Evelyn Grace Hartley.jpg

Fifteen-year-old Evelyn Grace Hartley was last seen on October 24, 1953 in La Crosse, Wisconsin, babysitting for a twenty-month-old girl at the house of Viggo Rasmusen (a professor at La Crosse State College) located in the 2400 block of Hoeschler Drive

Viggo and his wife were attending a homecoming game in town. Even though the Rasmusens had a regular babysitter, she planned to attend the homecoming game as well, so Evelyn was hired as a replacement.

Evelyn brought four or five schoolbooks with her and planned on studying while the baby was sleeping. She was supposed to check in with her parents by phone at 8:30 P.M., but never did.

Evelyn's father went to the Rasmusen's house to check on her after she didn't answer the phone. When he went inside, he discovered that the doors to the house were locked, but the radio & lights were turned on and the living room furniture was disarranged. The baby was found in her crib, asleep & unharmed.

Evelyn's glasses were broken and found on the living room floor along with one of her shoes. Her other shoe was found in the basement. All of the windows in the house were locked except for a basement window in the back of the house. The screen for the basement window had been taken out and was leaning against the outside wall.

A short stepladder (which belongs to the Rasmusen’s & was used to paint the basement) was positioned at the basement window. Three other windows had pry marks and there were footprints from a pair of tennis shoes in the basement window box & the living room.

A significant amount of blood was also located inside the house near the basement window and outside in the yard. The blood matched Evelyn's type. There were two pools of blood in the yard: one stain was 18 inches in diameter and there was a bloody handprint about four feet off the ground on the wall of a garage located 100 feet from the Rasmusen's house & stains on the home of a neighbor's house.

Authorities believe that whoever abducted Evelyn carried her or dragged her through the yard and the blood pooled twice when the abductor (s) stopped & rested her on the ground. Tracker dogs traced Evelyn's scent for two blocks, but lost the trail at Coulee Drive (located northeast of the Rasmussen home). Authorities also believe that whoever abducted Evelyn put her in a car.

A neighbor reported seeing a light-colored car circling the neighborhood at approximately 8:00 P.M. Another reported screams at about 7:00 P.M., but assumed that it was kids playing. Authorities believe that Evelyn was abducted around that time.

Two days after Evelyn went missing, a man named Ed Hofer came forward to say that at about 7:15 P.M. that night, he almost hit a two-toned green 1941 or 1942 Buick that was speeding westward. He noticed two men and a girl inside of the vehicle. One man was driving and the other man was in the backseat of the car with the girl who was slumped forwards with her head leaning against the front seat.

Hofer assumed that the people were heading to the homecoming game and didn't realize the significance of what he saw at the time because nobody knew that Evelyn had gone missing. Hofer's information was publicized, but his name was withheld from the media for nearly fifty years after Evelyn disappeared.

Several days after Evelyn went missing, a pair of underwear and a bra (possibly belonging to Evelyn) were found near the underpass on Highway 14 (located two miles south of La Cross) stained in blood. A pair of men's pants (which were also stained in blood) were found on the same road located four miles away, but it's unknown if they are connected to Evelyn's case.

A pair of size 11 Goodrich tennis shoes were later found in the Coon Valley area (located southeast of La Cross) stained in blood. They were apparently left their for only a short time before they were found. The soles of the shoes had a suction cup pattern which were very similar to the footprints found where Evelyn was last seen and it matched her blood type.

Inside of the shoes, there was a single human hair possibly from an African American. When the authorities consulted the Goodrich company, they learned that that particular model of the shoe was called "Hood Mogul" which was sold in Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota.

Based on the shoe's pattern of wear, investigators believe that their owner worked with machinery. The shoes also had a distinctive circular wear pattern on the soles which suggest that their own frequently operated a Whizzer motorbike. They also determined that two different people had worn the shoes and that the second person's feet were too big for them.

A well-worn, size 36 blue denim jacket with metallic buttons was located within 800 feet of the shoes. The jacket had bloodstains on the front, back and sleeves. It also had some base metal paint flecks on it. It had been cut off at the bottom and roughly re-hemmed with white thread & one of the four buttons was missing.

There was a worn mark running the entire width of the jacket underneath the armpits possibly caused from a safety harness. There were also bast fibers on the left pocket.

The blood on the jacket matched Evelyn's type and the blood smears found at the house where she was taken from were made by cloth with the characteristics of denim. The authorities believe that the jacket was worn by Evelyn's abductor, but it appeared to be too small for a person big enough to wear size 11 shoes. One investigator concluded that based on the pattern of wear on the jacket and the way that it was cut off, that whoever owned it worked as a steeplejack.

Evelyn's kidnapping had sparked one of the biggest searches in the history of Wisconsin. Along with other extreme measures, the investigators conducted mass searches of local vehicles and gave lie detector tests to all of the teachers & students at Evelyn's school. The shoes and jacket were taken to 31 different communities and displayed to 10,000 people, but nobody recognized them. There were many suspects that have been questioned over the years, but there wasn't any evidence to implicate them.

Some people suspected a man named Edward Theodore Gein might've been involved in Evelyn's case. Gein was visiting relatives in La Crosse (which was blocks away from the Rasmusens' house) the night Evelyn went missing. Police questioned him and searched his property, but there was no trace of Evelyn there.

At the time of her disappearance, Evelyn was a junior at Central High School. She was a straight-A student and involved in various school activities. She played the piano and sang in the First Presbyterian Church choir. Even though she had a few dates with boys, she never had a steady boyfriend.

Evelyn is the youngest of four children in her family; one of her older brothers passed away from polio several years prior to her disappearance. Her parents are now deceased, one of her siblings live in Oregon and another one lives in Australia.

Evelyn is described as a Caucasian female with brown hair & blue eyes. She wears glasses, but didn't have them when she went missing. She was last seen wearing a size 34-36 plain white broadcloth Ship n' Shore blouse with pearl buttons, size 16 heavy red denim White Stag jeans with a side zipper & cuffs rolled up above the ankle & white bobby socks.

Her nickname is Evie and her blood type is type A. Evelyn's case remains unsolved.

Hartley cenopath memorial at Find a grave [1]

A notproven suspect was killer and grave robber Edward Gein of Plainfield Wisconson.

The bais against Gein being a suspect were two lie detector tests after his arrest for murder in 1957[2]

However among the pieces of multilated female remains found in Geins house "..A young girl's dress and "the vulvas of two females judged to have been about fifteen years old"[3]

Gein also made strange remarks about Hartley's dissappearence as well as that of the 1954 disappearance of Mary Hogan of Pine Grove Wis [4] {Hogans remains were found in Geins house}

Gein was also visiting relatives in La Crosse -just blocks from where Hartley was babysitting[5]

External links

  • https://old.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=107936905
  • Schechter .p.177
  • Gollmar, p. 87.
  • Life Magazine December 2, 1957
  • http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/h/hartley_evelyn.html
  • Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.