Dorothy Forstein from Philadelphia, was a well-liked mother to three children and wife to city magistrate, Jules Forstein. In 1944, Dorothy dropped her children to a friend’s house and made her way back home. As she entered the empty and dark house, she was beaten unconscious by an unknown assailant hiding in her house. The assailant fled as Dorothy lay bleeding on the floor. The random attack was baffling - nothing was stolen from the house.
Her husband was cleared as a suspect and the family could not think of anybody that would have a grudge on a housewife. Dorothy recovered and life went back to normal. However, on 18 October, 1949, Jules was away from the house for the evening and their eldest daughter, 19-year-old Myrna, was also away from the house. When Jules returned home that night at approximately 11:30PM, he discovered his children cowering in their bedroom and Dorothy was nowhere to be found.
Their youngest daughter, 9-year-old Marcy, told police that she had been awakened by somebody entering the house. She got up out of bed and walked into the hall and saw a man carrying a seemingly unconscious Dorothy down the stairs. The man looked towards her and whispered “Go back to sleep, little one, your mother is alright.” Dorothy was never seen again.
woman donates $800,000 to National Wildlife Refuges, parks across the West
Photo by Nancy Zingheim in front of Rita Poe’s truck, which she used on her trip to see six National Wildlife Refuges.
By Brent Lawrence
Nobody really knew
Rita Poe until she died.
She moved through the
final years of her life with little apparent interaction with others. Few people
could recall the tall, thin woman with salt-and-pepper hair and brown eyes. She
died at age 66 in her home – a 27-foot travel trailer parked in the shadows of
the Olympic Mountains – of colon cancer on Nov. 16, 2015.
Though Rita’s life
came to a close, her legacy will live on for generations thanks to her final
act of astonishing generosity.
With no known friends
or heirs in her final years, Rita’s closest connection was Nancy Zingheim, the manager
for SKP RV Park in Chimacum, Washington, where Rita had parked her Airstream
during the summer of 2015. Their only encounters were when Rita would come in
to pay her lot rent or an occasional wave on the street when she walked her dog,
an Italian greyhound/basenji mix named I.G.
Then in September,
Rita showed up with a question for Nancy: “Will you be the executor of my
will?” Nancy agreed.
Rita died a few weeks
later, and Nancy got her first look at the will. It was as generous as it was
surprising: give almost everything – nearly $800,000 – to eight National
Wildlife Refuges and four parks across the West.
On the list were three
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges from her home state of California, with
one refuge in each of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Texas. The four others
recipients were state and national parks from Texas and Wyoming.
Photo of a young bull moose at Camas National Wildlife Refuge by Rita Poe
Rita’s legacy started
Nancy on a path that culminated with a 4,000-mile “trip of a lifetime” during
which she learned about wild spaces and public lands, and what made them meaningful
Between December 2015
and April 2017, Nancy researched each refuge and park online. She called them
with questions, intent on making sure that each refuge and park would live up
to Rita’s expectations.
A big obstacle for
Nancy was fighting to collect $374,000 owed to Rita from a long-ago
inheritance. Once Nancy won that battle and the money came in, she could have
considered her work nearly done. Someone else might have simply written the
Over the months of
searching through Rita’s paperwork and photos, Nancy started to understand Rita
on a deeper level. The last photo Nancy found of Rita was from a 1981 Texas
driver’s license. Nancy discovered that Rita was born on October 20, 1949, in
California and that she was once a nurse. Nursing may have been what Rita did
at some point, but it was clear that it wasn’t what fulfilled her. There was an
empty spot in Rita’s soul that could only be filled on public lands.
Rita’s devotion to the places that left a mark on her was
infectious, and Nancy was determined to see
firsthand where Rita’s final act of generosity was going. “I had never heard of
a (National Wildlife) Refuge,” Nancy said. “I wanted the money to go to what Rita
would have wanted.”
Jewish refugees Harry Fiedler and Heim Leiter pose next to a potato vendor on a Shanghai street, circa 1945.
Harry Fiedler was born in Shanghai, a year-and-a-half after his parents fled from their home in Vienna during WWII. They secured visas from the Chinese embassy and passage on the Italian liner Conte Bianco Mano. Arriving in Shanghai in mid-December, they found temporary shelter at the Embankment building owned by Sir Victor Sassoon. The refugee shelter was administered by the International Committee for European Refugees, also known as the IC or Komor Committee. Subsequently, the family moved to the Hongkew district, where they remained through the period of the Hongkew ghetto (1943-1945). The family emigrated to Canada in October 1949, one week before the Communist takeover of Shanghai.
Earlier in this blog’s existence, I wrote a short bit about Jean Spangler, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a ton of information into the post because it was a group post about various disappearances. With today being the 100th birthday of Kirk Douglas, a suspect in her disappearance, I decided that I wanted to cover her story in full.
