December 9, 1934: L.C.B. Identified as Despondent Student from Ohio


December 9, 1934: Officials finally have a positive identification of the body found in the woods of Washington Township on November 27. He is Landon C. Bell, Jr. from Columbus, Ohio, a college senior who disappeared from Hampton-Sydney College in Virginia on November 22.

The President of the college told authorities that Bell was to have entered Harvard Law School the next year, but to graduate from Hampton-Sydney, he had to be proficient in biblical studies, which he was not. He might have been despondent about such a missed opportunity. It was also learned that a year ago he had attempted to take his own life with chloroform, but he had been discovered and resurrected.

Bell’s father is an attorney, who ironically represents the Columbus, Ohio division of the Boyertown Burial Casket company. Detectives in Ohio had been looking everywhere for Bell and the Boyertown force had been following a number of leads.

It was fate that brought both sets of detectives together. Mae Weller was sending copies of the local newspapers to her sister Helen Grim, now living in Columbus. Mrs. Grim saw a picture of the unidentified male body in the Reading Eagle and what looked like the same person in the picture of the missing student in the Columbus Dispatch, and she was intrigued that they had the same initials. She contacted the Dispatch reporter who had written the story about the missing Columbus student.

Bell had told people that he was taking the train from Richmond to Philadelphia and proceeding from there to Ohio. Then he vanished. His father and his agents had started a hunt for him, but nothing developed until Mrs. Grim made the connection.

The body had been prepared for burial in the Union Cemetery, and the grave had been dug. An hour before the funeral service was scheduled to begin, a telegram was received, asking them to postpone the burial. The father arrived in Boyertown that night and he positively identified the body as his son. Mrs. Grim was hoping for a reward for being the one to match up the body with its identity and was disappointed that none was offered.

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