The Journal News from Hamilton, Ohio on April 18, 1976 · Page 25
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The Journal News from Hamilton, Ohio · Page 25

Hamilton, Ohio
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 18, 1976
Page 25
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Simihy. April IS. n:n JouriifllA'rus, Hamilton.Olilo Page t).I Feature Section Executive producer Tom Williamson and documentary direclor and narrator Ed Hart eye film taken in compiling the WI.VVD-TV special e n t i t l e d "The Phantom of Oxford." The documentary airs Monday at 7::10 p.m. on Ch. 2. . Heporler Joe Cella has hern deeply Uii' Join nal-News nesvsroom earlier lliis involved in (he Tamnicn case for /:i v o a r . [ E x e c u t i v e producer Tom years now. Recently, he lias been involved in Hit making of (lie \\I.\U) ilociimeiilary on Hie strange dlsnp- poarance. Uelow. Cli. 2 news direclor Kii Harl. narrator, writer anil direclor of the d o c u m e n t a r y , I n t e r v i e w e d Cclla in Williamson is maiming the camera. Journal-News photo by Jim llrnncy. Above, Cella lalks wilh lion Tainmen Sr., father of Ihc missing person, d u r i n a filming; session. Owe iv,enii};, Uonalrt Tannncn Jr. was foimil missing from his dormalory room al .Miami 1'iiiversity. Since lhal cold day iii 1053, no one has seen (lie man ever again Mrs. Barbara Spivey Jewell of Seven Mile remembers the day a young man answering the description of Ron Tainmen knocked on her mother's dour asking directions to get out of town. Mrs. Jewell says "I sliil believe it was him. Journal-News photo hy Dick liurns. Reporter Joe Cclla, who has covered' the case since lOSli, looks through a Miami yearbook with T a m m e n ' s roommale, Charles Findlay, now of Tipp -''}'· He remembers lie gol concerned for his roommate when he looked onl of 'he dorm and saw officials dragging a Miami pond for a body. Why did Tammen disappear forever? (EDITOR'S NOTE: The strange unsolved case of missing Miami .University studenl Itonald Tammen has haunted former Journal-News reporter Joe Cclla since be first became interested in the case in t!)53. Before leaving the Journal-News, Cella filed this personal slory of the disappearance for publication today . on the eve of the broadcast of a documentary on liicfammen case on \VLWI)-TV 2, Dayton, Monday at By JOE CELLA Ronald Henri' Tamfncn Jr. disappeared April 19, 1953, from the Miami University campus al Oxford and was never heard from again. Al 19 years of age he had vanished. Much has been written about Iris disappearance in (he past 23 years, always with the hope lhal someone. somewhere would tome forlh with a shred of evidence that Tammen was either dead or alive. Bui neither has been confirmed. Many years of exhaustive search and research has been done on the case. There are those who believe he is dead. There are Ihose who believe he is alive. I am one who believes thai Tammen is somewhere alive and well. Sharing my belief are his father, R. H. Tammen Sr., who lives in Fort Lauderdate. Fla., Dr. Carl Knox, professor of education at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Ralon, Fla. and former dean of men at Miami University, Charles Findlay of Tipp City, Tammen's roommale al Fisher Halt,' H. H. Stephenson, who was and slill is in charge of housing assignment and campus permils al Miami, and Dr. Garrel J. Boone, liutler County coroner. ; My own personal involvement goes. back 23 years when Tammen vanished. As a newspaperman, Ihe case intrigued me. H slill does loday. II has stayed wilh me all Ihese years, a mystery, yet wilh a strange feeling thai Iherc is an end somewhere. My pursuil of Tammen's possible existence has been motivated by Iheory. As long as Iherc is not a body as proof to the contrary, then we who believe he is alive must assume he walked away from Fisher Hall 23 years ago. I had been critical of the invesligalion into Tammen's disappearance from the beginning. So had his falher. Dr. Boone and (he others. Had all the information gathered over Ihe years in my research of Ihe case been available Ihen, I feel Ihe ending would have been written long ago. No action was laken by school authorities and police unlil April 23. four days later. H was then thai Ihey became concerned. Until then they had just "fluffed" off concern for the missing student, hoping';that Tammen had slipped away for a few days and would return to Fisher Hall. The investigation lagged because there was no evidence of foul play. Feeble attempts were made by the Butler County sheriff's office and the late Oxford Police Chief Oscar Decker.. There arc no reports on file by any agency regarding Tammen's disappearance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation only carried Tammen as "missing." H slill docs today. They could not enter Ihe case. "Xo evidence of foul play or forced transportation across slate lines," they said. The FBI checked briefly in June. 1953. when Tammen was classified 1-A by his Maple Heights draft board, lie never showed up for his physical. I never knew Tammen. I had become acquainted wilh Richard, his brother, w h o w a s a freshman al MU. 1 had briefly met Tammen's father and mother. I later kept in touch with Ihe father over Ihc years in pursuing his son's mysterious disappearance. Other acquaintances included Findlay. Tammen's Fisher Hall roommale, Dr. Knox, then dean of men, Mrs. Ora Todhunter. Fisher Hall manager, Joe Maneri, freshman, adviser at Fisher Hail, H e n r y 1 Ciesicki. past president of Delta Tan Delta, Tammen's fraternity. Mrs. Todhunler. who died several years ago in retirement in Florida, was probably the last person lo sec Tammen before he disappeared. Her statement in an interview al the lime is recounted. "The Sunday nighl Tammen disappeared, he came downstairs aboul 8 p. in. and asked me for two sheets, a pillow case and mattress cover. 