Author Topic: ADDISON COUNTY DOE: W, 13-15, found with two others near an old logging road - 15 May 1935  (Read 233 times)


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Within a year, despite vigorously investigating multiple leads and including the case in several national journals and publications, as well as interviewing hundreds of orthodontists and dentists, the case began to run cold. Then, in January 1938, Detective Franzoni thought he struck gold.

Vermont Certificate of Death for the mother, as filed with the Vermont Department of Health on September 11, 2014. (Photo: Courtesy Vermont State Archives and Records Administration)

The Goldens

As part of the investigation, Harvard scientists who examined the remains while they were in Boston provided a more detailed report about the victims. Included in the report were the probable ages of the deceased, the gender of the children and the year of death, all of which convinced Detective Franzoni the victims might be Mrs. Cora Golden and her children, Charles Jr. and Beulah Elizabeth of Milton.

Cora disappeared in 1923 with her children when she was 31 years old. At the time, Charles Jr. was 7 and Beulah was 4. If Cora and her children were killed seven years after they disappeared, the ages and year of death would align with Harvard’s estimates.

In addition, the disappearance of a Milton farmhand around the same time as the Goldens proved to be related. Detective Franzoni was able to trace Cora, the farmhand, Joseph Carter, and the children as having spent time in Hartford, Connecticut before coming back to Vermont in 1929. After that, however, he could find no trace of them leading him to believe that the bodies found in May 1935 were very likely Cora and her children.

Then, in April 1938, Detective Franzoni found the daughter living with an adoptive family in Connecticut. One would think that the detective didn’t strike gold at all, given that one child was indeed found alive; however, in tracking down Cora and Joseph Carter, Franzoni learned they had a child together in 1924. More important, that child was a boy — the gender Harvard scientists concluded both children to be. Recent DNA testing, spearheaded by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, also confirmed both children were boys and related to each other.

Francis Joseph Carter’s birth certificate. In September 1924, his parents marry under the names Thomas Napolean Charest and Elizabeth Minor but change little about their parents names. (Photo: Courtesy Vermont State Archives and Records Administration)

It’s in the records

After decades still believing Cora and her two boys were the likely victims, State Archivist Tanya Marshall recently found archival records that prove otherwise. Cora Golden and Joseph Carter, perhaps taking advantage of Carter’s French roots, used the pseudonyms Cora LaFlash and Thomas Charest in Vermont vital records related to their marriage and the birth of their son Francis. The 1930 federal Census shows the Charest family residing in New York and following Elizabeth “Cora” Charest’s death in 1938, Thomas, Charles and Francis all eventually return back to Vermont. The records have given closure to this lead in the case. Further work by Detective Kris Bowdish at the Middlebury Police Department has proven the records to be right. DNA testing of a living relative of Buelah show the three unidentified persons are neither Buelah’s mother nor her brothers.

Vital, Census and other archival records are also shedding light on the persons of interest Detective Franzoni so actively sought. Harold Young was most likely Harold C. West of Chelsea. In 1929, the local newspaper in Fulton, New York, reported that West, having been the manager at the Grand Union Tea Company in Burlington, Vermont, was now the manager of Oneida Creamery in Fulton. The 1930 Census lists West, in Fulton, as a retail grocer living with his wife Clara. Look a little deeper and it is a Harold C. West, not Harold Young, who appears in the 1928 Burlington City Directory as the manager of the Grand Union Tea Company.

So what’s the current status of this 80-year-old cold case? The mother and her two sons have finally been laid to rest in a Middlebury cemetery and their grave reads “Three souls known only to God.” Will archival records be the key to putting names to these souls? Time will only tell if the 1935 Middlebury cold case will ever be solved, but without witnesses and physical evidence, one’s only hope is that it’s in the records.

The authors would like to thank researchers Brian Lindner and Anne Bielby for providing some of the background information for this article.