Jean Elizabeth Spangler was born on September 2nd, 1923 in Seattle, Washington. She attended Franklin High School, where she graduated in 1941. During her teenage years, Spangler danced with the Earl Caroll Theater and Florentine Gardens. She was married in 1942 to Dexter Benner, and two years later she gave birth to her first and only child, Christine. She later on divorced Benner, who initially took custody of their daughter, denying Jean any visitation. He reasoned that Spangler had been unfaithful during the marriage and cared more about her life of partying and fun than caring for her daughter. However, Spangler fought vigilantly for custody of her daughter, and was awarded with just that by a judge two years after the divorce. The ruling was ultimately in her favor as the judge believed that Spangler’s questionable past was behind her, and she had proven that Christine belonged with her. After the divorce, Spangler lived with her mother, brother, sister-in-law and daughter in Los Angeles.
Jean began her career as a hopeful actress in 1948. Although she had high hopes for the work, she was only ever awarded bit-roles in films and television shows. She was the girl in the church. The dancer. The showgirl. The pretty girl. Despite the size of the roles, she still had high hopes for her dreams of becoming a star. Unfortunately, this would never come to pass.
Jean Spangler would only ever become famous for being a missing person.
On October 7th 1949, only a little over a month after her 26th birthday, Jean Spangler left her home around 5:00 PM. Upon her leaving, she had told her family that she was meeting up with her ex husband to discuss child support, and that she had to work on a film afterwards. However, she never returned home. Her sister-in-law reported her missing the day afterwards. The last person to see Spangler was a store clerk, who said she seemed like she was waiting for someone. Additionally, police found that none of the studios in LA had anything being filmed that night.
Spangler’s ex husband was the first to be questioned. While it was clear that Benner had motive, his new wife assured police that her husband had been with her during the time of the disappearance.
Two days later, her purse was found.
The note found inside of the purse was unfinished, ending in a comma and unsigned, meaning Spangler might not have had time to finish it or she had been interrupted while writing it. It reads as follows:
Can’t wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away,
LA Police scrambled to connect the names to possible suspects. They looked into every Dr. Scott in the LA area but came up with no leads. In a strange turn, Kirk Douglas, who had been working on a film that Spangler had a part in, contacted the police to assure them he was not the Kirk in the note. By this point, the police hadn’t even considered Douglas yet. This seemed suspicious, but with no other evidence or leads pointing to him, Douglas was let off the hook. In another twist that shocked many, Jean Spangler’s friends told police that she was 3 months pregnant during the time of her disappearance, and she was looking into getting an abortion, which was illegal at that time in history.
Los Angeles police continued their search while looking into other possibilities. In the time before her disappearance, Spangler had been spotted with a man named Davy Ogul, who was connected to mobster Mickey Cohen. Around that time, Ogul was under suspicions of conspiracy, and was reported missing two days after Spangler’s disappearance. This led people to believe that they had possibly run away together to avoid prosecution. A hotel clerk claimed to have spotted Ogul in El Paso, Texas with a woman that resembled Spangler. However, neither of their names were used for registry and the claims could not be confirmed either true or false.
As it stands, no one knows what happened to Jean Spangler. She has been a missing person for over 67 years, and while people have claimed to see her all over the United States over the years, her case still remains open and unsolved.
Molly Prewett was born on 30 October, 1949. She began attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the early 1960’s, and was sorted into Gryffindor house.
After graduation she married Arthur Weasley and their first child, Bill, was born in 1970. Six more children followed: Charlie, Percy, twins Fred and George, Ron, and Ginny. She is described as kind, gentle, loving and motherly but could also be very stern and fierce when prompted.
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (December 21, 1949 – October 15, 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, marxist, Pan African theorist, FEMINST and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”.
Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33, with the goal of eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonists. He immediately launched one of the most ambitious programmes for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. To symbolize this new autonomy and rebirth, he renamed the country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso (“Land of Upright Man”). His foreign policies were centered on anti- imperialism , with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing for debt reduction, nationalizing all land and mineral wealth, and averting the power and influence of the IMF and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education with a nationwide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever, and measles, components of his national agenda included planting over ten million trees to halt the growing desertification of the Sehal, doubling wheat production by redistributing land form feudal landlords to peasants, suspending rura poll taxes and domestic rents, and establishing an ambitious road and rail construction program to “tie the nation together”. On the localized level Sankara also called on every village to build a medical dispensary and had over 350 communities construct schools with their own labour. Moreover, his commitment to women’s rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing women to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.
His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance made him an icon to many of Africa’s poor.Sankara remained popular with most of his country’s impoverished citizens. However his policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class, the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments, and France and its ally the Ivory Coast. As a result, he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d'état led by Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987. Sankara’s body was dismembered and he was quickly buried in an unmarked grave,while his widow Mari and two children fled the nation A week before his murder, he declared: “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”