Name: Melvin Charles Horst
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: December 27, 1928
Location Last Seen: Orrville, Wayne County, Ohio
Date of Birth: circa 1924
Age: 4 years old
Weight: 49 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Burn scar on hip
Dentals: Not Available
Fingerprints: Not Available
Clothing: A sweater, brown overcoat, and stocking cap
Additional Personal Items: Carrying a red toy truck he received as a recent holiday gift
Melvin resided with his family near Vine Street and Paradise Street in Orrville, Ohio in 1928. He went to play with four neighborhood friends during the late afternoon hours of December 27, 1928. His friends said that they played in a vacant lot off of Chestnut Street near the railroad tracks. The boys told authorities that Melvin announced it was late and he had to walk home sometime during the evening hours. He was approximately one block from his family's house at the time. Melvin never arrived and has not been heard from again. Melvin's parents called him inside for dinner at approximately 16:30. They became concerned when he did not respond and began looking for their son in their neighborhood. The Horsts summoned authorities by 19:00, and an extensive search was initiated by 20:30 that evening. Many of Orrville's 4,500 residents assisted in the process, which was led by Melvin's uncle, the Village Marshal. No sign of Melvin was uncovered.
Melvin's disappearance made nationwide headlines and the media followed his story closely at the time. He vanished during the United States' Prohibition era and a bootlegger and his son were arrested for Melvin's alleged abduction in 1929, one year after he was last seen. A friend of the accused parties told investigators that he saw them lure Melvin into their home on the day he disappeared. The family lived around the corner from the Horsts at the time. The bootlegger and his son were convicted of Melvin's abduction and spent three months in jail before authorities learned that their witness lied about the events. The men were found innocent of involvement in Melvin's case during a second trial shortly thereafter.
The witness who claimed the bootlegger and his son were responsible for Melvin's disappearance was subsequently arrested along with his own father in 1930. Both men confessed that they murdered Melvin inside of a garage after he caught them drinking whiskey. Neither of the suspects admitted being the actual murderer and it was later determined that their confessions were coerced by law enforcement officers. There have been no arrests in Horst's case since 1930..
Agency Name: Orrville Police Department
Agency Contact Person: Sergeant Jamie McGreal
Agency Phone Number: 330-684-5058
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 17-38077
NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 40180
The Akron Beacon Journal
Added: Prior to 2011; Last Updated: 12/5/17
Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team
** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.