George Lorius, a coal and ice company executive from East St. Louis, his wife, Laura, and the couple's friends Albert and Tillie Heberer, arrived in Vaughn on May 21 and spent the night at the Vaughn Hotel.
They got up early the next morning to eat breakfast in the hotel's cafe.
"And," says one of their relatives who is searching for answers 75 years later, "they were never seen again."
~Albuquerque Journal, June 20, 2010
There is something about a murder mystery that fascinates us all; we get a little chill imagining the circumstances, the feelings of the victims, and the grief of their relatives. But when that mystery remains unsolved for 75 years with no bodies ever found, the chill we feel becomes something else--a curiosity and, for some, a drive to find out just what happened.
The car that the tourists were driving was found later near Dallas, showing signs that it had been in at least one accident. Burned belongings, thought to be those of the missing tourists, were found near the cities of Albuquerque and El Paso. Clues were examined by both local law authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When the trail got cold and no solution was forthcoming, amateurs got involved and have been investigating ever since.
I recently read a book about a 1949 unsolved murder in Las Cruces (Cricket in the Web, by Paula Moore). The investigations of that murder revealed the complexity (and sometimes the corruption) of New Mexican politics, a place where relationships are intertwined, families don't give up their own, and some folks still wouldn't talk about the case when interviewed over 50 years later. The bungling, and the competition and spirit of non-cooperation between law enforcement agencies after the murder was mind-boggling. I suspect that many of these same factors came into play when the Heberer-Lorius case was investigated.
For more background on the Heberer Lorius Case:
Murder Mystery Lingers, by Leslie Linthicum. Albuquerque Journal article, June 20, 2010.
"The Mystery of the Missing Tourists," an excerpt from the book Albuquerque Remembered, by Howard Bryan (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).
Monday: The Pintada Kid on the Case