Monday, August 28, 2017

Mystery Monday: Joan Risch

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...



BUT FIRST...I just need to take a second to congratulate Cathrina Constantine. She won the autographed copy of Best. Night. Ever. from the recent blog tour!



The 50s and 60s were an interesting time for women. It was normal for a woman to stay home and take care of the kids while the man worked. Joan Risch was a typical 1960s housewife...with one big exception. One day in October of 1961, Joan's husband left on a work trip and never saw his wife again.



Joan Risch was the mother of two young children, Lillian and David. In 1961, they moved to a city just outside of Boston and were an active part of the community.



On the morning of October 24, Martin left early for the airport to fly to New York City. Joan fed the children breakfast and left her son with a neighbor before heading to the dentist with her daughter in their 1951 Chevrolet.


Front of Risch home. Image credit: I Can't Believe It's Nonfiction

By 11:15 a.m., Joan was back home and her daughter was playing outside with a neighbor's son. Soon after she returned, a dry cleaner arrived to pick up some of her husband's suits. He entered the house and said he saw nothing out of the ordinary.



Just before 2pm, Joan took her daughter and her neighbor's son across the street to the neighbor's house. At approximately 2:15 pm, that neighbor said she saw Joan walking up her driveway in a trench coat, carrying something red. She looked like she was chasing someone. That was the last time Joan was ever seen.


The Risch Driveway. Image credit: I Can't Believe It's Nonfiction

At 2:45, a woman was spotted walking along the road on Route 2A in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She wore a trench coat and was hunched over as though she were cold. Between 3:15 and 3:30, a similar-looking woman was spotted on the Route 128 median strip in Waltham. She had blood running down her legs and was holding her stomach as though cradling something.


Joan's car in her driveway. Image credit: I Can't Believe It's Nonfiction

At 3:40, the neighbor dropped Lillian off at her house on her way to the store. When she returned at 4:15, Lillian came over and said, "Mommy is gone and the kitchen is covered with red paint." The neighbor crossed the street and found David crying in his crib and blood in the kitchen. She called the police.

Warning: Crime Scene Photos Below!!!


In the kitchen, the phone receiver had been ripped from the wall. The phone book was open to a page listing emergency numbers. There was blood in the kitchen and on the driveway all the way to the road. One thumbprint was found in the blood in the kitchen that could not be traced to anyone.



Her husband was initially suspected, but he was eventually cleared. But prior to her death, Joan had checked out 25 books on disappearances and missing persons cases over the summer. Did she orchestrate her own disappearance?



Was this an abortion gone wrong? Or was it a case of attempted murder where she got away, only to be tracked down later by her killer while walking down the road?

What do you think happened to Joan Risch?

33 comments:

  1. That one is really odd. If she were being pursued, why not go to the neighbors on either side or across the street? Unless she didn't want anyone to know. Weird.

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    1. The part about her walking up the driveway holding something confuses me. The eyewitness account makes no sense. But that's EXACTLY the way the neighbor describes it. "Walking up the driveway holding something" and "chasing someone" are two different things!

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  2. I'm confused...she was spotted on the road with blood on her leg and then she was dropped off at home? If blood was that noticed, why didn't the person who picked her up, bring her to the hospital? It could be she was stabbed in the stomach and, not thinking clearly and wanting to be near her kids, went home only trying to call the police later but it was too late. I think she was killed but did they ever search the area for the body? I am thinking of course they did. This is a confusing case

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    1. She was last seen on the road with blood on her leg. The photos above are how her kitchen was found. She wasn't actually in the house. She was just gone.

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  3. I'm confused by this one too. Could she have been stabbed in the stomach?

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    1. I'm always fascinated that nobody ever thinks it was a botched abortion. Seriously--I'm the only person who thinks that! I've heard it mentioned as a theory once, but dismissed. I was wondering if anyone here would mention it today...

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  4. The books she checked out are interesting. If she did orchestrate her own disappearance she was a master mind.

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    1. Yes, and it looks like she got away with it! But why stage a bloody kitchen and leave? Seems she could've just walked off and left the house empty...unless she was trying to frame her husband. But that's silly because he was out of town!

