On a damp Thursday morning in May 1938, hundreds of workers from Western Pennsylvania oil fields, given the day off to look for a missing girl, walked through the Allegheny Forest at armsâ€™ length. They traversed the tangled underbrush alongside police with bloodhounds, World War I veterans, Cornplanter Indians, coal miners, and assorted others whoâ€™d responded to the local mayorâ€™s call for 1,000 volunteers. They killed rattlesnakes and were careful not to drop a foot down into one of the hundreds of oil wells dug during the areaâ€™s petroleum boom in the 1870s.
But by nightfall, the â€œhaggard, sleep-robbed faces of scores of men,â€ as the Bradford Era newspaper described them, told onlookers the grim truth: another day had passed without finding the little red-haired four-year-old, Marjorie West.
Eighty years ago today, Marjorie vanished while at a Motherâ€™s Day picnic in the forest with her family. To this day she is the subject of one of the oldest unsolved cases recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Her search was one of the largest for a child since the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping six years earlier. Residents of Western Pennsylvania and Marjorieâ€™s surviving relatives still hold out hope sheâ€™s alive. If she is, she may yet celebrate her 85th birthday next month.
15 Jul 2018