The Doe Network:
Case File 1800DFOH


Ruth Baumgardner
Missing since May 4, 1937 from Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics

Circumstances of Disappearance
Baumgardner was last seen by her sorority sisters shortly after 23.00 on May 4, 1937 in Delaware, Ohio. She had her hair up in curlers and pins and was behaving normally at the time. Sometime before midnight she said goodbye to her friends. She has never been seen or heard from again.

Baumgardner was a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1937; she was an art major. She belonged to the Delta Delta Delta (or "Tri-Delt") sorority and lived in Austin Hall on the Ohio Wesleyan campus. She resided with her parents in the 2000 block of Arthur Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio when she was not at college.

The Tri-Delts alerted campus authorities about Baumgardner's disappearance at 22.30 the following day, when they realized she had not attended any of her classes. Subsequent investigation revealed that someone, probably Baumgardner herself, had left her dormitory room key on the back corner of an Austin Hall staircase between the second and third floors.

Her new red Dodge was found parked undisturbed in its regular garage; the key was in the ignition. Baumgardner's room was in perfect order, which is uncharacteristic of her. The alarm clock had been set for 06.00 and had run down, indicating that she got up at that time on May 5 and left Austin Hall without being seen. She is believed to have been carrying an old handbag at the time, and probably no more then $5 in cash.

Initially it was believed that Baumgardner had suffered an amnesiac episode and wandered away from campus. The theory was bolstered by several reported sightings of her in the Delaware area in the days following her disappearance. None of the sightings were confirmed, however. At the time she went missing, Baumgardner was worried about whether she would get enough credit hours to graduate in time, and in the last letter she wrote to her parents she stated that she had many things to do and did not know how she was going to do them all, and she was very tired.

Authorities investigated the possibility that Baumgardner left of her own accord, possibly with a boyfriend, since several of the reported sightings placed her with a young man. However, Baumgardner was happily engaged to her boyfriend in Lakewood and her friends did not believe she was seeing anyone else. There is also no evidence of foul play in her case, although a local resident living near the Ohio Wesleyan campus reported hearing screams between 02:00 and 03:00 on May 5.

Source Information:

  • Newspaper Archive

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