NEW YORK — Are New York cops about to find “the most missingest man in America?” Yes, if Friday reports in Big Apple newspapers prove true.
The man is Judge Joseph Force Crater, a New York State Supreme Court justice. And “missingest” is what newspapers called him when he vanished in 1930. The case has been the subject of rumors and butt of jokes ever since.
The clue that may lead to the discovery of his remains is a note left by a woman who died earlier this year. According to the New York Post, Stella Ferrucci-Good of Bellerose, N.Y., left the note in an envelope marked “do not open until my death” when she died at age 91 in April.
“Ferrucci-Good claimed that her late husband, Robert Good; an NYPD cop named Charles Burns; and the cop's cabby brother, Frank Burns, were responsible for Crater's death,” the Post said. “She added that the judge was buried in Coney Island, under the boardwalk near West Eighth Street, at the current site of the New York Aquarium.”
Ferrucci-Good’s husband died in 1975.
In checking a number of the claims made in the letter, the Post found that “a police officer named Charles Burns served with the NYPD from 1926 to 1946, and … spent part of his career assigned to the 60th Precinct in Coney Island.” Also, the Post said, police sources confirmed that skeletal remains had been found when the aquarium was being built in the 1950s and are now being examined to see if they can be linked to the missing judge.
Crater was declared legally dead in 1939 and the city’s police department closed his case in 1979.
The judge, who was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt just months before he vanished at age 41, was a colorful and well-known figure in Manhattan at the time. According to the New York Daily News, 95 witnesses were called before a grand jury that amassed nearly 1,000 pages of testimony while investigating the case but never learned what happened to him.
Speculation on the cause for his disappearance ranged from mob connections to a love triangle. Others thought he might have been silenced because he planned to expose political corruption. Still others said he had committed suicide or run off with a showgirl.
He was last seen Aug. 6, 1930, after he got into a cab on West 45th Street.
According to the Post: “Crater's wife remembered his disappearance every year for the rest of her life by visiting a bar in Greenwich Village on Aug. 6. She'd sit by herself, order two drinks and down one — after saying, ‘Good luck Joe, wherever you are.’"
© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints