On the eventide of October 7, 1949, the enigmatic disappearance of the captivating and aspiring Hollywood actress, Jean Spangler, occurred. Before departing from her residence that fateful evening, she bid farewell to her young daughter, tenderly planting a kiss upon her forehead. Jean divulged to her sister-in-law that she was to rendezvous with her former spouse, engaging in a discussion concerning belated child support payments. With a sense of urgency, she hastily departed, never to be seen again.
However, it should be noted that two individuals caught a glimpse of her ethereal presence. One of them, a store clerk in close proximity to her abode, later disclosed to the authorities that she stood outside, appearing as if she were awaiting someone’s arrival. The other individual who beheld her was her assailant—or at the very least, the individual responsible for her inexplicable vanishing—yet the true identity of this person remains shrouded in mystery.
Subsequent to Jean’s failure to return home, her sister-in-law Sophie, distressed by the situation, promptly filed a police report the following day. The investigation commenced with scrutiny of Jean’s former husband, a man bearing the name Dexter Banner. The couple had undergone an acrimonious divorce, followed by an intense custody battle for their daughter, Christine. However, Dexter, having remarried, claimed to have been at home that evening alongside his wife, Lynn. He professed ignorance of any meeting mentioned by Jean to Sophie and insisted that he had not engaged in conversation with her for nearly two years.
On October 9, detectives stumbled upon Jean’s purse near the Fern Dell entrance to Griffith Park. The purse bore the marks of a forcible removal from her shoulder, evident in the broken straps. Although devoid of any currency, a cryptic and handwritten note was discovered within. Its message read as follows:
“Kirk: I can no longer endure the wait. I am proceeding to see Dr. Scott. This approach seems most suitable while our mother is absent.”
The note concluded abruptly, its final words interrupted by the writer’s abrupt cessation. The Los Angeles Police Department diligently scoured the remaining expanse of Griffith Park, yet no further evidence materialized.
What significance lay within this enigmatic message? This enigma is nearly as perplexing as the fate that befell Jean. Investigators proposed a hypothesis suggesting Jean’s pregnancy and her intention to seek an abortion, accounting for the reference to a physician. When questioned, some of Jean’s acquaintances corroborated her pregnancy of three months and her lack of plans to retain the child.
Nevertheless, who was the mysterious “Kirk” to whom the note was addressed? At the time of Jean’s disappearance, she had been employed as a supporting cast member on the set of “Young Man with a Horn,” the latest motion picture featuring Kirk Douglas. When interrogated by the police, Douglas acknowledged having sighted Jean on the set but denied any personal acquaintance with her. Apparently, this simple denial sufficed for the authorities, leading to his exoneration as a suspect. However, not everyone was convinced by this straightforward repudiation. Speculation surfaced, insinuating that an affair had transpired between the two individuals. Could the renowned actor, upon learning of Jean’s pregnancy, have become entangled in her mysterious vanishing?
The plot thickened when law enforcement officials discovered Jean’s association with Davy Ogul, an associate of mobster Mickey Cohen. Around two days following Jean’s disappearance, Ogul vanished without a trace. The police managed to interview an individual in El Paso, Texas, who claimed to have spotted Ogul in the company of a woman matching Jean’s description. Had the two conspirators fled the city together?
Jean’s family vehemently denied this assertion. Her mother, Florence, conveyed to the press that if Jean were alive, she would undoubtedly have reached out to her loved ones. In a poignant declaration, Florence added, “No one can convince me that she would willingly abandon her child unless she were compelled to do so; her love was far too profound.”
For years, detectives disseminated Jean’s photographs, while the renowned gossip columnist Louella Parsons even offered a substantial reward of $1,000 for any information pertaining to the investigation. Regrettably, the case grew cold. Over the years, the Los Angeles Police Department received numerous calls suggesting Jean’s sightings in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and beyond. Yet, these leads proved fruitless. Officially, Jean Spangler remains missing, her case unsolved.
For Jean’s family, the torment endured indefinitely. Following Jean’s disappearance, custody of Christine was transferred to her father, who callously prohibited her grandmother from any contact. Following an acrimonious legal battle, the court eventually granted visitation rights to Florence Spangler. Alas, Dexter Banner fled the state, taking Christine with him. They, too, disappeared without a trace.
What became of Jean Spangler? Where did she venture on the night of October 7, 1949? Whom did she encounter? And why has her whereabouts eluded discovery throughout the passage of time? These queries shall forever remain unanswered.