchlightUSA - January 19, 2010 08:20 PM (GMT)
Ex-NJ reporter still flummoxed about Cox
By ERIK SHILLING • January 19, 2010

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Twitter FarkIt Type Size A A A MANSFIELD -- In a way, Jim Underwood never gave up on Richard Colvin Cox.

The former News Journal reporter spent months in 1982 traveling to places as varied as Florida, California and Kentucky before writing a 12-part series. The project detailed his findings, which included tracking down a former Cox girlfriend from Germany.

"It's still one of the most fascinating stories I've ever worked on as a journalist," said Underwood, now an adjunct professor of journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University. "I still have about 16,000 pages of documents in my basement. I continued to collect information."

Among the evidence Underwood uncovered was the FBI's record of the second of two Cox sightings -- in Florida in 1960.

About 3,000 pages of FBI documents Underwood obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests revealed some of Cox's troubled final letters, and several from then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, demanding a resolution to the disappearance. That resolution, of course, would never come.

"Part of the theory I had was that Cox got spirited away by the (Central Intelligence Agency)," Underwood said in an interview last week, pointing specifically to the 1960 sighting in Florida. "At the time Cox was talking about Castro, and that was before the Bay of Pigs invasion (in April 1961)."

Underwood is the last remaining Cox investigator. Marshall Jacobs and Harry J. Maihafer died in recent years.

Among Underwood's challenges, he said, was interviewing Cox's family, who have said the theories of homosexuality and the CIA explanations are hogwash.

"The family was always very sensitive," Underwood said.

For years after his series, Underwood's reputation as a Cox-obsessor dogged him at the newspaper. News Journal columnist and then-staff reporter Ron Simon, in particular, did not forget Underwood's infatuation with the case.

"For years he would call me and say, 'This is Richard Cox,' " Underwood recalled.

Despite the passage of almost 28 years since his series, Underwood never really learned much more about the case than what appeared in print. Despite the family's continued objections, he stands by the CIA theory, which he said was confirmed by at least one unnamed spymaster he spoke with.

He closed his series this way: "In the 32 years since the disappearance of Cox, a new generation has grown up in Mansfield, many of whom perhaps have never heard of Richard Cox or about the intriguing mystery of Mansfield's missing cadet. It is a piece of Mansfield history that is, 32 years later, yet unwritten. The same unanswered questions of 1950 remain unanswered in 1982."

Underwood might've written much the same thing today.

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