How does somebody manage to vanish in plain sight? No one’s invisible. Someone, somewhere, sees something.
On the afternoon of February 13, 1917, pretty 18-year-old Ruth Cruger left a Harlem apartment in New York and went to get her ice skates sharpened at a local motorcycle shop. She didn’t return that day, nor in the days to follow.
Her worried family looked for her and eventually contacted the police. After an investigation, they concluded that Ruth had run off and was living somewhere else with a man.
Her family, however, knew better. Ruth had a good reputation and wasn’t the type to allow her family to worry.
In June 1917, a local lawyer got involved: Grace Humiston. Grace was determined, tireless and clever. After a lot of long, hard detective work, Ruth’s body was eventually found in the cellar of a local motorcycle store. The store’s owner — a married man and the Lothario type — eventually confessed to the crime.
Grace Humiston is the subject of a wonderful biography that I’m currently enjoying: “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated A Nation” by Brad Ricca. From what I understand so far, Grace was an amazing person. She hated injustice and made a career out of helping people, especially immigrants who were being taken advantage of.
I can easily picture her as an avenging angel. She later became the first female U.S. district attorney.
I like the cover too. It shows a foggy nighttime scene with the silhouette of a woman dressed in 1917-era clothing. Evocative and appropriate — kudos to the cover designer.
This book details various people that Grace and her partner, detective Julius J. Kron, were able to help. Her career is even more impressive when you consider the era she lived in. Women were still fighting for the right to be allowed to vote.
The end of the book has a section on the main people in the book and what happened to them. Are their descendents walking around right now who wouldn’t otherwise exist due to the efforts of Grace and Julius? I’d like to think so.
For those who enjoy history, mysteries or detective stories, definitely check out this book. It’s a good read.
If the name sounds familiar, Grace makes an appearance in the TV show “Timeless” during a suffragette protest. She’s the one who makes the speech and gets President Wilson’s attention. Here’s a clip; Sarah Sokolovic plays Grace. (Video credit: Time Travel Nexus, YouTube)