2 – Murder in Room 1046 – (1935)
The murder of Artemus Ogletree is the kind of mystery one would associate with the imagination of a crime thriller writer. It is a genuinely bizarre unsolved crime that occurred in Room 1046 of the Hotel President in Kansas City in January 1935. The story begins with a young man named Roland T. Owen checking into the hotel. He was tall and had a cauliflower ear and a facial scar. He arrived with no luggage and asked to stay for one night. Owen confided in the bellboy and explained that his first choice of hotel, the Muehlebach, was too expensive. Once in the room, he removed a comb, brush, and toothbrush from his pockets.
Later that day, a maid arrived to clean, and Owen allowed her to do so. He told her to leave the door unlocked as he was expecting a visitor. She noticed that the young man was extremely nervous and has drawn all the curtains; he relied on a lamp to light up his room. He left before she had finished cleaning but was lying on the bed fully clothed when she returned at 4 pm with fresh towels. The maid noticed a note on the table that said: “Don, I will be back in fifteen minutes. Wait.”
There is no information available relating to what happened between that time and 10:30 am the following morning when the maid entered the room. She noticed that Owen was sitting in the dark. The phone rang while she was still in the room and he answered it. The person on the other end spoke first, and Owen replied: “No. Don. I don’t want to eat. I am not hungry. I just had breakfast.” After hanging up, he mentioned the Muehlebach to the maid who in a hurry after Owen engaged her in a rambling conversation.
The maid came by later with more towels and heard two male voices. The second one brusquely told her that they didn’t want the towels. A new guest checked in and ended up in the room next to Owen’s. That night, she heard an argument coming from the room involving one male and one female. The next thing she heard was the sounds of scuffling followed by a gasping noise she believed was the sound of snoring. The night elevator operator spotted a woman in the hotel several times, once in the company of a man. Both had left by 4:15 am, and neither was ever identified.
At 7 am, the hotel’s phone operator noticed the phone in Room 1046 was off the hook. After three hours, the bellboy came to the door and demanded that the receiver be replaced. Eventually, the staff broke into the room and found Owen lying naked on the bed. The hotel staff assumed he was shaking off the effects of a hangover and left him alone after they replaced the phone receiver. An hour later, the phone was off the hook again.
One of the staff entered the room again only this time, Owen was crouched over on the floor. His head was bleeding, and the walls were covered in blood. Owen claimed he had fallen in the bathtub before he fell unconscious once again. He died en route to the hospital. Owen had been tied up, beaten, strangled and stabbed several times. Moreover, every piece of his clothing and everything else in the room was gone.
It turned out that Roland T. Owen was a fake name so it appeared as if he would be buried in an anonymous grave. However, when the information became public, someone phoned up and offered to pay for a proper funeral. The money arrived in the mail along with roses, and a card signed: “Love forever – Louise.” 18 months later, a woman identified the mystery victim as her brother Artemus Ogletree. His family hadn’t seen him in almost three years, but they received typed letters from him after his death. His mother also received a mysterious phone call which said Artemus had married a wealthy woman in Egypt.
No one knows who killed Artemus Ogletree or why. Nor do they know who paid for his funeral. The identity of ‘Don’ or the female in his room have never been determined, and it’s safe to say that the murder in Room 1046 will forever remain unsolved. One other fact about the case is that the day before the murder, a man named Robert Lane picked up a hitchhiker dressed in pants and an undershirt who swore to get revenge the following day. Lane later identified the man as Owen.