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  5. Well, I did think of a botched abortion. That is what women did back then. But all the details don't make much sense--her wandering about on highways, etc, and not knowing the area or how far away from home she was seen. But she could have been unable to think straight from loss of blood...ashamed...trying to get to a friend's or relatives if she had no car...??

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    1. I do remember one person speculating that she may have been driven away from the house and dropped off at the side of the road. Maybe by the doctor who performed the abortion? The theory was actually meant to go with the person trying to kill her doing that. Although I don't get why that person wouldn't have just killed her completely?

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  6. My first thought was a botched abortion and perhaps she was trying to find a place to dispose of the fetus. What happened to her on the road? Mysterious. Could she have bled out and the body never found?

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    1. That's what *I* thought!!! The whole time I was listening--the phone book, the way she was spotted clutching her stomach... I definitely feel like the body would've been found if she'd bled out, though. So that doesn't answer the mystery of what might have happened to her, unless she fell in water somewhere or just wandered into the woods. There have been a lot of disappearances into woods where bodies were never found.

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  7. That is a mystery. She evidently wasn't thinking straight if she left her baby alone in the crib. If she'd just tried an abortion, she wouldn't be thinking of him, I guess. Sounds like she might have tried to get help, but maybe changed her mind. Another story that will probably never be solved.

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    1. If it's a botched abortion, she might not have chosen to leave. The "doctor" may have agreed to take her to the hospital, then just pushed her out of the car somewhere and left her to fend for herself. He also may have taken her by force once he realized she wasn't going to survive. Of course, if it was an outright murder, that would explain her leaving her child, as well.

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  8. It sounds like an abortion gone wrong to me. Perhaps she tried to perform an abortion on herself. Reminds me of the book and movie "Revolutionary Road."

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. That is true. It could very well be a self-attempt...

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  9. Ooh, yikes! This was a hair-raising one. Abortion is what popped into my mind.
    Thanks for the Best Books of August inclusion. Much appreciated, Steph.

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    1. You're welcome! I wonder if people thought abortion before reading the comments? I'm always surprised people don't place that prominently among theories when they're discussing this case.

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  10. This seems a little confusing to me. Why in the world would someone say they saw a person walking with blood running down their legs and not stop to pick the person up? That's crazy. I'm with you and Denise and think there was a pregnancy involved, particularly since she had been researching the disappearance thing. I think she may have died from those injuries. So sad. Once again, you have us stumped! Happy Tuesday!

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    1. I do wonder about that, especially back then when people would have been much more likely to stop to pick someone like that up. Of course, there's the case of Asha Degree, who was A CHILD spotted walking at the side of the road in the middle of the night in the rain and nobody even could be bothered to call the police.

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  11. Congrats to Cathrina. What a wonderful win.

    Have a sparkly Tuesday, Steph.

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  12. Yay Cathrina!

    And another confusing mystery. There are so many plots in this column of yours, Steph.

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  13. Definitely odd that she checked out those books before she disappeared.

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  14. This is a confusing one. I don't think a mom would willingly leave her children, even if she was covering up a pregnancy loss or abortion.

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  15. This is very odd! Especially what the neighbour said she saw?? I don't know about this one?
    Congrats Cathrina!

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  16. 'Mommy is gone and the kitchen is covered with red paint.'
    Pretty chilling.

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  17. Because of the books, I'm inclined to think its her. But then why would she leave her children?

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  18. Hi Stephanie .. congratulations to Cathrina. However this story is not too good is it - sounds like an abortion as she'd been having an affair ... but no body, no newborn ... I feel for her and then obviously for the family - take care - Hilary

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  19. This sounds really strange but interesting. Thanks for sharing this!


    www.ficklemillennial.com

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  20. This world is so full of mysteries! Mysteries that are more compelling than what they show on TV or movies.

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  21. I don't know what to think of this one. It's got too many conflicting bits and I feel like info is missing.

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  22. Hope your weekend is filled with wonder.

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  23. That time in the history of women, a botched abortion sounds very plausible--even if the child belonged to her husband. What happened to her afterward is the real mystery.

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