1 noticed he looked very tired and I remarked about it lo him. He replied by saying thai he was lired and was going righl upstairs and go to bi!d. That is Ihe last lime I ever saw him." Tammen's father, recently interviewed al his Fort Lauderdale home, said the last time he saw his son was at .John Carroll University, Cleveland, about a week before his disappearance. "Ron was playing for a dance there with the Campus Owls. I recall he left his jacket behind, a wind-breaker tvpe jacket. We mailed it later to him at Fisher Hall." " · H was nol known until January of this year that Tammen. -18 hours before his disappearance, was at Ihe home of Mr, and M r s . - G l e n n Dcnnison, 61C6 Contrcrars Road, Oxford. Dcnnison, Nationwide Insurance Co. agent, Hamilton, was then agent for Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. Mrs. Dpnnison. who had never rcporlcd Ihe visil to authorities, recalled Tammen came to their home . Friday. April 17, 1953, about 8 p. m. to pay his car insurance premium. The original insurance policy on Tammen's 1939 . Chevrolet sedan and the premium payment record were produced for me from old office files. "He gave us a personal check in Ihe amount of $17.45 for Ihc premium due April 2-f. 1953. and covering a six- month period. The nexl premium was due Oct. 2-!. 1953." said Mrs. Dcnnison, who works with her husband. "He stayed aboul a half-hour, talking about (he Campus Owls in which he played and talked about other things." Tammen previously owned a 1929 Ford, which he apparently sold, to buy the 1939 C'hev. the insurance records show. Five months before his disappearance. Nov. 19. 1932. Tammen visited Ihe office of Or. Hoone. local physician and county coroner. Tammen wanted a hlood test. The medical record slill exists on file in Dr. Bonne's office. "1 remember asking him why he wanted a blood test." recalled Dr. Hoone. "He replied lhat he may want to give blood some day. I sent him over lo Mercy Hospital and w h e n Ihc result came back to my office. I mailed it tohimatFisherHall. Hisblood [ y p e i s O R H - posilive."/ As additional research was continued into the case, more information came to light concerning Tammen. The information became bils of a giant jigsaw puzzle difficult lo put together, but valuable to study to determine a starling point in the pu?.?.le. On Aug. 5. 1953. five months after Tammen was gone. Slophenson, who was in charge, and still is. of housing assignments and campus permits at M i a m i I'niversily. was returning with his wife from a short vacation in upper New York Stale. Slephenson recalled Ihey stopped for the evening in \\'eilsville. N. Y. Al dinner that nighl in a hotel dining room, he said he noticed three or four men silting a few tables away. At once he said he became aware one of the men looked exactly like Tammen. He said he knew Tammen . "When my eyes would look toward him, I would find he was looking al me. He was sort of looking righl through me. For some reason that I'll never know 1 , I said nothing to my wife, aboul the fact that (his young man was Ron Tammen. I was sure il was him." After finishing dinner, Slephenson said he and his wife walked out of the hotel onto (he street, lie then told his wife. At her urging, Ihey went back inside, but Ihe men. one of whom Stephenson thought to be Ron Tammen, were gone. There was no Irace of them in Ihe lobby or anywhere else. Slephenson said he returned to the campus and the nexl day he reported the incident lo Dr. Knox. "I was under the impression all these years that my slory was generally known hy everyone, since Dr. Knox knew about it and was handling the invesligation for the university, i am amazed to hear lhat lliis information was nol known u n t i l now." Tammen's falher remains with a memory but believes lhal his son is alive, lie remarried after his first wife, Ron's mother, died in 1903, 10 years alter the disappearance. "She died f r o m grieving over Ron." be said. "He just seemed to have fun the whole lime he was there. There was never anything al all thai would indicate there was or had been a problem, of something was bothering him. "I can'l say thai I've ever been happy aboul anything thai' has happened in Ihe case, because nothing's ever happened." said the father in Florida. "This young man was well appreciated around the campus because of his musical talent." recalled Dr. Knox in the Florida interview. He played the bass with Ihe Campus Owls. He was one of Hie few people on campus who had a car permit in order to Iransport lhal bass vial around. And one of Ihe oddities ol the case, because he prized it so highly, was Ihe fact his car was found locked up with the bass inside and no Ron. There arc no answers, yet soiiiething tells me lion Tammen is alive. I feel this. I feel il keenly." "On one occasion, there were sonic sharp words between me and two M i a m i University personnel who did not appreciate my being concerned about !!»