"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Here is a "solved" missing-persons case from 1920 that is reminiscent of our old friend Ada Constance Kent:

Indianapolis, Ind. April 26—Unsolved for more than twenty years, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Miss Carrie Selvage was believed to be cleared away with the finding today of a skeleton in the private hospital where she was last seen.

The skeleton was found by workmen who were turning the old building into a garage. Clothed in a blue dress, it was resting in a sitting posture in the corner of an attic. The costume, along with a pair of felt slippers, were recognized by three brothers of the dead woman. They are Edward L., William J., and Joseph W. Selvage, members of an old Indianapolis family.

The old building originally was an orphans’ home and later was converted into the Union States Hospital. It was at that time Miss Selvage entered the institution because of a nervous disease. Some time later it was turned into a roomed house. The building was of unusual construction and the place where the skeleton was found, a small corner about three by four feet, was apparently a second attic.

Miss Selvage disappeared March 11, 1900. She had sent her nurse for some milk. When the woman returned Miss Selvage was gone. A country-wide search was made, graves in cemeteries were opened and the hospital repeatedly searched, but no trace was found.

Coroner Robinson, in a preliminary examination, said he found no trace of violence. Miss Selvage was 43 years of age and had been a school teacher.

Well. Are we to believe Selvage ordered a glass of milk and then, without anyone noticing, made her way up to a cramped, remote little attic room to…just wait there to die? Or did someone, somehow, for some incomprehensible reason, lure her up there to be murdered? Or lure her out somewhere else to be killed, and then dump the body in the attic--again, without being observed in this busy little hospital? Assuming she had been in this attic all along, why was the room not searched after she vanished? In the two decades she had been missing, are we to believe that no one ever found this room? But if Carrie Selvage's body had only recently been propped up in this cubbyhole...where had she been all that time?  Who did what to her, and why?

This little story is full of obvious questions. And I’m damned if I can answer any of them.


  1. What a very strange story!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. Replies
    1. That comment wouldn't made a bad blurb for my entire blog.

  3. This reminds me of a woman who disappeared from her home back in the 80s in a little town near where I grew up. Although in her case, she was found in the attic of an old abandoned farm house many years later not far from where she lived, so no question about whether or not it was an accident, I guess...
    My stepsister was friends with her daughter and it kept us all in fear for a long time.


    1. Good Lord. I think that story's even creepier.

  4. I'm so glad someone else has info on Carrie Selvage! I work at a public library in southern Indiana and found articles about her disappearance from 1903 while doing research on a graverobbing case going on at the time. The lead graverobber reportedly had information on her disappearance, but the information he gave the police never went anywhere (he told the police that she escaped from the hospital, fell into the hands of a cruel farmer, and was held in a hut and treated very badly until being given a lethal dose of chloroform, but the police were never able to find evidence for this). I wanted to know if she was ever found, so I did a Google search for the heck of it and wound up here, where I finally have my answer! May I ask which newspaper you found this in? I've been doing research in The Indianapolis News, and after modifying my search filters, I found an article from the same day as the one you shared in this post, but it's not the same one. Thank you thank you thank you for giving me my answers about this case!

    1. It was from the "Washington Evening Star," April 27, 1920. I don't know how I forgot to mention that in the post.

  5. I was working on my family tree on Ancestry.com and came across the death certifica te of Carrie T. Selvage (She was my 1st cousin, 3x removed). The certificate had words like "Disappearance" and "Unknown" cause of death and "Inquest" so I figured there had to be story and when I googled it, I found this site. Really bizarre! Not to be morbid, but I would think if that body was up in the attic from the time she died, the place would have had a horrible odor. If it was murder, it seems like a pretty slick job!


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