‘The Most Missingest Man in America’ Has Been Missing for Almost 100 Years

worlds most missingest man

On August 6, 1930, New York Supreme Court judge Joseph Force Crater seemingly vanished on the busy streets of New York City. Almost 100 years later, the mystery of what really happened to Crater has never been solved. History’s Greatest Mysteries is launching a one-hour documentary to look into the theories of what could have happened to “the most missingest man in America.”

While Crater was in the respected position of a Supreme Court judge, rumors swirled that he paid people off to get into the position. Just a few months after starting the new gig, on August 3, 1930, he told his wife, Stella, that he was going to Maine and would return in a week. Reportedly, on the day he disappeared forever, he destroyed documents, moved portfolios to his Fifth Avenue apartment, and withdrew $5,000 from his bank account.

Joseph Force Crater: The World’s Most Missingest Man

That same evening, the last people to ever see him were a lawyer named William Klein and a showgirl named Sally Lou Ritz, who dined with Crater that evening. He told them he was heading to a Broadway show called Dancing Partner but disappeared instead. Almost a month later, on Sept. 3, the news broke that Crater had been missing and the media shared the details of his suspicious behavior in the days leading up to his disappearance.

At the time, the story gathered so much media coverage that everyone had a theory on what happened. Many thought he fled the country with a mistress and that is why he lied to his wife. Others joked about “pulling a Crater” as going AWOL. Years went by and nothing was ever confirmed, so Crater’s wife had him declared legally dead in 1939. However, many, many years later, in 2005, the police gathered some new information about the case.

A woman who died that year left a handwritten note that claimed her husband and other men, including a police officer, murdered Crater and hid his body under the Coney Island boardwalk. The site was excavated in the ’50s to make way for the New York Aquarium, so if her story is true, there is, unfortunately, no way to prove it now.


History Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

Actor Laurence Fishburne will narrate the upcoming episode of History’s Greatest Mysteries, which unpacks the story of Crater and provides possible explanations of what really happened. Watch it on Monday, March 13 at 9 pm ET/PT on the History Channel. What do you think happened to the world’s most missingest man?

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