· problem of his disappearance." Dr. Bonne said "I really me and i men." "1 think probably a f t e r the. first three or four days I wasn't concerned." said Findlay. Tammen's roommate in a recent interview al his Tipp City home near Dayton "Then I really realized he wasn't coming back, Mr wasn't coming'back as he n o r m a l l y w o u l d . I Rot concerned because I remember s i t t i n g at my desk looking out Ihe window and watching them !r;if! thr pond near Fisher H a l l . That w a s kind of an eerie feeling. B u l l believe Ron is alive. I've always had lhat feeling." The story of Ronald Henry Tammen Jr began 23 years ago on a cold, blustry Sunday nieht There were snow flurries Temperature was in the 20s. A chilly F.aster hod come and pone 1 two weeks earlier. Students had been back on campus from a holiday break and were lonkintf forward to two more month's of work before calling il quils (or another \ r a r . Tammen was one of those students. Hi- was · sophomore majoring in business lie? lived in Fisher H a l l where he was a sophomore counselor The counseling jot) was among a number fif e x t r a curricular activities Tammen had assumed Ho played in (ho university dance band At I7fl pounds, he was very a t h l e t i c He was an excellent school (earn s w i m m e r and wrestler Despite these activities. Tammen was considered n ally don't know. They mighl have been bored w i l h e and maybe they got fed up wilh reporters and TV good student. He carried a 3.25 average and was active in Ihe Delta Tan Delta fraternity. When Tammen was reported missing, all means of identification were lefl behind. Only his wrist walcb has nolbeen found. It is presumed he look it with him. A psychology book which Tammen had been reading, its chapter turned to "Habits," was open on his desk. His wallet, most of his money, wilh Ihc exception of a few dollars, and the resl of his personal belongings, were found in his room. The only missing clothing were those presumably worn by Tammen plus a plaid mackinaw jacket. His automobile, containing his base tidule, was left parked and locked alongside Fisher Hall. His car keys were also left behind on his desk. His brother. Richard, a f r e s h m a n majoring in architecture, was with his brother the night before u n t between 11 and 11:3(1 p. m. Ron had played w i t h Ihe Campus Owls al the Oniicron Delta Kappa carnival. "I d i d n ' t detect a n y t h i n g wrong w i Saturday night. He seemed normal to me and be was in good spirits. W h e n I learned of his disappearance. couldn't believe il," said his brother. Findlay, Tammen's roommate, returned lo Fisher Hall lhal Sunday nighl from Dayton lo f i n d his roommate's book open mi the table. Ihc lights on. ami most of TamiiR'ii's pci~snna] effects in the room. Findlay assumed his n m m m n l e had gone to his fraternity house. The next morning, he spread the a l a r m Shortly after Tammen's disappearance. Mrs. Carl Spivey of Seven Mile reported a man answering Tammen's description knocked on her front door about m i d n i g h t on April 1!) and inquired about s[Kirlation out of Ihe c o m m u n i t y . Mrs. Spivoy has since died but her daughter. Mrs Barbara Jewell of Seven Mile, remembers the night well She was Ihcrc when the knock was answered "1 .slill believe il was him." said Mrs. J e w e l her mother viewed a photograph of Taminrn at the lirnc. she 1 said. "That's him. f know I'm not mistaken." "It was rather late and 1 recall thai this young man was wearing clothing similar lo (hat w o r n by Tarn men." said tin- late Mrs. Spivey in her original story. "I had read the account of his disap(earanee in the newspapers and Ihe description f i t The young man asked hmv to get out of here, I [minlcd in the directions «( Hamilton. M i d d l e l n w n and Oxford, lie smiled, (hanked inc. and deparloil." Kven w i t h Ihc porch l i ^ h l n n . it was hard mine in w h i i - h d i r e c t i o n tin- man dcjxirtecl Spivey recalled at (hi 1 tune the man had t streak cif chrl alone the ri^hl siilc of his f a c e anil he bad h a i r c u t Not one pk'co of tangible i n f o r m a t i o n as whereabouts has been received since April 19. 1953. Amnesia ruled out. Other theories have heen hashed and rehashed. Nevertheless. T a m m e n is frjin the university, his f r i e n d s and his irmr.ediatc f a m i l v . His case w i l l a l w a y s remain d e f i n i t e i n f o r m a t i o n is received ID the Tainmen wa.-. one of f i v e children. There were bo\ s and a i^iil jnhn the oldest He was a junior al Princeton V n n e r s i t y N e x t came Ron R i c h a at M i a m i ( ' i m e r s i t y . Richard g r in U'Vi a f t e r srrvim: in the m i l i t a r y The I h v c e boys had been t o r n about 15 a y v i r l A f t e r Itidiard w a s Marcia. born eight l a t e r and Hubert, three ve.irs a l t e r his sister. Today. John a n i l Hubert l i v e in l.os Armeies R i c h a r d is a successful a r c h i t e c t l i v Francisco They art 1 all married Marna. who never ii'.jmcd. lives in Kuclid w i t h an aunt 4

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